Tonight is a celebration. As of today, both of us are now employed in low-paying, highly competitive advertising internships, and that is an excuse to eat some FAT FOODS with cheese and cream and carbs. Also al forno = ‘in the oven’, for any plebs currently reading.
So why is this pasta SO AWESOME?
a) it has a pound of meat in it. IRON.
b) it uses Mid’s pasta sauce, which is the only acceptable (yes we think Ragu is gross and if you use it you might be gross too) jarred sauce for under $6.
c) it has heavy cream AND full fat mozzarella, the kind made with cream cheese.
How the hell do you make something like this and not die of a heart attack? Answer: just don’t be old. Make it while your body can take it. You can always buy an illegal prescription for Lipitor from India off the internet if you’re feeling self-loathing.
Rigatoni al Forno (an ‘original’ recipe, not stolen from the internet or Mark Bittman or Marcella Hazan like everything else we cook)
1 jar Mid’s Meatless pasta sauce
1 lb ground sirloin (the only low-fat part of this recipe)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 package Kraft mozzarella with the Philly cream cheese logo
1 box rigatoni, which can not be substituted, because rigatoni is superior
Preheat the oven to the broil setting. If you are too poor to have a broil setting then do 450 or something else really high. Boil some salty water in a big pot and brown the ground beef in a bigger pan than you think you need. Do not brown any garlic cloves in there no matter how fancy you think you are, because we have tried this, and it is disgusting. Add the Mid’s sauce and set to very low heat, stirring pretty often.
As the pasta finishes, add the heavy cream and stir so that the sauce turns light and orangey (don’t add it too early or it will curdle when mixed with the sauce acid, which is nasty). When the pasta is just under al dente (almost edible, not crunchy, but not totally ready) drain it and add to the sauce/meat mix. Stir and throw in a few handfuls of the mozzarella. Dump all the pasta into a cast iron skillet and put the rest of the mozzarella on there. Do you feel fat yet?
Broil for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and looks like pizza cheese. Serve it out of the skillet (keeps it hot), then rub it in to everyone around you how much better your dinner is than theirs.
An attempt to solve the bland vegetable dilemma. The carrots are soft, sweet, and a little glazey from the soy/sugar/ginger mixture, and the zucchini gets roasted on the inside but crispy and breaded on the outside. We added sliced, medium-rare top sirloin steak because we are carnivorous, but the vegetables could stand alone.
Ginger Glazed Carrots
4-5 large carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
2 tbsp. soy sauce
Grated fresh ginger root
Preheat to 425°. Coat carrots in thin layer of soy sauce in a glass baking dish. Grate ginger root and sprinkle sugar over carrots. Bake 30-35 minutes or until carrots are softened and browned. They go well with spicy peanut sauce.
Crispy Baked Zucchini
2 large zucchini, cut into sticks
1 large egg
Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs (traditional over panko, if possible)
2-3 tbsp. grated Romano cheese (can use Parmesan if desired)
Splash of milk
Preheat oven to 425° (these can be easily cooked along with the carrots). Mix cheese and breadcrumbs on plate. Stir egg with splash of milk and dredge zucchini strips in mixture, then roll in crumb and cheese mixture. Place on greased or sprayed cookie sheet and bake uncovered 25-30 minutes. These go well with a marinara sauce.
Every other blogger makes this sauce, so we christened the new kitchen with it. We would not be good at the internet if we didn’t make this sauce. You don’t need cheese. You barely need salt. It doesn’t take 4 hours. And if you’re thinking, wtf guys, this is Italian food, where’s the garlic, where are the damn DRIED HERBS… just wait. Also, this recipe is great if you’re kind of broke and avoid grocery shopping.
Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes (use San Marzanos - this is supposedly optional, but it really isn’t because these are way better)
5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and halved
Place that lengthy list of ingredients in a 3-quart, heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat until it simmers. Reduce to a slow steady simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered (this is important for evaporation), periodically stirring and smashing up the whole tomatoes. Remove it from heat and throw out the onion. Then blend for a minute or so with a stick blender to a smooth, thick consistency. Toss with a long pasta.
The simplest, most delicious meal when you are about to leave town, own no food, and don’t want to blow $50 bucks at Whole Foods for 5 items. It is our permanent fallback for blizzards, during allergy season, after drinking, and before drinking. Sometimes during drinking. There are very few life problems that aglio y olio does not improve.
Box of long pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
Hot pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
Cook your pasta to the appropriate al dente. While it cooks, crush the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and brown in oil with the hot flakes. Remove from heat.
Save a little pasta water before draining. Remove the garlic mush from the pan and put the pan back on the heat with the pasta, adding the reserved water (to help it bind). Grind some black pepper and grate Parm on top after plating.
Classic sushi-restaurant dish. Do you have a wok that hasn’t gotten destroyed by unruly roommates yet? Because this is a good reason to use it.
1 package firm silken tofu
Dashi soup mix
Peanut oil (for frying)
Grated ginger and radish
Put the tofu on a plate covered with paper towels, cover the tofu with another plate and put a heavy pan over it. Leave for 5 minutes to press out some of the moisture. Slice tofu into 2 inch chunks, dredge in cornstarch and set aside on a plate.
Heat peanut oil in the wok (or deep saucepan/deep fryer if you aren’t ambitious enough to bother owning a wok) until a small scrap of tofu sinks to the bottom and floats immeadiately back up. Fry the tofu chunks until golden brown and drain on paper towels. Put the tofu in a bowl, pour dashi stock over it, and top with grated ginger and radish.