Every time I go back to Gonzales, Louisiana to visit the Cajun side of the family, it's always a good-time cooking party when I get together with my chef relations. If you don't believe me then just click on any of the following cooking videos I've made with my brother-in-law Chef Tony, nephews Chef Matt and his younger brother Chef Zakk. And here's their recipe videos thus far, including: Crawfish Etouffee, Fried Alligator Po'Boy, Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash, and Shrimp and Cheese Grits. Now you can add one more recipe, Chef Zakk's Tuscan Primavera with Angel Hair Pasta.
For Chef Zakk's latest recipe it's pasta done Cajun Style. Don't worry, you can live anywhere and make this veggie loaded Italian entree. Actually they, along with the French and African early settlers, have a strong culinary influence on Louisiana cuisine. You can check out my Cajun Muffaletta Sandwich recipe here to see what I mean -- it's just a huge Italian deli sandwich.
Chef Zakk's Tuscan Pasta Primavera has a few shakes of Cajun Spice to kick it up a notch. The main ingredients include: Angel Hair pasta, mushrooms, purple onion, garlic, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts, a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes and white wine. Now, all of these ingredients are hard to get for 99 cents each, but over the years I have found most of them at my local 99c only Store. Some other tasty marinated veggies I have found include: zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and roasted bell pepper. (Every once in a while I have to take a vacation from the 99 cent lifestyle when guest chefs visit this blog, but I do offer cheap substitutions in his recipe along the way.)
Really, almost any canned or jarred marinated veggies you find on sale would be a tasty variation on Chef Zakk's recipe -- you could even exchange super-cheap peanuts for the expensive pine nuts. (I make these kind of budget substitutions all the time when I'm figuring out a recipe to publish on this food blog.)
As for preparation it's just some veggie chopping and sauteing. The most complicated part is easy: toasting the pine nuts for a few minutes in the oven. Chef Zakk used Angel Hair pasta, but you could use any favorite you find on sale.
So kick back and check out Uncle Tightwad's latest recipe video, Chef Zakk's Tuscan Pasta Primavera. And be sure to notice Chef Zakk's slicing and chopping skillz, I even learned a few things.
Chef Zakk's Cajun Style Tuscan Primavera Pasta - VIDEO
Play it here. Video runs 8 minutes, 36 seconds.
To view or embed from YouTube, click here.
Ingredients (2-3 servings)
- 1 small carton of mushrooms - thinly sliced
- 1 whole red onion - julienned, about 2 cups.
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts - okay to substitute with any cheap nuts.
- 4 sun-dried tomato halves - sliced
- Small jar artichoke hearts - in oil and/or vinegar, drained. Okay to use canned in water. Whatever picked veggie you can find cheaply can be used.
- 2 cloves garlic, minced - or 1 tbsp. from jar.
- 1 tablespoon Cajun (Creole) Seasoning - Chef Zakk used Tony Chachere's. You can use any cheap generic Cajun spice blend.
- 1/4 stick of butter - okay to use 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of olive oil.
- 1/2 cup white wine - Chef Zakk used Chardonnay.
- 3/4 package of Angel Hair pasta - okay to use any pasta you have on hand. Video shows 1 package, but I found that too much.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and start a pot of water to boil. Add 3 shakes of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil to the pot of boiling water. Cook pasta al dente (I usually shave off a couple of minutes from package cooking direction time. Drain and rinse pasta (to stop cooking) and set it aside. Drizzle on a tablespoon of olive oil, lightly mix pasta so it doesn't stick together.
Saute a 1/2 cup of pine nuts over a medium/low heat in a pan about 2-4 minutes, until lightly browned. Move pan to oven and toast an additional 3-5 minutes at 350 degrees.
Now time to cook the veggies. Add a 1/4 stick of butter (or olive oil) to a medium heating pan. When butter is melted add minced garlic, julienned red onion, and sliced mushrooms. Salt and pepper to taste then add a tablespoon of Cajun Seasonings (okay to leave out salt, as Cajun Spices have plenty.) Mix all ingredients and saute about 2-4 minutes.
Next add drained artichoke hearts and sliced sun-dried tomatoes to the sauteing veggies. Heat through for a couple of minutes then add the cooked pasta.
Pasta just needs to cook with the veggies a couple of minutes to reheat. Mix well. Pour in a half cup of white wine. Cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid.
Finally mix in the half of the sliced basil leaves.
Time for plating. Add a serving of pasta to the plate and top with some pine nuts, sliced basil and shaved parmesan cheese.