Pasta Verduta

Continuing my story from the other day about a lovely dinner theHubby and I shared with friends at a local Italian restaurant.  One of the friends had a pasta dish containing shrimp (a kosher no-no, but what's a little traif  among friends?).  The stuff underneath the shrimp, though, looked so delicious that I attempted to create a reasonable clone-like veggie version.

The original dish was Shrimp Verduta.  I haven't yet been able to find out what a "verduta" is.  Either it's someone's name, or someone with a Bronx accent mispronounced "veduta."  I'm thinking that the latter is more correcto, since, according to that art authority, Wikipedia, veduta (Italian for view) is a highly detailed artwork of a city, landscape or other such view.  Which is a quite accurate description of this dish.  Lightly sauteed spinach, covered in a landscape of angel hair pasta, caramelized onions, razor-thin lemon slices, strips of sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes hearts, and finished with a florish of feta cheese.  

Yes, I could have used surimi in place of the shrimp.  But while crab surimi is pretty good (if you frequent oriental buffets, congratulations, you have already tried some ... many buffets use surimi in their "crab" sushi), I have yet to find a decent surimi of the shrimp variety.  I'd much rather go without it, especially since my version is extremely fantastic as veggie style.

I made a slight error in recreating the verduta.  The breadcrumbs are supposed to be a garnish, but I mixed them in as a thickener.  You might also notice in the photos that artichoke hearts are camera-shy. Hubs doesn’t like 'em and I didn’t feel like opening a can just to use a few, only to find myself eating the remaining half straight out of the can anyway.

Compared to my previous post, this recipe comes together quickly, but only if you have a stash of pre-made caramelized onions in your freezer.  Dear Reader, please spend some quality time with your slow cooker and make up a honkin' batch o'onions, freezing it all in packets of 1 or 2 cups each.  With pre-stashed, slow-to-make onion soup becomes practically instant.  Another use is to smother steak or pizza.  Or even a mind-blowing dip/potato topper.  Onions rule, baby!

Pasta Verduta
Yield: 2 servings

8 ozs. spaghettini (thin spaghetti) or angel hair pasta
2 Tbl. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
6 thin slices of lemon
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and julienned
1/2 cup caramelized onions (try this or that recipe)
1/2 can artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup vegetarian chicken stock
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 loosely packed cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, heat butter in saute pan over medium heat until melted. Add garlic; saute constantly for 30 seconds, then add lemon slices, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, wine, stock, half of the feta cheese and black pepper.

Set the countdown clock for 30 seconds ... go!

Allow to come to a boil, then add spinach leaves. Stir for 30 seconds or until spinach leaves start to wilt. Remove pan from heat.

*Ding*  Spinach is done!

Divide pasta between two dinner plates or pasta bowls. Ladle sauce over each serving. Sprinkle with remaining feta cheese and breadcrumbs.

Serve hot with the lemon slices, but just as a decorative garnish.


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