NaBloPoMo Day 9: Pasta For Friends

Swiss Chard getting a bath

I haven’t been cooking much at all this past year. The reasons are many, not the least of which is the fact that my beloved kitchenware has been in storage since last June. It’s not that the two places I’ve lived haven’t had great kitchens or plenty of good cookware. But there is something about holding my favorite knife, or recognizing the stains and wear patterns on the saute pan I’ve had for ten years that just feels so good to me. I miss those things, and am actively looking for a place for us all to call home once again.

I haven’t cooked much either because I rarely enjoy cooking for myself and don’t enjoy dining alone at home. I think it’s because I grew up with 7 siblings, and for the first 18 years of my life couldn’t dine alone even if I wanted to. So it’s no wonder that when I have no plans with friends, I often choose to dine out alone. The din of a restaurant somehow re-creates the chaos and noise that I knew for all those years at mealtimes.

Pignoli Nuts, toasted

Also, did I mention that when I cook I am physically and mentally incapable of preparing small quantities? Years of catering and professional cooking are to blame. I simply don’t know how to make soup for one, or anything for one. Eggs and toast might be the exception, and so I ate this almost every day last year until my body finally refused the offer. I am now the proud owner of an egg intolerance. So there goes that dish.

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

I did get the urge and the opportunity to cook for friends last Friday night. I was craving greens and pasta, so the meal was fashioned around the two. Here’s what I came up with, inspired by similar recipes out there for pasta and greens.

I’m not a great recipe writer, so feel free to send me a message if you have questions. Or better yet, let’s make this together sometime and I’ll show you how to do it all.

Strozzapetti – It means “priest choker” in Italian. Seriously

1lb of good quality pasta from Italy
1lb of Italian sausage, hot or sweet -whatever you prefer
1 pint of grape tomatoes
2 bunches of chard
2 cloves of garlic
Good olive oil
1/4 C. pignoli nuts
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil, salted generously.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350.
  3. Remove the casing from the sausage. Put a few tablespoons of oil in a 10 or 12″ saute pan, put the heat on medium. Put the sausage in & break it up while it browns.
  4. On a baking sheet, spread about a tablespoon of olive oil & put the whole container of tomatoes on it. Roast in the oven for about a half hour. 
  5. Toast your pine nuts, either in the oven or in a small frying pan on the stove top. Set a timer or you’ll burn them – at least that’s what happens to me!
  6. Wash the greens and tear them into smaller pieces. 
  7. Remove the browned sausage from the saute pan, and add about a half cup olive oil. Heat the oil on medium for a minute, then add the garlic. Once the garlic is slightly browned, start adding the chard. The moisture from them will halt the garlic from browning more, and will steam the greens. Cover them with a lid for a few minutes, then add more greens if you couldn’t fit them all in initally. Use tongs to toss them around, and don’t worry, they will eventually lose a lot of their mass and fit in your pan. Don’t be afraid to add some of the salted boiling water so that the pan does not dry out & the so that the greens can continue to steam. 
  8. Start your pasta.
  9. Once the greens are done, add the roasted tomatoes and the sausage. Add about a cup of the starchy, salted boiling pasta water to this mixture.
  10. Dinner for 5.
    But there was enough for lunch the next day, of course.
  11. Drain the pasta when it’s done and top it with the sausage, greens & tomato mixture. Finish it with pine nuts and some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
Make sure to eat it with good friends who make you laugh ’till it hurts. And don’t forget to drink a good red wine with it, and to spoil the chef with compliments.

More food, less pain,


3 thoughts on “NaBloPoMo Day 9: Pasta For Friends

  1. looks delicious. I will definitely try this recipe. Speaking of your beloved kitchenware– maybe you could post about it? I have mostly hand-me down items from my mom and grandmother and really need new pans etc….but also don't have much money to spend. I'd love to get an opinion on which items to splurge on, etc.

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