innovation by necessity

This is what I woke up to this morning:


Stunning, right?

By the good graces of my boss, I was able to take the day off of work, and spent the morning snowshoeing up the creek (finding not one, but two places where you can still put a food straight through the ice into some frigid, murky water.. it’s a talent), shoveling my front walk, and raking snow off of my roof. By then it was about 1pm, at which point I went inside, sat down with a book, and promptly passed out for about three hours. Woke up, shoveled the back walk, and decided to call it a day.

Except after an hour or two of tv, it became readily apparent that the caloric expenditures of my snow day were not measuring up to its meager intakes. I was ravenous. But also, not about to truck down to the store.  So it was time to play “what’ve I got in my fridge/pantry?”

For veg, I had half a can of diced tomatoes from last week’s The Souping Dead, a box of baby kale, shallots, & sweet potatoes. And for something to bring them all together, I had assorted pastas, or eggs. I decided to go the pasta route, and, partaking of some of the orphaned vodka left here by my roommate, do a vodka pasta cavatelli with kale, ingredients roughly as follows, as I had no recipe to work from:

olive oil
1 small shallot
red pepper flakes
7oz diced tomatoes (half regular sized can)
some 2% milk (that’s about as accurate as I can get on it)
1 shot vodka
parmesan cheese
cavatelli (corkscrew) pasta
salt & pepper to taste

While I minced the shallot, I took a couple of good lugs of olive oil, then sautéed them with a good pinch of red pepper flakes (I like it spicy, but add to taste, or omit all together).  If you’re a garlic person, you’d maybe mince up some of that and add it in at this point as well, but I’m not, so I didn’t.  When it became fragrant, I added in the tomatoes and the milk. A measuring cup was not to be seen; I’ve had vodka sauce in restaurants, and just sort of added milk until it seemed like the right color. All together, I heated that to the scientific measure of “tongue-burningly-hot,” got the pasta going according to the directions on the box, then grated some parm into the sauce and added the vodka. I upped the heat a little here, to try and reduce the sauce some. Nearing the end of the sauce and pasta part of things, I did up the baby kale in a rough chop, about as much as to fit in my two cupped hands.

When the pasta was done, I drained it well, added it to the sauce, then added the chopped kale. I let that sit cooking a bit more for maybe a minute and a half, and then, voila:


Things I’d do differently next time: The sauce was a little thin, as you can maybe tell from the picture. I think I’d drain the tomatoes first, and maybe use a smidge less milk. It also wound up being a little salty. I made the mistake of treating it like a soup and seasoning during the simmering phase, but that didn’t take into account the parm I was adding in at the end, which defo upped the oomph of the salt quotient, and while it reduced, it intensified even more. I’d also use a little less pasta. The sauce was flavorful enough that each bite was still rich and good, but I think a thicker sauce, with fewer noodles, would have made for a more balanced dish.

All in all though, not bad for being snowed in on a Friday night!

2 thoughts on “innovation by necessity

  1. Wow, the snow looks absolutely beautiful! Although I’d be a lot less endeared to it after spending all that time shoveling. Doesn’t the snow understand that snow days are supposed to be relaxing?

    That pasta looks delish! By the way, I really like that you comment on what you’d do differently with it if you were to make it again. It makes your whole cooking/eating experience feel more fleshed-out than just a typical recipe post.

    • It was relaxing enough just to be able to stay home and deal with it, instead of working a full day and -then- tackling it all. I feel good about the day. (And about my Sorels, which kept my feet bone dry throughout, despite being soaked on the outside.)

      And thanks! I’m no kitchen pro.. a lot of trial and error goes on here. But hopefully my errors can at least save one for someone else. 🙂

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