before you go judging me on this wacky title, i’ll tell you upfront: i didn’t make it up, not really. it’s my take on mario batali’s fusili alla crazy bastard, a recipe i stumbled upon earlier this week while doing foodie research for a freelance client of mine. batali’s recipe calls for beet greens, which i’ve never even heard of, and goat cheese, which i didn’t have on hand. but that’s the fun thing about cooking – you can swap, and nothing bad will happen! usually, at least. my mom’s cooking “experiments” led to some not so delicious dinners as a child (though she always loved what she whipped up, even if it meant putting lentils where lentils most definitely did not belong). with baking, which is more of a science, precision is everything. you can’t just swap one ingredient for another and hope for the best. with cooking, however, swapping and playing it by ear is part of the magic. if you’ve got yummy ingredients, and you season them well, it’s highly likely that the end result will always be a party in your mouth.
SO. penne all crazy bitch. when i got home tonight, after a long afternoon of day drinking (which, let’s face it, was a bit hard on my 85 year old grandma soul), all i wanted to do was call up the sushi place on the corner and place an order for two avocado rolls and one sweet potato tempura roll with a side of spicy mayo. but the little angel on my shoulder chimed in…”sarah, you’re unemployed. no ordering sushi. cook something, girl. you didn’t start this blog for nothing!” so, off to pinterest i went (my recipes board is where i turn when i can’t figure out what on earth to cook). and there was fusili alla crazy bastard. and i took one look at that bowl o’ delicious and thought, alright, that’s it. that’s what i’m making tonight.
except that i didn’t have fusili, only penne. and i had no goat cheese, only grated romano. and of course, no beet greens, because let’s be honest, i wouldn’t know a beet green if it smacked me in the face. is it just the greens portion of beets? a quick google search confirms that yes, it is. what i did have, however, was garlic and red pepper and spring greens and tomatoes, and a box of penne. and there’s really no way those ingredients can come together and NOT taste good. so i amended batali’s recipe to match my ingredients. i switched the beet greens for spring mix (i buy the bagged stuff at trader joe’s. can’t go wrong for $1.99), the cherry tomatoes for a sliced and diced beefsteak, the goat cheese for romano, and added mushrooms – because why not? everything is better with shrooms, as the druggies of the world can tell you.
since i made so many changes, i figured my dish needed a different name. and as i’m a crazy bitch, not a crazy bastard…well, you get the jist. so, without further adieu, penne alla crazy bitch.
The Recipe (an adaptation of this one)
1/2 cup of walnuts
two large tomatoes, sliced and diced
1 1/2 cups of mushrooms, sliced
2-3 handfuls of spring greens/greens of your choice
Three cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 box pasta of your choice
1/2 cup grated romano or parmesan cheese
preheat oven to 350. spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 minutes. remove from oven, and chop. set aside. increase oven temperature to 450. toss diced tomatoes and mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. sprinkle with salt and pepper. roast in oven for 10 minutes.
meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. add pasta and cook according to directions. while pasta is cooking, remove roasted tomatoes and mushrooms from the oven. saute garlic with a little bit of olive oil in a large pan until golden brown. add tomato and mushroom mixture to pan and toss. add spring greens and red pepper and cook until greens are just wilted, about three minutes.
drain pasta, and add it to vegetable mixture. toss a few times heat to marry the sauce and the pasta. remove from heat, and divy up dish into bowls. top with cheese of your choice, sprinkle with walnuts, and serve.
HELLO GORGEOUS. this dish is super delish, easy to make (20 minutes tops), and feels way fancier than it really is. plus, even my cat penny wanted a bite, and girlfriend has great taste* – so you know this stuff is good.
* i think anything would taste better than the canned cat food she eats.