Thursday, 28 August 2014

Spinach & Artichoke One-Pot Pasta

I have to admit to being extremely sceptical about the concept of one-pot pasta especially as the original came from, I believe, Martha Stewart. Enough said. This feeling of, shall we say, misgiving, didn’t improve when, a mere 48 hours before my intended cook date (which in itself was some time after “discovery date”) I read a rather scathing write up on Helen Graves’ food blog.

Oh well, I’d committed myself (in my head) and so misgivings or not I would be going through with my plan. After all, it is well known (isn’t it?) that a bit of pasta cooking water added to a pasta sauce is a good thing, lending as it does an added silkiness enabling more clinginess to the pasta.

But anyway, if you haven’t come across it before the idea of one-pot pasta is fairly straight forward and self-explanatory: the pasta and all the ingredients cook together in a stock in one pan: the intention being that the stock gets absorbed by the pasta and creates a thick, starchy, flavorful sauce. 

So there you have it.

I deviated slightly as I fried my onion off a bit (i’m not a fan of onion semi-rawness and wasn’t going to take the risk).

So - the verdict? Well in all honesty I’m mixed. First impressions were that the pasta was way overcooked. Which it most definitely was of course - Italian’s would find it an abomination - and it needed a surprising amount of seasoning before serving but all being said I really did like the flavour.

Yes, the one-pot thing is really handy in one way but you do have to keep stirring anyway so in all honesty I think a much better result could be had by cooking the sauce in a separate pot then adding your drained pasta when it is about 3 minutes from al dente. Mix the pasta in with the sauce then cover, off the heat and leave the flavours to infuse and the starchiness leach out of the pasta slightly for 5-10 minutes. Now this is something that is sometimes done in Italian pasta cooking - as previously displayed in the Sicilian knockoff here.

Spinach & Artichoke One Pot Pasta
serves 3, heartily

165g mushrooms, sliced
½-1 can artichoke hearts (in water) - about 175g, drained & roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 small onion, finely sliced
825 ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
200g fettuccine
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried thyme
freshly ground pepper
90g frozen spinach

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and lightly sauté the onion for 5 minutes.

Add the vegetable stock, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, onions, fettuccine, oregano, thyme, and a really good grinding of freshly ground pepper into the pot. 

Push the ingredients down under the stock as much as possible and bring to a boil. Stir the pot to evenly distribute the ingredients and prevent the pasta from sticking. Then turn the heat down to a low simmer and pop a lid on.

Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed but do give the pan a good stir every few minutes to prevent the pasta from sticking.

Once the pasta is al dente add the frozen spinach, stirring to help break up the clumps of spinach as they melt. Season well.

Serve immediately topped with a little Parmesan.

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