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"Kentuckyize" This Dish and Make It Better!

Here's a dish, One-Pan Pasta, with great potential. In theory, one assembles a few ingredients in a wide-bottomed pot, cooks and tends carefully for 10 minutes or so, and—let's hear that "Call to the Post" bugle, please—there's dinner.

The theory works, to a point.

One-pan pasta seems a dish worth putting in most households' weeknight go-to rotation. I made the Martha Stewart version, with only two revisions (how restrained of me). Of necessity I used Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Pasta, a gluten-free pasta, and added an extra cup of water because the recipe on the bag suggested a large volume of water for standard cooking.  Wrong guess, but it was possible to boil away the the extra water without too much harm. The rice pasta itself worked surprisingly well, keeping an excellent texture.

According to sourcing, this was a Kentuck-italian dish. Tomatoes: Elmwood Stock Farm. Onions: Blue Moon Farm. Garlic and basil: Campsie gardens. Olive oil: Bill Sanders First Fresh 3 Village Blend.

I learned about one-pan pasta through this Food 52 story by Kristen Miglore, who interviewed Nora Singley about the origins of the dish. Singley had developed the recipe for Martha Stewart's publication after watching Matteo Martella cook it in nine minutes, while talking on the phone, in Peschichi, Italy, in the Puglia region.

(You may have noticed I like my food sauced with a lot of backstory. I left some bits for you to discover on your own, if you like tracking stories yourself.)

When I tried the recipe, the results were edible. Respectable. Dinner, actually.

But I will only look forward to making this dish again if I find ways to make it more flavorful. I might enjoy varying its texture as well. My very first thought—you've already beat me to it, I'm sure—"Bacon!." But, in a rare situation, bacon will not work for this dish in our house, because our rotation of reliable meals already includes a remarkably easy, delicious, gluten-free pasta carbonara, a lot like this one, with bacon front and center.

All excellent, super-quick pasta dinners need not depend on bacon for rich flavor. So here's the recipe improvement challenge.

  • How would you change the recipe and still keep it within the one-pot, quick-cooking framework?
  • What other Kentucky ingredients would make it better?
  • What else will work?

See a few details (and a tiny, soft announcement) below the photo of the finished dish.

The results. Much of the overall flavor came from the toppings: fresh basil, decent Parmesan, a tiny bit of crushed red pepper, which was supposed to be in the pasta, but offends some of the anticipated eaters. We adjust as we must.

Let's imagine you make a version of one-pan pasta that cooks in 20 minutes or less and it pleases you. If you would like to share, send a short description (three sentences max) and a photo of your finished dish to me at rona[dot]roberts[at]gmail[dot]com, or upload it on Savoring Kentucky's facebook page, which is set to allow uploads (fingers crossed.) Deadline September 17.

On September 19, I will announce my favorite, giving extra points for using Kentucky-grown or processed ingredients. Use any type of pasta you like. The winner will receive a signed copy of Classic Kentucky Meals.

In addition, I will connect with the winner and check on offering your recipe improvements in a new medium—ready for that tiny soft announcement? Radio!

The new medium will be new weekly radio show I will soon be co-hosting with Chef Ouita Michel and Christopher Michel, the two genii who have created the Holly Hill Inn Family of Restaurants. The radio station is WLXL-LP 95.7, a new low-power FM community radio station with broadcasts aimed at "inside Lexington." The rest of the world can listen through live streaming and stored show podcasts. WLXL goes live on September 19.

The focus of our still unnamed show will be to support home cooks and encourage more home cooking. I will have many more details to share as plans become firm.

In the meantime, here's Buzzfeed's collection of 21 Simple One-Pan Pastas to inspire you (though I'm not even sure you need the inspiration). I dream of an iconic, ubiquitous Kentucky One-Pan Pasta that all of us are going to want to make once a week forever more. Can you invent or innovate it?

Try things. Take pics. And be in touch.

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