I might have mentioned a number of times my love for pasta. I will definitely say that the other 1001 times. If I were any talented, I would write a poem or piece of music. But the only things I can do are cooking and photographing. So, the only one way to glorify pasta is writing a post-revelations…
I’ve loved pasta for whole my love, that seems. And this is quite weird since, as you may know, I grew up in the USSR were potatoes and some grains such as buckwheat and rice but not pasta were the common food, at least at the end of the 1980th – beginning the 1990th.
Indeed, in the USSR we didn’t have any pasta produced using good quality wheat. I assume the soft kinds of wheat were used which affected its quality. It was too soft, too soggy, and too gluey. There were a lot of things a bit too much or not enough. You simply could not get al dente texture – it always was either well cooked or overcooked, and the difference between two these stages were just in 12,6 seconds. In fact, there wasn’t the word “pasta” but “macaroni” used to describe all shapes of pasta. Well, I don’t remember a nice variety of pasta shapes either.
Practically, I don’t remember a lot of recipes for pasta being common in the USSR. I guess the most families cooked pasta as a side dish. However, in some republics a recipe the name of which I can’t even perfectly translate to English (some kind of “Navy macaroni”) was quite well-known. Cooking with minced meat and some veggies, it was simple but satisfying and delish dish. According to the original recipe, you were supposed to cook a large piece of meat in water first, then mince it and braise in butter and oil, with onions and carrots. Plus season with salt and black pepper. Done. As far as I remember, there were a few other options such as tomato paste or adding a bay leaf (bay leaf sounds strange, eh?). Nothing outstanding but damn good! It was always the anticipated dish in my family, and I do believe in many other families as well.
Plus, I remember my mom used to make some kind of sweet macaroni bake called babka, usually served with some fruit or berry preserves. I’m not sure, but this dish might have been related to the Poland cuisine since our family had some Polish roots. I remember as well my sister made occasionally another sweet pasta dish – short pasta like vermicelli tossed with butter and sprinkled with sugar. Well, I wouldn’t eat this nowadays, but being a kid I was such a sucker for exactly this dish that eagerly devoured that (Spoiler Alert – stay tuned and you’ll see some sweet pasta this summer, hehe).
I’ve got one nice story happened at the beginning of the 1990th. The country, at least its provincial regions, was experiencing a tremendous deficiency of produce, but somehow my mom got a large box of pasta (I guess over 40 packages of spaghetti in it) and a box of tomato sauce (perhaps, 20 or more jars inside). I believe it wasn’t even the Italian pasta, but it was definitely produced in Europe, probably in Hungary or Bulgaria. But it was still the way better we got used to having! Oh boy, we were eating pasta with tomato sauce and cheese (not parmigiana – sorry about that!) for a 6 dinners or so in a row!
Sure, later on the country was inundated with excellent quality pasta as well as started to produce some good quality stuff on its own.
I don’t have any particular stories for the next 10 or 15 years – I just remember being a student I had pasta quite often. Simple, fast, and satisfying stuff, right? By the time I met my main man, I had been cooking a few kinds of pasta, and I was prominent for pasta meals among my friends. Sure, I was happy to find out my new friend had the same love for pasta, and it was time to stand out. And I did. I had been proudly pampering him with pasta dishes for a while. Maybe for a year or even longer:) With all those 4 or 5 dishes I knew and used to make. Fortunately, soon (as I said, a year or so. What? Well, I used to be a bit sluggish dude!) I figured out I had been making a few pasta dishes over and over. Such an awkward and embarrassing moment, you know.
Challenge accepted! I started browsing the Internet and books to introduce some new combos…By the time I wrapped my Russian food blog up last year, I had posted over 100 pasta recipes for the 3 years of its running.
Being a humble guy, I still have to mention I’m quite good at making pasta now:) I don’t need any specific recipes since a great number of combos and ideas have been accumulated in my head. There’s my next goal though – make pasta from scratch.
This mutual love has led us to set up some kind of tradition having pasta on Fridays or Saturdays. However, sometimes I can enjoy a bowl of pasta on my own. For example, this particular pasta may or may not was eaten only by me because of the added blue cheese:) That’s not the best pasta you can make during summer, but it’s quite simple, delicious, and not overloaded with the ingredients. There’s something comfort and earthy in the combo of spinach, blue cheese and pine nuts, yup.
And that’s definitely not that pasta I would eat being a child or make even a few years ago, haha.
Simple yet delicious pasta with sauteed spinach, Danish blue cheese, and pine nuts is a scrumptious way to jazz up your day!
- 1-1,5 cups (70-90 gr) dry pasta
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 handful of baby spinach, divided
- 1/3 cup (2 oz) crumbled blue cheese (I used Danish blue cheese)
- 1-2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a pot of salted boiling water cook the pasta as recommended on the package, until al dente. Reserve some water. Drain.
- In a meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the garlic, for a few minutes, until start to become translucent. Add the half of spinach and cook just until start to wilt. Season to taste.
- Toss the pasta with the spinach. Add a tablespoon of the reserved water if the pasta is too thick.
- Toss with the blue cheese and the remaining spinach.
- Serve sprinkled with the pine nuts.