Monday, March 28, 2011

Farfalle Pasta with a Spicy Rosé Sauce, Pine Nuts, Parma and Pesto

Last night, listening to CBC Radio on the long, dark, lonely drive home, I heard the rebroadcast of a piece done on The Current.

It had this foodie's attention because it was about Ryan Stone, Canada's representative at the Bocuse D'Or competition in January.

The Bocuse D'Or takes place in Lyon, France every other year and is a prestigious world culinary competition.

One of the things that struck me was the level of his preparedness before the event. For his training, his team made the effort to recreate the work environment of the competition space right down to the layout of the kitchen itself, the size of the work surfaces and the positioning of the hard-wired installed equipment. Familiarity would be key to his success. Every surgically executed maneuver was calculated since they were critical to his outcomes and his time on the clock. He brought all of his own serving platters and specialized equipment to the competition.

I understood his strategy. How often in our own kitchen do our moves unfold without fully conscious thought? Our kitchen area just an extension of ourselves. Turning in the work space to the counter behind us. The number of steps to the sink. Our reach from our cutting surface to the cook top.

In a small way I could relate. I had just been in my brother's beautiful new galley kitchen and all those steps were foreign to me just by the configuration alone. My reach to the spices, usually extended me to my right, now had me reaching down in front, two drawers below. The spatula in my drawer to the left was now in a drawer behind me. A different grip and pressure on the garlic press. No familiar Microplane rasp for the cheese. For them, their kitchen is very functional; their steps committed to their subconscious. As a result, many wonderful meals come from this space.

As I took the lead on Saturday evening's pasta dinner, I found I needed to reprogram my kitchen dance moves. At least for that afternoon. Eventually I found my new familiarity. If only for a few hours. Thankfully it is a pure blessing how well we work with each other, like poetry in motion, to pull all the final aspects of the meal together in perfect synchronicity. My occasional awkward moments of two left feet went unnoticed.

At 5:55 pm, like a choreographed dance troupe, we sashayed in unison, with the plated dinner dishes in hand, into a very finely decorated dining room and took our seats. My afternoon in the kitchen was no Bocuse D'Or competition, but it was pleasing to know that in the end, the meal was reasonably stress-free, delivered on time and enjoyed by all.

(By the way, Ryan Stone placed 12th, midway in the pack. First place went to 3 time medal winner, Rasmus Kofoed from Denmark.)

Farfalle Pasta with a Spicy Rosé Sauce, Pine Nuts, Parma and Pesto
Inspired by a book club foodie friend, JK

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
5 regular cooking onions, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 ounce can whole Italian tomatoes
14 ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup grated parma reggiano cheese
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 cup table cream
454 gr box of Barilla's Farfalle n° 65 pasta

homemade pesto
grated parma reggiano
toasted pine nuts

Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add diced onions and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes until soft. Stir occasionally and control the heat to make sure they do not brown at all. Add the 3 minced cloves of garlic and continue to sauté for another minute until the fragrance of the garlic is released.

Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Briefly cut the tomatoes with the edge of your spatula to release their juices. Add the Italian seasoning, chili flakes, sugar, salt and pepper. Let it simmer very slowly for as much as 3 hours if you can afford that time. The tomatoes should fall apart. Cut them apart again if there still remains larger pieces.

Heat the olive oil and sauté the 6 cloves of garlic for about a minute. Make sure the oil is not too hot and that the garlic does not brown at all. Add to the sauce. Stir. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Toast the pine nuts. Using a blender, loosely chop about 1/2 cup of the pine nuts. Add to the sauce. Also add 1/2 cup of grated parma reggiano. Stir. Remove 2 cups of the sauce and purée. Add the purée back into the pot. Stir. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Keep the heat on a low simmer. Just before serving, add the cream and stir. Make sure that you do not over heat the sauce once the cream has been added.

Prepare the pasta. I like to use Barilla's Farfalle n° 65 because I like the smaller bow-tie size and they also cook through consistently in about 13 minutes.

Stir a bit of sauce on the pasta and turn gently to coat. Place a serving of pasta in a pasta bowl and cover in sauce. Garnish with a dollop of homemade pesto, toasted pine nuts and grated parma reggiano cheese.

Serves 4 to 6.


  1. great story and great recipe. omit the sugar though, theres enugh fat from the butter and cream and a longer cooking time before adding the creme reduces the acidity of the sauce and creates that balance without the addition of sugar. Italian Nonnas would have nightmares if you told them about sugar in a pasta sauce!

    1. Just In: Thanks for the sugar tip. An old habit when stewing anything tomato. Thank you for saving me from myself. To all the Italian Nonnas, I will say my fifty Hail Mary's.


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