Tuesday, January 3, 2017

pasta with brussel sprouts, cheese, and sweet potato.

Hi 2017.

I debated endlessly over doing my yearly end of year life/blog/things of note re-cap but if we are being honest, 2016 took a lot out of me (I have so many more grays then I did a year ago) and I just didn't feel up to re-living it. 

But 2017, I have goals for you.  Finally (I mean it) making homemade croissants, traveling again (Charleston this weekend!), being a more mindful person and asking myself why (Why do you need this shirt?  Why do you need another cookie instead of an apple?).  Listening more to my gut, giving more hugs to my husband and dog, being a better consumer, trying new recipes that utilize new ingredients.  Go and visit my parents more often, throw a dinner party at least once a month, find a nightstand and bedroom table lamps, learn how to keep a plant alive, take more walks, listen more. Spend more time reading.  Watch some new documentaries. Learn more about wine.  Take a yoga class at least once a month.      

One of my goals is also continue to figure out ways of how to do something out of (what feels like) nothing. Being a cook means you look for ways to use what you have instead of always relying on some ingredient (you may need to buy) to make a meal.  Making something out of nothing is an art and it's an art I hope to perfect.   

This recipe is one of those turn leftovers into a meal kind of recipes and I feel its genius.  Roast some vegetables, turn a small bit of ricotta into a sauce, throw in some pasta, and suddenly, you have dinner.  Its magical and delicious and such an easy way to clean out the fridge.  Here's to more kitchen magic in 2017.   

Pasta with Brussel Sprouts, Cheese, and Sweet Potato
Adapted from the NYTimes 

I loved the idea of this recipe (pasta bake!  lots of veggies!) but felt it could be improved upon.  I roasted my veggies instead of boiling them because roasted veggies are far superior.  I swapped the white potato for a sweet potato because that's what I had on hand and because I love sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts together.   I grated the cheese over cubing it since I find grated cheese disperses itself more easily.   Regardless this is a stellar recipe that lends itself to endless variations (mushrooms and white potato anyone?). 

1/2 - 3/4 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
1 (8-ounce) sweet potato, peeled and in 1-inch dice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound pasta (NYTimes recommends whole wheat or spelt tortiglioni or penne)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 - ½ cup ricotta
4 ounces Gruyère, parmesan or pecorino romano grated 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Additional parmesan or sprinkling on top  

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a large baking sheet, place the sweet potato.  Drizle with olive oil, salt, and pepper.   Roast about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add the bruseel sprouts to the same sheet pan, drizzle sprouts with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and return the pan to the oven for another 12 minutes or until everything is roasted and browned.    Remove from the oven but keep oven on.   

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously, then the pasta, and let water come back to a boil. Cook for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid and set aside.

Return pasta to the pot.  Add brussels sprouts and sweet potato, then add ricotta, Gruyère (or parmesan) and 3/4 cup cooking water, and toss well. Taste and additional salt and pepper if needed. Add more liquid if you think the pasta is too dry.

Pour the pasta into an 8x8 square pan.   Sprinkle with Panko, Parmesan,a and additional black pepper, and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the surface will be scorched a light gold. Let stand for at least 15 minutes before eating.

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