NEW KITCHEN ALERT. I moved away.
This is what happens when John is in Jersey. Things get healthier and the pictures get shittier.
People always talk about how they love certain pasta shapes for certain dishes. Everyone sounds like a jackass when they talk about this. However, they are sort of right. Orechiette is an awesome effing pasta shape and any other for this would suck. I dunno. Maybe it’s psychological. Or maybe it’s just better.
I had some chicken sausage penne thing on a date at Osteria via Stato in Chicago that was awesome, and afterwards realized chicken sausage is a legit food. So I bought some at my new ritzy white-people Whole Foods, where the hipsters actually take showers and people strap their kids into bike seats and park their dogs outside.
This recipe is secretly almost low calorie. Maybe if I didn’t pour half a bottle of wine into everything. You can get drunk off my food. Speaking of, $2 Chuck chardonnay is way less disgusting as a drinking wine than I thought it would be. But it isn’t really $2. Hmmmmm.
I cooked this for just me. Recipe is pre-multiplied to serve 2 people, though. Aren’t I nice?
Orechiette with Chicken Sausage and Broccoli Rabe
2 chicken sausages, mild or spicy
1 box orechiette pasta
1 1/2 cups Chardonnay
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch broccoli rabe, stalks quartered
Red pepper flakes
Olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, the usual
Boil water. Don’t salt it. When it boils, dunk the broccoli rabe in. Fun with parboiling. Leave that in for 2 minutes. Fish it out with a slotted spoon and put it in a colander in the sink (provided your sink is less grungy than the sink I just left behind at my previous house… if it isn’t, you should be ashamed of yourself). Keep the water heating and now salt it. It will take a minute to reboil. Add pasta.
Meanwhile slice the chicken sausages down the center and peel off the skin like a dissection experiment. It will probably be gooey. In a deep saute pan, saute the garlic in oil until browned, then add the sausage. Break up the meat with a slotted spoon and cook until done - you’ll know by the color. It doesn’t take very long. Pull off the heat, add the drained broccoli rabe and white wine, and bring to a low simmer (just enough to reduce the liquids - this definitely still has alcohol in it). Add hot flakes and stir.
SAVE SOME PASTA WATER. IT WILL BE RADIOACTIVE GREEN BUT IT CAN’T HURT YOU.
Drain the orechiette and stir into the saute pan. Add grated parm and more hot flakes.
I’m still impressed I didn’t revert immediately to frozen gyoza and pizza bagels after moving out on my own, so I’m gonna probably revel in my own awesome by cooking and writing for a week before deciding I should sleep more.
But then I remember it’s me.
Whole wheat pasta sucks. Every time you put red sauce on whole wheat pasta and rub it in how you are ‘eating healthy,’ you have taken a year off of my life.
But provided you are using an oil-based sauce, there are a handful of times where it is acceptable to use whole wheat pasta, and one of them is after you overdose on Edzo’s burgers/shakes/fries for lunch and are condemned to eat a light dinner to compensate. Feel like death? Make a green vegetable and magically your self-esteem doesn’t suck so much. This is usually the same motivation that causes me to buy overpriced granola and weird whole wheatified organic versions of goldfish crackers.
Technically, you can make legit looking ‘pasta’ out of zucchini, but that would require a mandolin or really great knife skills. We used a peeler and were sloppy, so this is really whole wheat spaghetti with zucchini tagliatelle. Fancy.
P.S. the least shitty of all whole wheat pastas is actually generic 365 brand from Whole Foods. You can obviously tell it isn’t real pasta, but is one of the few that doesn’t taste like gritty nut paste garbage.
Whole Wheat & Shaved Zucchini Pasta with Fresh Basil (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1/2 box (or bag) whole wheat spaghetti/spaghettini/linguine/fettucini/tagliatelle
2 medium size zucchinis (3/4-1 lb total)
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of basil leaves, coarsely chopped
Red pepper flakes
Salt & fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
Boil water. Salt it. Using a peeler, shave the zucchinis into long flat peels (alternately, you can pretend you are on Iron Chef and hack it away into a fine julienne, but unless you are an expert it will turn out crunchy and it won’t be our fault). Heat the oil in a pan until hot, and lightly brown the garlic. Add the red pepper flakes and immediately stir in the chopped basil, then remove from heat. By this time, you can probably drain the pasta - SAVE SOME WATER. I KNOW YOU WILL FORGET SO I AM PUTTING IT IN CAPS (spaghettiandmeatblog cares). Return pasta to its pot and add the shaved zucchini, the garlic/basil/oil mixture, some more olive oil, and cheese. Toss and add pasta water, salt, and pepper to your seasoning desires, using the pasta water to smooth out the sauce texture.
Top with more cheese, and a basil leaf if you like your pasta with added panache… but let’s be honest, we really only put the leaf on the plate to impress the internet.
Pasta? Again? You bet your ass.
There is literally no excuse to not make this pasta. It requires no talent, six ingredients, and the 12 minutes you were going to waste tweeting stupid pun hashtags about Osama being dead. #youknowitstrue
We could easily re-make this dish in less time than it took me to write about it.
Red Wine Pasta with Bacon and White Beans (adapted from Jules Clancy)
1.5-2 cups red wine (not pinot noir)
5 tbsp tomato paste
1 can cannelini beans
1 box mezzi rigatoni pasta
5-6 strips Applewood smoked bacon
Start boiling the pasta water. Right before you put the pasta on, dump 1.5 cups of wine, the tomato paste, the beans, and the bean liquid into a saute pan over medium heat. Throw in the mezzi rigatoni. Bring the sauce to a boil and then drop to a simmer. Stir frequently, til the wine reduces (you can add more if it becomes thick, and probably should), the beans start to break, and the texture thickens.
While this happens, cook bacon. John’s important educational moment:
Bacon really, really needs to be cooked low and slow. Aka, don’t turn the burner to high and shrivel those suckers to an oblivion the way they do at diners. A breakup almost occurred because Anna used to like bacon charred to the texture of tree bark, so she learned quickly that cooking bacon that way actually sucks. Instead, start the bacon in a cold cast iron pan then place over low heat. It’ll start sizzling after a few minutes, so just keep turning it with a fork periodically until the fat renders and the meat is crispy and brown. You’ll know its done when it looks a little rabid and white bubbles start moving over the tops of the slices. Pat it dry, coarsely chop it up, and try not to eat half of it before the pasta’s done.
Drain the pasta (people never remember to save the water and then swear at the sink as they realize mid-pour that they forgot, but that isn’t necessary here) and toss into the sauce. Stir in the bacon bits, pepper, and a little cheese. Top with more cheese.
Pasta erryday. Pasta forever.
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.
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.