Rating: 3.5 out of 5 - Delicious components, but missing something, flavour-wise.
Funnily enough, I couldn't even find the cover recipe for this month's challenge with Jasmine of Cook That Book, which we both laughed off as my having a glass too many of wine one night. However, the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, I was still having trouble. Jasmine sent me the page number and name of the recipe, which I located in the back of the magazine, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out how she knew it was the cover recipe. My magazine cover said nothing about it! Finally, I just came out with it and asked her, at the risk of sounding ridiculous.
Turns out, the lovely people over at Food & Wine Magazine made more than one cover for the month of July! How many did they make? Who knows. But we do know they made at least two, which explains my confusion. It wasn't until Jasmine and I photographed our respective covers and emailed them to each other that my little mystery was solved!
The recipe for this month (as it turns out) was this Spaghettini with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Chile Crumbs, by Chef Dan Kluger. It looked pretty, sounded delicious, and seemed simple enough. It was another one of those recipes where I only had to pick up a few of the ingredients. Excellent! That, and I love fresh, simple pasta dishes with light but flavourful sauces, so this was right up my alley.
First you roast some plum tomatoes (local grocer wasn't carrying them, so opted for cocktail size) in red wine vinegar and olive oil, season them, cool them, and grate them into a rustic sauce. Crisp some bread crumbs (I used Panko flakes) in a pan with lemon zest, crushed red pepper, and olive oil. Boil some pasta until al dente. Stir fry the shrimp and combine it with the pasta and some shredded basil. Garnish it with cherry tomatoes and the Panko mixture. Lovely!
So how was it? A little underwhelming, I'm sorry to say. The shrimp were definitely a highlight: plump, juicy and and with a touch of heat from the red pepper. The Panko mixture was also a great addition, and one I'll likely use again and again. But there really was something missing. The pasta itself was a little on the dull side. The tomato sauce wasn't as zingy as I imagined it would be, though that probably has more to do with the quality of the tomatoes than the recipe. And the cherry tomatoes on top would have benefitted from being warmed in the pan, too, to get their flavours and juices going.
That said, it certainly wasn't the worst way to spend a warm, sunny Sunday evening to myself, with Ethel the cat for company and Muddy Waters creating some atmosphere. And those shrimp really made up for a lot!
For wine, the recipe recommended an unoaked Chardonnay to pair with the acidity of the tomatoes, so this Townsend Jack from the Okanagan Valley, BC was recommended to me by the people over at Harvest Wines & Spirits. I wonder if Jasmine has ever tried this wine, or Kendall from Wine2Three? Admittedly, I think I prefer the oak - taste wise - but it did pair nice and lightly with the pasta.
I'll head over to Cook That Book later today to see how Jasmine fared with this recipe. Maybe she had better luck with her tomato sauce? Or her pasta?
July's Cover Recipe: Spaghettini with Shrimp, Tomatoes, and Chile
NOTE: If any of you would like to follow along with Jasmine and I and join in on the fun, we'd love to compare notes! So pick-up a copy of the latest issue of Food & Wine and get cooking. Be sure to send your comments and photos to email@example.com.
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