This pasta is my go to dinner for nights when I’m feeling lazy but I still sort of want to cook but I can’t really decide just what I want and what’s the point anyhow. I first got the recipe from Shelterrific, pasta with broccoli rabe, and have made just a few changes to make it have a bit less fat in it (I know, I know, but it’s still good, promise).
I had a week where the idea of using a little pasta water slapped me upside the head. I read How Much Water Does Pasta Really Need? in the New York Times where Harold McGee talks about the extra starchy water created after boiling pasta in a smaller amount of water. (He reminded me of the description of restaurant pasta water in Bill Buford’s book Heat.) That same week I listened to the February 7th episode of Splendid Table where the tables are turned and Lynne Rossetto Kasper talks about the importance of adding pasta water. And then Shelterrific took Harold McGee’s recipe into their test kitchen.
cranky night pasta with kale
Boil some water, a bit less than you think you’ll need. Figure out if you have some blanched kale in the freezer, if not chop some fresh kale. (Sigh deeply at how much work this is.) Mince a few cloves of garlic. (A garlic press is totally acceptable here.) Dig the crushed red pepper flakes out of your mess of a spice drawer.
Put the pasta in the boiling water and set a timer. Get out a large frying pan and pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil in the center. When the pasta has about four minutes left dump the kale into the pot (two minutes if you’re using frozen). Turn on the heat under the olive oil. Just about when the pasta is going to be ready to come out add the garlic to the olive oil pan and cook until it’s just, barely, almost starting to turn golden.
Use a large strainer or slotted spoon or something to move the pasta and kale over from the pot of water into the frying pan. Add a little ladle of the pasta water. Move around so the garlic is mixed in well. Add salt and pepper and, just before moving it to bowls, a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Ta da!
If we’re really hungry I also make this chicken breast recipe (technique?) that I first found at The Kitchen.
surprisingly moist boneless skinless chicken breasts
Heat a bit of butter and olive oil in a pan. Dredge some chicken breasts through salted and peppered flour (add chopped herbs if you have any). Put the chicken in the pan and just cook it so that each side is turning golden. Put a heavy lid on the pan, turn the heat down to low and set the timer for 10 minutes. Walk away and don’t lift the lid. After ten minutes take the pan off the heat, lid still on!, and let it sit for another ten minutes. You’re done.