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Saturday Night Eat-in: Pasta con Mollica


Around our house the running joke for leftover or bare-pantry meals is that it's International Night because you never know what in the world you'll find on your plate.

This week's Saturday Night Eat-In honors the bare pantry with Pasta con Mollica or Pasta with Bread Crumbs. This is Tuscan peasant food which is so simply divine you don't realize you are eating frugally. Serve with spinach stuffed mushroom caps and baby carrots with peas.

Since I am typically a hoarder and keep staples on hand, I always have a box of pasta in the house.  I never knew a carbohydrate I didn't love either, so there is always bread.  Cheese is my best-est friend. 

Voila!  The centerpiece of my meal is all right here.

Next, I dig out the baby carrots my son refused to eat in his school lunch, plus the emergency frozen petits pois - love how elegant French makes garden variety peas.

Lastly, I grab some portobello mushrooms, originally destined for a homemade pizza, and a bag of spinach.  

It's International Night!

Spinach & Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 mushroom caps, cleaned & trimmed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 cups fresh spinach
1 & 1/2 oz goat cheese
2 tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano
salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil to medium heat, then sautee the mushrooms caps until just tender. In the last five minutes, add the balsamic vinegar.  Remove the mushrooms from the pan and place on a baking sheet.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit (180 degrees Celsius).

Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to skillet and heat to medium before adding spinach.  Stir until wilted. Then add to food processor, along with goat cheese and pulse to just smooth.  Spoon spinach-cheese mixture into mushroom caps & top with grated parmigiano.

Place in the oven until grated cheese is melted.  Cut into quarters for serving.

Pasta con Mollica

1 lb mostaccicoli or other short pasta
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/4 day-old baguette, cubed & toasted
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

Bring water for pasta to a boil in a large pot, adding the pasta to cook for about 8-9 minutes or until just tender.  

In a small sauce pan,  heat olive oil and garlic, adding the Italian herbs (I bought mine in Rome's Campo dei Fiori, but they are readily available in grocers or substitute herbs of Provence).

Drain the pasta, then add the olive oil, garlic and herbs, and the toasted bread crumbs, mixing well.
Place a generous serving of pasta in the center of a plate, then place vegetables and mushroom quarters on either side.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with Bio-Weingut H.U.M. Hofer Grüner Veltliner Trocken 2008. $12.99 for 1L. 

"Bottled in a full one liter bottle with a beer bottle style crown cap, (this Gruner) is a refreshingly versatile, food friendly un-oaked white that packs a mouthful of flavor in every sip. The flavors are reminiscent of citrus, minerals, and the tell-tale white pepper that Grüner is known for. Bone dry with plenty of cleansing acidity on the finish, it's a worthy companion to Southeast Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine, as well as with vegetable dishes, fish and white meat." (67 Wine)



thank you, ladies. I really enjoyed making this one. there is something so gratifying about food that tastes this good & is made - essentially - with four seemingly ordinary ingredients.

Tangled Noodle

Nice! Pasta con Mollica alone would enough for me but as a backdrop to whatever else I can rustle up, it would elevate a meal to something special!

Maura Alia Badji

delicioso! the best "bare cupboard dinner" I ever shared was pasta, garlic, olive oil and grated cheese, which my friend Janna and I made in college. the worst was "government cheese quiche". p.s. you plate up so pretty ;)

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