After my adventures in the World Cup Food Challenge, it was impossible not to get a speculative gleam in my eye when The Kitchn declared July to be devoted to “escapes” to foreign cuisines. And the project started with Italy, which means pasta, which is one of the Perfect Foods when cooking for one.
How spaghetti with mascarpone, Meyer lemon, spinach, and hazelnuts turned into soba noodles with beef, nectarines, feta, and pistachios is… a mystery I will disclose after the jump. But first, we need music to soothe the savage fry pan. After 30 minutes of delving into the weird wonders of Italian indie goth rock, I developed a bad case of punning ethnocentrism (distinguishable by its characteristic rash, in the sense of “rash cooking decisions”) and settled on When in Rome (listen), a revival of the 1980s one-and-a-half-hit wonder electronica group.
Regard the juicy red bits of the sliced breakfast steak. This is the last you will see of them. Breakfast steak is so thin that by the time one side has a good sear, so does the other side. I fried them in butter, thus obviating any possible health benefits of using fat-less beef and a non-stick pan.
While the beef is sizzling, take a moment to appreciate the piano emphasis of When in Rome. What I find interesting about this group is that while it’s classified as “dance,” the tempo suggests ballads. But it has a lot of beeping and booping noises. Beeping and booping are highly recommended in selling me on ballads, as is banging; find me a ballad with a throbbing drum part, and we have a deal. For what, I know not. But a deal.
Cut up a nectarine and toss it in the buttery pan with the cooked and drained soba noodles. The nectarine is the point of this dish, as every year in nectarine season I buy a bunch, forgetting that I like how they smell but I’m not that into how they taste. Presumably my unspoken plan is to carry one like a pomander.
When the nectarines have a good sear, return to the meat to the pan along with a good handful of feta and a not-so-food handful of pistachios. Stir it all together until the cheese is melty, and there you are! Dinner!
If there is something better than nectarines, feta, and pistachios in the same mouthful, it’s probably chocolate-covered. The flavors and textures blend into this luscious sweet-seared-sour-salty bite. Should I make this again, I’d skip the meat and treat the pasta mixture as a vegetarian side dish. Or I could just wallow in it. Wallowing’s good, too.
Speaking of which, now that we’ve nibbled at 1980s-style retro electronica, let’s wallow in When in Rome’s one major hit.