A Pasta Experiment

Matt absolutely hates it when the words “experiment” and “food” are in the same sentence.  So this one was a tough sell out of the gate.  And although I had to pry it out of him, he did agree that this one wasn’t “bad.”  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but I’m fairly certain that for him “not bad” = “kinda good.”  And to actually get a “good” rating?  Something has to be exceptional.  A word that is generally reserved for Sci Fi and stuffed pork. 

Coincidentally, he also has the same rating scale when it comes to questions like, “How does this look?”  So, I could put forth three hours of beautifying effort and still get an, “Alright.”  And you wonder why I stopped shaving my legs…?  Admittedly, it’s kinda nice that he doesn’t care.  I doubt I’d be able to live up to the pressure of being a trophy wife. 

However, I did get an unsolicited response from him by donning this fancy accessory.  I believe it was, “Heh.”  I’m assuming that translates to, “You look ridiculous.”  But what does he know…  I got three compliments at work.  Thank goodness, because I’m fashionably fragile.  

But where was I?  Oh yeah…  On to the experiment…

Given my efforts to avoid the grocery store, I’ve been forced to get a little creative with dinner ideas recently.  And without meat defrosted and no tomato sauce to be had, I brainstormed for an entire 3 minutes on what I could do with dried pasta that involved no meat or sauce.  Which led to this genius idea.  Penne in not-exactly cream sauce.

What??  Let me explain.  Cream is not a food that I keep on hand all the time.  Because if you don’t have a plan for it when it’s bought, it just languishes in the back of the fridge until it begs to be thrown out.  Besides.  It’s not the healthiest of ingredients.  Because I’m obviously SO concerned with my fat intake…

But I usually have evaporated milk in the pantry.  It’s shelf stable and can be substituted for cream in most recipes.  I’ve actually tried a “cream” sauce recipe with it and it turned out alright.  But I figured I could do better.

So, I thought…  My stove top mac ‘n cheese recipe cooks the pasta in milk to help make that ooey, gooey sauce, so why wouldn’t that work for a cream sauce?  As the pasta cooks, it releases some of it’s starches which in turn thicken the sauce.  I love food science.

Penne in not-exactly Cream Sauce
7oz penne pasta (I only had half a box on hand)
20oz evaporated milk (Add more or less depending on how thick/thin you want it.)

Dump both in a large saucepan.  SLOWLY cook the pasta in the evaporated milk, stirring frequently, until pasta is soft and sauce is creamy.  Add whatever flavoring agents your heart desires.  I added some Parmesan, nutmeg, dried mustard, salt and pepper, but I’m thinking red pepper flakes would be pretty awesome, too.

Lessons learned: Use regular pasta next time.  The whole wheat stuff always seems a little toothy, even after cooking.  Fine for a red sauce.  Not so great with this method.  Also note that evaporated milk is pretty sweet to start with, so when you reduce it down, it will get even sweeter.  If that’s not your gig, you may want to skip this one.  Or add something to balance out the sweetness.  Feedback is welcome.

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2 Responses to A Pasta Experiment

  1. Jules says:

    Funny! Let me just say, I was going to compliment the headband before I even started reading- it's darling! Also this sounds delish. Can't wait to experiment with it on my family!

  2. SJT says:

    Glad you got 3 compliments on the headband!! :) I've started adding little jewel buttons in the middle too to make them even more cute! I don't think I'll be trying your pasta experiment. My family does not like them much! Glad yours did though. :)