Archive for December, 2011

Drunken Pasta

I’m counting us as moved in now. I found the box with salt owl, and all of my socks*, so my days are getting back to normal except for the part where all of our books are in boxes. We have many books. It’s kind of a problem. In the weeks leading up to the move, I kept cooking, but we really had to go for meals that took only one pot or pan. Everything else was in a box in the new place. Still, it was a fun challenge (I’m so glad it’s over) to try and keep things interesting in the kitchen with only one drawer full of kitchen equipment. Then I looked in the fridge (we hadn’t gone shopping in almost two weeks) and found that we were out of a lot of staples. There was Parmesan, and butter, and wine, and some Brussels sprouts, but very little else. We had eaten pasta for the previous three days, and were about to again. Don’t get me wrong, I love pasta, but there’s only so much one can have in a week before getting bored. Somebody needed to get drunk for this to work. Not me; as much as I cook with wine, I don’t drink it. I vaguely recalled seeing something about drunken spaghetti somewhere a few months before (cookbook? Internet? I really don’t remember.) and I thought, why not cook this pasta in wine? I won’t lie to you. It’s pretty darn good. The color alone makes me happy. The flavor, which I worried would be too strong for a non-wine drinker like myself, was actually perfect. I wanted seconds, which is rare for me. I think this could be improved by a bit of balsamic reduction drizzled on at the end, but otherwise it’s just right as-is. It’s easy–you just make pasta, really–but could be impressive, too.

Ingredients (serves 2 hungry people with leftovers) 1/2 pound angel hair or spaghetti

3 cups red wine

1 cup water

2 T butter

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

a sprig of rosemary

salt, to taste

Directions

Because I was using a very small pot for the pasta, I snapped it in half first. Pour the wine and water into a pot. Bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook to al dente. This will take a different amount of time depending on the pasta you choose,  your altitude, whether you choose to salt the wine/water at this time, etc. Once the pasta is cooked, drain it over a bowl. We’ll use the cooking liquid for a sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan (or the same pot you made pasta in). Add rosemary leaves and cook gently to release the flavor. Pour the reserved cooking liquid into the butter. Boil the sauce over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until it has reduced to your desired consistency. Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve with crispy roasted Brussels sprouts or broccoli. It turns out that this is just as good the next day, when there is slightly better light that at 9:00 at night. *I did not pack the salt owl and the socks in the same box. That would be ridiculous.

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Busy Days

So, this corvid is moving. I’m spending all my free time these days packing and hauling and (starting this weekend) painting instead of cooking and sharing. So as much as I’d love to tell you all about this lovely chocolate tart, and that rich purple pasta, and all the other things that have been hanging out in the back drawer of my hard drive (some of them since October, yeesh!) I think it’s going to have to wait. If I find myself with a couple of hours that aren’t filled with this madness, I’ll stop by. Until then, enjoy your holidays!

Seriously though, this tart? Oh my goodness. Don’t be put off by its ugliness. It’s probably the tastiest thing ever.

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Pumpkin Rotini: It Isn’t Marinara Mark II

I’ve decided there’s no such thing as enough pumpkin this season. I’m hoping that if I eat enough of it, by the time the grocery store stops stocking them for the year I’ll be so thoroughly sick of pumpkin that I won’t even mind that it’s gone.

It won’t work, but it’s the excuse I’m going to keep feeding my husband so that he doesn’t complain about pumpkin pasta and roasted pumpkin and and pumpkin with honey-soy glaze and of course the pumpkin cookies. Not that I’ve ever heard him complain about a cookie, but still.

This pasta sauce is amazing. I always forget, when I don’t eat pumpkin for awhile, just how rich and creamy it is. Then of course I add cream. Cream makes everything better.

As far as marinara sauce replacements go (of all the things to be allergic to, why tomatoes? They’re everywhere!) I think this is a win. No one would ever mistake it for tomato sauce; it’s bright orange and thick and not nearly as acidic as a tomato sauce would be. However, I doubt anyone would complain if this were served instead, especially when it’s cold outside and you just want something rich and hearty to dive in to.

Ingredients (serves four, or me for dinner and then three days of packed lunch. Yum!)

2 T butter

1/2 of a 3-4 pound pie pumpkin

nutmeg, to taste

12 oz rotini, penne, or other short pasta

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4-1/2 cup reserved pasta water or white wine

1/4 cup grated parmesan

salt to taste

rosemary, to serve

Directions 

Peel the pumpkin and cut it into about 1-inch cubes.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large skillet.

Add the pumpkin to the skillet.

Grate about 1/3 to 1/2 of a nutmeg over the pumpkin.

Pop a lid over the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally if your stove is awful and uneven but otherwise leaving it covered, for about 40 minutes. Cook the pasta while you wait, and put a bowl under the colander to catch the pasta water.

The pumpkin should fall apart when poked with a fork at this point.

Mash it thoroughly with a fork.

Add the cream.

It will take a couple of minutes to assimilate the cream. Be patient and stir it in.

Add the parmesan next.

Then the pasta water, a bit at a time until the consistency says “sauce” to you. I like mine pretty thick, so I only used a little over 1/4 cup of water. If you want a more acidic sauce, use white wine here instead. For a richer flavor, use chicken or vegetable broth.

Since I was making this for lunches for work,  I didn’t bother tossing the sauce and pasta together in a bowl. Just pour the sauce in a big Tupperware  container.

Add the pasta to the container, put the lid on, and shake it.

Serve with peas and crusty bread and lots of lovely fresh rosemary.

The best thing about this, I think, is that it it seems to go with everything. I spread the sauce that was left when the pasta was gone over toast and it was better than butter. I made the sauce a second time with wine and poured it over mixed steamed vegetables. Mr. B claimed it was better than cheese, and he usually won’t even eat cauliflower without cheese. But it’s at its best on pasta.

 

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