With Jesse out of town for 10 days and a hectic few weeks after that, our cupboards were looking seriously pathetic. We had a food delivery coming in a few nights so didn’t want to shop, and needed to find something to fill us up on a chilly spring night.
What we had: dry pasta, garlic and assorted frozen vegetables. You could see a general idea take shape, but when you hate tomatoes, improvising pasta sauce is generally too much effort. However, Mark Bittman has a recipe for garlicky vermicelli in broth that, when you come right down to it, really only needs noodles and garlic for a passable supper. And with a few more ingrdients it’s good enough even for nights when you aren’t in desperate straits.
Disclaimer: I have yet to find a way to do this that doesn’t result in an amusing but very real mess.
Start with half a pound of angel hair, or some other fine dry pasta, and find some way to break the noodles up into small pieces. I’ve tried breaking them by hand, putting them in a bag and bashing them with a rolling pin, double bagging them, etc. It’s always fun, but I’ll never get all the broken strands of capellini out of my How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
Next, peel and mince half a head of garlic.
Put 1/4 cup of olive oil in a deep pot over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes and then add the broken pasta. The idea is to get the pasta toasted and brown. It won’t brown evenly, but after 7-10 minutes of frequent stirring it should all be golden, with some bits nice and dark.
Add 4-5 cups of water or vegetable stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked, adding more liquid if needed/desired. I threw in some frozen spinach, and have added chopped broccoli rabe near the end of the cooking time in the past for a bit of color/nutrition. Garnish with some grated Parmesan if you’re so inclined, and enjoy!