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Arts and Entertainment Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2013 8 years ago

Gettin' Fresh: Minimal Ingredients, Maximum Taste


Mamma mia! Who doesn't love a heaping helping of pasta? It's loaded with delicious carbohydrates, easy to prepare and a perfect Satur-date night supper.

With shelves full of spirals, shells and spaghetti, it's easy to pick up a cheap box at a nearby grocery store, grab a can of sauce and have your next three meals for under $5. However, your significant other may be less than impressed with bland penne and watery marinara for a special night.Without adding much expense while simultaneously keeping the dish simple and easy to prepare, I stopped by the Sarasota Farmers Market for some fresh ingredients. There, I met Adrian Fochi of Peperonata Pasta for some ideas and tips on how to prepare a really nice dish.

Fochi's advice? Keep it simple. Fresh pasta is the important ingredient, and it should be the important flavor. Fochi says a great way to prepare pasta is simply with some oil, butter and fresh grated Parmesan.

At the market, I picked up a package of the "mix garlic parsley roasted red pepper penne" from his stand, some asparagus from another, and settled on some swordfish from Whole Foods nearby. All I needed was some basic spices, oil, butter and Parmesan, all of which I already had or found at a low price.THE DISH: 

Preparing and cooking the dish took about 30 or so minutes:


For those who don't know how to prepare pasta, learn everything you need to know here. With the pasta cooked, drained and still hot, I drizzled a little oil — no more than a tablespoon. Then I added about two tablespoons of butter, some fresh garlic and grated Parmesan.


The asparagus was by far the weakest part of my dish. Thinking I could cook the vegetable in the pan with a little oil, the end result was tough and oily. What I should have done was simmer the asparagus in about an inch of water for 3 to 5 minutes.


Swordfish is a lot like tuna in that it cooks like a steak. You want to try to get a nice sear on swordfish while keeping the inside tender. I chose to sear the fish in a pan, and then finish it in the oven at about 400 F for just a couple minutes. The fish simply was spiced with paprika, salt and pepper.


The pasta was the star of the night. The swordfish was also flavorful, and the dish as a whole was balanced in traditional American fashion: meat, carbohydrates and some sparing vegetables. Enough was cooked for two people that night, and generous leftovers for three the following day.

If you like pasta, consider following Fochi's blog for more tips on how to cook with fresh pasta.

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