Friday, July 24, 2009

Orecchiette with Sundried Tomato Alfredo Sauce and Mom's Pattypan Squash

In the interest of EVER getting this post published, I am putting it up without the photos. I have a newer post I am working on and want to share that with you asap. At some point, I will probably add the photos, but we're going minimalist for now.

Thanks to all for your support, patience, cheerleading, and friendship!! You are the foodie friends anyone could ask for!

I hope you enjoy this no-frills post.

I was thrilled to get back into the kitchen last night and even created a new recipe, for Orecchiette with Sundried Tomato Alfredo Sauce. I was really pleased with a) how quick and easy it was and b) how well it turned out. I picked up some salmon burgers to try and needed something to serve along side them. Having cooked mostly vegetarian for a number of years, I'm used to "one-pot" kind of meals so often find having to dream up real side dishes a pain.

But this pasta is a good one, simple, quick and yummy!

My son loves pattypan squash and the price was really good on the locally grown ones at WF, so I also decided to try my hand at my mom's recipe for squash-- which I've had mixed results with over the years. But I think I finally figured it out! Hers is just a very simple, good old Southern veggie dish, which I thought you might enjoy. Both dishes went well with the salmon burgers.

Orecchiette with Sundried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

I'm calling this "alfredo" for lack of a better name, though I don't think it really is an alfredo sauce, but it has some of the same flavor and texture notes. I'm sure Reeni or any of you other fabulous Italian food geniuses could clue me in on what goes into a real alfredo! DC loves alfredo, so my goal was to produce something similar.

First, get your pasta cooking. I cooked about 1/2 lb. of the pasta, and we have at least 1 serving left over, so I would say this serves 4-5. Of course you can use any kind of pasta you want, but I chose the orecchiette so it would really sop up the sauce! To make my sauce, I used the following ingredients:

1 c. heavy cream
1/3 c. julienned sundried tomatoes (dry, not packed in oil)
Pinch of salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
2 lg. cloves crushed garlic, or more, to taste
3/4 c. freshly grated parmigiano regggiano cheese

Put the cream, sundried tomato strips, pinch of salt (you don't want to add much at this point because you are going to reduce this sauce and it could quickly get too salty) and pepper in a small, heavy bottom sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer until reduced by about 1/3, sitrring occasionally. This took about 7-8 minutes. Add the crushed garlic, stir to combine, and turn off the heat.

Drain your hot cooked pasta and toss with 1 T unsalted butter and 1/4 c. chopped Italian parsley. Back at the saucepan, stir in the grated cheese and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss thoroughly. That's all there is to it! It was a big hit-- DC and DS loved it!

Mom's Good Old-Fashioned Southern Squash
My mom's recipe is actually for yellow squash, but I substituted the pattypan instead. For pattypan, Mom usually battered and and pan-fried it, but I have yet to try that-- but, oh, it was sooooo good that way. We didn't get to have it often, because you couldn't buy pattypans at the store back in those days-- we got ours from a neighbor with a garden. The recipe below is a more typical Southern preparation for yellow squash, but is just as delicious with the pattypans.

I bought about 4 pattypans, for the 3 of us, because squash always shrinks down when you cook it. Again, we had at least 2 servings of leftovers, so this would probably serve 4-6.

Wash the pattypans and cut off the stem and blossom ends. Dice into 1" pieces, and set aside. Heat 2-3 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, peel and halve 2 medium onions and slice thinly. I forgot and diced one of mine, but I think sliced onions make the finished dish sweeter and tastier. Add the onions to the hot skillet, and season generously with salt and pepper. The black pepper is one of the keys to the great flavor of this dish, so don't be shy. I think I used at least 1/2 -1 t. overall.

Cook the onions until they are getting pretty soft, but do not brown-- 8-9 minutes or so. Turn up the heat to medium high, and add the diced squash, along with more salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and cover. Cook for 5-6 minutes and check for tenderness. It should be just about right, not too hard, not too mushy.

Now, here is the real secret to getting that old-fashioned flavor: stir in 1-2 T unsalted butter. You won't believe what a difference it makes! I learned this trick from my friend Nathan's delicious recipe for Calabacitas. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.

It tasted juuuuust like Mom's squash used to, so I felt really triumphant!! I think I have at last cracked the secret to making her recipe.


  1. Yum, what an awesome meal...and seriously, the "alfredo" sauce sounds amazing!

  2. The alfredo with sun-dried tomatoes sounds delicious!


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