Mediterranean Chorizo Pasta

Mediterranean Chorizo Pasta Recipe

Mediterranean food usually reminds me of a warm summer evening but it's great during the winter season as well. All the ingredients for this pasta dish are available year 'round. I used whole wheat elbow pasta, chanterelles (girolles in French), crimini mushrooms, marinated artichokes, black olives, vine mini sweet peppers (orange, yellow and red), capers, plum tomatoes, soy chorizo (or the non-veggie version, depending on your preference) and caramelized onions.

I wanted to make comfort food for my husband that is flavorful while still being healthy for him to eat when he comes back from the gym. Comfort food doesn't always have to be cheese pasta. Of course, if you're not watching your weight, a little cheese sauce would go great!

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) package whole wheat elbow pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup soy chorizo (or real chorizo), (see tips)
4 chanterelle mushrooms, diced
4 crimini mushrooms, diced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 (7-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and diced
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons black olives
1 tablespoon capers
juice of a lemon, freshly squeezed
1 tablespoon sweet basil leaves
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground


Directions

Cooking whole wheat elbow pasta: Bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta, bring back to a boil and immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the pasta is cooked evenly all the way through. Cook the pasta for about 12-13 minutes total (whole wheat pasta takes a little longer to get tender). Salt the water half-way through the cooking process (it will bring out the natural flavor of the pasta and the pasta will be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. It may take longer than the cooking time that's written on the box. When the pasta is cooked (cooked inside and out but still in shape and firm), reserve about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of pasta water and drain the pasta (do NOT rinse). Transfer it to a large flat platter. You can also skip this step and transfer the pasta directly to the sauté pan.

Caramelizing the onions and shallots: Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan or a large wok. Fry the onions with red chili flakes in the oil over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the onions from burning, until the color is evenly golden brown. Transfer to a platter. 

For the soy chorizo and mushrooms: In the same pan, there should still be oil from the caramelized onions (add more if necessary). Add the garlic and cook until slightly golden. Separate the "soyrizo" into small lumps using a large spoon. Add to the pan and cook until each piece is nicely browned. Add the diced mushrooms. Toss frequently and cook for about 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon of parsley. Transfer to a platter. 

Assembly time: In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the caramelized onions and artichoke hearts. Stir until fragrant. Add the elbow pasta and about ¼ cup of pasta water. Toss the pasta for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add more pasta water. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and basil. Toss well for about 2 minutes. Add the soy chorizo and mushrooms. Drizzle with lemon juice. Finish with olives and capers. Check seasoning. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Garnish with more parsley. Serve warm. For more serving suggestions, check out the tip section.

Bon appétit!


Tips

I'm not a huge fan of tomato skin in sauces. During the winter season, I usually use canned whole peeled tomatoes. Plus, you save some time! Canned plum tomatoes are picked at the peak of ripeness, which guarantees a consistent, flavorful and sweet result. If you're cooking with fresh tomatoes, here's a neat method to peel tomatoes. Make a small criss-cross cut at the bottom of each tomato using a bread knife (I use a bread knife because the blade won't bruise the fruit). Fill a saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil on the stove. Place the tomatoes in the water and wait for at least 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes quickly (I use a large strainer), then transfer to an ice cold bath to stop the cooking process. The skin of the tomatoes will come right off. Cut the tomatoes into halves. Remove and discard the stem. Voilà!

For this dish, I used whole wheat pasta for its good nutritional value. Lulu liked it but personally, I find the only wheat pasta that has a pleasant texture is spaghetti; other shapes tend to get a little gummy when cooked.

The vegetarian chorizo (click on the link for the recipe) has a similar texture to ground beef. Soy chorizo is also available in regular stores such as Safeway and Trader Joe's. You can also check out more dishes using soy chorizo that I have posted over the past year.

You could always sauté some ground beef or real chorizo on the side and add to the pasta dish if you're a carnivore like me. When I serve this dish for a dinner party, I make it with ground chorizo meat and top the pasta with pan-seared scallops to make the dish ultra fancy.

Frying onions is pretty easy but time consuming. So I make them in advance and fry them in huge batches. I often have fried onions on hand in the freezer. Place about 1 tablespoon of tightly packed fried onions per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I store them exactly the same as I would with extra pesto or papaya (for marinating meat).

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on January 22, 2010.


Comments

Discussion:
[-] anne in oxfordshire - Guest-anne
Now this is our sort of comfort food, we love it all. I hardly have cheese with pasta..not my taste really. Thanks for the great recipe :-)

anne Website Link
[ Posted at 9:49 AM on 1/23/10 | Reply ]
[-] Love the onion tip! - Guest-LivinLocal
This is a wonderful, healthful plan for comfort food that is good for the heart and soul. I hadn't heard of the frozen onions trick, but will certainly put it to good use in my kitchen. Thanks!

Livin Local Website Link
[ Posted at 8:05 PM on 1/23/10 | Reply ]

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