Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Red Wine Pasta Sauce and South African Camping

After spending time in the mountains we loaded up and drove to the Elephant Coast, on the Indian Ocean.  We first stopped in St. Lucia, where we explored Cape Vidal and kayaked among the crocs in the estuary.  Then we headed north to Sodwana Bay, where we swam with dolphins, lazed in the hammock, and ate this tasty pasta.  Both places are with in the iSimangaliso Wetlands Park, which is comprised of the coastline and Lake St. Lucia.  Being within the park meant beautiful beaches, extensive wildlife, very cool vegetative dunes, and overpriced camping.  Our campsites did not have picnic tables or fire pits, so we made do with a makeshift kitchen of a camp stove and backpacks.
Where the magic happened: Camp Kitchen
in Sodwana Bay (Photo: Mackenzie)

Whisking the wine into the butter/oil
This is one of my favorite pasta sauces.  I often use it with gnocchi or ravioli.  In this case, our dear friend Mackenzie has a strong aversion to tomato sauce, so the mini bottles of wine we had floating around the backseat of the Micra were inspiration (thanks South African Airways).

Pasta with Red Wine Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or butter, divided*
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 cups pasta, cooked to al dente**
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I find this dish needs a heavy dose of pepper)

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add 2 tablespoons butter or oil and allow to heat.
2. Add onions and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  For a richer flavor, reduce heat and caramelize onions (about 30-40 minutes).
3. Add mushrooms if using and cook another 5 minutes.
4. Push vegetables over to one side and add remaining butter or oil into the other side of the pan.
5. Allow to heat briefly, then whisk wine into the fat.  Continue whisking until a cohesive, thickened sauce forms. Reduce sauce for 2-5 minutes until thickened to desired consistency.
6.  Stir the vegetables back in and add the pasta and oregano.  Cook 1-2 minutes to allow all flavors to combine.
7. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve topped with freshly chopped basil.

*I usually use 2 TB of each butter and oil
**for a little refresher on how to get to al dente click here

Mackenzie and I at Cape Vidal
Cape Vidal Beach
Kudu on the drive home back to St. Lucia
Seafood Feast St. Lucia
Sunrise St. Lucia Boardwalk
Kayaking (photo: Mackenzie)
Campsite at Sodwana Bay
Snorkeling with Dolphins

Post-Snorkel Hammock Time
Sodwana Bay (Photo: Mackenzie)

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