RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

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RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Jenise » Thu Jun 01, 2006 3:41 pm

In response to the recent call for asparagus prep ideas, here is one of my favorite vegetarian main dishes from the Union Square Cafe (New York City).

Serves 4 to 6.

4 tblsp butter
1 pound medium aspragus, peeled, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
2 yellow bell peppers, charred, peeled and diced
2 red bell peppers, ditto
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 c chicken stock
4 tsp kosher salt
3/5 pound penne
1 1/2 tblsp minced fresh thyme
2/3 c finely grated parmesan reggiano
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

In a ten inch skillet over med heat, melt 2 T of the butter. Add the asparagus and cook, stirring,until tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the peppers and garlic and toss to heat through, 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and set aside.

Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil and add 1 tblsp kosheer salt. Add the pasta, cook to just before the al dente stage, drain.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the penne and fresh thyme. Stir to combine the ingredients and simmer 5 to 7 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Stir in half the parmesan and the remaining butter, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Doug Surplus » Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:32 pm

Sounds good, but

1. How do you char the bell peppers?
2. How do you peel them?

I can imagine what charring the peppers brings to the mix, but then why peel them? Would the dish be just as tasty, although different, if the peppers were unpeeled, or even un-charred?

I just always cut up bell peppers and saute them. Never thought about doing things differently.
Doug

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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Jenise » Thu Jun 01, 2006 5:11 pm

Doug, the classic--and dead easy--way to char peppers is to put them straight on your stove's gas or electric burner. Turn with tongs. Once they're about 80% blackened (you can't get every inch) dump them in a plastic bag and roll it shut. In about ten minutes, the skin will scrape off with a dinner knife. Voila, charred peppers that are still a bit crisp and fresh tasting. It's an easy step that you can do while the water's boiling.

As for skipping the charring--sure. It's just another layer of flavor, and totally a personal thing if you think it's not worth doing. But you wouldn't char and then not peel, at least in this prep. The black bits running amok in your dish would be a bit overwelming. That said--when I make a highly seasoned chili verde or a spanish sauce to go on my roasted chile rellenos?--I always put the charred skin in the sauce. There, that flavor's a bonus.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:13 pm

Please, please, please don't call this a vegetarian dish. I've had a few bad experiences digestively when someone unthinkingly used chicken or other meaty broths/stocks in a "vegetarian" dish.

Remind me not to eat at Union Square Cafe!
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Jenise » Thu Jun 01, 2006 6:54 pm

Stuart,

Rebuke deserved! It is not vegetarian, and I wouldn't make that mistake in cooking for a true vegetarian, but when I make meatless dishes for us at home, chicken broth as a seasoning doesn't count so hense my reflexive use of the term.

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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:00 pm

Not meant as a rebuke, it's just that so many people think that chicken broth "doesn't count" that I wanted to make sure that the message was reinforced.

And many restaurants don't think it counts, either, much to my later distress.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Doug Surplus » Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:00 pm

Thanks, Jenise. I'll have to try charring some other way - I have a glass cooktop stove - but the recipe is too tempting to ignore. Maybe I can get a hot enough fire in my grill with hardwood charcoal.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Robin Garr » Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:06 pm

Doug Surplus wrote:Maybe I can get a hot enough fire in my grill with hardwood charcoal.


Doug, that shouldn't be a problem at all! It's really more traditional, and the extra flavor that the grill smoke brings to the party is a plus. Just let the coals get going good, then put down the grate, slap on the cut up peppers skin side down, and let them cook until they're black on the skin side. Put in a bag to steam for a few minutes, and then you can just rub the charred skin off.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Jenise » Fri Jun 02, 2006 10:49 am

Doug, Robin: broiling works, too. HOWEVER, it's a hotter all-around environment and less efficient at burning/blistering the surface than just putting it on a hot gas or electric burner, so the pepper gets more cooked in the process. Ergo, I like that less than the stovetop method. Doug--I would try charring directly on the glass surface. We'd at least learn something. If I had a neighbor who has one--oh wait, I do! Lynette! I'll drop in on her over the weekend and check that out.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Howard » Fri Jun 02, 2006 2:22 pm

Hi Stuart,
I was on the receiving end of a similar well deserved "non-rebuke" a couple of years ago. I've never thought to ask before, why are you a vegetarian? I've always assumed it was a personal choice thing but you mentioned distress couple of times so now I'm wondering if there's more to it than that. Of course it really isn't any of my business and feel free to tell me so if you like but I was curious.

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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Fri Jun 02, 2006 3:19 pm

Ethical reasons; it's as close to religion as I get. BUT... I make a very determined effort not to evangelize or be obnoxious about it. And I try very hard not to put people out because of my choices. However, this was a moment that called for education (definitely not rebuke!).

After 40+ years of not eating animals, my digestive system does not respond well when faced with them. Just a matter of acclimation.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Howard » Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:47 pm

Thanks.
My daughter has decided to become a vegetarian over the last year or so (19 Years old) after visiting an ecologically low impact community in New Zealand that is working on re-building a rain forest. She says that after seeing how much land and resources are devoted world-wide to cultivation of meat and how much ecological destruction occurs because of it, she can no longer in good conscience participate in that any more. I'm not a vegetarian but when she's home from college I enjoy the challenge of cooking for her and satisfying my creative needs. Overall, I think I eat less meat now than before her interest and am much more open to a totally meat-free meal than I used to be.
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Sue Courtney » Fri Jun 02, 2006 5:47 pm

Jenise,
My sisters have been buying Vegeta Gourmet stock which is gluten and lactose free with no animal content. I can't taste the difference in a finished meal.
There is another one call Massell Stock Powder which is as above, but without any flavour enhancers. They don't like it as they say it has no flavour.
Cheers,
Sue
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Re: RCP Penne with Asparagus and Red Peppers

Postby Jenise » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:50 am

Sue,

I don't think either or those products are available here. Wish a good one was--the few times I've bought vegetable stock, I've found them either tasteless, like your sisters, or tasting predominantly of onion skins, which I didn't find pleasant either. When I occasionally cook for vegetarian friends, I just make my own vegetable stock.

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