It’s no secret we are big fans of innovative cuisine — sous vide cooking, craft cocktails, molecular gastronomy? Sign us up for all of it. Still, there’s something about the classics that nouveau fare just can’t touch. One thing everyone should master? A signature bowl of pasta. Whether you’re vegan, gluten-free, or a straight-up omnivore, there are a million ways you can enjoy this flexible food. We challenged ourselves to create three easy pasta dishes, each with five ingredients or less. You don’t need hundreds of high-end components to create an outstanding, inventive, healthy meal. Classic? Yes. Boring? Never.
Cappellini with Fried Egg, Peas & Pinoli
1 16 oz box capellini
5 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups peas
2/3 cup pinoli (pine nuts)
1-2 eggs per serving
Olive oil, as needed
1. Set a large pot of lightly salted water over a high heat to boil. You can start the additional steps, but once you’re ready, throw in the pasta and swirl, swirl, swirl, so the strands don’t stick together. It should be done in 2-3 minutes (if you like a firm, al dente pasta), then remove, draine, and place in serving bowl, with a small amount of oil mixed in, to keep it from clumping together. Note: Feel free to sub in gluten-free pasta for all these recipes. Just adjust cooking time as instructed by that brand.
2. Pour pine nuts into a pan and toast over a medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from the pan (don’t leave them on the heat once browned!) and mix into the pasta.
3. If your peas are frozen, cook in a small pot until cooked through, then drain and mix into the pasta.
4. Pour a splash of olive oil (just enough to coat the surface) into the pan and add the garlic. Cook over a medium heat until lightly browned, then spoon out the garlic and add to the pasta. Toss until all the ingredients are well mixed, then plate each serving.
5. In the garlic-oil pan, cook eggs sunnyside up over a medium-high heat, This will give you a crispy-edge egg with a loose yolk that will easily break and mix into the pasta. Per you or your guest’s preference, top each pasta plate with 1-2 eggs. Serve, and enjoy!
Perfect Penne With Basil & Mozzarella
We’re not kidding — this is the perfect penne. That’s not to say it’s a revolutionary advancement in pasta technology. This is as simple as it gets, and sometimes, that’s just what perfection means. The little black dress of the kitchen, this recipe is one we really think every foodie should have in their back pocket. Take it and make it your perfect penne.
1 16 oz box penne
6 medium, ripe tomatoes
1 large bunch fresh basil
1 ball fresh mozzarella
3 cloves garlic, finely diced (or pressed)
Olive oil as needed
1. Chop tomatoes into large but bite-able chunks (we did them in eighths).
2. Obviously, you’ve washed all your vegetables already, but double check that the basil is clean since it has a tendency to be sandy when store-bought. Pull leaves off the bunch, and cut the too-big-to-bite leaves in half.
3. Tear mozzarella into pieces. No need to measure, but they should look about about thumb-sized in order to melt well into the pasta.
4. Sautee garlic in olive oil in a large skillet, then move it off the hot burner, but don’t put it away — this pan comes back into play later.
5. Boil pasta until it’s almost al dente (just a little bit too hard), then strain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
6. Here’s what makes it magic: Pour reserved pasta water into the skillet with garlic and oil. Add pasta and remaining ingredients, and cook over a medium heat until the pasta is well coated, basil wilting, and cheese melted into the dish. Note: If you only have a small pan, you can do this in batches for each serving. Either way, you’ll know it’s done when you can’t keep your hands off it.
Lemon-Spinach Orecchiette With Toasted Almonds
We love a classic red sauce, but there’s nothing wrong with going toward the opposite end of the spectrum. This orecchiette is so fresh and bright that it’s almost like eating a salad (almost, but better). A light lemon-garlic sauce is complemented by fresh spinach, and when topped with toasted almonds and sliver of parmesan? We may need to switch to emoticons to express that kind of joy.
1 16 oz box orecchiette
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1 bunch fresh spinach (about 6 oz)
3/4 cup sliced almonds
Olive oil as needed
Optional: parmesan cheese shavings, to taste
Fishs Eddy Colorware Dinner Plate, $10.95, available at Fishs Eddy.
1. In a small pot, saute garlic in a shallow pool of olive oil, over a medium heat, for less than a minute. You want to keep some of the bite, so don’t let it really brown.
2. Add lemon zest and juice. If your sauce looks a little meager, then you may have gotten a drier lemon, and should supplement with more juice/oil to fully coat your pasta. It should be about 2/3 of a cup.
3. In a dry pan, toast almond slices over a medium-high heat, just until they’ve begun to brown. Remove from heat immediately, so they don’t burn.
4. Boil orecchiette until fully cooked to your preference, then drain and transfer to a bowl. While it’s still hot, top with sauce and toss until well-coated.
5. Immediately add spinach to the bowl, stirring and tossing until it begins to wilt in the hot pasta.
6. Plate it up and sprinkle each serving liberally with toasted almonds. Add cheese if that’s your jam, and commence to NOM.
Styled by Rhoda Boone
Photographed by Ingalls Photo
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