Let's read the title of this recipe again: Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese.
What about that doesn't sound like a jaw-dropping rollercoaster ride of utter deliciousness?
The interesting thing about this dish is the way it's prepared. First, you poach fresh tomatoes in a hot bath of olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs. The smell is intense and makes your stomach rumble with anticipation. Then, you take short-cut pasta and prepare it like risotto, adding broth in 1/2 cup increments until the pasta is al dente. The pasta creates its own slightly creamy sauce due to the starch being released into the broth, but then it's thrown overboard into creamyville with the addition of soft, tangy goat cheese and shredded parmesan.
Are you drooling yet?
Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese (from Food & Wine)
-1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for poaching (**I used less than 3/4 cup and it worked fine**)
-3 plum tomatoes—peeled, quartered and seeded
-2 thyme sprigs
-1 bay leaf
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1 small onion, coarsely chopped
-Kosher salt (**1/4 teaspoon should suffice for the whole recipe, unless you're using unsalted broth**)
-1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)
-3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth (**Obviously, you can easily make this a vegetarian meal by using veggie broth instead**)
-1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)
-1/2 cup tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving
-Freshly ground pepper
-2 tablespoons fresh snipped chives (**or 1 teaspoon dried**)
-2 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves (**or 1 teaspoon dried**)
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme and bay leaf. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.
2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.
3. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions. The pasta is done when it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.
4. Stir the tomatoes into the pasta. Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.
-Serves 3-4 as a main dish, 6 as a side
Verdict: So, it truly was an awesome pasta dish. The flavors managed to be subtle and sharp all at once, and it was totally tantalizing. Both Greg and I *loved* it. But, I did feel like there were two major flaws: First, there is MAYBE enough for 3 full portions, definitely not 4. 4 small portions is more like it. Considering there is no protein or extra veggies in this, you would need a nice big salad and bread to supplement this as a entire meal for 4 people. I think it wouldn't hurt to add more pasta than the recipe specifies, just to stretch it a bit more. Secondly, I think it is really unattractive for such a fancy and delightful dish. Its appearance reminds me of a mayo-rich pasta salad that you might see at a corporate picnic, just begging to give you food poisoning. BUT. I can get over those two flaws, because this is seriously tasty stuff.