Pasta And...What? - Going Coastal Blog at - 177367

Going Coastal

Pasta and...what? 
May 27, 2010 10:59 pm 
Updated: Jun. 8, 2010 10:59 am
At some point in my life, I decided I didn't like pasta. Well, not pasta as much as pasta dishes. And, at that time in my life, pasta dishes consisted nearly 100% of spaghetti with either meat sauce or non-meat tomato sauce. I don't think I considered lasagna to fall into the same category as spaghetti, but I never really loved lasagna anyhow.

I did like Spaghetti-O's. I mean I really liked Spaghetti-O's, but even then I think I suspected those too somehow didn't really consist of the same food products as what I'd come to think of as pasta dishes. 

Whatever the case, the concept of a pasta dish eventually became to mean an overly heavy plate of squishy stuff swimming in a pool of thin, bland sauce.

And, yes, you can take this to mean I was completely unaware of the many, many forms pasta takes. I'm pretty sure I was already driving by the time I understood what linguine was and that it qualified as a pasta. 

I'm not exaggerating.

Eventually I did learn to understand pasta as but an ingredient which comes in many, many forms. I won't go as far as to say I understand how the different forms are differently suited for particular applications, but I know they're out there.

I also managed to learn there were more than two potential sauces for pasta, which was probably the greater reason for its reintegration into my diet. While I'm not completely anti-tomato sauce or meat sauce, I'm pretty happy for realizing all the other options available, including the one I tend to use most: just throw something together.

The Missus suggested pasta for dinner. I knew we had a few varieties of whole wheat pastas in the pantry, some chicken sausages and all sorts of newly delivered organic produce.

Unfortunately, rather than learn how to make some flavorful pasta sauces, I've defaulted to improvising with pasta. Cook the pasta al dente and toss it with whatever you have. I wouldn't say the results are always great, but they're vast improvements on the dishes of my youth that nearly drove me away from what is really a staple food for most.

I knew I wanted to use the fresh organic spinach that came in our delivery yesterday as well as one of the varieties of sausages. Beyond that...maybe tomatoes? I chose the penne over the rotini for no really good reason and got the water on the stove while evaluating how to proceed.

Digging through the refrigerator, I remembered I had some ginger leftover from a prior dinner. 

Once upon a time, the idea of ginger in a pasta dish would have seemed absurd and improper, not to mention outside the rules for pasta. 

Sometimes, wanting to just use some of your on-hand items can be very liberating. 

A little olive oil into the big skillet, get it hot and add the 2 tablespoons, give or take, of minced ginger.

I quartered the sausages (with sun-dried tomato and basil) length-wise and then sliced them to get smallish pieces. I think sometimes I go too far with the knife, to be honest. I want the ingredients to distribute well into the dish, but end up burying them because they're too small. 

Guilty on this one as well.

Quartering the grape tomatoes, however, worked out just fine and in they went with the sausages.

A coworker brought some of her extra herbs from her garden to give away today, so some fresh summer savory ended up being the next thing in the pan.

"I know you're experimenting," said the Missus upon entering the kitchen, "but that smells fantastic."

And, while it did smell pretty fantastic, my calculations were that she had only just finished changing a diaper, so, really, her olfactory judgment might be slightly skewed.

On a whim I decided to pour a few cups of chicken stock into the mixture. I figured, if nothing else, it'll help steam the spinach. I was a little concerned about it making things too thin, but by the time I drained and added the pasta and the spinach steamed enough, the liquid had reduced to a good point.

From there, just pour a few glasses of Pinot Grigio and...that's dinner.
the principals
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organic Washington spinach
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surprise guest
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sizzle ginger sizzle
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that ought to about do it
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end game
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May 28, 2010 4:33 am
Nice blog! To think someone could NOT like pasta! Im glad to see you came to your senses;) looks great!
May 28, 2010 6:55 am
I was the same way, not liking pasta, until I learned there WERE other kinds than spaghetti with meat sauce...great blog, thanks!
May 30, 2010 2:19 pm
& then there's the filled ones-ravioli, tortellini & my beloved gnocchi (made from scratch)-little bites of heaven.
Jun. 8, 2010 10:59 am
So...the pasta thing...I'm not sure what the deal was, but I guess me and witchy here had the same experience. It seemed to become clear it was just overwhelmingly bland filler in boring sauce to me. I still don't know that I'd say I have discovered the joy of pasta, but I know much better now how to use it. I guess that's something, eh?
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About Me
I'm a native Michigander who has landed in the Pacific Northwest. I'm not hating the 40 degree low temperatures in winter, to be sure, especially when reading about the snowstorms back home. I've also lived in Atlanta, Denver, Madison, and Germany. I have restaurant experience working in Asian cuisine and American barbeque. I just enjoy the rhythm of prepping and cooking in the kitchen with a little music to keep me company. The bonus is when your guests truly enjoy the results of all the work.
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I really love Asian food. I prefer to have the one dish with a good mix of veggies and meat in a delicious sauce. It's quite a change from my meat-and-potatoes upbringing.
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The maternal side of my family are of Czech descent, so it's those meals at Grandma's house that I love and miss. I feel the need to learn more about Czech cuisine so I can continue those traditions if and when I have a family.
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I'd say that making a Thai Chili Pepper Chicken dish for a gal early in our relationship has led to her sticking with me for a while now. Learn to cook you single fellas. It helps!
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I added cayenne pepper to a hot pan the other day, which resulted in much coughing and hacking for about ten minutes for both my gal and I. It was really ridiculous. I should know better, but I basically mace-d the household!
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