Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sausage, Pesto, and Pasta Birdsnest

Before we jet off to Seattle for a long weekend, I am leaving you with my most recent masterpiece: the Sausage, Pesto, and Pasta Birdsnest. As so named by TEB and quite appropriate I do think, see the Beijing Olympic Stadium here. I tackled this recipe that definitely does not fall within the quick dinner category but since it is excellent cold you can eat it for lunch and make all your co-workers jealous. Up top is the finished "birdsnest."

Sausage, Pesto, and Pasta Birdsnest (AKA Capellini Gratin)
from: Cook & Eat

1 lb capellini or whatever you have (in my case spaghetti but I recommend the thinner pasta)

fridge/freezer finds (in my case this was some sweet italian sausage and pesto)
3/4 cup soy milk (or heavy cream if you are following the Cook & Eat recipe)
1 1/2 cup freshly grated parmasean cheese
1/2 t freshly ground nutmeg
pinch of paprika
pinch of cayenne
sea salt
black pepper

preheat the oven to 425F and get out your muffin tin. I found there was no need to butter the tin since I had a nonstick muffin tin)

Cook the pasta until al dente (this is important - must be pretty firm).

I browned my italian sausage next and I recommend that you slightly cook any vegetables you will be stuffing in those pasta nests. Mushrooms and leeks would be delicious. Really just see what you can find in your fridge. Set aside for later.

In another saucepan stir together the soymilk, half of the grated cheese, and the spices. When nice and hot, scoop the pasta out of the water and into the "cream" mixture. Stir it up. If too dry, add in a bit of the pasta water. Remove from heat and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Transfer the pasta to your muffin tin. Fill each almost to the top with spirals of bunches of pasta. Use up any remaining liquid by filling the muffin tins. I stuffed my golden sausage down into the middle of each pasta "muffin." Then I added a dollop of watercress and spinach pesto to the top (freezer find).

Bake until the top is golden and bubbly. Let the gratin cool for 5 to 10 minutes to firm up before serving. Yummy cold.

photo credit: Cayenne 03.05.09