Don’t Worry, That Duck Bacon Hasn’t Gone Bad Yet
So I have to admit, I’ve been less of a crazy chef since moving back home to New York. When not surrounded by 10 like-minded culinarians living on the same block, I’m a lot less likely to come up with insanity like hot dog sushi. If I’m just cooking for myself, I often end up preparing a non-blog-worthy sandwich, salad or stir-fry. Which kind of sucks, because, you know, I have a food blog.
But this week, I finally got around to watching the Top Chef Holiday Special on DVR. In addition to such scenes as Padma playing Dirty Santa (not nearly as exciting as it sounds), it got me right back into the mood to be running around my kitchen, hastily throwing random ingredients together in attempts to semi-invent something semi-fancy. Remembering I had some awesome leftovers like duck bacon in the freezer, I put together this quickfire dinner.
If I was Rachel Ray, I’d call it a gourmet 30-minute meal. But then I would have to tell you dumbass things like its OK to substitute baloney for prosciutto, so let’s just call it a tortellini explosion.
I recently discovered the Putney Pasta brand, which includes a spinach, mozzarella and walnut tortellini, which sounds like a pretty great start to a mega-ingredient pasta dish.
– Dice up one zucchini and saute it on low heat in olive oil, then add about eight quartered button mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook these until they are soft.
-Keeping the heat very low, add in half a cup or so of feta cheese. I’m not gonna say you have to use a certain kind of feta, but for this purpose I find the dry, Americanized supermarket kind doesn’t melt in at all. You really need some of that supercreamy, wet, fresh-from-Greece stuff.
– As the feta begins to melt, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until you’ve got a creamy, cohesive mess.
– In a separate pan, fry up your diced duck bacon – as the package directs, on low heat, only for about 30 seconds.
– In a saucepan, cook up your own take on 80p’s Better Butter Sauce. Since I already had some creamy, flavorful food, I forwent the wine and herbs, just cooking up diced garlic and shallots in plenty of butter, adding some salt, pepper, and extra virgin.
– When your pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the pot on low heat, add the feta-veggie mix, duck bacon, and better butter sauce.
– Throw in a handful of sugar plum tomatoes. After seeing the annoying blond loudmouth cook with these on the Top Chef special, I was delighted to find they were the cute little tomatoes I bought at the co-op this week. They are really sweet and delicious, and as used here (not cooked, just slightly heated) they do an exciting little burst of explosion in your mouth.
– Now I swear I made a conscious decision not to add pine nuts to this dish, due to their recent overexposure, but when I got to the end, it just needed it! No denying the pine!
– Stir in half a cup of parm and serve. Despite my digressing instructions, this really was a gourmet 30-minutes or less meal, and it tasted even better as leftovers, once it all sits together for a day.
I was prepared for something far less appetizing when I read “tortellini explosion.”
Sounds like something they’d offer up at the Olive Garden.
Olive Garden?? am I supposed to be insulted by that or no?
Olive Garden is decidedly an insult, but I was referring to the name “Tortellini Explosion,” not the dish you’ve put together here.
This looks delicious – and I’m still coveting your duck bacon!
oh ok – thanks for clearing that up – you are right, it does sound like an olive garden name…thank god you weren’t saying the dish was olive garden-worthy…I would have to retire from food blogging
I’m pretty sure ‘Olive Garden’ and ‘duck bacon’ are mutually exclusive…and I’m damn near positive that they’ve never heard of sugar plum tomoatoes.