Thursday, April 21, 2011

Moderation? What for?

The past week was another one of those weeks when just getting to Friday was a big deal.  But we made it, and now we're on vacation.  Larry took the week off, and I'm on Spring Break, so we spent the first few days getting things done around home, and then took off for the house in upstate New York.  I'm trying to pretend that I don't see snow flurries out of the window right now, but really there's nothing to worry about.  It's been flurrying all day, but not a thing is sticking...maybe because it's about 48 degrees.  The sun even occasionally peeks its head out, and will apparently be spending the day with us tomorrow.  Which is good, because we have something like over 40 plants to pick up at the local plant sale and get into the ground.  Moderation?  What for?

I did actually cook one day last week (more than one, but reheating doesn't really count, does it?).  Friday, I think.  It was a quick and easy pasta dish that was great reheated for lunch today.  Up here at the NY house, we don't have a microwave.  I have to say that I think the reheated pasta was even better because I had to do it on the stove top with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil to keep anything from sticking. 

This morning I started the day by baking bread.  Normally a relaxing endeavor, this time it was more of a frantic, "OhmygodthishastoworkI'vealreadyputinfourcupsofflourwhyisitstillsosticky?" thing.  Surprisingly (okay, not surprisingly) it was a baker's error and not the recipe (dammit).  I was so focused on the "whole wheat" part of the flour label that I somehow missed the "bread flour" part of the label.  Sadly, whole wheat and whole wheat bread flour are not the same beast. 

But have I mentioned my almost pathological inability to waste food?  There was no way I was chucking that shaggy, sticky pile of goo.  I just kept adding small bits of flour and kneading, and hoped for the best.  We haven't tasted it yet, but it rose correctly, smelled great while baking, and sounds appropriately hollow.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.  (If not, I'll make a loooot of croutons...)

I also roasted the vegetables for a farro and vegetable salad that I found on David Lebovitz's site; we're having that for dinner.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

Whole Wheat Penne with Italian Sausage*, Sundried Tomatoes, and Spinach
by Me      serves 4

8 oz. whole wheat penne or other short cut pasta
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for finishing
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, reconstituted with boiling water and then sliced thinly; save some of the
                                         water, about 1/2 cup
3 grilled Italian sausages*, sliced thinly (I used pork, but chicken or turkey would be good;
                      you could also omit it and sub in mushrooms--brown them before adding the garlic and onions)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. fresh spinach, cleaned and stemmed
parmigiano-reggiano cheese, for serving

1.  Bring water for pasta to a boil; salt if desired.  Cook pasta until just shy of al dente, following package directions for guidance.
2.  While pasta water comes to a boil, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, and red pepper flakes (do mushrooms first, if using) and saute until softening, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and cook until pan is almost dry again; add sausages and tomatoes, and salt and pepper.  Add a splash of the tomato water to make things glisten. 
3.  Scoop the pasta straight from the water into the skillet; it's okay if water clings.  Add the spinach and start tossing; add a little pasta water to keep things loose.  Continue tossing until spinach wilts and pasta is al dente, about 4-5 minutes.  Grate on some cheese, drizzle a little olive oil over, and serve. 

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