Sunday, November 14, 2010

Linguini a Zucchine Agrodolce

     Agrodolce is a classic Sicilian sweet and sour sauce.  Agrodolce is  arabic in origin.  At one time, sugar was traded like a spice and it was used like a spice.  The heavy duty spice traders in the mediterranean region throughout history are the Arabic spice traders.  Sicily has a long history of Arabic trade and some Arabic cooking influences can be noticed in Sicilian cuisine.
     Linguini a Zucchine Agrodolce is a very nice light vegetarian pasta.  I do post many classic international vegetarian recipes in this blog that are much more comfortable than some of the interesting to look at, but confusing, overpriced modern vegetarian cuisine that restaurants have featured in recent years.  This Sicilian pasta is a classic!
     Cook 1 portion of linguini in boiling water, till it becomes cooked al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Toss the pasta with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and set it aside.
     Place these ingredients into a sauce pot:
     - 1/4 cup of Red wine vinegar
     - 1/4 cup of sugar
     - 1 cup of dry white wine
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
     Taste the mixture.  The mixture should be a balance of sweet and sour, but it should be barely on the sweet tasting end of the scale.  Adjust the flavors if necessary.
     Bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of crushed dried red pepper.
     Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of minced dried fruit.  (Raisons, dried berries or dried cherries are best for this recipe.  I used a few Arabic dried sour cherries for this agrodolce.)
     Reduce the temperature to medium low/low heat.
     Taste the sauce.  The sauce should taste like a complex light sweet and sour sauce with hints of fruit flavors.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a very thin syrup consistency.
     Set the sauce aside.
     Linguini a Zucchine Agrodolce:
     Cut 1 medium size zucchini lengthwise into thin slices.
     Cut the long thin slices in half.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add the zucchini.
     Saute the zucchini, till the zucchini becomes lightly caramelized.
     Set the cooked zucchini on a cutting board and slice the zucchini strips into bite size pieces.
     Set the sauteed zucchini aside.
     Heat a saute pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
     Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of minced shallot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.
     Saute till the onions become cooked clear in color.
     Add the reserved sauteed zucchini pieces.
     Add just enough of the agrodolce sauce, to coat the the ingredients in the pan and add just enough to coat the pasta with flavor.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian parsley.
     When the sauce becomes hot, add the reserved portion of al dente cooked linguini.
     Toss all the ingredients together.
     Mound the pasta on a plate and serve.
     This is a strong flavored sauce, so only use enough sauce to coat the pasta!  The flavors of this pasta are very agreeable!  The rich flavor of zucchini is released when the squash is lightly caramelized.  The sweet sour and wine flavor of the agrodolce sauce has a slight accent of the dried fruit.  This traditional Sicilian pasta will open your eyes and make you feel great!  Yum!  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna

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