"Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings, these are a few of my favorite things..." Of course none of these items ended up in my "A Few of My Favorite Things Pasta" but many of my very favorite ingredients did. (sausage, garlic, red chili flakes, artichoke hearts, spinach, capers, lemon and a crunchy topping of toasted breadcrumbs and pine nuts). I happened across some whole wheat rigatoni the other day and I wanted to create a hearty yet healthy pasta dish that would work with it. This dish is easy, tastes great and uses mostly pantry items. Lots of ingredients, but it all works--a little tangy, a little spicy, some good texture and crunch, and a whole lotta yum.
"A Few of My Favorite Things" Pasta
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
1 package whole wheat pasta (I used Bella Terra Organic Whole Wheat Rigatoni)
1 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 package (I used Aidells Artichoke & Garlic Chicken/Turkey Sausage), sliced in 1/4" pieces
1 Tbsp anchovy paste
2 tsp dried red chili pepper flakes
2 Tbsp basil or parsley, chopped very fine
2 Tbsp capers
1 can quartered artichoke hearts
2 cups baby spinach
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot boil water and cook pasta according to package instructions, drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. As pasta cooks, heat a large pan over medium heat, add pine nuts and cook about 5 minutes until they begin to turn light brown, stirring or tossing frequently so they don't burn. Add about 1 Tbsp olive oil and stir in panko. Cook until panko browns and turns crispy then remove from pan and set aside on a plate. Wipe pan, heat over medium, add another tablespoon of oil and saute garlic about 1-2 minutes. Add sausage and cook until sausages are lightly browned. Add anchovy paste, chili pepper flakes, basil or parsley, capers and artichoke hearts and cook about 5 minutes so flavors start to blend. Add spinach and cover pan, cooking another 5 minutes until spinach is wilted. Add lemon juice and about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking liquid. Add cooked, drained pasta to the pan and mix gently but thoroughly, adding more of the pasta cooking liquid if necessary. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Place in individual serving bowls or plates, top each serving with about 1/4 cup of the toasted breadcrumbs /pine nut mixture and serve.
Notes/Results: What can I say?! I made it with my favorite ingredients, to suit my tastes and thought it was great. The ingredients work really well together and with all the flavor and the crispy-crunchy breadcrumbs and tasty pine nuts on top, it seems decadent even though it is pretty healthy. It's a nice change from a tomato or cream sauce. You could add some fresh grated Parmesan too, I am just trying to avoid dairy for awhile so I left it off, but again with the bread crumbs, (one of my favorite pasta toppings), I didn't miss it at all. Speaking of the bread crumbs, keep them separate until you serve the pasta so they remain nice and crisp and if you have leftovers, store the topping separately. I will make this again.
I am sending this dish to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted this week by my good friend Reeni of Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice. She'll be posting the round-up of all the different pasta dishes on her blog Friday so go check it out--you'll find some amazing recipes.
And since my pasta was all about me it seems like the perfect time to let you know that if you want to find out even more about me, the wonderful Debs from Deb Cooks was kind enough to feature me this month in her "An interview with" feature. I got to know Debs through her participation in Souper Sundays (what is it about Deb, Debs, Debby and Debbies and soup? We get them all at Souper Sundays!). She is, as her blog header states,"An English Girl, Living in Spain, Addicted to Cooking." Debs always has great and unique recipes on her blog so it's a fun place to visit even if you don''t want to know any more about me! ;-) But just in case you do, you can find my answers to her thought-provoking questions here.