Go Out on a Limb

It’s important to lose your footing in the kitchen every now and again. Pull the rug out from under your feet, if you will.

pasta.Cook without a recipe.

Live wild!

I pinned this recently, and despite not having all the necessary ingredients, I turned it into a damn good dinner.

No bacon? Use prosciutto.  Used the last of the yogurt for a smoothie?  Go for butter!  Think about dinners you’ve made in the past that could bridge the gap between the recipe in front of you and the ingredients in your fridge.  When it works, it’s beyond worth it.

Though Shawnda billed her dish as macaroni and cheese, I made something with a much looser sauce, courtesy of the half cup of pasta water I reserved after cooking.  Have you ever done that?  The starch from the pasta creeps into the water and when it meets a hot pan, magical, silken things happen to a sauce.

This recipe is for two, because this is a dish best eaten hot and right away.  Leftovers (and we are a leftover family) just aren’t the same.

To make pasta for two, you will need:

  • some slices of cured meat, prepped however you see fit (I used prosciutto, roasted at 375 degrees for 20 minutes)
  • 1/2 box short cut pasta, like penne or radiatore
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 C cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • tons of freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta.  A minute before it’s finished, add frozen peas.  Right before draining, stick a glass measuring cup in the water, and scoop out 1 C of the starchy, salty, goodness.  Set aside, and start working quickly.  The magic only happens when the water is hot.  Drain pasta and peas.  Return pan to heat and melt butter.  Add pasta and peas, and cayenne pepper.  Stir in both cheeses and mix till combined.  Add pasta water, and give things another stir.  You should have stringy, goopy, cheesy goodness at this point.  Top with crumbled, cured meat, and tons of grinds of pepper.  Serve piping hot, preferably with a glass of white.


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