One thing I’ve found difficult about cooking is that it’s really hard to start when you’re hungry--you have to plan ahead. Once you get started you get your momentum going, and there’s always ingredients to snack on, but it’s the getting started that proves difficult. The inertia works against you at first. Since I get lazy when I get hungry, I end up heating canned soup.
This evening, with complete credit and thanks to The Amateur Gourmet, I had a revelation. As you can see, it involves Parmesan, Butter, Pasta, and Nutmeg. This is the easiest recipe this side of Dominoes, it’s pretty gourmet, and if you can boil water, you’re 83 percent there. Yes, I made that figure up.
Speaking of figures, this meal costs next to nothing. A box of past is one or two dollars, and the Parmesan (which you should really just have around anyway) isn’t more than a couple bucks. The butter, maybe a dollar? And who doesn’t have nutmeg, at least on your shelf somewhere--egg nog wasn’t that long ago. So six dollars maximum, and you’ve served three or four people. I (Blake) present Pasta with Parmesan and Nutmeg.
Pasta with Parmesan and Nutmeg
I made this recipe with about 1/3 a box of pasta and I was mostly full. In theory, a box of pasta serves 4, but since there’s not much else in this recipe, I’d recommend half a box if you’re cooking only for yourself.
Cook the pasta to box instructions. Yes, I realize that you probably don’t need a picture of pasta boiling. But there’s nothing else to photograph, so I thought I would indulge you (myself). Nothing special here--do make sure that you give the water a good salting beforehand, as you should always when boiling pasta.
While the pasta is boiling, cut your butter into more manageable chunks and grate your Parmesan into a nice big cloudy pile.
When the pasta is al dente, take a mug and reserve it full of the pasta water. Set aside, and drain the pasta into a colander (strainer).
Turn the heat to medium and melt the butter in the pan. Once it is melted, add some of the pasta water, which will sizzle. It’s not an exact science how much to add--just remember that the whole mixture needs to cover the pasta, and that later the Parmesan will thicken it up. Stir well and grate nutmeg over the mixture.
Next, throw the pasta back in and coat it with the sauce. If any of the noodles have stuck together in the meantime, do your best to separate them with your wooden spoon.
Add the Parmesan, turn off the heat, and mix it in well with the pasta mixture. Dump it into a bowl, and make sure you get all the cheesy gooey goodness on the bottom of the pan, and then scrape the wooden spoon on the edge of your bowl. Trust me, this is the lifeblood of the recipe. Feel free to grind some black pepper if you’d like, maybe some more nutmeg. Admire that less than 15 minutes ago, you were about to order pizza.