Pasta with Caramelized onions & blue cheese, broccoli tomato salad, and warm plums with mascarpone

Okay, continuing with my recipes from Moosewood’s “Simple Suppers”.  It’s actually not difficult to be a vegetarian (loosely speaking).  I know I can’t be a vegan, I will probably break into a supermarket or worse yet, raid some farms to get myself some dairies!! 
Tonight I cooked some pasta, not just any pasta.  The pasta was infused with caramelized onions and coated with blue cheese, gosh, just writing about it makes me salivate and eat a whole pot full of these delicacies!! I served the pasta with Broccoli and tomato with balsamic vinegar.  Let me tell you, since the pasta was creamy, balsamic vinegar in the salad nicely balanced out the flavours.  We ended our meal with warm plums with mascarpone, another great hit with my family!

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Pasta with Caramelized onions & blue cheese  – serves 4-6

1 pound chunky pasta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 cups chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine, vegetable broth, or water
4 ounces (1 cup) crumbled blue cheese

Bring a large covered pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Meanwhile, in a skillet on medium heat, warm the oil and cook the onions with the salt and pepper until soft, golden brown, and lightly caramelized. (The larger your skillet, the faster the onions will caramelize.  In a 12 or 14 inch skillet, the process may take less than 10 minutes.  In a smaller skillet in which the onions are crowded, it could take 20 minutes.) 
Add the wine, broth, or water and continue to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is done.  If the onions begin to stick, add some pasta-cooking water.
When the pasta is done, drain it, reserving a cup of the hot water.  Place the pasta in a serving bowl, add the onions (swirl some of the reserved water around in the skillet to get out every tasty bit) and the blue cheese, and toss together to melt the cheese and coat the pasta.  Add more of the pasta-cooking water if you’d like it saucier.  Serve hot. 

My opinion:
We all loved this pasta dish!!  It’s definitely a keeper.  It’s not overly creamy and rich, but just right.  I may try with gorgonzola cheese next time.  When it says to use “chunky pasta” , any short and chunky pasta will work.  For the onions, 1 medium onion is about 1 cup, so I used 6 medium onions.  When it calls for salt as seasoning, I’ve been using Himalayan pink salt from the grinder, I love the taste of this salt and it’s a nice addition to any dish, I also grind the black pepper from a grinder.   I used dry sherry to cook down the onions and I know I will stick using sherry or other dry white wine- I wish I can transfer the aroma via web!! 

Broccoli Tomato Salad – serves 4-6

12 ounces broccoli crowns
2 tomatoes
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of oregano or thyme (optional)

Cut the broccoli into bite-sized florets (6-7 cups).  Cook the broccoli florets, either directly in boiling water or in a steamer basket, until tender.  Set aside to cool.
Cut the tomatoes into wedges.  (If they aren’t juicy Summer tomatoes, sprinkle lightly with salt.)  In a  small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and herbs.
In a serving bowl, toss the broccoli and tomatoes with the dressing.

My opinion:
As I mentioned previously, this was such a nice compliment to the creamy pasta dish we had.  The herbs are optional but I added thyme and I’m glad I did that.  I would highly recommend using extra virgin olive oil and good balsamic vinegar!

Warm Plums with Mascarpone – serves 4-6

6 plums
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 Tablespoon Marsala wine or an orange-flavored liquor, such as Grand Marnier

Preheat the oven to 425F
Cut the plums in half and remove the pits.  Fill each plum cavity with 1 teaspoon of the brown sugar and place the plums in a baking pan.  Put 2 Tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan and bake until the plums are browned and somewhat softened, about 20 minutes.
While the plums bake, mix together the mascarpone, Marsala, and remaining brown sugar.  When the plums are done, put a dollop of the mascarpone mixture into each half and serve warm.

My opinion:
Wow, wow, wow!!  Such a simple dessert but filled with punches after punches of goodies!!  I made the cavities a little bit bigger so that the brown sugar can nicely cradle and swim in the cavity as it gets warmed up.  I also added Grand Marnier to mascarpone which was a bit indulgent but well worth it!

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2 thoughts on “Pasta with Caramelized onions & blue cheese, broccoli tomato salad, and warm plums with mascarpone

  1. sugoi, vegetarian cooking has come a looooooong way from the 70's ne! everything sounds so delish and looks delish from your pics. so what kind of blue cheese did you use instead of the gorgonzola? cuz tastes can differ, some are really sharp and some more creamy…?

  2. Here in America, we have just plain "blue cheese" sold in a container or wedges. I bought that. But just as you said, I think gorgonzala will give milder flavour, right?

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