This post has been sponsored by Vidalia Onions. All opinions expressed are my own.
We’re celebrating summer with this seasonal spaghetti dish tossed together with blistered tomatoes, fresh basil, and sweet Vidalia onions! This is summer comfort food at its finest.
Today we’re preparing a set of recipes that are exclusively summer orientated – Pasta topped with a Vidalia Sauce, and a grilled Vidalia salad. These are savory-sweet recipes, whose primary ingredient are Vidalia onions, which are harvested exclusively from around mid-April to August.
For today’s sauce, we’re combining a bistro-inspired mix of capers and anchovies, with sweet Vidalia onions, sweet paprika, and fresh basil, to create a sweet, light sauce that remains grounded in savory earthy notes.
It’s light yet satisfying, and its medley of flavors perfectly encapsulates the summer spirit. Paired with a caramelized Vidalia salad, which features honey, cranberries, and fresh lemon juice, this is a meal that will perfectly complement any relaxed dinner party out on the porch, and that’s easy and quick to prepare for a weeknight dinner.
Pasta Pointers – The “Which” and the “Why”
Like any self-respecting pasta aficionado knows, pasta shapes are ‘not’ interchangeable. However, this often gets overlooked because you’re not going to ‘ruin’ a good sauce with a less than ideal pasta pairing. A delicious red sauce remains delicious, even if you swap out rigatoni for alphabet shaped macaroni.
So, go ahead use your favorite pasta, but if you would like some pointers on a more ideal pairing, keep reading.
With that being said, the proper way to pair pasta is quite intuitive once you stop to think about it.
Tube shaped pasta generally pairs well with thick hearty sauces that can ‘trap’ or ‘catch’ within the tube, such as ziti, rigatoni, and penne. The larger the tube pasta, the heartier the sauce it pairs with.
Stick or ‘rod’ shaped pasta, such as spaghetti, spaghettoni, and capellini, are generally best paired with olive oil and garlic or tomato based sauces, since these types of pasta serve best when they can be uniformly coated by the sauce, since the pasta cannot ‘catch’ or ‘trap’ heavier sauces in the way that something like rigatoni can.
Ribbon pasta is generally ideal for creamier sauces. Think of the heavenly pairing of fettucine and alfredo sauce.
Naturally, given the above criteria, today’s sauce is ideal with rod or ‘stick’ shaped pasta, preferably spaghetti.
The Ingredients – A substitution and some selection tips
1) The Anchovies. I learned long ago that these little buggers are a fair bit more controversial than my Sicilian upbringing would have led me to believe. That being said, ‘yes’ you can simply leave them out – but that will change the flavor profile of this recipe dramatically, taking it from a savory-sweet, earthy umami mosaic to something rather a fair bit more ‘bright,’ ‘sweet’ and ‘lively.’ However, there is one possible substitution that may allow you to remove the anchovies while maintaining the original flavor. A curiously undated Cook’s Illustrated article, aptly entitled “Can You Substitute Fish Sauce For Anchovies,” informs us that fish sauce ‘can’ be substituted to achieve the same ‘savory flavor’ as anchovies. However, I will say that their measurement of a solid half-teaspoon per fillet sounds a bit much, especially for today’s recipe, since we’re using a full two ounce tin. I would suggest ‘maybe’ two teaspoons at max.
2) Paprika. For today’s recipe you definitely want to stick with “Sweet” or “Basic” paprika in both the pasta and the salad. In case you’re wondering why or what the difference is, paprika comes in numerous varieties, but not everyone actually agrees on what those varieties are. The most common way to divide Paprika boils down to “Sweet,” “Hot” and “Smoked,” and those labels are perfectly self-explanatory. However, others differentiate Paprika into “Basic,” “Hungarian,” and “Spanish.” Hungarian paprika is spicier than the others, and tends to be further subdivided according to a ‘heat scale,’ while Spanish paprika tends to be less intense, but has a deeper, smokier, more ‘peppery’ flavor, though this can vary somewhat by region, and “Basic” paprika is quite mild and varies dramatically by region.
3) The Onions. These are the star of the show today, in both the salad and the pasta. Vidalia onions give both recipes their signature ‘savory sweetness.’ In my opinion, there really aren’t any alternative onions that could be used for this recipe, while keeping the flavor profile the same. Vidalia onions are the sweetest available, and since they are exclusively an April to August treat, there’s no reason not to indulge while you can.
Did you make today’s recipe? If so, I would absolutely love to hear from you! Give us a shoutout on Instagram or tag us on Pinterest with a picture of what you made, and be more than happy to post your pin to one of my boards!
Enjoy with Love!