This is what we had for Christmas Eve dinner. We selected something that would be fast and easy, yet hopefully tasty, and a dish that would give us a chance to try out a new pasta dough. Originally, we weren’t going to bother writing this one up, so we only have a few photos, but we thought it turned out well enough that it deserved a shout-out.
This comes completely from the crack staff here at Scratchin’ It central. They came up with the idea based on having a few sweet potatoes in the cupboard and wanting something a little different. Our last post covered making the Sweet Potato Pasta Dough, but regular pasta will work just fine, too.
Not many ingredients, so make them count. That’s why we used fresh sweet potato pasta, but a high-quality dried pasta would be fine. We’d suggest Barilla brand Gemelli. Use real Parmesan cheese. Lately we’ve been able to pick up a D.O.P. Parmigiano-Reggiano from Trader Joe’s at a great price. We think it tastes great, and, for real Parmigiano-Reggiano, it’s a really great deal. (Note: we get nothing from Trader Joe’s, or Barilla for that matter, for this shameless plug, not even a paper bag to carry away our groceries, as we always bring our own).
Procedure in detail:
Blacken sweet potatoes. Lightly coat a heavy-bottomed skillet with canola oil. We use a cast-iron skillet that, thanks to seasoning, is non-stick, so using just a bit of oil allows the sweet potato to blacken and char without splattering oil all over the stove. Place the skillet over medium heat and let the oil come right up to the point of just barely smoking. Add the sweet potatoes in a single layer and let char on one side. Flip or toss to char on another side, then continue, charring and just barely stirring, until the sweet potatoes are nicely blackened. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a full, rolling, boil. Add the pasta, adjust heat as needed to keep the water boiling, and cook until the pasta is nearly done. We’ll cook the pasta just a bit more when we bring everything together, so, if it’s done now, it’ll be overcooked later. Once cooked, drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. We find it easiest to scoop out the water into a measuring cup, then drain the pasta completely.
Heat vegetables. Add the olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flake to a large skillet over medium heat. You can use the same skillet that you used for charring the sweet potatoes, or another; it’s your choice (we blackened our sweet potato earlier in the day and had cleaned up, so we used another skillet). Once hot, add the sweet potatoes and peas and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are heated through, about 5 minutes.
Add pasta. Stir in the pasta and the reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. Simmer, tossing often, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta has finished cooking, about 3 minutes. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
Serve and top. Divide among warmed bowls (we place our bowls in the oven on warm before we start cooking) and top with a generous amount of Parmesan and pecans. Serve immediately.
We selected this because we knew it would only take a few minutes to put together, we were able to do a lot of prep work in advance (blacken sweet potatoes, make sweet potato pasta), and finish it up easily. We just figured that it would be a pretty good meal, but we were quite surprised by how tasty it was, and knew we’d want to pass this five-star, simple dish on to you, fellow scratchers.