A new Jamie Oliver food series, Chef Race, premieres tonight on BBC America. The show pits 8 American chefs against 8 British chefs in a culinary race across America. The teams are hosting virtual potluck viewing parties for bloggers in their home country and I’m participating in the one organized by American contestant Phoebe Lapine. My contribution is Pasta with Basil, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Goat Cheese. Links to the other American bloggers’ contributions are at the end of this post.
Americans are endlessly inventive and entrepreneurial when it comes to food and recipes. America’s Test Kitchen will try multiple versions of a classic American pie, just to prove to us that there is a better way. At gourmet stores or even my local grocery, I inevitably find products and prepared foods that make me smack my forehead and exclaim “why didn’t I think of that?” The choices, variations, and astounding creativity of others can be intimidating. But they can also be a jumping off point for my own home-cooking adventures.
And so it was with basil and sun-dried tomatoes over goat cheese. The story details are in this earlier post. The dish is simple (the amounts of each ingredient are approximate and there are no difficult techniques to master), but ends up looking sophisticated. The basil and tomato spread can be refrigerated for a week or 2 and freezes well. If you keep it on hand and just buy goat cheese at the last minute, it takes barely a few minutes to put together.
This version is a pasta dish that can be served hot, at room temperature, or even cold. Hearty enough to be a main course with a salad, it also works nicely as a side dish at a potluck or picnic. You can omit the goat cheese for a lighter version, or substitute a dusting of Parmesan cheese for the goat cheese.
Pasta with Basil, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese
Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side. Cost – $12 total
- Handful of basil
- Handful of sun dried tomatoes
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup or more of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2-5 ounces of goat cheese
- 1 – 16 ounce package of pasta (I like rotini or farfalle/bowties because they hold the sauce well.)
- Bring 2 pots of water to a rolling boil – 1 for the tomatoes and the other for the pasta
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes to one pot and boil them for 8-10 minutes, until they are soft.
- Remove the tomatoes (pour into a colander or remove with a slotted spoon) and let them cool down for 10-15 minutes. Press down slightly to make sure that excess water is gone before you cut the now-soft tomatoes. They should be rehydrated, but not water-logged.
- Meanwhile, wash and dry the basil leaves. Cut off the stems. Lay the leaves down on cutting board in same general direction, in a pile. Cut them in thin slices, then cross-wise, into small pieces. Set aside.
- Lay the tomatoes on the cutting board and slice them in the same manner as the basil leaves (thin slices, then cross-wise.) Add the tomatoes to the basil in the bowl.
- Pour ½ cup of olive oil into the basil-tomato mixture. Add more olive oil until the oil is obvious in the mixture. (The basil and tomatoes will soak up oil, especially at first.)
- Mince or chop 1-2 cloves of garlic and add to the mixture. (If you don’t have a garlic press, smash the cloves with the side of a knife, then cut the smashed cloves into small pieces.)
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cut or crumble the goat cheese into small bits.
- Cook the pasta at a rolling boil in the second pot of water for the time specified on the package or until done, whichever comes first.
- Drain the pasta in a colander.
- Place the pasta in a bowl and add the basil and sun-dried tomato mixture and the goat cheese pieces/crumbles, starting with a large spoonful of the mixture and 2-3 ounces of the goat cheese, adding more until you get the taste and consistency you prefer. Mix well. It’s easiest to mix the while the pasta is still hot. If the pasta has cooled, mix with a bit of hot water (then drain) to separate the pieces before adding the spread.
All of the contributions to our viewing party are below:
Feed Me Phoebe: Kitchen Sink (Gluten-Free) Mac n’ Cheese
Cooking With Books: Apple Pie Shortcake
The Naptime Chef: Baked Mac & Cheese with Marinara
Creative Culinary: Spiked Apple Crisp
And Love It Too: Coconut Flour Apple Crumble (Nut-Free)
Sarcastic Cooking: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Bacon and Tomato
Umami Girl: All-American Macaroni and Cheese
Flavia’s Flavors: Pumpkin Doughnut Holes
The Promise 365: Grandma Mary’s Baked Beans
Women on Fire: Red, White, and Blue Muddle Sunrise
One Hungry Mama: Dulce de Leche Apple Pie
Mother Would Know: Basil, Sundried Tomato and Goat Cheese Pasta
Ronaldo’s Cucina: Cuban-Inspired Ground Beef
Chef Pippa Calland: Deviled Eggs
Stan Frazier: Shrimp Scampi
Sweet Dreams LA: Fuji Apple Bread Pudding with Southern Whiskey Butter Sauce
Chef Robin Bodwin: Bread and Butter Jalapenos
Rawstachio: Elvis Sandwich 2.0
Chef Cody Utzman: Grilled Rib Eyes with Olive Oil Smashed Potatoes and Sweet Corn Salad