Monday, January 2, 2012

Sun Dried Tomato Tapenade

Ordering the vegetarian option at a large event can make you wish you'd grabbed a peanut butter sandwich before leaving home. This proved true recently when a friend was served a plate of pasta drowning in a cream sauce that was exactly the same shade as the pasta itself. There was not a vegetable on the plate. The only vegetables served came with the meat and fish meals. OK, I understand that when caterers are dealing with the challenges of preparing several hundred meals, the extra effort required to create an appetizing vegetarian dish for the few who request it might not be a priority. But there is really no good excuse for serving a second-rate meal when it's so easy to prepare top-notch meatless fare. Pasta can be a great vegetarian go-to option that is simple, tasty, attractive, and appetizing.

On our first night in Boston, my intrepid husband and I braved the rain and walked across the Neponset River bridge to Dorchester in search of Venezia, an Italian restaurant on the nearby waterfront. Out journey took us on an excursion under the expressway and through one of the old, edge-of-Boston neighborhoods that made me feel nostalgic and happy despite my damp socks. My iPhone GPS was not being helpful, and I was about to head to the pizza place that I could see across the highway when a woman on her porch came to our rescue. Just a few more blocks and we found our destination snugged up against the waterfront. We were seated at a window where we had a spectacular view of the storm, which conveniently cleared up in time for our walk back to the hotel.  The Cavetalli Scicilian was delightful, the cannolis were fresh and rich, and the service was excellent. This was the night before the beige pasta dish was served to my friend, so I was acutely aware of other pasta possibilities. This recipe was inspired by that wonderful meal. The sun-dried tomato topping is a wonderful rustic tapenade, so this simple dish can serve multiple purposes. Toss with your favorite pasta, or serve with crackers, crostini or crudites. Buon appetito!