The saying goes that “necessity is the mother of invention”. This is how this meal came about.
One day, I was in the kitchen, and it started with just wanting buttered noodles. I had a musing of when I was with a friend in college, and we made buttered noodles with some pasta and “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray. This time, though, I had the privilege of having real butter at my disposal, and I wanted something more than pasta with tomato sauce. It started with just the noodles, then I started thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know…). What if I added cheese to it? Then it went from adding just cheese to the addition of garlic, red pepper flakes, and veg so that I can pretend that it’s healthy with the massive amounts of butter in it. Plus, the difference in colour and texture is nice.
From there evolved the dish that I know and love today. The original version had spinach in it, but you can use whatever greenery is at your disposal. Most of the time, I always have broccoli… so that’s what I use. It’s also what you will see in the final picture. My family also loves this dish, so I’ve been guilty of making it when they aren’t home so I don’t have to share. I know, it’s terrible!
Anyhow, this is supposed to be made from things that you already have. Don’t feel like you have to get anything special to make this. You can if you like, of course, but don’t feel obligated. I swear, this is the easiest thing that you can make. If you can boil water and put butter and garlic in a pan over heat, you can make this. At most, it takes 15 minutes to make.
Note: This recipe uses a LOT of butter. It might look like a lot, but keep in mind this is the closest thing you’ll have to a sauce. It has to cover everything. Don’t be stingy with your butter; we said this was fast, not necessarily healthy. You can use a bit of olive oil with butter if you want to cut down on the amount of butter, but there should be mostly butter.
Here’s your ingredients list:
- pasta: about ¼ of the box if you’re feeling greedy. This is usually the amount that I use.
- garlic: 2 big cloves. If you don’t have any fresh garlic handy, you can use garlic powder. That’s what I used the first time, or what I use in between shopping trips.
- red pepper flakes: 1 or 2 tsp depending on how much heat you like
- greenery: spinach or broccoli, fresh or frozen, or the greenery of your choice.
- butter: if you’re using a stick, about 5 Tb. Be generous
- freshly grated cheese: I usually always have gruyère, so that’s what I use. You can use whatever grated cheese you like. I recommend parmesan, pecorino romano or gruyère because it’s light. I think cheddar would be too salty.
- reserved pasta water. no more than 1 c.
- fresh parsley, basil, rosemary or other herb (optional)
Boil the water and salt it for your pasta. I usually will use a shape pasta for this rather than long pasta, like spaghetti. It’s generally easier to pick everything up with a fork if you use shape pasta. Plus, that’s what I had, and I stuck with it. While your pasta is cooking, that’s when you will want to steam your broccoli. If you use spinach, you’ll want to steam it if it’s frozen. If you’re using fresh spinach, you can sauté it to cut down on cooking steps. You won’t have to do that part at this time. While your pasta boils, this will be the only prep work that you need to do: if you’re using fresh garlic, slice it thinly.
Note: before draining your pasta, take out ½-1c. of the pasta water. Set it to the side. This would also be a good time to put a sauté pan on the stove on a medium heat.
Melt your butter over the stove in the sauté pan. Wait until it starts to bubble, then add your sliced garlic or garlic powder. Add your red pepper flakes at this time. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add in your steamed greenery or fresh spinach. Toss until coated in butter.
Once it’s all coated, add the cooked pasta and a splash of the pasta water as well. This keeps you from having to add more butter so that you can actually toss it. Toss all of your ingredients. You’re done! Grab your cheese and your grater, and grate a generous amount of cheese onto everything. Kill the heat, and serve. Add more cheese.
You could eat the broccoli on its own in this way, but since I was supposed to be making buttered noodles, I put it in there. Besides, adding it with pasta makes it more like one meal instead of just a side dish next to something else. It’s tasty and surprisingly filling. I’ve been greedy enough to eat it all on my own, but it could feed 2 people… maybe 4 if everyone just gets a taste.
that’s it for now!
thanks Jacqui 🙂