Tuesday, February 16, 2010

That's Some Drunk Pasta!

There seems to be no greater happiness to me right now than to make something nutritious and tasty, and have one (or both!) of my kids gobble it up and love it. So I have been on something of a baking kick. I made muffins over the weekend, and much to my delight, Evan couldn't get enough of them! I'll have to make them again and post about them. Today, I decided to finally put the last of a box of clementines we've had to good use, and make more muffins.

Evan adored the muffins. Xander wouldn't even try them. They were Clementine Poppy Seed Muffins, which I thought was an intriguing and clever use of the clementine. They weren't something I would make every day, or crave in the middle of the night, but they were nice, solid muffins with a crunchy-ish top and a tender inside.

But enough about muffins. For our Valentine's Day dinner, Andy and I decided to try out a recipe for Drunken Tuscan Pasta, by Rachael Ray. Now, my feelings about Rachael are quite mixed. I have loved her, and I have hated her. At this point, I think the conflict I feel is due to the fact that while she annoys me, I can't help but like a good amount of her recipes. What can I say? She's the TV cook that first inspired me to drag my lazy butt into the kitchen and start making myself useful. I guess I kind of owe her.

This pasta dish was incredibly easy to make, pretty healthy (if you overlook the fact that the pasta was actually boiled in a combination of red wine and water), and delicious. That made it a winner for us! Don't worry, we didn't feed the kids this drunken pasta. I felt too weird giving them something cooked in that much wine. But Andy and I really enjoyed it, and we would definitely make it again. Here's the recipe.

Drunken Tuscan Pasta
Adapted from Rachael Ray
4 servings

1 (750 ml) bottle of red wine (such as Chianti)
coarse salt
1 lb. bucatini pasta
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. deli-sliced pancetta
3 portabella mushroom caps, thinly sliced
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
red pepper flakes (a couple pinches)
4-5 cups chopped kale (you could use swiss chard, spinach, or escarole)
black pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese

1. Pour the whole bottle of wine into a large pasta pot; fill the rest of the way with water, set it on the stove to boil, add salt when boiling, and then add pasta. Cook pasta to al dente; reserve at least a cup of pasta water before draining.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, then chopped pancetta. Brown pieces until crispy and golden brown, then reserve on a paper towel-lined plate.
3. Add mushrooms to the same skillet. Season with the rosemary and then cook for 6-8 minutes, until deeply golden. Push mushrooms to the side, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another minute, then toss mushrooms with garlic mixture.
4. Add chopped greens to the pan, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and wilt them down. Once the greens have wilted, add the reserved pasta liquid, 1/3 cup at a time, and cook to reduce a little.
5. Add well-drained pasta to the skillet. Add pancetta back to the pan, along with a handful of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and toss the pasta for a minute to allow it to absorb liquid. Add more liquid if necessary. Serve with more cheese on the side.

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