So here's my first submission; a fairly simple dish where everything except the olive oil and pecorino romano was sourced from the Puget Sound... even the dried pasta was locally produced (from Papparadelle's in Pike Place).
One of our favorite places for a late night meal in Seattle is Union downtown. The bar serves a terrific menu after 10 pm, the cocktails are carefully and expertly crafted, and the prices are absolutely fantastic for the quality of the food.
Among my favorite Ethan Stowell dishes is any pasta he makes with his parsley pesto broth, often paired with pristine mussels. Most recently, we tried a preparation with cavatelli that was outrageously good...
So tonight, I made a first attempt at replicating the dish at home. I followed a standard pesto recipe, but substituted the basil with parsley leaves and used grated pecorino romano rather than parmigiano reggiano for its more assertive flavor and saltiness.
The best part of Stowell's parsley pesto broth is its dilution. Rather than dressing his pasta with straight pesto, he dilutes it (either with broth or cooking liquid from the pasta) to make a much thinner consistency. The flavor still envelopes the pasta, but you get a beautifully green lingering broth that oozes out, robust and packed with flavor, keeping the pasta from getting clumpy or greasy from the pesto.
1 large bunch flat leaf parsley (roughly 4 cups of leaves)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine first 4 ingredients in blender, discarding the parsley stems. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down the parsley. Add pecorino romano and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.
pasta and mussels in a parsley pesto broth
2 servings of dried pasta (cavatelli and orichiette work very well)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lb. large mussels (roughly 8-10, rinsed and debearded)
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 strip of bacon, diced (optional)
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons of parsley pesto
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking: In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and gently saute until translucent. Add bacon and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp. Add mussels and toss to coat. Deglaze the pan with wine and put lid over pan. Cook until the mussels have steamed and opened, approx. 2 minutes.
Once the mussels have opened, remove them from the pan. Add parsley pesto to the pan and heat to loosen the pesto and incorporate the broth in the saute pan. Add pasta to the sauce and toss to coat, adding pasta cooking liquid to the pan to further
loosen the pesto as needed, until the pesto has a viscous, soupy consistency (like potato leek soup). Add mussels back to the pan and toss again to coat. Remove from heat and serve.
Serves 2 people.