17 October 2012

Apple Walnut Pasta

I have been loving apples hardcore this fall.  Our third fall away from the Pacific Northwest, I think that we're attempting to overcompensate for our year-long apple withdrawals.  I mean, what's up with not being apple to pick an apple off a tree whenever you feel like a snack?  You actually have to pay for them here...bummer.  But none of that right now....it's apple season.  Huzzah!  Time to pick up your fork and get to work.  And I highly recommend starting with this lovely, simple weeknight dinner.

Now everyone knows apple pie, apple muffins, apple turnovers and apple oatmeal.  And with very good reason.  But please allow me to introduce you to a savory friend you may not already know....apple pasta.  As you know from your traditional dishes, apples undergo a lovely transformation when cooked.  Their sweetness intensifies as their texture softens, leaving you with tender, fruity and meaty bits of warm fruit.  Always a very, very good thing.  When added to whole wheat pasta, it does fantastic things.  The wholesome flavor of the pasta is counterbalanced with the sweet apples for a really delightful combination.  Add in a few toasted walnuts, Parmesan and oil and you have an amazing dinner with only five ingredients.   This is a recipe that makes you look forward to Tuesday night.

Now, a word about the oil.....

Above is a picture of the pride and joy of our home (besides our pup, of course!)  We present the black truffle oil from D'Avolio.  Oh my stars...this stuff is insane.  We've been waiting to use this for some ridiculous unknown reason for several weeks now.  And this dish was a wonderful opportunity to give it a go.  Since there are so few ingredients, you can truly taste everything in the bowl.  And wowsa, this stuff was amazing on it.  But please, do not feel the need to go out and buy black truffle oil!  No thank you.  Typically, we make this dish with our good extra virgin olive oil...simple, always in the pantry E.V.O.O.  It's also really lovely with walnut oil, as that plays up the walnuts already in the dish.  But please don't slop the bargain bin olive or (heaven forbid!) vegetable oil on your pasta.  Again, very few ingredients translates into tasting every little part of this recipe.  So pick up a bottle that's a few notches up and use it for special food occasions.  You will be glad you did.

Mmmm.  Perfect with a side of roast broccoli or grilled chicken.  

Apple Walnut Pasta (serves 2)
  • 1/2 c walnuts
  • 4 oz whole wheat penne, rotini or other short pasta
  • 1 medium Gala or Fuji apple 
  • 1/3 c Parmesan
  • 1/2 tbs good olive or walnut oil
Place a small non-stick pan over medium heat.  Add the walnuts and roast, tossing frequently, for 7-9 minutes or until nuts become very fragrant.  Transfer into a ramekin or small bowl and set aside to cool.

Fill a large pot with water.  Salt the water generously and bring to a boil.  While water is heating, dice your apple (you can peel it before dicing if you prefer).  Place the diced apple in a the small pan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and browned.  While apples are cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions.  Grate the cheese while you wait for your apples and pasta.  

When done, drain the pasta well and then transfer back into the cooking pot (off heat).  Add the walnuts and apples, reserving a bit of each for garnish.  Add 1/4 cup of the Parmesan and the oil, then toss together until all ingredients are well coated.   Divide between two plates and top with the reserved apples, walnuts and additional Parmesan.  Serve immediately.

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