This past weekend, we lost our furnace. Well, I should say that it's still there but it's not working. Whatever part it is that heats the air for the fan to blow has given up the ghost, so we're waiting for an HVAC technician to be sent by our landlords to come and fix it. (HVAC = Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Since it broke down on Saturday afternoon, we'd pretty much given up on getting any help until this morning. Actually, as I write this, I still am not quite sure when it will be fixed and boy, is the house cold this morning.
We bought a space heater, put an extra blanket on the bed and shuffled our menu around so we could use the Giant Kitchen Space Heater (the oven) for dinners. For lunch yesterday, my husband wanted pasta, which, thanks to boiling water, nicely warms up the room while preparing food that warms you up inside too. It was late on Sunday afternoon when we decided to make this, so something fast was required.
I found a recipe in one of my cookbooks that I always mean to cook more from: Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food. I like his recipes, they're fast, simple and quite to our taste. It's also very much an idea book, as it gives interesting things to have with something or on something. For some reason, I never remember to look through it for recipes. I really should rectify that.
This one caught my eye. It involves slow-cooking garlic, starting when you put the pot of water on to boil, and crumbled goat cheese. That was just perfect for lunch, combining some of my favorite things with another of my favorite things: warmth. I tweaked it a little and wished vainly for some spinach, but alas, we had none in the house. It was beautifully garlicky and tangy, perfect for a cold afternoon.
Goat Cheese & Garlic Pasta [printable recipe]
Adapted from Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 6 - 7 big cloves of garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
- 7 - 8 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into strips or diced
- 2 cups chopped spinach (optional)
- 3 ounces goat cheese
- 2 ounces white wine
- 6 ounces filled pasta (like dried cheese tortellini)
- 2 tbsp chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pine nuts
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp herbes de provence or thyme
Over medium-low heat, start cooking the garlic and olive oil. Start some water boiling and find the rest of the ingredients. After about 10 minutes or so, add the onion to the garlic. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the water comes to a boil.
For pastas that cook in about 10 - 12 minutes1: Add the filled pasta to the water now and salt liberally. Otherwise, wait a bit longer.
Once the pasta has cooked about 1/3rd of the way, add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt and herbs. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 - 4 minutes. Add wine and spinach, if using. After another 1 - 2 minutes, crumble in the goat cheese along with a spoonful or three of the pasta cooking water so that the cheese melts nicely down into a sauce. Stir in the nuts and the pasta should be about ready now, so drain it and toss the little beauties into the sauce.
If you like, gild the lily with a bit of grated parmesan on top, but it's not really necessary.
- Because we usually buy dried filled pasta in bulk as a pantry staple2, I've timed the recipe for about an 11 minute cooking time. You can use any kind of pasta, but if it cooks in less than 11 minutes, you'll need to add additional time to the garlic-onion mixture before adding the pasta to the water.
- Yes, I said staple. It's great for an emergency pick-me-up or meal since it can be eaten with just a bit of butter or olive oil and still be tasty and filling.
- In fact, almost all of the ingredients for this recipe are pantry staples of ours.