This past week we enjoyed some simpler home cooking; Puttanesca and Cholent. I have long ago modified the original puttanesca recipe, for many reasons. Pasta sauce recipes call for finishing the sauce by placing the pasta into the pan of sauce. The issue here is that on Shabbos this is really not the best way to serve this for us, as it does not last long this way, and two of us will not finish the dish. We do this so that we can have leftovers, but again, that does not match the recipe format. Also, I like to add things to the recipe, like ground tofu and vegetables. So here is my revised version of the recipe, and enjoy whichever you prefer:
Puttanesca Sauce Recipe:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 finely chopped onions
- 1 tsp of salt to help sweat the onions
- 1 pound of sliced brown mushrooms
- 3 diced zucchini
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 2 oz of anchovies (tin or tube)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (or crushed by you) with juice
- 1 jar of Kalamata olives without juice (any other olive is a waste of time)
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
First put the oil in a large pan and heat up the oil till it is almost smoking. Then saute the onions and salt and watch them till they get nice and browned. Then add in the mushrooms and saute them till they just start to get soft and are releasing their juice, then throw in the zucchini and wait till they are just soft. At this point the mushrooms should be getting browned and the onions should be golden. Then make room in the pan so that there is enough exposed space to heat the garlic and the anchovies. The idea is that the anchovies become paste like and integrate into the vegetables. If you are starting with anchovies from a tube then you are already there. If you are using anchovies from a tin, like I do, then you need saute them in their oil until they get warm and start to fall apart. Once the mixture is all integrated, add in the tomatoes, Kalamata olives (without juice), capers, basil and red pepper flakes.
Wait for the mixture to thicken, which takes some 40 or so minutes, and then it is ready. I cool it down and warm it back up on Friday, before the Sabbath. That said, others may well want to serve it right then and there, along with some lovely al dente pasta. We do not finish the pasta in the sauce as the recipe calls for two reasons; we like to eat more sauce than pasta, and because putting the pasta in the sauce for a few hours, even right before the Sabbath starts, would turn the al dente pasta into mush in short time. For Saturday lunch we had some nice vegetable cholent which is something we enjoy and whose leftovers we enjoy throughout the week.
When looking for some wine to pair with these dishes I decided to try more of the Yogev wines that I had in the cellar. I did this because I wanted to know if last weeks’ bad showing for the 2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz was a fluke or sad reality. The truth is that they are well past their prime and, while they were not DOA, they are clearly vintages that need to be drunk ASAP.
The wine notes below are listed in the order that they were tasted:
2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet Sauvignon – Shiraz - Score: B to B+
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine, with brown overtones, is filled with blackberry, black currant, black cherry, vanilla, crushed herbs, light oak tones, along with pepper notes. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine follows the nose with blackberry, cassis, and black cherry. The mid palate is balanced with soft tannin, cedar, acid, and dates. The finish is long and spicy, with rising pepper notes, cedar, black fruit, and vanilla, with black cherry, pepper, and vanilla lingering. Drink up this wine is dying quickly.
2007 Binyamina Yogev Cabernet-Merlot - Score: B to B+
This wine is declining very quickly! The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine, with a hint of brown, is filled with dirt/mineral, blackberry, cranberry, black Currant, cedar, and bramble. The black currant quickly overpowers the palate and nose. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine has soft tannin, bramble, dirt, blackberry, black currant, along with a lovely mouthfeel. The Black Currant again becomes dominant on the palate, throwing it a bit off balance. The mid palate is balanced with acid, lovely tannin, oak, tobacco, and coffee. The finish is nice with tobacco, coffee, oak, black currant, black berry, and bramble. Black Currant, tobacco, and coffee linger long on the palate after the wine is gone. Drink UP!!!!!
This past shabbos saw us back on home soil, and we could not be happier. Hey, nothing against Australia, but two to three weeks away is more than enough for me in one stretch. So, with little time to prepare, we arrived home dead on Thursday, we went with a simple standby, our Puttanesca recipe, along with whole wheat spaghetti.
With Tisha B’Av coming up, we had to stay away from meat, as we do not eat meat on the week that Tisha B’Av falls. So a non-meat dish was in order, and we had a hunkering for a warm cooked meal, so puttanesca it was. We threw in some whole wheat spaghetti and fresh green salad and that was all.
To pair with this tangy and acidic dish, I went with a lovely Côtes du Rhône that was selling for a steal during the Passover sale at KosherWine.com. Keeping it simple on this post, wine notes follow below:
2007 Vignobles David Côtes du Rhône Le Mourre de l’Isle - Score: B+ to B++
The nose on this purple colored wine starts off hot initially, after it settles down it shows black plum, cranberry, cloves, coffee, oak, and stone/mineral notes. After it has enough air, about 1 to two hours, the nose cleans up, and a bit of oak is noticeable, along with black cherry and more cloves. The mouth on this dense and interesting, yet not so complex wine, starts with layers of black cherry, black plum, and spice. This wine is a spicy with sleek race horse lines that have enough concentration to make you look up from your glass. The dense flavors roll into a soft, acidic, and mineral mid palate. The finish is long with a trail of oak, nice tannins, black cherry, plum, pepper and coffee. The wine is spicy and sultry and lingers long on the palate with coffee, spice, and black cherry.
This past weekend saw us fall back into an old favorite; Puttanesca. We have posted here many times before about our enjoyment of the unique flavors and textures that Puttanesca has to offer. The saltiness of the olives and the body of the anchovies mingle together so well, that it almost feels surreal. Well this time was no different, and we paired it with a combination of whole wheat spaghetti and Quinoa, thereby leaving us with many options of how we would enjoy this wonderful sauce. As usual we added in fake soy meat and some thick sliced mushrooms, which add even more textures to the party. We enjoyed the Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, along with the aforementioned grains/pasta, and a fresh green salad.
To pair with this wonderful dinner, I went for a bottle with a fair amount of acidity, and enough body to keep up with the Puttanesca. The first thing that came to mind was the classical pairing of pasta sauce; a Chianti. Luck had it that we had a nice 2004 Borgo Reale Sangiovese Puglia, which turned out to be fine, for the evening. By the next day, it had fallen on its face, and was just a shadow of its former self. Clearly the acidity has kept this player in the game far longer than it deserves to be, but that is the joy of a low PH. Drink this bottle now, and enjoy it.
The wine note follows below:
2004 Borgo Reale Sangiovese Puglia – Score: B – B+
The nose on this dull ruby colored wine, with a hint of orange is oaky with tart cherry, loamy dirt, raspberry, and a nice dollop of spice and pepper. The mouth on this medium bodied wine is soft and follows the nose with tart cherry, loamy dirt, and raspberry that almost feels velvety and full in the mouth. The tannins are all but gone, and were probably perfect 6 months ago. The mid palate is balanced with acidity, oak and spice. The finish is nice and long with bracing acidity, soft to almost nonexistent tannins, tons of spice, and tart cherry. This is quite a nice bottle that has clearly survived because of its low PH, and needs to be drunk NOW. It should have been drunk 6 or so months ago, when it was probably better.
On the last Wednesday night of 2009, my friends from out of the country swung by the house for dinner. So we made one of our favorite dishes to share for them, Spaghetti alla Puttanesca. It is an awesome dish that we have made many times before, and thank goodness this time was no exception. To pair with the Puttanesca we made fresh green salad and some nice whole wheat penne. As usual I am not content enough with making the watery puttanesca sauce; instead I add 32 ounces of the ground soy meat to thicken up the sauce. It adds texture, heft, and a bit of flavor to the sauce, which is all good for me, but of course it flies in the face of tradition. I understand that, but what can I do. The recipe I use can be found here.
To match these salty and earthy flavors, I pulled out a bottle of 2005 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The mouth on this wine is packed, complex, and mouth coating. It is a real joy, and I wonder if some underscore this one. The wine note follows below:
2005 Ella Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (non V.C.) – Score: A-
The nose on this dark garnet to purple colored wine is popping with rich and ripe blackberry, plum, cassis, meaty notes, a bit of heat out of the bottle, chocolate, and a nice side of spice. The mouth on this full bodied and complex wine is extracted and mouth coating yet yielding tannins. The mouth is layered with blackberry, cassis, and plum. The mid palate is hopping with balanced acidity, oak, licorice, and more extraction, along with not yet integrated tannins. The finish is long and smoky with spice, licorice, and chocolate, all on a plush mouth that lies under and over a lush field of spicy oak and black fruit. This wine should be tasted immediately upon opening, but will show it best face with an hour or two of air.
This past week saw us enjoying a quiet shabbos between the two of us. After the past week, we thought it was a great time to have some Italian food again. With all the Italian Recipes available, we looked for one that would hit the spot. After a bit of thought, we decided to again, go with Pasta Puttanesca. We have done this before, and we really love the altered recipe we have come up with. By adding in the fake ground meat (soy), it thickens the sauce and it also adds meat to body of the recipe, real fun. The sauce is best paired with pasta that holds the liquid, like rigatoni or penne – like we did. Once that was handled, I looked to the cellar for the win to pair with, and I chose the 2005 Galil Merlot. For two reasons, one because it is at its peak (or a bit past it), and two because it has enough acidity and body to keep up with the sauce. The wine started off really funky!! It started to smell brown, and a bit old and dingy, and did not get out of its funk until a day later, when it cleaned itself up and became quite enjoyable. I also got a chance to taste another bottle; the 1998 Langer Reserve Szamorodni Takaji. The wine is really quite pleasant and honeyed along with a nice subtle almonds undertone. It paired nicely with cheese and other smelly/stinky flavors.
The wine notes follow below:
1998 Langer Reserve Szamorodni Takaji – Score: B+
The nose on this bright gold colored wine has strong honey, sweet honeydew, and almond notes, along with a hint of lemon. The mouth on this full bodied wine is glycerol and oily in nature, ripe and rich, is filled with ripe honeydew, rich honey, and almond flavors. The mid palate is bright and balanced. The finish is long and honey sweet with more nice acidity and a hint of lemon tea as well.
2005 Galil Mountain Merlot – Score: B++
The nose on this dark garnet colored wine with brown/dingy edges starts off with a cedar box like aroma along with aged roasted herbs, dirty and dingy cranberry, plum, an herbaceous attack, and a dollop of briery/earth. After this wine opens up, the musty and dingy notes go away, and you get cleaned up cranberry, cherry, and plum aromas, along with a hint of coffee. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine initially has fading tannins, and give way to fruit which is also fading. The mouth feel is almost mouth coating. The mid palate is OK but without enough acidity to brace it. The finish is nice with tannins, fruit, along with an herbaceous attack, a large dollop of spice, and a hint of mint. However, after the wine airs out, the mouth fills out quite nicely, almost velvety. The mouth coats with ripe red fruit and a nice soft mouth. The mid palate is medium long but OK because the fruit is less aggressive and the wine becomes more about the mouthfeel and nice residual tannins, than does the complexity. The finish is long with tannins, red fruit, coffee, and herbs.
This past week we had to endure through Tisha B’Av, so I wanted to make sure that we may something that would give Shabbos its due respect, and I came up with one of my new treats – Spaghetti alla puttanesca. It is a dish that my friend showed me a year ago, and is one that has quickly become a staple in our house. I love the Kalamta Olives (not Italian of course, but the best black olives that we can find), the spicy peppers, and the spicy rumors around the dish’s name (hint read the Wikipedia link above). For protein, some add in tuna or salmon. Instead, we add in soy meat/protein from one of the many purveyors of the fake ground meat. It adds a bit of depth and a nice texture overall to the dish. I have posted a before about my interest in this dish, and Emeril’s recipe. With all that tomato sauce, the dish needed a nice acidic wine to pair with, and I reached for a wine that I thought would work. Well initially, it was OK, but unbalanced and over the top acidic. However, the wine did a 180 degree change and became quite a wonderful wine that is not only balanced, but also more flush and fruity. The wine is the 2007 Borgo Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and one that is reasonably priced and Mevushal to boot. The wine paired nicely Friday night, but it got even better on Saturday day (after staying up all night sealed in a 375 ml bottle in my refrigerator) and paired well thank you with medium hard cheeses.
The wine note follows below:
2007 Borgo Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Score: B+
This wine caught me by surprise, in a very pleasant manner. When I first opened the bottle Friday night, I was unimpressed. It was a red wine with an average nose and a blunt/aggressive mouth that felt out of whack to say the least. However, all that changed after a few hours of air. I must stress that while the wine improved drastically from where it was Friday Night, the wine did lose its finish, with so much air. So, I would think that just a three or so hours of air would get it to where it is smooth, balanced, and enjoyable, without losing its finish. This is NOT a wine for long cellaring, but a wine that has a body and a life that simply needs a bit of air to be its muse.
The nose on this garnet colored wine is hot out of the bottle, with cherry, raspberry, currants, and some roasted herbs. After a few hours of air, the wine’s nose goes black with black cherry, rich/fresh plum, currants, and rich loam. The mouth on this medium bodied wine starts off red with raspberry and cherry. It flows into a mid palate of tannin, coffee, and bright acidity. The finish is long and bright with red fruit. However, with more air, the mouth fleshes out into an almost new wine. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is rich and almost mouth coating. The tannins have fully integrated and are carried by rich black plum, black cherry, and loamy dirt. The mid palate is still bright with acidity and a hint of coffee. The finish is average now with more rich fruit, tobacco, and mineral flavors. The wine lingers long on the mouth from the acidity, but the finish still feels short. This is another winner by Borgo Reale that is both Mevushal and reasonably priced to boot. Still not for celllaring, enjoy this one now or in a few months. This is a wine that will be comfortable at a spaghetti party or at a formal affair.
We have made Spaghetti Bolognese before, but this was a bit crazy, I must say. You know when you mother used to tell you, no going out with friends on a school night? Well, my friend Benyamin Cantz (from Four Gates Winery), had invited me to his house for a Sheva Berachot of friends of his. Well, I should have remembered my mother, when I accepted the invite. I had a grand time and when it was done, I was so tired (worked and cleaned up and God knows what else), that I barely could get up the next morning! Worse, I had yet to cook the meal for Friday night. So when I dragged myself in from work on Friday, I was pooped, and could almost not bring myself to whip up a nice Sabbath dinner. Thank Goodness I woke up enough to make a nice affair – otherwise, I would have been kicking myself all Sabbath.
This recipe was meant to be a Pasta Puttanesca, but we had bought all these lovely vegetables from our local farmer’s market (zucchini, eggplant, etc.), and they do not last forever, and they do not fit in Puttanesca. So, when we thought what we needed to create we came up with the Parve Spaghetti Bolognese. The recipe is pretty simple:
Parve Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
As many onions you have or like (you can never have enough onions)
16 ounces of sliced mushrooms
3 Japanese eggplants
3 colored (yellow, green, striped green) zucchini
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp Thyme
2 tsp Basil
2 packages of fake ground/crumbled meat
28 ounces of good tomatoes
1 jar of Kalamata Olives
Half a bottle of good cooking wine
It not only looks easy, it is crazy easy to make. Dice the onions and then sauté them until nice and brown. Throw in the mushrooms and sauté them as well until you have nice brown onions and mushrooms. At this point one could have thrown in some tomato paste to thicken the pot and food, but I passed on that, because I had little time. Now throw in the diced zucchini and eggplant until they cook down. Then throw in the herbs, garlic, and the rest of the ingredients, and cook down until the pasta sauce is at the consistency that you like. I like my sauce a bit thicker, so I cooked it a bit longer than most would.
The food is thick and heavy and yummy, and I grabbed a bottle of wine that I was not initially so sure about. But wow was I surprised, another great QPR (Quality to Price Ratio), though the score does not show it (as price is not part of wine scoring).
The wine note follows below:
2007 Alfasi Malbec – Syrah Reserve (50% Malbec/50% Syrah) – Score: B+
The nose on this ruby to garnet colored wine is hot out of the bottle, along with raisins, sweet oak, vanilla, roasted herbs, and nice heady and spicy aroma. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine is busy with plum, raspberry, and cherry. The mid palate is where this nicely balanced and soft yet velvety wine comes to life with acid, integrated tannins, and a nice layer of dust. The finish is long with mounds of spice, coffee, white chocolate, and a dollop of vanilla. Quite a nice wine that really gets better with a couple of hours of air.
Well this past weekend I was pooped out of wine, after tasting so many wines on Wednesday. However, I had a great desire to make some fun food. So my friend Benyamin explained to me his version of Puttanesca, which is pretty much in-line with this recipe. However, like all recipes I am not interested in standing pat, and more, I wanted to add in some fake ground meat. So I followed the recipe, but when it called for the sauce, I added the fake ground meat, browned it for a bit, and then added in the sauce and an hour late it was done. I must stress that using any olives other than Kalamata olives is a waste of time and money.
I hope this helps people try this recipe. I must stress that the capers and anchovies are a base and should not be increased in volume. Also, please do not shy away from it just because it has anchovies and/or capers. They are barely noticeable and they add this thickness and weight to the flavor profile, but the olives dominate the palate.
We enjoyed the dish with a nice whole wheat spaghetti. Normally, a Puttanesca would NEVER work spaghetti, but because we modified the recipe to become a far thicker and heftier sauce with the fake meat, it worked quite nicely.
Now depending on if you want to modify the recipe and/or make it thicker, you will have to make a choice of the correct pasta, to serve with the Puttanesca. People commonly think that pasta is pasta – man that cannot be further from the truth. First you need to look at how thirsty of a pasta you want – a web site like this. There is a reason why there are SO many boxes of shapes on the supermarket shelves. The more surface space a pasta has, the more liquid it can soak up. Equally important is the thickness or density of the pasta itself. If the sauce or meal is more delicate than pair it with a delicate pasta. If the sauce is thick and heavy, better to pair it with a pasta with more volume. Pasta, sauce, and wine all meld together to reach a true nirvana or something less than that.
Enjoy that pasta!