Full pasta meal + one pan = YES!

Maybe it’s the little bit of purist in me, but why did I never think to cook pasta IN its sauce??  Certainly it’s easier to control the quality (of each ingredient, I suppose) when the pasta’s made separately but, for this recipe, it’s worth taking exception to that rule.

This week, Amy over at The Mother Load posted a skillet meal recipe based America’s Test Kitchen’s book.  The photo is beautiful, and the prospect of making an entire dinner in one pan totallywon me over.  Now, it’s not exactly indulgent fine cuisine but it is perfect for feeding my birds — or for a quick weeknight meal for anyone.

See Amy’s post here.  I used the recipe as a basic formula and did just a few things differently. 

First, I had a little less than half a pound of Graziano’s sausage in the freezer (and I suspect finding turkey sausage in the markets around me would be…well, not that easy).  I sautéed the garlic about 40 seconds, then added the crumbled sausage.  I browned that for a few minutes and then added about half a box of sliced mushrooms (The Pink One and I are wild about mushrooms!) and some thyme. 

Added the pasta, stock and milk; once the pasta was pretty much done, I added S&P and grated a little fresh nutmeg in the sauce.  I realized too late that I should have done that earlier but, eh, no harm done.  

Wilted the spinach as directed and added the cheese and tomatoes.  I did pour off a bit of the liquid at the end; I didn’t measure and probably added too much in the first place.

Final assessment:  First, the kids actually ate it!…okay, so they may have picked out the pieces they didn’t like, but they did eat most of it!

Also, the flavors were great.  The (slightly overdone, but I know better for  next time) pasta, sauce, mushrooms, and spinach were mild and an ideal backdrop. The tomatoes were the perfectly light zing.  And the Graziano’s was a standout.  I will definitely make this again.

I loved the versatility of this and, since last night, have thought of about 10 other ways to make it.  Bacon instead of sausage; peas instead of spinach; steamed beans instead of spinach; evaporated milk instead of regular milk; whole wheat pasta; different cheese.  If I was inclined to dirty more than one pan, I would have done the garlic, sausage and mushrooms in a separate pan, then added a splash of wine to deglaze the pan, maybe some stock to sauce it all together and then dump that in the with the pasta.  It surely would up the flavor a few notches, which might also make it less palatable to the kids.

 I’m thrilled to have something new in the rotation!

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One thought on “Full pasta meal + one pan = YES!

  1. I am so glad you found a new meal that your family likes!! I love the idea of adding mushrooms and cutting back on the meat. Such a versatile recipe and tons of variations that could be done! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with it!! ((hugs))

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