Although “sweet” and “savory” have become separate worlds in today’s American restaurants and home kitchens, in many cultures they’re freely combined: Thai salads with papaya and beef, the Hawaiian penchant for cooking pineapple with pork, Polynesian dishes featuring mango and shrimp.Â Even European cooks used to blur the sweet/savory boundaries at will.Â (Hence the tradition of mincemeat pie, a mixture of chopped meat, beef fat, spices, and fruit.)
I guess I’m either a culinary throwback or a Southeast Asian at heart, because I love having the contrast between sweet and savory on the same plate.Â To me, one makes the other even more itself.Â Kind of that principle about not being able to have light if you don’t have darkness, too, I guess.Â (This probably also explains why my favorite meals are cheese plates – just give me salty, flavorful cheeses like sheep’s-milk Roquefort and a sweet, crispy fruit like an apple or pear, and I am a very happy diner.)
This sweet-and-savory love affair I have with food led me to combine two things that may seem like an unlikely gastronomic duo: hot dogs and pears.Â Not just any old hot dogs, mind you, but rather Applegate Farms organic beef hot dogs, which are made with meat from pastured cattle and are not pumped full of nitrates and additives.Â (“Ingredients: Organic Grass-Fed Beef, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Celery Powder, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Spices, Organic Paprika.”)Â These flavorful dogs are the perfect pair for a sweet, crispy pear.Â Talk about creating a classically inspired dish with an American classic!
Spinach, Pear & Hot Dog Pasta
Feel free to make as many servings as you like, using suggested per-serving amounts as guidelines for the total amount of ingredients.
Whole-grain pasta of your choice (I used corn pasta)
Several handfuls of curly spinach
Applegate Farms organic beef hot dogs (figure on 1 or 2 dogs per person), sliced
Pear (about 1/2 pear per person), chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add as much pasta as you want for your serving size (2 ounces of dried pasta is usually considered to be a serving). Take a look at the cooking time for your pasta and figure on adding the spinach during the last 2 minutes of the cooking time. If the pasta takes 9 minutes to cook, for example, set your timer for 7 minutes, then add the spinach and simmer for another 2 minutes. Drain both pasta and spinach immediately.
Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the sliced hot dogs. If you use a nonstick pan, you won’t need to add any oil; if you use a standard pan, you might need to add a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to prevent the dogs from sticking. Sautée for about 4 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the dogs are browned on both sides. Add the pear during the last minute of cooking.
Place pasta, spinach, hot dogs, and pear in a large bowl and toss to combine, adding some extra-virgin olive oil if the pasta looks/tastes too dry. Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.
Â© 2011 Copyright Â Allison Stuart Kaplan Â www.Askinyourface.com LLC