Do you ever listen to The Splendid Table, hosted by Lynne Rossetto Kasper, on NPR? I usually catch it on Saturday or Sunday evening, often cooking our own dinner while I listen to Lynne interview guests about food, cooking and eating - the slow food movement, how to reject a bottle of bad wine in a restaurant, how truffles are grown, how to roast coffee beans at home, favorite regional foods. I often learn something new, as I did a few months ago when Lynne and her guest, Harold McGee, a food scientist, discussed cooking dry pasta as you would risotto, rather than in a pot of boiling water (here is a link to that show).
Odel makes a dynamite pasta sauce and, since we often have some in the freezer, it seems like a natural for boondocking – but boiling pasta seems like such a waste of scarce water! Since pasta cooked in the style of risotto (that is, cooked in only as much liquid as can be absorbed) seemed to be boondocking friendly, I filed the idea away, intrigued.
Recently the same unusual cooking method popped up again, this time on a blog I was introduced to by Margaret Wright while we were in Tucson: Shadowcook. The most recent post is titled “Pasta with Duck Sausage and Carrots, Risotto-Style”, and I immediately paid attention. Her recipe was inspired by an older recipe in Saveur magazine that also used the risotto cooking method.
I like to make risotto – often a good way to use up bits of leftover meat or fish, or to turn a few vegetables and some cheese into a creamy comfort food, much more luxurious than its individual parts. The idea of using dry pasta in place of rice interested me, so I printed both of the recipes.
A couple of nights ago, I adapted ideas from both recipes to come up with one suited to what I had on hand (and our taste). We both loved it, so I turned my jotted notes into something more formal and tucked it into my recipe box. If you would like to give it a try, here is the link: Risotto-Style Pasta with Italian Sausage.
With spring on the way, I think I may experiment with a risotto-style pasta primavera before long, maybe some asparagus, peas, diced carrots, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of lemon zest just before dishing up…
I must be ready for lunch! We’re traveling north on Hwy 99 towards Sacramento; time to find a rest stop and have a bite to eat.