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Basque Festival celebrates traditional cuisine

by Charlie Abowd

The joys of summer are upon us. Family and community barbecues and ethnic celebrations are being enjoyed by all. Karen and I are preparing for one of our favorite ethnic celebrations — the Basque Festival, which will be held on Sunday, Sept. 21. It is always a great day for families to enjoy our outstanding community.

Along with a Basque recipe, we are going to feature one of Northern Nevada’s most prominent family’s recipes as well: Rose Ascuaga’s Tomato Sauce served over angel hair pasta. This dish can be served as an entree or as a side dish.

It is with great honor that I can share this recipe with you because the Ascuaga family has been one of the guiding forces of the Basque Festival, along with the Wandler family and others. I don’t know about you, but hardly a day goes by when I don’t see a fund-raiser or a community event that has some sort of sponsorship from the Sparks Nugget or directly from the Ascuaga family. The community is truly blessed with families and businesses just like the Ascuaga family. I could write for days on this subject alone. So the next time you see John and Rose say thanks for your support and thanks for sharing your recipe.

Maybe in honor of the Boys and Girls Club Barbecue in September we can get a secret recipe from America’s great culinary capital of North Dakota from the Wandler family.

Rose Ascuaga’s Tomato Sauce Over Angel Hair Pasta

Serves 6

(With this recipe you should end up with approximately 6 cups of tomato sauce.)

4 T. olive oil

2 T. minced fresh garlic

6 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or approximately 24 tomatoes)

1/2 cup chopped basil

3 T. red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

1 pound angel hair pasta

1 triangle fresh Parmesan cheese

Skin the tomatoes. Cut a small cross in the skin at the base of each tomato. Immerse, 3 or 4 at a time, in boiling water. Once the cut skin begins to roll back, in about 10 seconds, lift the tomatoes out and immerse in iced water. Drain and peel.

Seed the tomatoes. Cut out the core, then cut each tomato in half across (around the tomato, not lengthwise down the core). Gently squeeze each half and shake the seeds and juice into a bowl. Scrape out any remaining seeds with the tip of a spoon or knife.

Place tomatoes in a large pot, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Partially remove cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and the sauce is thick. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Saute garlic in 1 or 2 T. of olive oil. Remove from heat. Combine garlic, prepared pureed tomatoes, basil and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix in 2 or 3 T. olive oil and set aside (on your counter) for at least six hours.

This sauce is served at room temperature so if you make it ahead and have it refrigerated or frozen, bring to room temperature before using.

Serve over cooked angel hair pasta and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Barbecued Basque-Style Lamb Chops

Charlie’s Way

Serves 6

In preparing the chops for the barbecue, I like to have at least 12 hours of marinating time. So prepare the marinade the day before.

Marinade

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup onions, chopped

1 cup red pepper, chopped

lots of garlic, at least 1/4 cup roughly chopped

1 cup fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup red wine

12 — 11/2 inch thick loin lamb chops

3 T. brown sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 T. fresh ground black pepper

To prepare the marinade, place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine puree.

Place the chops in a large casserole-style dish and cover with half of the marinade. Reserve the other half to serve with the chops. The reserved marinade can be served heated or at room temperature. Either way, it is an excellent compliment for the chops. Marinate for 12 hours.

Remove the chops from the marinade and drain the excess from the chops so that you will have no flames on the barbecue. Make sure your barbecue is hot (medium-high to high). Cook approximately 5 to 7 minutes per side (medium-rare). Be sure to watch carefully as the cooking time will be different for each type of barbecue. There is no way to actively control the heat on a barbecue so that it is consistent.

In a bowl mix the brown sugar, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. When you remove the chops from the barbecue sprinkle this mixture on both sides and enjoy.

These chops are wonderful served on a summery day along with Rose Ascuaga’s Tomato Sauce served over pasta. Exceptional!!!

My recommendation for wines, which can be found at Marlo’s or Ben’s, would be a Homewood Winery, Mount Veeder Zinfandel from Sonoma, Calif., or Cotes-du-Rhone Rose, E. Guigal.

As always, enjoy and I look forward to seeing you at the Basque Festival in September.

For information and tickets for the Basque Festival call St. Teresa’s School 882-2079 or St. Teresa’s Church 882-1968.

Charlie Abowd is the owner and chef at Adele’s. He and his wife, Karen, have lived in Carson City for 22 years where they have raised three children. Charlie is a fourth generation restaurateur.