Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spontaneous Spaghetti

Remember how I told you that I'm really good at cooking but I'm really bad at food photography?  Well, it's still true - especially at this time of year, when everything I make is entirely delicious but generally unattractive.  That's what happens when you cook autumnal dishes like stews and thick sauces which, more than spring or summer meals, highlight the need for food styling skills because they're really mostly just brown and lumpy.

And, even though the photos I took of it look distinctly unappealing, I've decided that it's finally time to share my recipe for Spontaneous Spaghetti.  To make you understand how wonderful it is, I'm going to use two gorgeous images from superstar food sites to illustrate something similar to the finished product - otherwise you might not believe me when I tell you that this dish is perfect for those cooler nights when you need something quick and comforting.  (The steps you have to take are so not pretty that I couldn't even find professional photos to demonstrate.  Sorry.  But - hallelujah - it means it's not just me having this problem!)

I used what I had to hand, as can you; almost all of these ingredients can be subbed out for whatever you have in the fridge.  Basically, this recipe is more of a rough outline that might help you get some inspiration for your future spontaneous pasta dishes!


Spontaneous Spaghetti
serves 3 with leftovers

half a box of spaghetti (almost any pasta will work for this - try orecchiette, which scoops up the sauce well)
3 sausages (I used chicken sausage with sundried tomatoes and basil; plain pork will probably be a bit boring)
2 tbs minced garlic (take the shortcut and buy pre-minced garlic)
bag fresh spinach (doesn't matter which green leaves you pick - this could be good with kale or broccoli rabe)
tub sundried tomato pesto (bought, but you can make your own with this recipe or use green pesto)
grated Parmesean
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Drizzle olive oil into a deep pan or Dutch oven and, over medium-high heat, saut√© the garlic for a few minutes.  Remove the sausage meat from the casings, and add to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until crumbled and browned.  Meanwhile, boil the water and cook the pasta until al dente.  While the pasta is draining, toss your greens in the meat pan and cook for a minute or two, until wilted.  Throw in the pesto, adding salt and pepper as needed, and then the cooked pasta, with the heat still on medium-high, and mix well to coat it with the sauce.  Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated Parmesean.  Serve with a glass of wine and enjoy!

By the way, if you want actual Italian food devised, styled, and cooked by an actual American living in Italy, you should go buy Marissa's e-cookbook here.  She's the expert at this sort of thing!  Also, Whitney posted a delicious pasta recipe yesterday.  Check that out, too!  And tell me how you make spontaneous spaghetti - since I made something similar to this last summer, you know I'm still on the hunt for new ideas.


  1. thank you for the mention, sweet, sweet betsy!

  2. This spontaneous spaghetti sounds amazing! I'm totally making it next week. (Is it still spontaneous if I add it to my menu....?) Thanks for the shout out, love!

  3. My total lack of food photography skills has kept me from sharing quite a few recipes (bough perhaps not as many as it should have judging by my photos). I'm not a pasta person but everyone else is, this will be auctioned this weekend (that kills the spontaneity a bit though). I'm so glad you found an end-run to the photography quandary and shared this!

  4. haha - don't worry about the spontaneity! mostly it means that you can use whatever you want/have. you don't have to stick to the recipe!

  5. I also sort of feel like the extra effort to style food for photographs ruins the free-form fun of cooking, even if you really are following a recipe, you know? luckily, though, there are some very talented people out there who disagree :)

  6. ma naturalmente! (is that actually Italian? I haven't taken a class in - gulp - 7 years...)

  7. Sounds like a wonderful recipe, Betsy. :) I wouldn't worry so much about how any food you prepare looks: without wanting to compare you to my mother here (ha ha...sorry to her and to you! :/), a lot of the food she makes doesn't look impressive, but the taste is superb and everyone is happy. That's what counts. :) I'm sure your cooking is wonderful!

    As an aside, I like taking pictures of food. My family thinks it's odd but I'm glad to see that other people share my appreciation for food photography. ;)

  8. YUM this looks fantastic! Great recipe.

    That Charming.

  9. there are worse things than being compared to well-brought-up young men's mothers! thank you :)

  10. This would be DELICIOUS! :)
    I'm like you, I'm a good cook, love food, love eating, but I'm terrible at food photography. If I was better at it, I'd probably blog about it more.

  11. I say we should rise up against the professionals and be proud of our delicious ugly food! :)


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