Another inspiration from Chocolate and Zucchini, this time for a pasta technique that I’m now in love with. This is a way of cooking pasta that is closer to making risotto than typical throw-it-in-boiling-water pasta. You sauté garlic or onion in olive oil (just a little bit), add in your cut pasta, rattle it around very noisily for a minute or two to get it really coated in the oil and a little toasty, then add hot stock to cover it and simmer it for about 10 minutes. You might need a little more stock, but it doesn’t take that much—I cooked about 2/3 of a bag of pasta and used a little over 2 cups of broth, and shouldn’t have added in the last bit. Partway through cooking I added in broccoli, and at the end I stirred in sausage that I’d cooked in the pan before starting. Because of the extra broth the pasta was a tiny bit overcooked, but still delicious and very appealing-looking:
Looks rather restauranty, no? Because the pasta is sucking in all that flavorful broth, instead of tossing around in hot water, it is coated in a glossy jacket of starch rather than being washed fairly clean. That let the small pieces of broccoli and sausage cling to the pasta and gave it a very substantial feel, compared to when I’ve tossed veggies with boiled pasta. I will use this technique going forward for any pasta that I am dressing with something besides a tomato sauce, etc. It’s great for making a simple, quick dinner that feels a bit dressier. As Clotilde said in her blog entry, not having to boil water (boring) is another major plus!
ETA: I was just flipping through my Mark Bittman “The Minimalist Cooks Dinner,” and he has an absorption pasta recipe, simply called “Pasta, Risotto Style.” I must have flipped past it a million times… I will try his method next time; he recommends tossing the pasta for up to 5 minutes before adding broth, until it really starts to brown, and then adding the broth a little bit at a time and cooking uncovered.