07 November 2010

rigatoni with mascarpone & almonds

I have a guilty pleasure, and its name is mascarpone cheese. Okay, and lattes made with sweetened condensed milk, fine. Basically, whenever my husband is working in the lab and I'm out at the grocery store, I buy it (and illicitly grab a fancy coffee too from time to time). I never really know what I'm really going to do with it, but I want it. As it turns out, it is quite tasty on pancakes or on toasted crusty bread with honey. But I always have vague recollections of recipes that call for it, and for some reason I think that sounds fancy and good.

When the huzz is off at the lab, I also tend to get more gourmet-y than usual while making dinner. This way, he doesn't have to put up with any spectacular kitchen fails and I can go nuts with new recipes. One of these last times I had a) bought mascarpone (natch), and b) my friend from work had brought in a ton of beautiful, curly parsley for the taking so as to not waste it all in the first frost of the year, and had just so happened to grab a bunch. I found this recipe by the good people of Cook's Illustrated and it was a done deal.

Rigatoni with Mascarpone & Almonds
(adapted from "Fettucine with Mascarpone and Walnuts", in The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles)

1 c. roasted almonds
1 lb. rigatoni
2 T. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 lb. mascarpone cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
medium bag of spinach
2 T. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
ground black pepper

1. Bring 4 qt. of water to a boil in a large pot for cooking the pasta.
2. Grind up the nuts in a food processor (I suggest the Magic Bullet for these little jobs) to whatever sized bits you prefer. I had a range from nearly almond butter dust up to halves.
3. Wilt the spinach and set it aside.
4. Add 1 T. salt and the pasta to the boiling water. Cook until al dente. Reserave 1/2 c. of the cooking water; drain the pasta and put it back in the cooking pot. Mix in the butter, mascarpone, Parmesan, almonds, spinach, parsley, salt, and peppet to taste.
5. Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to keep the mixture moist (the mascarpone will melt and disappear).

***And also, if you are not familiar with America's Test Kitchen, get off of my silly little blog and get on over to the Cook's Illustrated website. It's cooking for scientists! Or rather, it is cooking... with the scientific method! I love it! I like that they provide little essays on why their recipe works the best with their variables and results, it is so wonderful and nerdy. I recently saw that they are publishing a Soups & Stews cookbook, and I am pretty close to going back on my no-more-new-cookbooks! policy. Now if they just come out with a veggie-friendly cookbook (not likely), I would be way more likely to never ever buy a cookbook again.

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