How many years have I cooked dinners consisting of pasta and vegetables? More than I care to think about, and that’s the problem—I have been cooking them without thinking creatively about the process. Here’s a tip I learned recently that saves time and energy.
Say you are going to create a meal of pasta and greens (like spinach, chard, and kale) with a sauce of fresh tomatoes and wine (I like my pasta sauce chunky, so I added other vegetables—zucchini, sweet pepper, leek, hot chile):
- When your sauce is almost done, put your uncooked pasta in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the pasta is the firmness you like.
- Meanwhile, chop the greens and put at the bottom of a large colander. Place a smaller colander on top of the greens.
- When the pasta is done, drain the pasta into the smaller colander, allowing the pasta cooking water to blanch the greens underneath at the same time. Put the softened greens into the pan with the rest of the pasta sauce and add the cooked pasta (at this point I added fresh basil and minced garlic). Stir.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with freshly shredded parmesan.
What makes this process work better than my usual process is that I’m saving energy by cooking the pasta while the pasta cooking water heats to a boil (I’ve mentioned this process previously in this blog), and I’m using the hot pasta cooking water, which is usually wasted, to cook vegetables. Who knew? Thank goodness for inventive cooks—yes, indeed.