Springtime pasta

March 19, 2016

pasta primaveraSometimes, I amaze myself.

Like Friday night. I had had an idea for a pasta sauce kicking around in my head, and decided to try it.

Not to be lean too heavily on the superlatives, but it was wonderful. And it tasted like spring. And I forgot to add what was going to be the main ingredient, and it was STILL amazing.

Do this. Do this as soon as you can, do this when you need a great dinner in a hurry. Get you some spaghetti, some portions of springtime veggies, a couple of eggs and some grated parmesan, and get after it.

Here’s what I did:

  • Pasta for two. I used whole wheat spaghetti.
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp cream
  • 2/3 cup grated parmigiano (Do NOT use the green can stuff. Go to the grocery, plunk down the money for real Parmigiano Reggiano, and grate it yourownself. Note: You’d better have a strong arm and a good grater.)
  • 1 to 3 cups of assorted veggies (I used about 1/2 cup each of green peas and sugar snaps, both leftovers) and cut-up asparagus spears)
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes (I used roasted ones I had in the freezer)
  • 1 shallot
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil, or 1-2 tsp. basil paste or pesto
  • 1 cup cooked popcorn size shrimp (not the breaded kind), optional, since I forgot to put them in

Put the pasta on to cook. Start the diced shallot and garlic to sauteeing in some olive oil; when the shallot is translucent, add the tomatoes and any other green veggie that isn’t cooked. In a few minutes, add the cooked veggies, just long enough to warm them through. Beat the eggs with the cream and the grated parmigiano, and set aside.

If the pasta is not ready, turn the heat off under the sauce makings, and cover the pan. When the pasta is done, turn the heat back to medium low, and scoop the spaghetti out with tongs or a spider, let it drain a bit, and transfer it to the skillet with the veggies. Stir it up with the veggies, and gradually add the cream-egg-cheese mixture, stirring as you go. When it’s all added, give everything a final toss to make sure the sauce and veggies are evenly distributed with the pasta, and serve. Top with some extra grated parm, and enjoy!

This is all of 30 minutes to make, from start to finish. Word to the wise: like Chinese stirfries, this goes together quickly; it pays to have all your ingredients ready and at your fingertips when you start cooking and assembling. Cook your pasta to just a little bit before al dente before you transfer it to the sauce.

People. This is marvelous. This is Sweet Baby Jesus good. If you use whole wheat pasta, or better yet, quinoa pasta, it’s even pretty healthy. You could even sub whole milk for the cream, if the idea of two tablespoons of cream in what would be about three decent-sized servings concerns you. It’s even pretty, with the reddish-orange of the tomatoes playing against all the different greens in the creamy yellowish-white sauce. You can top with additional fresh basil or parsley if you want.

Your veggies should still have a bit of a crunch to them, which is why you don’t start your sauce until after your pasta is boiling happily away; just sitting for a few minutes, covered, with the heat off, could overcook these delicate tastes of spring. And don’t limit yourself to what I’ve listed; I could see this being excellent with zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, green beans, snow peas, or even julienned spinach (I’d wait and throw that in right at the end, after the egg-cheese mixture). Use what you’ve got in the house, or what’s leftover, or what you need to use up. As I said, I forgot to add the shrimp, so I threw them in with the leftovers; I will likely add some more pasta and veggies, thin the sauce a bit with pasta water, and we’ll see this again in a few days. You could use any leftover seafood you had, or you could use some shredded or diced chicken. Or, you could enjoy it vegetarian, as I inadvertently did tonight.

Of course, I ruined the health benefits by snarfing down two, count them TWO, foccacine, which is a new kind of bread for which I’ve had the recipe for ages but just decided to make for the first time today. It’s a foccacia style bread, but it’s made in individual rolls, which I brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt before baking.

Here’s the recipe, which I can’t remember where I got so I don’t know who to credit:

  • 500 g flour
  • 70 g of potato flakes
  • about 450 g of water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (more kosher or fleur de sel to spinkle on top if you like)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Mix everything and knead in the mixer for about 1o minutes. Let rise in an oiled bowl until double the size, about 2 hours. Divide into 12 equal portions, form balls and let them rest about 20 minutes. Flatten with your hands to a little less than an inch thick, and make a dimple in the middle with your fingers. Put some olive oil in each dimple and brush it over the top of the bread;  sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 425 for about 18-20 minutes, until browned.

This is a moist, dense bread. It has a great flavor from the olive oil, and the sea salt imparts a good crunch as well as flavor. It would make fine breadsticks and might even make respectable pizza dough if you didn’t want a real thin crust.

But this pasta. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em try you some of this pasta, soon as you start seeing more green things appearing in your house. You’ll thank me. I promise.

 

 

 

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