|Image by stopthegears via Flickr|
|Try to cook pasta until it's a minute or two short of al dente, |
drain it and then finish it in the sauce.
You've seen those robust, red pasta sauces on menus, the ones made with lamb, rabbit, even wild boar.
It's a ragu, yet it has nothing in common with the bottled sauce of the same name. So, what do you do if you want a ragu, but don't eat meat?
I tried to answer that question on Tuesday night, when I prepared a ragu of salted fish and cabbage for my dinner of whole-wheat pappardelle -- a sturdy, flat noodle that is nearly an inch wide.
My pasta dish was tasty, but the proportions were wrong: I used too much fish and not enough red sauce, so I added another jar of bottled Jersey Tomato sauce to the leftovers, which I refrigerated.
Next time, I'll use a 32-ounce bottle of Fairway Market pasta sauce, a half-pound of salted pollock, one quarter of a medium-size cabbage, a can of anchovies with their oil, Italian seasoning, three or four garlic cloves, and a half-pound of dried pasta.
First, sautee the garlic until it's fragrant, then add the cabbage, which you have to cut up into small pieces. Next, add the bottled sauce and the anchovies and oil, and simmer over a medium-low flame. Season with dried herbs.
Meanwhile, in a separate pot filled with water to cover the dried pollock or cod, boil the fish for about 30 minutes to get out some of the salt. Drain, rinse, chop it up and add it to the sauce.
Ideally, you'll drain the pasta you've boiled in a third pot a minute or two before it's al dente, and finish it in the sauce.
Using salted fish and cabbage gives a Caribbean spin to the sauce, and a handful of dried red-pepper flakes wouldn't be out of place.
Fair way or high way?
Earlier Tuesday, I drove to Fairway Market in Paramus to buy two pounds of Brazil Dark coffee beans (Turkish grind), on sale for $6.99 a pound.
I also picked up three, 32-ounce bottles of organic lemonade, peach lemonade and mango lemonade for $5.
But some of the other prices were too high: cherries for $4.99 a pound, compared to $3.99 at ShopRite (and as low as $2.49 a pound on sale); and a 2-pound bag of Canadian mussels priced by the pound, not by the bag.
When I saw "$3.99" on the sign, I thought it was for 2 pounds, as in other stores. But when the fishmonger threw the bag on the scale, I looked closer and saw the letters "lb." on the sign.
I told him to forget about it. At Whole Foods Market in Paramus, 2 pounds of Canadian mussels are $5.99 and $5.49 on sale. At H Mart, 2 pounds of Maine mussels are usually $2.99, but they are not as clean.
And, of course, Fairway shows its concern for New Jersey's environment by being one of the few stores that don't credit you 5 cents or 10 cents for bringing reusable bags.
On the way home, I stopped at ShopRite in Paramus, but couldn't find the organic red grapes advertised in the store flier for $1.99 a pound. I bought several other items.
I found the organic grapes this morning at the ShopRite in Hackensack, but looking at the receipt now, I realize I was charged the price for conventional grapes -- 99 cents a pound -- even though "Organic" is written clearly on the plastic bag.