Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quick and easy pasta supper

My boy Tyler Cowen says that, in terms of diet, the two most environmentally responsible things we can do are to eat less meat and make fewer trips to the grocery store in our car. Having lived with a vegetarian for the last two years, the first of these is particularly resonant in our house. With regard to the second, I do try to keep a supply of staples like nuts, grains, cheese, frozen vegetables and the like around—as well as a fully stocked spice rack—so that there is always a meal to be had from available stocks.

This recipe is a family staple. It comes together quickly, and the noodles can be served plain for the OG. I make it once a month, and the quick pasta in a pan technique, in addition to providing the starch infused water that holds the sauce together—means only one dish to clean. I made it last night, substituting gorgonzola and chevre for the blue cheese, and pecans for the toasted walnuts. I toast the nuts at 300 degrees for five minutes in the toaster oven, but you can also do it in a small dry skillet at medium heat. When they smell nutty, they’re done. We like spaghetti, penne and bowties in our house, and, although America’s Test Kitchen suggests that spaghetti is the better shape for this type of sauce, sometimes it’s more important to just go with whatever seems like the most fun at the time.

Pasta with blue cheese, spinach and toasted walnuts
Cover 1 package pasta with an inch of water and a couple of pinches of salt in a large saucepan. Boil vigorously, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes, until pasta is cooked. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water. Add 3 tbs olive oil, two handfuls of chopped spinach leaves, 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese, handful of toasted walnut pieces and reserved cooking water to saucepan.  Sprinkle with a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, according to taste. Toss a bit, until spinach is wilted. Serve

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