Posted by: ThePseudotarian | May 3, 2010

Easy, creamy, throw together pasta

I feel bad for starting this blog and then not posting anything in it. But I just moved and my camera is packed away in some box, somewhere and to be honest – I’m too sundrenched to have the energy to unpack everything. I also have a confession. I’m a terrible packer. I line every box with a few books and then throw in anything that will fit that’s within arm’s reach. With the 90 degree weather I haven’t been able to muster the energy to really unpack all these boxes.

But I wanted to make at least one new post. Especially since (with the stress of moving) I’ve been craving comfort food. The problem is … all my comfort foods are warm. Soups, stews, mac and cheese … you get the picture. But who eats mac and cheese when it’s 90 degrees outside?

Well, with moving, I also haven’t had time to do any substantial grocery shopping, so I kind of had to throw something together. And that’s where this pasta dish came from. It’s creamy, without the heavy dairy, and it’s got a ton of flavor just using spices and ingredients that you’re almost sure to have in your kitchen pretty regularly. Plus, it’s finished with a squeeze of fresh, sunny lemon juice that really made this impromptu dinner something special.

You could definitely use fresh herbs here, and greatly improve the flavor, I just didn’t happen to have any on hand.

Easy, Creamy, Throw Together Pasta

2 Sundried tomatoes packed in oil, unrinsed and chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp oil from the sundried tomato jar
2 cloves of garlic chopped or sliced (I left mine in big chunks)
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (approx.)
1 tsp dried  thyme (approx.)
1-2 tbsp dried basil (to your taste preference)
1/2 a lemon
Your pasta preference. For this, I used thick spaghetti, about a handful.

salt and pepper to taste

Put your pasta on to boil, and chop up your garlic and sundried tomatoes. I also cut and squeezed my lemon into a small bowl, since every time I squeeze a lemon right into whatever I’m making, 500 seeds shoot out into my once-perfect dish.

After your pasta has cooked al dente (be careful not to overcook it, since you’ll be adding more liquid later), reserve about a cup of the cooking liquid before you drain it. You may not use all of this liquid, but it’s better to have too much than not enough, right? After you drain your pasta, return it to the cooking vessel, but make sure it’s off the heat. Stir in your oils, garlic (you can also saute the garlic if you want) tomatoes and seasonings (adjust to your taste preference, but remember that you’ll be readjusting after you add the pasta cooking water).

Turn your heat up to medium, and stir in a splash or two of the cooking water and let it get good and heated, until it’s bubbling slightly. You’ll notice your pasta will start to take on a much creamier appearance. This is from all the starch that was released into the cooking water as the pasta boiled away. Let those first splashes boil down, and add a second one. If you’ve made risotto before, this is not dissimilar but definitely easier. After the second splash of pasta cooking water, add your lemon juice and stir your pasta around to coat. Let the water boil down just enough that it’s not watery, but there’s a creamy hint of sauce binding your pasta.

Double check your seasonings, especially salt, and adjust to taste.

At this point, you could also add any number of things to ramp up the taste. I wish I’d had some fresh spinach or parmesan cheese and that I’d saved the lemon and sprinkled some of the zest over the top.

When all said and done, this dish took maybe 12 minutes to cook and put together. An easy, creamy, comforting bowl of pasta that pulled together nicely out of a pretty meager pantry. I’m hoping to update this in the near future with some pictures.

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