Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pasta Escarole

I made this pasta last night, and thought it was fantastic and worthy of our blog. If you are in the mood for a quick tasty pasta... I would go with the pasta escarole. You can see how beautiful and delicious the picture in Food Network Magazine looks, and then compare it with my less than stellar photograph below.

It is pretty easy and took me about an hour. If I hadn't been watching Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, I bet it would have taken me 30 minutes tops! What's 30 minutes extra if I get to watch tv too.

It makes about 4 servings, so I am looking forward to eating it while Brandon and I watch American Idol... er uh I mean The State of The Union. :) Good food and tv, I don't think it gets better than that. Seriously I don't.

Kosher salt (I used regular salt)
12 ounces gemelli, fusilli or spaghetti (I used spaghetti)
1 head escarole, roughly chopped (called Endive at the grocery store)
1 T pine nuts (used seseme seeds)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling (emphasis on the MORE)
2 T breadcrumbs
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound pancetta, cut into thin strips (I used Prosciutto because the deli said it was similar and they didn’t have pancetta)
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (I used the diced stuff in the jar)
1 red jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (I used green because the store didn’t have red)
2 T grated parmesan cheese (I also used asiago cheese, and I used a lot more than 2 T)
Grape/cherry tomatoes (my addition)
Spinach (my addition)


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, about 10 minutes. Add the escarole and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 more minutes.

I got distracted with other components and left the escarole in longer than 2 minutes and it was fine.

2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a large skillet over medium-high heat, about 1 minute. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper to taste; cook until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a plate.

I added garlic to the mixture, and it took a lot less than 2 minutes. When I first cooked it for 2 minutes it was dark brown, not golden, so I redid it and cooked it for a lot less time.

3. Wipe out the skillet, add the pancetta and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and blot dry.

I used prosciutto, and it is so thin that I had difficulty cutting it. However, after cooking it, it looks like bacon. I bet regular bacon (or creepy turkey for Stephanie) would work as well, and be a lot cheaper. It was 5 dollars for less than ¼ pound of the pancetta.

4. Add the remaining 1 T olive oil to the skillet, then add the garlic and jalapeno and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

I sauteed the jalapeno mixture for a little bit longer because I was a worried about the heat from the jalapeno. Also, I didn’t bother to measure the amount of olive oil I added.

5. While doing the above steps, you can sauté the tomatoes with olive oil. When the tomatoes are soft add the spinach and then sauté together until soft.

6. Drain the pasta and escarole, reserving 1 cup cooking water, and add to the skillet. Add half of the pancetta and toss, drizzling in enough pasta water to moisten. Season with salt and pepper.

I did this step differently, because I used a small skillet for the previous steps and used more cheese.

After draining the pasta/escarole, I put it back into the big pot and turned the burner to low. I then added all of the pancetta and some of the reserved water. I then added most of the grated cheese and stirred it around. This helped the pasta have moisture and a subtle cheesy coating. I then add the tomato spinach mixture and the jalapeno and tossed it around.

7. Divide the pasta among bowls, top with the breadcrumb mixture and the remaining parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil.

The bread crumb mixture is to give the pasta a topping without feeling obligated to add a lot of cheese. (I of course still added the extra cheese, but the breadcrumb mixture is good).

As I made the dish, Brandon kept warning me that an entire jalapeno would make the pasta too spicy, but it was perfect. There was very little kick, and I almost forgot the jalapeno was there. Brandon and I both thought the tomato mixture made the dish. It gave the dish a hint of sweetness that I think would be missing without it.

Brandon and I both thought the pasta was great. Because there is no actual sauce, the pasta dish is lighter than most dishes, and we didn’t feel totally ridiculous afterward. Brandon said his favorite part was the different textures in the pasta. I think my favorite part was the hint of sweet provided by the sautéed tomatoes…. Oh yeah and all the extra cheese.

This meal is one of the 500 calorie dishes from the food network magazine, but I think my extra cheese did me in. That and the fact that I skipped the gym to make the pasta…

PS My camera broke... the display doesn't work, so I can't see what my pictures look like until I load them onto the computer. :(


  1. I don't know about Rachel or Stephie, but that food quote fits you perfectly!

  2. Yeah- the food quote pretty much fits me well too. I planned out what I was going to eat for dinner while listening to a lecture in class today:)

  3. Since when do you go to the gym?