So having finished season 4 of Dr. Who, and being all caught up on Lost I've been watching season 1 of top chef. I've never really watched any cooking shows, but I find it interesting to see the beautiful food they prepare by just varying the theme of a classic, or basic dish. Most of their dishes seem to have a main focus, with variations on that theme, and then garnishes that play off those flavors. They know how to use their ingredients to full effect, and to really bring out all the flavor. The true test of a cook is when you can make a good dish with what ingredients you have on hand, rather than having to go out and buy specialty ingredients for everything you make. It's the difference between following a recipe, and instinctively knowing what goes with what.
So in that spirit I give you cavatappi with sun-dried tomatoes and Canellini Beans. This is a great weekday dish, everything comes from a jar, a box, or a pantry staple, yet it still manages to taste fresh and surprisingly substantial. It's a great way to avoid too-salty jarred pasta sauces, and could be varied in many ways. It also fulfills my vegetarian recipe promise.
1 Box Cavatappi pasta - This could be substituted for any other substiantial pasta, but don't try with spagetti. I'll probably try whole-grain penne next time, but the Cavatappi is awesome if you can find it.
1 8oz Jar of sun dried tomatoes - find them pre-julinenned if you want to save yourself the trouble of cutting them yourself. I had to go to byerly's to find the cavatappi and tomatos.
1 Can of cannellini beans (white kidney beans), widely available... and no, the're not pictured above.
Red pepper flakes
- 1. Start boiling the pasta until it is al dente. (tip, for great pasta use lots of salt in the water)
- 2. In a large skillet add 2 tbsp olive oil, and 2 tbsp of oil from the sun dried tomato jar. Add 4 large sliced cloves of garlic, and brown garlic for approx. 1 minute. Add 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes and let toast for another 30 seconds.
- 3. Add the sun dried tomatoes, which you've drained and cut into thin strips. Spread them out and let them toast for a minute or two, and then ladle in 1 cup of the pasta water. Simmer until the liquid reduces by half.
- 4. When liquid is reduced add 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed. In addition add salt (unless you salted your pasta water), and 1 1/2 cups more pasta water. Bring water to a slow boil and simmer for 4 or 5 minutes, or until you think you'll end up with a pasta sauce, and not a pasta soup. The pasta will absorb some of the water.
- 5. Once your pasta is al dente, drain it and add to the skillet. Stir around to cover in the sauce, most of the liquid sitting at the bottom should disappear.
- Add half a cup of your favorite cheese (I used parmigiano reggiano), and if you wish, garnish with fresh parsley or a herb of your choice. I had left over cilantro so I used that.
This recipe makes a lot of food if you make the whole box, so feel free to half the recipe if you don't want that much food, or don't have a skillet big enough to hold a whole box of pasta. I used a 12" non-stick. Top-chef material it is not, but I still think you will enjoy it. Stephen on that show is a total douche bag anyway, don't be like him.. make this for dinner.
Until next time.
Let us have a dagger between our teeth, a bomb in our hands, and an infinite scorn in our hearts