Monday, January 24, 2011

Meatless Monday: Fettuccine Marinara

There's something about butter that just makes me lose all common sense, and forget that it's loaded with artery clogging cholesterol and trans fats. I'm still confused as to how Paula Deen (Hi Y'all!) seems to be able to consume it in copious quantities and not drop dead or weigh half a ton, but I guess that's a conversation for another day. I'm sure you're wondering the the hell butter has to do with a simple pasta dish. Allow me to explain. You see, several months ago, after having seen the most depressing movie, possibly of all time, I found a little piece of happiness in a Middle Eastern dish whose name escapes me, that featured lamb and rice and crispy pita pieces fried in sizzling butter. If I said it had me at "sizzling butter", would that be too cliché? I suppose that doesn't really matter seeing as how cliché or not, that's exactly what happened. Like I said, butter has this a strange power over me, I couldn't help myself.

Fast forward to Sunday evening. I was hungry, tired, and practically out of food because I refuse to go grocery shopping during the weekend for any reason other than impending Armageddon, and even then, I would still try to wait till Monday evening just to avoid the rush.  Looking at my bare "pantry", I realized that pasta was my only option for dinner, and  was less than enthused about it. That was, of course, until I had an "a-ha" moment and remembered the crunchy buttery goodness of that fried pita, that made that meal so memorable could probably do the same for my hum drum pasta. Suddenly, I was excited about fettuccine noodles with store bought pasta sauce for dinner. Because of the life enriching shortening qualities of butter, I considered substituting olive oil in which to fry the pita.  I debated back and forth with my inner fat girl about why I should use olive oil instead--but in the end, that heifer somehow talked me into a compromise to use both. She also told me to add garlic to mix. Well, my inner fat girl was onto something. Something delicious! And next time, I'm going to do the right thing and use olive oil only. We can't all escape the grim reaper like my beloved Paula (Hi Y'all!)

1/2 box fettuccine noodles
1 jar pasta sauce
8-10 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced (chiffonade)
1 flat pita, sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp +1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Sea Salt

In a very large pot, bring water seasoned with sea salt and olive oil to a rolling boil. In a heavy skillet, melt butter and olive oil over a medium flame. Add garlic and chopped pita pieces, coating them evenly in butter. Saute about 4 minutes on each side or until both sides are deep brown and pita is crispy. Remove from skillet and set aside. In that same skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil, pasta sauce and basil leaves, and let simmer on low heat. While sauce is simmering, add pasta noodles to boiling water, cook about 9 minutes or until tender, but with a firm bite (al dente). When sauce is heated thoroughly, combine with pasta and remove from flame. Plate pasta, arranging pita pieces on of and throughout the dish. Top with a healthy dose of coarsely ground black pepper and grated Parmesan.  Serve and enjoy. Then eat more pasta with more pita pieces. And then eat the rest of the pita piece as a "snack" or whatever you want to call it, because you and I both know that fried pieces of bread aren't going to be so very crispy on the second day.

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