I thought I'd take a short break from studying for my final to post the dinner I made last night. Yes, that's right, I've gone from birthday fun straight to yucky finals week. Now if that isn't a kick in the pants. However, so you don't think that I bought it on my birthday from excessive partying, I wanted to make sure I posted something to put your mind at ease. :-)
I spent yesterday sleeping in, watching the Browns win, and baking cookies (which will be featured here in the next couple days, I promise. Can you say "I love Nutella??"). It was a great day. Earlier in the day I had planned to try Mario Batali's Potato Ravioli Stuffed with Meat, but once the clock struck 8pm, I realized that I was no longer feeling quite so ambitious. I had used all my creativity up on the cookie baking and was fresh out for the dinner portion of the evening. It had nothing to do with the time really, I cook that late quite often. It's no thing if Mark and I sit down to eat dinner at 11pm on a weeknight; that's just how we roll...
So I decided to just throw a pasta dish together with things I had on hand. Pasta has got to be the easiest thing to make into a great, imaginative dish. There's so much you can do with it. So many ways you can go. This past year I've gotten so much better at trusting my instincts when cooking rather than always following recipes and it's served me well. I've come up with some tasty dinners as a result. I've also realized when a recipe just doesn't seem to be delivering, you don't just throw it out and order pizza, you start fixing it right then and there in the middle of the cooking process until it's awesome. Or at least fairly edible. It can be done - not all the time - but most of the time.
Anyway, so last night I decided veal sounded good so I reached into the freezer and found some veal scaloppini. I also very much love artichoke hearts if you haven't noticed yet, and I buy them in bulk at the wonderful Costco, so I thought those would go well with the veal. I settled on a few more things that I thought would taste good all mixed together and here's what I came up with.
I had 5 small veal scaloppini that I sliced against the grain (IMPORTANT!) into thin strips. I then dredged the veal in a combination of flour, garlic powder (there I go again, Claudia!), Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. I heated some olive oil in a large pan and added the flour-coated veal. Now at this point, you want to make sure that your fire is on medium and you let the veal sit for a good 4-5 minutes so it can get nice and brown on one side. Fight the urge to stir it around right away. It's going to stick to the pan a little - that's all good. You'll be deglazing later and that always means good things.
Once the veal has browned on one side, use a spatula and scrape them off the bottom of the pan and give them a good toss. Cook for about 5 more minutes until the meat is browned on all sides. Remove the veal from the pan, leaving all the browned goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan. Now add a little more olive oil, your shallots and your garlic. Ok, now it smells good in here.
Saute the shallots and garlic for just a minute or two to get the flavors to release, then add two tablespoons of the oil marinade from the artichoke jar.
Stir that around and then immediately add your chicken broth (or stock if you have it). Turn your heat up to medium-high and deglaze away, making sure you scrape all those glorious brown bits off the bottom of the pan for maximum flavoridge. I know it's not a word - I don't care. My brain hurts from studying.
Next, add your diced tomato and artichoke hearts. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Now add your veal back to the pan. Let it cook for a few more minutes and you'll notice that the veal will create a thick sauce.
You may need to add a bit more chicken broth at this time for the right consistency.
Now just toss in your cooked pasta and a 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and stir. Cover the pan and let the noodles heat through.
You know the creaminess and flavor saturation you only seem to get when you eat leftover pasta that's been in the fridge overnight, rather than fresh pasta? Well, this pasta had that right off the bat. It was creamy and the noodles seemed to suck in the flavor. It also had just the right heat from the crushed red pepper flake and that worked really well with the tang from the artichoke hearts. I was pleased and I would definitely make it again for something quick, but good for a weeknight dinner. If you try it, let me know what you think!