They say that trying to cook with a newborn is a total lost cause, but I haven’t actually found that to be true. You just have to be…flexible. About both what you make and when you eat it. And whether or not it’s warm. And you may have to inhale your dinner while moving your fork precariously back and forth over the head of said newborn, trying desperately not to drop tomato sauce onto that pretty white onesie that grandma sent over…but that’s just how it goes. (P.S. Sorry about that onesie, Mom. Couldn’t be helped.)
What I’ve found helpful is to have a roster of meals at the ready that can be made in one (maximum two) pots, require few ingredients, and are ready in no more than half an hour. Slow-cookers are excellent for this purpose, but nothing’s quite as quick-and-dirty (and delicious) as a good pasta dish.
The other night, I made something so fast and easy that I’m calling it Post-Baby Pasta, but what it actually is is a dish based on my favorite meal at Amarone, an Italian restaurant on 48th and 9th.
CAMPANELLE with PROSCIUTTO, LEEKS & SMOKED MOZZARELLA IN A PINK SAUCE (a.k.a. POST-BABY PASTA)
What you need:
1 box campanelle
3 leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped prosciutto
1 large can crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 cup cubed smoked mozzarella
Salt & pepper
What you do:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the campanelle according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the leeks, garlic, and prosciutto. Cook, stirring constantly, until the leeks are tender and the prosciutto is a bit crispy.
3. Pour the crushed tomatoes over the leeks, garlic & prosciutto and let simmer a few minutes before adding the cream, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Strain the pasta and return to the pot. Add the sauce and smoked mozzarella, and toss well.
Note: Because of the aforementioned need for flexibility, I made this dish way too late at night to photograph it, so the photo above is a next-day photo of the pasta after being reheated and topped with a little more cubed mozzarella. The texture of the fresh pasta will look much creamier, cheesier, and generally prettier.
Another tip that makes life easier: if presentation is the last thing on your mind, try pouring the dish directly into Tupperware and serving straight from the storage containers. Onto paper plates. Whatever’s left over goes right into the refrigerator, and that’s one less dish you have to wash later.