Editor’s observe: This story was initially revealed on Sept. 4, 2022, and has been up to date to incorporate a podcast episode from NPR Life Package.
In Melissa Clark’s kitchen — which she calls “messy,” however is definitely stunning — cooking dinner is enjoyable, not fussy, ideally completed whereas listening to the B-52s, and greatest when it takes as few dishes as doable.
Clark, whose New York Instances column is known as “A Good Urge for food,” has written dozens of cookbooks. In her newest — Dinner in One — Clark affords 100 recipes that may be made in a single container, be it pot, bowl, skillet or sluggish cooker.
“Think about like writing a haiku,” Clark says. “You need to specific the most important thought with the fewest quantity of phrases. … The top purpose was once I’m completed cooking, there’s like three issues within the sink.”
There are recipes on this cookbook for miso-glazed salmon with roasted sugar snap peas, cheaters hen and dumplings, even one-bowl truffles.
NPR wished to place Dinner in One to the check, so Clark selected a recipe to check out: tacky baked pasta.
When Melissa Clark cooks, it is ‘Dinner in One’
“Usually while you make a baked pasta, you boil the pasta in a single pot, you drain it in a colander, so due to this fact messing up two issues already,” she explains. “However what I am doing right here is I’ll cook dinner the pasta … proper within the sauce.”
Getting all the substances prepared
First, Clark traces up all the substances on the counter together with pasta, tomatoes, three sorts of cheese, sausage, and spices and herbs from not one however three jam-packed spice drawers.
“Here is one other factor,” she says, pulling out oregano, crimson pepper flakes, fennel, garlic and bay leaves. “You’ll be able to depart half of those herbs out. It is going to style the identical.”
That is the factor about this cookbook — it is not one bit fussy, and all the recipes are versatile. If you wish to add greens to this dish, Clark suggests tossing in spinach. If you happen to’re lactose illiberal, Clark says add extra sausage and minimize out the cheese. Hate slicing garlic? Use some from a jar!
“If it tastes good, it is not dangerous,” she says.
How she obtained her begin
Earlier than she was the winner of a number of James Beard awards, Clark was a coat-checker and a hostess at a restaurant known as American Place. That job was her first peek behind the scenes at an expert kitchen.
“I knew I wished to be a meals author at that time,” she says. “This was proper firstly of meals blogs popping out on the web. … And I assumed, together with lots of different individuals, hey, , I need meals to be my lens for trying on the world. I need meals to be how I inform my story and the way I inform different individuals’s tales. … To essentially perceive somebody, to grasp their soul and their thoughts, I actually really feel like it is advisable to see what they eat.”
So what does her soul say?
“Undoubtedly says I grew up in Brooklyn,” Clark says. “Particularly for those who catch me on a bagels and lox Sunday.”
For the recipe check, Clark pulls a 12-inch skillet off the wall, provides the olive oil, and the sausage, which she squeezes out of its casing like toothpaste. It drops, scorching, into the pan. She cooks the sausage till it has a pleasant, browned crust.
“That brown crust on a sausage is what is going on to provide you additional taste,” she explains.
In the meantime, she crushes the fennel with a mortar and pestle and provides that, plus the garlic — thinly sliced, not from a jar — and the opposite spices and herbs.
“I am additionally going so as to add some salt proper now,” Clark says. “As a result of I need the garlic to soak up it. If you happen to add salt as you go, it seasons it higher quite than including it .”
She’s full of those sorts of cooking gems.
One other instance: “If one thing smells good to you, you may most likely just like the style.”
And: “What grows collectively goes collectively.”
Explaining issues — like how thinly slicing the garlic will make it style sweeter within the dish — is one in all Clark’s favourite components of what she does.
“I like speaking to individuals about meals and answering questions and determining how they’re comfy cooking and the way I could make it simpler for them,” she says. “I actually love cooking. I imply, I actually do. And I really need everybody else to like it, too.”
And it is OK to not cook dinner, too
However do not get her unsuitable — generally she prefers takeout similar to everybody else.
“I love to do takeout on issues that takeout does higher than me,” she says. “Like sushi. Takeout does sushi higher than me. I am not afraid to inform you.”
Clark pours the tomatoes into the pan, and as soon as that sauce has gotten thick, she provides the pasta. Then she folds in a few third of the mozzarella, plops the remainder on prime, provides spoonfuls of ricotta, then a bit extra ricotta and sprinkles the entire thing with Parmesan.
Lastly, she sticks the skillet within the oven to bake.
Clark counts what number of utensils she used for this dish. The entire?
- A garlic slicer
- picket spoon
- measuring spoon
- mortar and
- chopping board
- and the pan.
The actual check, although, is the way it tastes.
When the cheese is brown and effervescent, Clark takes the skillet out of the oven, plucks some contemporary basil, and serves the pasta on her again deck, overlooking the backyard.
“Two thumbs up?”
Two thumbs up.
Tacky Baked Pasta with Tomato, Sausage, and Ricotta
Like a cross between baked ziti and a meaty lasagna, this golden-topped pasta is wealthy with brawny bits of sausage, creamy ricotta, and crushed tomatoes, all seasoned with loads of garlic, oregano, and fennel seed. It is a licensed crowd-pleaser that is straightforward to adapt.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces sizzling or delicate Italian sausage (pork, hen, or turkey)
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of crushed crimson pepper flakes (elective), plus extra for serving
1 (28-ounce) can complete peeled tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can crushed or strained tomatoes
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 ounces pasta (small shells, farfalle, or different small form)
8 ounces contemporary mozzarella, torn into bite-size items
6 ounces (about ¾ cup) whole-milk ricotta
⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly floor black pepper, for serving
¼ cup slivered contemporary basil
1. Warmth the oven to 425ºF.
2. In a 12-inch ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, warmth the oil over medium-high warmth. Take away the casings from the sausage and crumble the meat into skillet, utilizing a spoon to interrupt it up. Prepare dinner, stirring, till it is beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Utilizing a mortar and pestle or the flat aspect of a chef’s knife and a chopping board, frivolously crush the fennel seeds. Stir them into the pan together with the garlic, oregano, and crimson pepper flakes, if utilizing, and cook dinner one other 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the entire tomatoes, utilizing a spoon to interrupt them up. Add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and salt and convey to a simmer. Prepare dinner for 10 minutes to thicken it barely.
5. Stir within the pasta and 1 cup water and return the sauce to a simmer. Prepare dinner for two minutes, stirring to ensure the pasta would not stick with the pan. Take away from the warmth, take away the bay leaves, and fold in a 3rd of the mozzarella.
6. High the pasta with the remaining mozzarella and dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake till the pasta is tender when poked with a fork, and the cheese is bubbly and golden, 18 to 22 minutes. (If you would like a browner topping, run the pan underneath the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes.) Let cool barely earlier than serving with black pepper and basil on prime, and extra crimson pepper flakes on the aspect.
You’ll be able to miss the sausage fully or substitute a plant-based sausage.
VEG IT UP
You’ll be able to add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms together with the sausage in Step 2. Improve the cook dinner time till the moisture evaporates from the pan and all the things may be very browned.