I’m starting my first recipe post with the staple food I love most: pasta. Besides desserts, pasta is my love.
Over the years I’ve been getting very good at making all kinds of pasta dishes, failing and succeeding through trial and error, and I can safely say I’ve come to master the pasta. Saying that, the principles that make a good pasta dish are this:
- know your pasta. Different types of pasta go with different types of ingredients: for example, seafood or any crustacean go well with the fresh variety of the pasta like tagliatelle, tagliatelline, chitarrine or lasagnette. A more meaty (even fish) pasta goes well with the long pasta variety like the popular spaghetti, spaghettini, or vermicelli.
- a good pasta dish always starts with a pinch of butter, olive oil and garlic/onions or both.
- not everything goes with everything, but if you do a pasta dish in the oven, you can use all kinds of leftovers just as long as you sprinkle a lot of Parmesan over it with 2 or 3 eggs to have a good crust. But keep in mind, for the oven dishes, use the short pasta variety like: canelloni, gemelli, macaroni, penne, rigatoni or rotini.
Now let’s get back to the recipe at hand 🙂
For this recipe you will need:
450 g tagliatelle
Pomace olive oil (Pomace is good for very high temperature cooking)
2 teaspoons butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced (I like to put a lot more, because I love garlic)
- 2-3 green (spring) onions
400 g fresh spinach, washed thoroughly and leaf tails chopped
150 g Mascarpone cheese
2 handfuls Parmesan cheese.
The way I’m starting a pasta dish is this: I never put the large pan of water to boil until I cut and peel the garlic and onions and have everything else prepared around me. I like to be very organized, not waste time and by the time the pasta cooks and I don’t have to add anything else, I like to wash the dishes I used too.
Fill a large pan with water, sprinkle a lot of salt (I know a lot of recipes say “a dash of salt”, but that won’t cut it if you want salty pasta) and a dash of olive oil. Wait to boil. In the meantime get another large pan or wok, put the butter and Pomace oil along with the spring onions and the finely cut garlic and let it all simmer for a while.
Now add the spinach (don’t be alarmed it the spinach is a bit much for your pan, from the heat it will reduce drastically, I even had to add another 100 g of it, you can do that too if you think there is not enough of it). Get a large wooden spoon and as the spinach starts to reduce stir the ingredients. Add salt, pepper and a little hot chili pepper.
The spinach may leave a lot of water, so if it does, bring the heat up to let it evaporate. Always check the water in the large pan and when it begins to boil introduce the pasta and reduce the heat. After 1-2 minutes take a fork and release the tagliatelle balls into single strands in the water, so as not to boil cramped and not cook all together. You can stir for a couple of minutes and let them boil until they become al dente (cooked to be firm to the bite). I am used to not following the cooking time that’s on the package, because I’ve been boiling pasta for a while and know very well when they are properly cooked, but as a first timer please use the cooking time said on the package. Nothing ruins a good dish more than overcooked pasta, I should know, I did that several times. After they are ready I like to allow them a one more minute stay into their own water. Do not forget them in the water, they still absorb water and can become overcooked.
Check the spinach. If it’s considerably reduced and has only a pinch of water left add the Mascarpone cream. The cream is very dense and it will melt like butter. The best Mascarpone cream you can find is the one at Lidl (I did eat a few single spoons, usually this cream is not so good by itself), when they have their Italian week, it has the best price and beats all the other brands I’ve tried (Exquisa). After everything is melted it will turn into a white gooey sauce.
Let it boil some more. If it’s a bit too claggy, add a few spoons from the cooking water of the pasta. Mine didn’t become claggy, it was again too watery, so I turned up the heat. After a while the water evaporated and it left this white sauce that tasted heavenly with lots of flavors combined. So I drained the pasta (never wash the pasta with cold water, it will lose its flavored salty and oily consistency) and literally dropped it all into the wok over the spinach and sauce and began stirring. I like to drop the pasta over the ingredients and stir over a medium heat. The heat brings all the flavors together.
And that is that. Easy, without the preparation it takes only 30 minutes. Just add the Parmesan cheese on top of the pasta as you are serving.
One simple vegan pasta dish that is simple and so, so yummy.
I have seen this recipe made with the classic flour, milk and butter mix. I have never tried it, but I did use that simple sauce once, but did not have the same consistency and taste that a good cream has. If you don’t like Mascarpone cream and think it’s too fat (this one has 78%fat) you can use low fat cream cheese or just plain cream cheese (Philadelphia has a good range of low fat and light creams and also our own Romanian brand is very good – Delaco, Ceva Fin).