[Coquillettes au Comté et Pousses d'Epinard]
A lot can be learned about your cooking self by considering what you eat when you’re on your own. I have friends who are simply not hungry when they’re alone, who forget to eat (say what?), who don’t consider it a real meal if there’s no dining companion, or — and I am not making this up — who just eat a Kinder Surprise, build the little toy and call it dinner.
What’s most surprising to me is that some of them are great cooks, but somehow they don’t find it worth the effort to use their talents if it’s just for their own benefit. I say, you should treat yourself as if you were your own guest.
I understand the desire to keep things simple when no one’s looking, and I’m not saying you should prepare multiple courses or unleash a parade of votive candles, but to me, dinner alone shouldn’t be expedited as if it were a chore. Instead, I see it as a unique opportunity to eat exactly what I please and how I please, and relish my sweet solitude. In my world, this usually means eating from a bowl, on the couch, while watching an episode of whatever television series I’m currently devouring.
This effortless pasta dish is one of my standbys. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is a variation on a dish I ate as a child: for a slightly more grown-up flavor, I now add shredded baby spinach leaves, which soften in the arms of the pasta, and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg to complement the greens and cheese.
[This post originally appeared in January of 2006.]
Coquillettes au Comté et Pousses d’Epinard
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) elbow macaroni
- 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
- 40 grams (1.5 ounces) comté cheese (substitute gruyère cheese or parmesan)
- 1/2 teaspoon salted butter
- Freshly ground pepper and nutmeg
Pour four cups fresh water and a teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Pour in the macaroni and cook for the amount of time given on the package, or until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese coarsely using the large holes of a cheese grater. Rinse and dry the baby spinach leaves, then chop them roughly.
When the pasta is done, drain and transfer to a bowl. Add in the butter and spinach, season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg, and toss to coat. Top with cheese and toss just a little to combine — you don’t want the cheese to melt too fast. Throw in a spoon or fork, press “play” on the DVD player, and dig in.
Tip: While the pasta is cooking, pour half a cup of very hot water (but not boiling) in the bowl you’re going to use. This will heat up the bowl and help keep the pasta warm while you eat it. Discard the water just before you put the pasta in the bowl.
Cooking/baking time: 6 min