Friday, August 14, 2009

Pasta with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce

I've got a confession, and most people are shocked when the hear it. I really don't like pasta all that much. I mean, the concept of pasta is fine, but it seems like anytime you go to an Italian restaurant, you just end up with a big homogeneous bowl of pasta and sauce. Every bite is exactly the same. Who likes dinner to be homogeneous?

I've made this argument several times to several people, and once my sister tried to explain to someone else my position. She said, "He doesn't like pasta, because it's too monogamous." When I tried to explain to her that 'homogeneous' and 'monogamous' were in fact, two very different words, she stated, "Well, they both mean 'the same,' don't they?" Who can fight with logic like that?

However, there are a few sauces of which I wouldn't mind a big ole' bowl of homogeneity. I first tasted a tomato mascarpone sauce from a little food delivery service my parents have (seriously, it started as a milkman delivering 2 gallons a week, and now he brings produce, and baked goods, and ridiculously good pasta sauce). Then I had another shot at it at a quirky little cafe in a bookstore in Washington DC over lobster and asparagus ravioli (more on that later). I decided to give it a go.

The end result was not exactly like what I had before, but was quite good. Feel free to experiment and comment.

Pasta with Tomato Mascarpone Sauce

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 large, ripe Roma tomatoes, diced
  • about 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3-4 large, fresh basil leaves, sliced thin, plus additional for garnishing
  • about 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound dry pasta (I used fusilli, because I like how it holds the sauce, but you could use just about anything)
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the shallot and garlic, and stir until soft but not yet browned. Add the diced tomatoes, and saute for a few minutes. Add the chicken broth and basil, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft, about 25-30 minutes. Add more broth if it reduces too much.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Rinse, and keep warm.

When the tomatoes have finished simmering, add the mascarpone and stir until melted and mixed well throughout. Season with salt and pepper to taste (it will probably require a good bit of salt).

Top the pasta with the warm sauce and additional sliced, fresh basil.

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