Thank goodness for inventive cooks

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):

  1. 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.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the greens and put at the bottom of a large colander.  Place a smaller colander on top of the greens.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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5 thoughts on “Thank goodness for inventive cooks

  1. Another great way! I cook the pasta and minutes before it’s ready, al dente, I add the chopped/sliced greens. How many minutes before depends on the greens, spinach, collards, etc. Drain, add sauce, grated cheese, etc….. Delicious either way!

  2. Great idea! I’ve also read that for boiling water, the electric kettle is fastest, so I use that to boil the water before butting the pasta in. FYI, if you have the time, letting the pasta sit covered in boiled water will also work, but be sure to keep checking so it doesn’t get mushy.

    • Oooo! I look forward to trying your experiment of pouring boiling water (heated in my electric kettle) over the pasta, and letting it sit to cook. When I’m preparing pasta on the stovetop, I always have to check to make sure it doesn’t overcook, so monitoring the hydrating pasta wouldn’t be extra work. Thanks for sharing, Rani.

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