Well, it seems that Vindaloo must have a little tussel every year with the beloved IRS before life can achieve some kind of equilibrium. So after this week's painful come-uppance with taxes (only death remains a mystery now), Vindaloo returns to her writing about all things food and wine with her dignity (barely) intact and her checkbook freshly pillaged.
And so, Dear Readers, I must thank you for your patience. Because when the IRS talks, people listen. And this kind of listening took me away from things much more pleasant--like writing and cooking. I must also thank my husband for his patience, because his wife sometimes takes more time than most to decide what she would like to cook and eat for dinner (my husband having wisely left these decisions in my hands months ago), and is rather like a tempermental artiste (read: stubborn mule) about these matters. On one particular coolish evening, when leaving the patio and gardens would have symbolically meant the end of happy hour, Vindaloo pounced upon the notion of fresh garbanzo beans with pancetta and aromatic vegetables over pasta. With lots of Asiago cheese. And rich with extra virgin olive oil. And so, Vindaloo poured herself another glass of wine to let that notion frolic about a bit and to herald the virgin spring with a toast to all things verdant and flowering. Let's just say it was a fairly long-winded toast.
Fresh garbanzo beans are a revelation. They come in a fuzzy, green, little pod, usually only one bean to a pod and cost only pennies. I found mine at Fiesta Market, a great food store for anything off the beaten path. They have a wonderful firm texture when lightly steamed (don't overcook!!) and taste like the lovechild of fresh spring peas and edamame. Unfortunately, they are only available during a short time in the spring. Also unfortunately, by the time I remembered that they were waiting (patiently) for me in the refrigerator, it was approaching 7 o'clock in the evening, and the little darlings still needed to be shelled. Which is not difficult, just tedious. And that is where my husband's virtues shine. Because he patiently waited for me to shell the garbanzos, and then patiently waited for dinner to evolve. And then he kindly and sweetly told me how delicious it was. And it was!
On this particular evening, I opened a bottle of Rosemount Show Reserve GSM 2005 (Australia), a Rhone-style red that is full of blackberry, vanilla and cherry and plenty of earthy properties. This wine is a bit untidy and volatile, in that it seems like the components could become unraveled or combative at any given moment. Think about the 1944 movie "Lifeboat" with Talullah Bankhead and Hume Cronyn: a bunch of strangers thrown together out of the mutual need for survival, and all goes smashingly well until the intruder arrives and then they all gradually turn on each other. Yep, that's what I thought of when I drank this wine. But, having said that, it is at this moment a very good glass of grape juice (thank you to one of my great wine guys at Spec's for the recommendation) and it harmonized beautifully with the main course, which I served with a simple salad of bitter and sweet greens, radishes and flake salt, and dressed with a very pungent EVOO and fresh lemon juice.
I hope you'll give this a whirl sometime soon...
Fresh Garbanzo Beans, Pancetta and Aromatic Vegetables over Capellini
1/2 lb. fresh, shelled garbanzo beans (approx. 1 cup when shelled)
2 Tbs. EVOO
4 oz. pancetta, cut into 1/2" dice
2 shallots, minced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 lb. cooked capellini (or other long pasta, kept warm)
Extra EVOO for drizzling
Asiago cheese for sprinkling generously
Freshly chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
1. Cook pasta according to package directions and keep warm in a serving dish.
2. Steam garbanzo beans in the microwave in about 1/4 cup water for 1 minute. Stir and test for texture. If too firm and mealy, steam only 30 seconds more. Overcooking will harden them and make them very unpleasant. Drain and set aside.
3. Heat the EVOO on medium-high heat in a saute pan. Add pancetta, shallots and garlic. Stir frequently and saute briefly (about 2 minutes).
4. Add thyme, crushed red pepper and salt. Stir to blend.
5. Add red wine and simmer until sauce is reduced by about one half. Remove from heat.
6. Stir in steamed garbanzo beans.
7. Drizzle warm pasta generously with EVOO.
8. Pour sauce over pasta.
9. Sprinkle generously with Asiago cheese.
10. Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves two.