This recipe wasn't all that weird-sounding. Until I hit the cayenne pepper part. And then I was like, um, huh? Cayenne pepper and oranges? Usually not my first choice of sexy pairings. Actually, it moreso sounds like the weird concoctions you used to make for your sister when you were both, like, four or something and would dare each other to eat them.
For a while, I wasn't sure I was gonna add the vegan parm as mine was expired. But then I thought to myself, what is vegan parm made of really? Almonds. And almonds last FOREVER--they're like the vampires of the nut world. (Alas, I'd like to take credit for that little descriptive there, but I think Bob Hope coined it first back in 1952 when he had a whole stand-up routine on the topic of nuts--"Almonds: they're like the vampires of the nut world.") So I figured why the hell not? (Actually, I figured why the hell not in a safer kind of way, initially adding parm to only half the sauce until I tasted it and didn't die within 30 minutes, and then I added it to the rest.)
The other thing that was striking about this recipe is the apparent window of good-flavor. The original recipe seriously says to "Set aside for one to two hours--no longer"--and I half expected it to turn back into a pumpkin if I didn't eat it within that window of time. A pumpkin or a short, hairy, nekkid little Italian guy who kept shouting "Heyyyooooo, look atta my pee-pee." Thankfully neither occured (though I didn't open my fridge this morning, which is currently housing the leftovers, so there COULD technically be a short nekkid Italian guy slowly smothering to death in there. How I'm gonna explain THAT one to the police I'm not sure).
Point being: despite the ludicrousness of the request, I can actually almost see why that could be the case. It seems to me that the orange zest starts to react more and more strangely the longer it sits--it was weirdly tart by the time I ate it--so I could almost see it starting to taste a bit rancid if you let it sit out for way too long.
When all was said and done though, holy crap was this a vibrant and tasty pasta sauce. Strange, yes. But seriously seriously good. And something that would be perfect to celebrate the beginning of summer with. It's wonderfully orange-tasting but with a strange but awesome kick from the cayenne that takes some of the edge off the sweetness of the orange. It will surprise you.
I plan on trying out many more of the recipes from Joie Warner's book, seeing as I'm a pasta ho, so you can expect lots more recipes. (Apparently E snagged this book for $1 a long while back and, when he was in the process of moving and getting rid of a lot of dead weight--including yours truly, budddummm chiiiii--he passed this book along to me. And let me say, this recipe alone is well worth the dollar spent.)
The only problem I had with the recipe is the fact that it says it serves four. I love to completely SMOTHER my noodles with pasta sauce, so if you're at all like me, expect it only to generously cover a couple of hearty servings.
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Grated zest of 1 large orange
- 2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, seeded & coarsely chopped
- 3/4 c. coarsely shredded fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 t. dried thyme
- 1/4 t. cayenne
- 1/4 c. vegan parmesan cheese
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- Salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 lb. spaghetti (or angel hair, or any other noodle really)
Combine everything except for half the basil and pasta in a large mixing bowl. Set aside for 1-2 hours--NO LONGER!!!--to allow flavors to blend, stirring occasionally. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and immediately toss with sauce mixture. Serve with remaining basil on top, extra vegan parm at hand, and a healthy dallop of freshly ground pepper.
(Original recipe from Joie Warner's Spaghetti: America's Favorite Pasta, p. 25)