I received a copy of Pamela John’s 50 Great Pasta Sauces to review some time ago from the publisher. I cook and eat a lot of pasta and new sauce ideas are always a good thing, to knock me out of my rut of the two sauces that I both love and rely heavily upon… a simple roasted tomato and basil sauce and a soy-feta-chile concoction. There are some quite good ideas in this little volume including a roasted beet sauce, a decadently rich duck sauce (with balsamic vinegar… mmm) as well as a bunch of the standard Italian sauces like Carbonara, Bolognese and Arrabiata. At $14.95, it’s a a great little starter book for someone.
Today, I decided to stick with my citrus theme this week, and give the Orange Caper sauce (p 31) a try. I had picked up some beautiful herbed pasta at Papparadelle’s Pasta in Pike Place Market this week… each little pasta shaped like a trumpet or a spiral. The variety of colors and shapes really appealed to me. I was a bit worried that the pasta might be too herby and clash with a sauce, but this turned out not to be the case. It was quite a nice match for the lively, tangy sauce.
The sauce itself was quite tasty and unusual, but I there are a few tweaks that I think need to be made to make it something I’d cook again. First, while very zesty, I think the sauce is missing some depth. A bit of red chili pepper would compliment the sauce and help make it a bit more complex. In addition, I topped the freshly served pasta with some crumbled goat cheese… definitely a good add to counter the acidic lean of the sauce (from both the capers and the orange). Of course, this is more important when served as a main course… if you are serving it as a side the main entry might provide the right contrasts.
Pasta with Orange Caper Sauce
from 50 Great Pasta Sauces by Pamela Sheldon Johns
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t chili flakes
Juice from one orange
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound pasta, ideally a short pasta such as penne
2 T capers
1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
salt & freshly ground pepper to tase
fresh goat cheese or feta
Put the water (with a bit of salt in it) for the pasta on to boil.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. When hot, add the onions and saute until they are golden. Then, add the zest, chili flakes and the garlic and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. The bottom of the pan should start getting a bit brown. Add the orange juice and stir, releasing the seasoning from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low and add the stock. Simmer to reduce slightly, about 10 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, add your pasta to the boiling water and cook pasta according to it’s instructions until it’s al dente. Drain and rinse briefly in cool water.
Add the pasta to a large bowl, and cover with the sauce. Toss. Sprinkle the capers, parsley and cheese over the top.