An evening alone. . . Sigh. . . I love being alone sometimes. There’s no pressure to “do” anything, there’s no struggle for the remote, there’s no need to brush my hair or take a shower and, most of all, there’s no need to compromise over dinner. So, when Geoff made last minute plans to go out with his guy friends for all-you-can-eat hot wings, I changed my mind about what to eat for dinner five times on my way home after work.
Luckily, a shiny new cookbook had been delivered to me that very day: Giada De Laurentiis’ Everyday Pasta. I thinking about making frozen salmon, then tuna sandwiches, then hamburgers, and then I flipped a page in Giada’s book and saw a familiar recipe. I once saw Giada make her Orecchiette with Mixed Greens on television, and if I hadn’t completely forgotten about the recipe I’m sure I would have made it sooner. It’s a jewel of a recipe ripe for improvisation.
Pasta is one of the only types of food that I’m comfortable experimenting with. I once had an Italian suitemate who threw ingredients into a pan willy-nilly, based on some concept learned at his grandmother’s elbow and not a recipe. The resulting dish was always incredible – the best pasta I’ve ever eaten – and I’ve been trying to emulate his carefree style with ever since.
The basic concept for this dish is that you make a salad and then mix the hot pasta with it, along with a ladle-full of pasta water. The goat cheese gets semi-melted and the greens wilt just a little. It was super easy and it turned out amazing. I think I could eat it once a week, and I definitely plan on making it for Geoff sometime.
Whole wheat spaghetti (as much as you think you can eat)
Mixed greens (about 2 cups, maybe)
Chopped sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil (a few spoonfuls)
Lunch meat sliced into bite-sized pieces (If you want a little meat in your dinner, grab whatever lunch meat you hae in the fridge. I used salami and turkey.)
Toasted pine nuts
A pinch of salt and pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.
Make the salad while the pasta cooks. Toss together the remaining ingredients, the greens, sun-dried tomatoes, meat, pine nuts, salt and pepper and Parmesan.
Top the salad with the cooked pasta and the reserved 1/2 cup pasta water, toss to combine, top with a little more Parmesan and enjoy!