I did not want to graduate from college. College = three years (because the first one was a bust) of nonstop hanging out with my friends, beers on a Tuesday night, and late night pizza with ranch dressing. What could be better?
Answer: Graduating, and recreating my college experience in an apartment building two miles from my university. Only this time, I had a little bit of money in my pocket and no homework. Plus I started (not so secretly as we imagined) dating my future Husband.
Unfortunately, post-college college life was only relevant Friday through Sunday. In order to stave off Monday mornings, future-and-now-current husband, his roommate, my roommate (still one of my BFFs and now married to Husband’s BFF, life is grand) and I used to get together for “family dinners” on Sunday evenings. Because a few bottles of wine will definitely make Monday feel a lot better.
My roommate had “studied” abroad in Florence, where she learned from her hosts at the Villa how to make this ridiculous pasta. At the time of family dinner, it was the best thing any one of us could ever imagine making. It is still ridiculously good. Only last night, I added a few “healthy” things. Because now that I’m old, I top my pizza with extra veggies instead of ranch dressing. I am not nearly as cool as I was once.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- about 5 tablespoons olive oil
- about 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 carton cherry tomatoes, sliced
- one small handful crushed red pepper
- handful basil, chopped
- 1 carton mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 bag pre-washed spinach
- freshly ground pepper
- approximately 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Swiss cheese (I used mozz, but I PROMISE it’s better with Swiss)
- 1 pound rigatoni or other tubular pasta
- In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil and butter. Cook onions for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent onions from burning.
- When lightly browned, add both forms of tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Give it a toss and then cook, covered, for 25 minutes over low/medium heat. Toward the end of the 25 minutes, get (salted) water boiling for your pasta.
- Add mushrooms and spinach, recover, and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until mushrooms have cooked through. Cook your pasta in the meantime.
- Add cream to the sauce and adjust seasoning. Toss hot pasta with sauce and cheese.
I forgot how long this pasta takes – nearly an hour, all said and done. But jeez louise, it is still the best thing ever. Seriously. Try it. Love it. Tell me about it.