Pasta nights..

…are proof that Food Network is good for things other than who-would-eat-them cake challenges.

I actually like Giada de Laurentiis, even though she's not a food geek like Alton Brown. A lot of her recipes are simple, elegant, and they work in the kitchen. Like this one. Here's my version.

What you need (for three generous servings):

7 oz penne pasta (I love Ronzoni Healthy Harvest whole wheat blend)
5 oz fresh baby spinach
1 cup asparagus, chopped
2 oz goat cheese
1 tbsp capers in brine
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
1 tbsp grated parmeggiano reggiano

– In the food processor, pulse a big handful of spinach, goat cheese, garlic and capers until it turns into a thick creamy sauce. Throw the rest of the spinach in a large bowl.
– Bring plenty of salted water to boil. Add the asparagus to it for thirty seconds, remove and run it under cold water. (I do the whole thing in a metal mesh sieve.) Throw the asparagus in over the spinach.
– Add the pasta to the water and cook until..well, cooked. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of pasta liquid.
– Add the pasta and the sauce to the veggies in the bowl. Pour in the pasta liquid, and stir everything around until the spinach wilts. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the parmeggiano on top and serve.

Yes, that simple. Simpler if you skip the asparagus. Delicious both ways.

Next came the bread. I was looking for a recipe which used sourdough starter, was eggless, and could be made in three hours or less. Voila! Sourdough sundried tomato rolls at Jugalbandi, which is basically my one-shop stop for all kinds of great recipes.

I halved the recipe and got 6 good sized rolls. The dough was very wet, but that had three advantages-
One, it was too sticky to knead, so I just stirred it around with a spoon half-heartedly.
Two, they were too soft to shape, so I threw them in muffin tins.
Three, more water = softer rolls.

These babies were so soft you couldn't have guessed they were made with a whole-wheat flour/sourdough starter/rye flour combo.

Even better, the recipe says you can make them even if you don't have a sourdough starter.

So, what are you waiting for? šŸ™‚

These rolls are so going to Susan's weekly YeastSpotting. They deserve to be spotted. And slathered with butter. And eaten.

p.s. Thank you Singing Horse! The pasta goes to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted this week by Marye of Baking Delights.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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21 Responses to Pasta nights..

  1. Please give me some of those soft rolls now! They look just heavenly. (Staring… staring… staring some more… )

  2. By the way, maybe you can send the pasta dish to Presto Pasta Nights too. Just a thought. People would be delighted to see such a nice pasta dish.

  3. YUMMMMMMMMM!!!!!I'm running late, will have to come back and look carefully at this…just wanted to say how GORGEOUS it all looks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!*grabs whatever she can and runs*

  4. Ruth says:

    I couldn't agree more…Giada does know how to whip up a tasty pasta.

  5. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ Thank you. Its a great idea..I just sent the pasta over.After uploading the pics, I stared at the second one for a long time, too. lol There is a certain something about golden brown bread..

  6. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ I like that word. Thank you much, Suga!

  7. Purplesque says:

    šŸ˜€ Thank you. What I loved most about those these dishes was that they are both simple and so delicious. My kind of food.I could pack a boxed lunch for you, you know..

  8. Purplesque says:

    Doesn't she? I saw another recipe of hers yesterday- gorgonzola and honey bruschetta. Simple and Gorgeous.

  9. Scott says:

    Penne + chopped asparagus look great together!

  10. OK, I'm back.Oh those little penne look soooooooooooooooooooo good!I would skip the asparagus, and I've never had a caper, so I'm suspicious of them (LOL) but everything else sounds WONDERFUL.That's terrific that you could half-heartedly stir the dough and then toss it into a muffin pan and have those GORGEOUS muffins!! So you still have that pulsating sourdough living in your house? How big is it now? I think that's amazingly cool.And the pictures are delicious!AND: thank you for the box lunch offer………. šŸ™‚

  11. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ Thank you.

  12. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ The original recipe has neither asparagus nor capers- I only used them coz they were in the fridge.The sourdough starter is alive! I feed it and put about half a cup worth in a 3 cup pyrex bowl every weekend, and by the next weekend it makes the lid bulge out. Thankfully it is too stiff to do any pulsating or exploding- I learned my lesson that first time. šŸ˜€

  13. OK, I'm imagining what someone would see some night, if they were to direct a thermal imaging system camera toward your house: you and A, two greenish human shapes, and that mysterious, well-fed, green sourdough starter shape ……………..*giggles* Can't you just see it?

  14. Purplesque says:

    Oh, I so can. LOL

  15. Jaime says:

    Looks fantastic! I've never tried out her recepies, but I'm glad to hear that they are workable.

  16. jaklumen says:

    Why strike 'slathered in butter'?

  17. Purplesque says:

    šŸ™‚ Thank you. Most of Giada's recipes are too rich for me, but they are usually very good. I also like her pizza dough recipe.

  18. Purplesque says:

    A said these rolls are good enough to be eaten without butter. :)(Truth is, as a kid I never liked butter. My choice of topping for toast was home made fresh cream. I appreciate it more now, but the constant calorie-counting makes it more of an occasional luxury.)

  19. Emjay says:

    Gosh those rolls look good! I would put a dab of spicy plum chutney on mine. Asparagus has been on special at my local Giant – I love it steamed and served with some goat cheese crumbled over it.

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