MEXICAN ITALIAN HAT DANCE

MEXICAN-ITALIAN HAT DANCE

Caramelized onion, green pepper and mushroom combined sweet red roasted peppers and a salsa-marinara seasoned with garlic, basil and coriander! Tossed with orecchiette (hat) pasta and fresh cilantro. Get ready to party!

6 servings for main dish, 12 servings on a buffet

4 T. margarine

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 jumbo fresh green pepper, cut into 3/4-1 inch squares

3-4 sm. yellow onions, cut into 3/4 inch squares

8 oz. fresh button mushrooms, sliced not too thin

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 T. soy bacon bits or chips

4-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

12 oz. jar sweet red roasted peppers, drained (reserve liquid), then cut into squares or strips

reserved roasted pepper liquid

12 oz. can tomato paste combined with 1 can water in bowl; mix well

15.5 oz. jar salsa (I used Tostitos restaurant style that’s thinner than most; you use what you want – I also used medium hot)

1 t. salt

2 t. dried basil

2 t. garlic powder

2 t. ground coriander

1/4 t. ground allspice

freshly ground black pepper to taste

16 oz. pkg. orecchiette (hat) pasta

1 c. loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, no stems

In extra-large skillet, over medium heat, melt margarine with oil. Add green pepper, onion and a little salt, then saute till partially wilted.

Add mushroom, a little more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Saute till lightly browned and tender.

Add remaining ingredients, except pasta and cilantro, stirring after each addition.

Cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. If needed, add a little water if sauce thickens too much.

Cook pasta in lots of sufficiently salted boiling water till tender. Drain well in colander, being sure to empty all the hats of water.

Return pasta to pot. Add cilantro and mix to distribute, then test pasta for salt.

Add pasta to skillet (or if your skillet isn’t big enough, pour sauce into pot). Stir to distribute sauce evenly, season for salt and pepper and serve.

Notes: Yes. This is a dance. Mexican-American joins Italian-American in one subtly explosive skillet of flavors and taste sensations!

Most every Thanksgiving or any time I serve a buffet there’s a trilogy of main dishes upon which I build everything else: a stuffing dish, a pasta and red sauce dish and a baked bean dish. This year the stuffing dish was Pumpkin Cranberry Sage Stuffing, the pasta and red sauce dish was Mexican-American Hat Dance and the baked bean dish was Coffee Baked Beans.

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