Feb 11th, 2009 by Jonny
In my opinion, infectious enthusiasm should be treated in exactly the same way as all infectious diseases; i.e. quashed ruthlessly with whatever combination of chemicals is necessary. With that statement out there, it’s probably unnecessary to further outline my feelings towards TV’s favorite, lovable faux-Cockney, Jamie Oliver. However, and as I have referred to in at least one other post, I grudgingly concede that he can cook, so from time to time – against my better judgment – I find myself thinking I should try some of his food…
… Just not today. Instead, I took (okay, stole) inspiration from one of his earlier shows – in which he made lunch for an Italian-British restaurateur who gave him one of his first breaks in the food biz - and made a tagliatelle and parsnip dish I am going to call my own regardless of its similarities to his.
You’ll notice that it’s parsnips again - our attempts at seasonal eating continue. The key to the dish is texture, so your parsnips have to be sliced finely enough to resemble the cooked pasta under your teeth – a mandolin or a vegetable peeler are your friends here. Then, only when it’s in your mouth do you taste the parsnip-y sweetness vs. the smooth starchiness of the pasta. Visually, squid-ink pasta makes the dish look more arresting, but regular would do fine too.
Tagliatelle Neri con Nastri della Pastinaca (Black Tagliatelle with Parsnip Ribbons)
- 1lb black (or regular) tagliatelle
- 1 large or 2 small parsnips, skinned and sliced into thin ribbons
- 3-4 asparagus spears, sliced into ribbons
- 4tbsp good olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes/peperoncino
- 1 splash (c. 1oz) dry white wine
- 1 tsp chopped parsley
- 1tbsp grated parmigiano-reggiano or pecorino romano
- Place pasta in boiling salted water and cook for seven minutes
- In the meantime, heat large skillet/saute pan to medium high and add oil.
- Hit pan with garlic and peperoncini and allow to flavor oil for a couple of minutes. Do not allow garlic to color.
- Toss in parsnips and immediately hit with white wine. Stir.
- Timing is important here. Pasta must be nearly done when parsnips go in pan or it’ll all be overcooked.
- Drain pasta and toss in with parsnips until well combined and all is coated with oil/wine sauce. Add some pasta water if you’ve not enough liquid.
- Kill the fire and hit dish with parsley and grated cheese. Plate quickly and enjoy the dramatic contrast of black pasta and creamy parsnip.