01 March 2010

How could something so good be so simple?

Before I tell you about one of the most delicious dinners I've made recently, I wanted to share a recipe I found on the blog Orangette.

It's for oatmeal pancakes, and I have to say it's one of the -- if not the -- best pancake recipes I've ever eaten. And don't be turned off if you're not an oatmeal fan. Honestly, Seth would never have known there were oats in there if I hadn't told him. If you are, however, a fan of sweet, salty, buttery goodness, then warm the griddle. Check it out here, but do come back and read about my pasta dish.

So this pasta, it's the kind of quick meal that puts the whole 30-minute-meal phenomenon to shame. There are no gimmicks. It's simple and delicious, and very, very addictive.

I found this recipe a few weeks ago for Bagna Cauda Broccoli. Bagna cauda is the Italian sauce of olive oil, butter, garlic and anchovies, and if you don't believe my praises, believe that the Italians know a little something about simple and delicious.

I expanded on this recipe for some friends, tossing in cauliflower to the mix. Then one night last week when 5:30 rolled around, and I didn't have dinner on the stove, I reached for some spaghetti, cranked the oven and went to work.

I roasted some broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, cooked the pasta, made the sauce and tossed the whole mess together. There really are very few words to describe how great this dish is. I even used whole wheat pasta without batting an eye. It was unbelievable. Seriously. And the beauty of it is that the sauce takes only a couple of minutes to make. You could add any roasted veggies you want -- or none. Do add the nuts, though. Toss 'em in the dry skillet just before making the sauce to toast them slightly. I'm all about using one pan for many tasks. The dishwasher will thank you. And in my house, that's me.

Below is the recipe. And if you think you don't like anchovies, just squint your eyes and plow through this. When you're eating it, you won't even notice they're in there, and they add a salty taste that is surprisingly unfishy-like.

If you're feeling generous, share. If not, I'll understand.

Bagna Cauda Pasta

4 to 5 tablespoons butter
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

several garlic cloves, minced

4 or so anchovy fillets, mashed with the back of a fork

3 or so cups of veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, onions or carrots, trimmed or diced

1 lemon, juiced

Splash of white wine

Handful of nuts such as pine nuts or walnuts

1/2 pound of spaghetti or other pasta

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

S & P

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prep the veggies, cutting them all into similar size pieces so the roasting times will be the same for all. Toss veggies in olive oil to coat and season with salt and pepper. Spread them in a single layer onto a cookie sheet. Place in the hot oven until slightly browned and tender throughout (about 15 minutes if your pieces aren't too big).

Boil salted water for pasta, and cook until tender. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast nuts, shaking the pan, careful not to burn them. Remove nuts and set aside. Now in the skillet, combine butter and olive oil and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring for about three to four minutes. Add the lemon juice and white wine. Reduce over low heat for about four to five minutes then remove from heat.

Combine the pasta, veggies, nuts and sauce in a large mixing bowl and toss gently to coat. Top with finely grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy.

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