A few weeks ago I found myself in a situation that I'm sure a lot of you have been in - what kind of new dish could I make to wow my daughter, who was visiting?! Of course she loves her usual favorites but I also feel like I should try new things when she visits so that she gets some ideas for dishes she can make on her own when she's back at her place.
Since she loves pasta alla puttanesca, I thought I'd start from there. I was also looking for something new do do with sea fennel, since we saw so much interest in this unique condiment after a really nice article in Well+Good. One of the best pairings for sea fennel is tomatoes, which is why you often find sprigs of sea fennel atop Greek salads in the islands, and since we were in full tomato season, I thought about playing around with all of that.
It goes without saying that I used Agrozimi's pasta 😊 and since we've been trying more vegan dishes, I used the spelt striftaria. These are one of Agrozimi's newest shapes that we've just brought to the States, similar to Italian casarecce, and made with low-gluten spelt flour and the spring water from their village of Aravissos. That's where you'll find Agrozimi's state-of-the-art factory, which Pauline & I visited together (more on that here!). You can really appreciate just how good their pasta is when you see how well it holds tomato sauce - those bronze dies and natural drying make all the difference in the texture!
But back to dinner for my daughter - I put all those ideas together and came up with a really nice pasta dish that I thought I'd share, and it's easy enough for any time-pressed cook, young or old! If you are lucky to have a piece of Greek kefalotyri to grate on top of it (for the non-vegans, of course), then you've got a wonderful mix of Greek summer flavors. Otherwise, go for aged parmesan, and you'll still be dreaming of the Mediterranean!
1 package Agrozimi Spelt Striftaria-Casarecce
4 cups fresh diced tomatoes (or if you have to, 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes)
2 grated onions
2 pressed garlic cloves
1/2 jar Tragano Greek Organics Pitted Green Olives, sliced
1/2 jar Tragano Greek Organics Sea Fennel, chopped (keep a few sprigs for a garnish)
Salt & pepper to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
In a big pot of salted water, cook the pasta, following the package instructions. Check after 10-12 minutes if you prefer your pasta al dente.
In a deep, preferably non-stick, pan, warm the olive oil on medium-high heat. Then add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onions are soft and transluscent. Add the garlic and the pinch of red pepper flakes and stir for a minute. Add the tomatoes and green olives, stir well and let the mixture simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the sauce starts getting thick. Add the sea fennel and simmer for another five minutes until you have your desired consistency, and salt & pepper to taste.
Mix immediately with the pasta and ,if needed, add a little of the pasta cooking water and olive oil to blend smoothly. Garnish with sea fennel leaves and let your family & friends start the conversation about this novel condiment!
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