Saffron Fettucce with Roasted Garlic Marinara, Spinach, Olives and Goat Cheese
Last week, another shipment from The Flying Noodle came. If you've been reading for a while, you might remember that Win got me a gift subscription to The Flying Noodle pasta club as one of my Christmas presents last year. (see entry from June 29, 2004) Every time I see the FedEx man heading towards our house with a Flying Noodle box I get so excited to dive into it and see what's in store for this month.
Tonight I decided to cook up some of the treasures from our most recent shipment. I made saffron fettucce with roasted garlic marinara, spinach, kalamata olives and goat cheese. Fettucce is of the fettuccine family. According to my research, it's a broader kind of fettuccine noodle, at about 1/2 an inch wide. Very similar to fettuccine, just slightly different in size. This specific pasta was enhanced by saffron. The accompanying literature says that it takes over 14,000 stigmas from a special purple crocus plant to make one ounce of saffron. There are only 3 stigmas per plant and they must be carefully hand-picked and dried. This labor-intensive process certainly explains why saffron is so expensive.
The Flying Noodle provided the fettucce as well as the roasted garlic marinara and I filled in the rest. Here's the very simple recipe:
Saffron Fettucce with Roasted Garlic Marinara, Fresh Spinach, Kalamata Olives, and Goat Cheese
12 ounces saffron fettucce
16 ounces roasted garlic marinara
1 large bunch fresh baby spinach leaves
10 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (I used about 15 and liked having a few more)
4 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
Bring water to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta. Heat marinara in a separate pot with spinach and olives. Toss the drained pasta thoroughly with goat cheese and then top the pasta with the sauce.
There are a lot of strong, potentially competing flavors in this dish, and I was moderately worried that it would come out as a mish-mash of clashing tastes in every bite. Quite the contrary. The roasted garlic marinara was flavorful and the spinach and olives added nice texture and subtle nuances. The goat cheese melted beautifully into the pasta when I mixed everything together and it brought a richness and creaminess to the sauce. This dish is a good example of what is meant when people say "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts."
In cooking this dish, I also came upon a faster way to pit olives than I had been using. I historically had just gotten out my knife or used my fingers to some extent to pit my olives one at a time. I like Wolfgang Puck's suggestion for how to save time on the pitting.