Herbert Pasta


Picture this: I walk into my apartment after work.

“Pick a name,” my jolly, ginger roommate says peering over his Apple computer [product placement].

“Huh?” I respond.

“If you had to name something right now, what would you name it?” he asks.

“Herbert,” I respond in a lackluster tone.

“Herbert Pasta, it is.”

“Huh?”

“That pasta you always make with the peas and turkey sausage. You don’t have a name for it, so as the Patron Saint of Easter Island, I declare that from this day forth this so-called pasta be known solely as Herbert Pasta,” proclaims the Patron Saint of Easter Island.

And that, my dear friends, is how Herbert Pasta got its name. True story, except for a few word choices in the dialogue, but this is how I like to remember it. “What exactly is Herbert Pasta,” you ask. Well, it’s the easiest, most malicious (dangerously delicious) pasta on this side of the hemisphere. They make way better pasta in Italy, but I digress.

As with so many recipes, this one began with someone else’s, specifically Giada De Laurentiis, and after a couple ingredient swaps and slight modifications, Herbert Pasta emerged. It consists of fun-shaped, bow-tie pasta although any pasta will do. For example, you could use spiral-shaped pasta, like rotini, or small shell pasta. Other components include fiber-rich peas, savory mushrooms, and a hearty helping of turkey sausage. Rather than a creamy, fat-drenched sauce to bring the dish together, you use a little extra-virgin olive oil, which as you may already know is considered a healthy fat because it’s composed mainly of monounsaturated fats. Saturated is the bad kind—the Sheriff of Nottingham of fats. Also, to take this dish to another level in ultimate satisfaction is a light sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano (which can be pricey, so Parmesan cheese is a suitable substitute).

Feel free to add or disregard whatever tickles your fancy. You can swap in or out a wide array of ingredients. For instance, if you don’t fancy peas, perhaps you would prefer asparagus, rich in vitamins A, C and E, or lycopene-infused cherry tomatoes. If you are a vegetarian, you can easily replace the turkey sausage with more mushrooms of any variety. You may also rename it if you so desire—perhaps the homey name Gretchen or for a more triumphant twist, Spartacus.

Giada gettin' dirty with lycopene

SIDENOTE: Giada is that Italian lady on the Food Network, who smiles a lot and never gets dirty. She wins for the cleanest, most pristine cooking show of all time. She also makes some above average dishes. Although more than a few people have told me that they find her somewhat annoying, I tend to disagree and think she is quite lovely. I mean, she’s no Nigella Lawson, whose show always ends with her sneaking into her fridge for a midnight snack, or Ina Garten, who is always assisted by her rich, gay friends in the Hamptons when entertaining her rich, gay friends in the Hamptons. I’m sincerely jealous of her rich, gay friends in the Hamptons. Sidenote to SIDENOTE: What happened to Rachael Ray’s voice?

Herbert Pasta

1 pound ground Italian turkey sausage, removed from casing

1 (8-ounce) package baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, defrosted slightly

1 pound dried farfalle (bow-tie) pasta

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil.
  2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, brown turkey sausage. Remove meat from pan, drain, and set aside. Add mushrooms (with a drizzle of olive oil if needed) and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until all the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. When the pot of water has come to a boil, add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. During the last 3 to 4 minutes of cooking, add peas. Drain in a colander. Return pasta and peas to the pot and add the meat and mushroom mixture. Turn off the heat and stir to combine. Drizzle with olive oil, and add the grated cheese. Stir well and serve. Yield: 4-6 servings
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