Hello friends and lovers! Have you guys seen the show Food Party on IFC? It's pretty much the best show of all time. Think Pee Wee's Playhouse, meets Aqua Teen Hunger Force, meets Food Network. Really. Anyway, Thu Tran generally cooks gross, inedible things on the show, but on one of my favorite episodes, she off-hand mentions using strawberries in place of tomatoes for their acidity and sweetness. This sort of stuck in my head and now that strawberry season is imminent, I finally got around to making a marinara sauce replacing the tomatoes with strawberries. The flavor profile is borrowed from the popular strawberry salad that features basil, balsamic, goat cheese, red onions, and walnuts. It was almost shocking how well the flavors came together. It tasted like a simple 10 minute marinara... and strawberries!
So let's recap the episode I'm talking about. It's season 2, episode 1, and it's called "Thu has a normal day." Here you can see her watching a soap opera about a baguette and a hamburger bun and their torrid love affair. While she watches, she is eating a burnt pancake that is filled with pasta and covered with pineapple puree (that was made by ninjadog). Later on, she realizes she has the power to spit unlimited strawberries, so she spits like 5 into a jar, purees it (with the leaves still on), and adds horseradish, paprika, pepper(she likes the brand with the dog on it), and celery seed to make a cocktail sauce. This is when she mentions the line about the strawberries replacing tomatoes.
Strawberries are looking nice at the store lately.
I added a little water, sugar and salt, and pureed the strawberries.
Then strained out those pesky seeds. Not a fan. Hey, speaking of moving pictures, did you guys watch the videos on my post from yesterday? They are basically the same as these, but I had to upload them to youtube because they were enormous files.
After that, proceed like you are making a 10 minute marinara.
Olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest.
In with the strawberries.
Basil and balsamic are such natural pairs for strawberries, this sauce practically made itself. Pecorino isn't a goat cheese (it's a sheep's cheese), like one that you would expect with strawberries, but its sharp, tangy flavor cuts the sweetness.
The fresh pasta ready for its bath.
This sauce is really interesting. In a good way!
Baguette was there to supervise.
Pasta cooking, then onions go in for the last minute. You just want to take the raw intense flavor off the onion.
Spoon the sauce on right when the pasta gets strained.
A really great meal.
It tasted like marinara, but also reminiscent of the strawberry salad I mentioned earlier. Everything meshed perfectly. It was light yet filling, and felt almost healthy for a pasta dish.
The homemade pasta really elevated the dish and brought out the subtleties of the sauce, but if you want to make this with store bought pasta, it will still be delicious.
Food Party will NOT be back for a third season (Sad face!), but you can buy the episodes digitally on amazon. It's absolutely completely ridiculous and cracks me up every time. Some episodes are also free online from the days before Food Party was picked up by IFC and it was still an internet only show. Here you can see an episode that features our friend baguette, so be sure to check it out!
For the sauce -
3 lbs strawberries, pureed and strained
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ of a red onion sliced very thin
¼ cup pecorino romano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Chopped and toasted walnuts
1 batch fresh pasta
Bring water to a boil. In a generous amount of olive oil, fry the garlic, chile flake, and lemon zest. 2 minutes. Add the strawberry puree. Add the cheese, basil, and balsamic. Bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Soak the onions in some cold water. Cook pasta about 3 minutes. Add onions for the last minute of cooking. Toss the pasta (and onions) in the sauce making sure to not overdress the pasta. It should be a light coating and not soupy. Top with some more pecorino and the toasted walnuts.