Sometimes, it’s fun to play around with your food. I’m talking about not just pushing peas around in your mashed potatoes, but tinkering around with ingredients & concepts. Originally, I was wondering what to pair with a Romesco sauce, when I started to consider its individual components… that’s when I thought, “Why not take all these wonderful ingredients and make a dish out of it?” Off to the races we go!
Traditionally, stale bread is used in Romesco to thicken and give body to the sauce. Considering stale bread’s backbone status in the sauce, I needed to find something in the same vein that would act as the main substance of my dish, and pasta certainly fit the bill. Obviously, figuring out the type of pasta to use is an important factor, and I settled on Bucatini; it’s a heartier noodle than spaghetti with an amazingly satisfying bite to it.
I suppose there is some irony crafting a sauce for my deconstruction effort, but a flavorful and moist component never hurts a pasta dish (in my opinion). I wanted to go with something deep and complex to balance out the fresh flavors of the final dish. I decided to create an emulsion of charred onions and some Banyuls vinegar to give the pasta some dimension, with the addition of a little Italian parsley to keep things from getting too murky in flavor.
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how applying a little heat to ingredients alters their flavor & structure. Just a quick little saute of some sweet peppers & tomatoes with a bit of garlic intensified their natural essence, and softened up the texture.
With all of the trappings of a Romesco sauce, this pasta dish lays bare the elements in a straightforward format: thick Bucatini noodles lay over a smattering of pungent charred onion emulsion, cherry tomatoes & sweet peppers give pops of brightness to the pasta, and a last minute garnish of toasted almonds and shaved Manchego cheese to the plate add texture and a salty earthy note to the final result. While admittedly not tasting exactly like its source material in flavor, at the end of the day each component puts in its own effort to shine on the plate with simple fresh brilliance.
Charred Onion Emulsion
|1||Teaspoon||Banyuls Wine Vinegar|
|1||Tablespoon||Extra Virgin Olive Oil|
|2||Teaspoons||Flat Leaf Parsley||Chopped|
Heat a cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Cut onions into ½” rings. Add the veg oil to the pan, allow to heat up. Salt onions, and add to the hot pan. Add a weighted press to the onions and cook. Check onions after 3min, and flip once they get lightly golden. Continue to cook, and check after another 3min. Flip and continue to cook till browned and a char builds up on the onions, though don’t let them dry out too much. Add a little oil if things are getting a little too dry.
Heat a pan over medium heat, and add oil. Sautee tomatoes, peppers and garlic until cooked. Discard the garlic.
|As Needed||Flat Leaf Parsley Leaves|
Lay down a layer of onion emulsion onto a plate or bowl.
With a grilling fork with long tines, pick up cooked pasta and twirl to get a portion. Lay pasta atop onion emulsion.
Plate remaining ingredients on pasta, and drizzle with olive oil to finish.
- Cast iron pan
- Cutting board
- Steak weight
- Food processor
- Serving spoon
- Grilling fork