Bluish Green Bits In My Pasta Sauce

I was innocently making the sauce for baked lemon pasta last night, stirring and stirring, when suddenly — I saw little blue things in the sour cream!  Horrified, I thought that maybe it was mold from the sour cream that somehow escaped my notice.  Assuming it was mold, I was disheartened at the thought of having to waste my work and start over, but what choice did I have?  Fortunately, I bought an extra container of sour cream and opened it.  There.  Brand new.  As in NO MOLD.  I followed the steps as before, but when I added and stirred in the sour cream — there they were again!  Bluish-green bits in my sauce!  I stared at the sauce in wonder, debating whether this could really be mold or if it could be something else.  Cautiously, I picked up one of these suspicious looking bits, sniffed it (smelled like garlic but I thought it could still be anything, considering it could have taken on the essence of the garlic in the sauce), and then finally, gnawed a bit at it with my front teeth — it tasted like…garlic.

Confused, I made a quick dash to my computer and went on Google and typed “garlic turns green…” — you know you’re not the only one who’s seen this strange phenomenon when the text box starts to try to auto-complete what you’re typing.  It means millions of other people have typed in this same search.  This looked promising.  As it turns out, garlic can turn green or blue when cooked in the presence of acids.  Garlic contains sulfur compounds that can react with small traces of copper to form copper sulfate, a blue/blue-green compound.  It only takes the tiniest amount of copper for this reaction to occur.  Copper can come from the utensils you use, the pan, or simply copper in the water supply.  It can also come from lemon juice, butter or vinegar.  Ah-ha!  I had butter AND lemon in my sauce, and the addition of the sour cream probably upped the acidity enough to cause this reaction!  Anyway, after all is said and done, the garlic is still safe to eat.  If you want to read more about this fascinating phenomenon, continue with the science lesson here —

I wish I had a picture of the bluish greenish garlic, but I was so alarmed by the “mold” in my sauce that the last thing on my mind was to take a picture…of what I then thought was mold.

Anyway, I made baked lemon pasta after seeing it on The Pioneer Woman Cooks!  It got my attention because I’d been thinking of using sour cream with pasta but wasn’t sure what other flavors to incorporate.

The sauce for the pasta was basically butter, olive oil, minced garlic and sour cream.  Blend it all together and coat the pasta, pour the whole thing into a pan and pop it in the oven and bake for a few minutes until there’s a little bit of a crust on top.  Pull it out of the oven, squeeze a little more lemon on top, sprinkle a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan, and pile on some parsley.  She used regular thin spaghetti, but I used whole wheat for mine.  You can get all the details in her post, which I linked to above.

There is a lot of lemon in this recipe, and I took it down a notch.  Even so, the lemon was just singing! right through the pasta and the sauce.  I had to put “singing” with a “!” because it just came right through and said “Hello!” on the first bite.  Not that this is a bad thing.  Lemon, butter and garlic are long-time friends who often hang out together in other recipes, so it wasn’t entirely a shock that the flavors of this pasta worked so well together.  What surprised me is how well they worked with pasta, along with the sour cream.  I thought the parsley on top was really just a garnish and that I would remove it once I ate the pasta, but not so.  Parsley is more than just a garnish, folks!  Who knew?  Well, I certainly didn’t.  When it was a little bit wilted, its texture was more amenable to eating and it went very well with the lemon.  Lemon, sour cream and pasta certainly do not make a conventional combination, but it’s certainly a delicious way to veer off the beaten path!

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