I had a toasted piece of Irish Soda Bread for breakfast, and then went shopping for the afternoon with my mom. I tried to get her to go to lunch with me, at El Agave for Tacos al Pastor, or to Island Prime's C Level, for Chef Scott's Healthy Skirts on Fire salad. She declined, and I came home starving. I started scrounging around to see what I could come up with and that's when I transformed myself into a Chopped contestant presented with a basket of three ingredients: 3.75 oz. can of Geisha Smoked Oysters, small bag of Baby Spinach, and a bottle of Biokult Gruner Veltliner, an organic Austrian white wine. I'm not sure how the wine ended up in our wine rack, but someone must have brought it over for our Valentine's Aphrodisiac Party.
Moving right along, I was famished, feeling a little weak in the knees, and needed something pronto! The Chopped chefs can pull some basics from the pantry, to add to the three ingredients they received, in order to create their final dishes. Let's see, oysters, spinach and wine...I took a quick look at my Flavor Bible (love this new book) to see what other things I might have in the pantry and fridge that would complement the oysters. The book lists the most compatible ingredients in BOLD CAPS, followed by the next most compatible ingredients in bold. Under oysters, I saw: garlic; LEMON, juice, zest; butter; OIL, olive oil; parsley, flat leaf; spinach, and WINE, dry white! Then it came to me...Oysters Rockefeller, in a pasta version. With a little help from Tyler Florence's Oysters Rockefeller recipe, I created this dish.
Smoked Oysters Pastafeller
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup bread crumbs (I used a mixture of regular and Panko)
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
A few dashes of Chipotle Tabasco
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 3.5 oz. can Smoked Oysters, roughly chopped
8 oz. dry spaghetti or linguine pasta
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Ingredients from my Chopped basket, and a few others from the pantry...
Start by boiling your pasta water and cook your pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a skillet and saute the garlic for 2 minutes to infuse the butter.
Place the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl and add half the garlic butter. Mix in the olive oil, grated Parmesan and chopped parsley, set aside.
To the remaining garlic butter in the skillet, add spinach, cook for 3 minutes until the spinach wilts. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Season with salt and pepper, add a dash or two of Chipotle Tabasco, and the oysters. Allow the mixture to cook down for a few minutes.
Drain the pasta and toss it with a little more olive oil and the spinach-oyster mixture. Divide the pasta into shallow, oven-proof bowls, sprinkle the top with the bread crumb mixture, and place under the broiler for a minute, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top and serve.
Sauteed garlic and butter
Bread crumb mixture
Sauteed Spinach and Oysters
Voila, Smoked Oysters Pastafeller!
After inhaling this, I called my mom...
Me: Oh my God, I just created the most fabulous pasta dish
Mom: What did you create?
Me: I made an Oysters Rockefeller Pasta, with smoked oysters, spinach, garlic, butter, blah, blah, blah, and it was so amazing and delicious!
Mom: Maybe you were just really hungry (i.e., maybe it wasn't as good as you think it was because anything tastes good when you're starving)
At that point, our neighbor Brad was walking by and I called him inside...
Me: Brad, I just made the most incredible pasta!
Brad: Really, what did you make?
Me: (holding up the bowl and showing it to him) Do you like Oysters Rockefeller?
Brad: Are you kidding!? (grabbing the bowl from me and taking a big bite)
Me: So, what do you think?
Brad: Wow, that's amazing!
I'll take that as a victory and declare myself the new Chopped champion!