Posts Tagged ‘pasta’

Easiest. Pasta. Ever.

October 30, 2009

Ahhh Friday, how I’ve missed you. You’re so mellow and easygoing; not at all like high-maintenance Monday or party-lush Thursday. And after a week like this, you won’t hold it against me if I just can’t bring myself to dress up for dinner. It’s nights like this that remind me why I love you.

Among the Mediterranean magic conjured from my aunt’s kitchen, Pasta with Cherry Tomatoes and Capers is a stand-out solution to an uninspired Friday fix. It’s just as hassle-free and quick to prepare as it sounds – little more than 15 minutes total is all the quality time you’ll be missing out on. But don’t let the simplicity of the ingredients fool you: the sweetly-singed bite of the tomatoes and red pepper flakes combined with the capers’ bright tang is anything but blasé, and packs enough perk-up to get the weekend rolling.

Note: this isn’t an exacting recipe, either – just taste your way through it. If the pan is a little dry, add more oil or hot pasta water. Need more salt? Go for it. Spice it up with more heat from the pepper flakes. Friday won’t mind one bit – promise.

You need:

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carton cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (fresh is great, dried is fine)
  • spaghetti
  • capers (as desired)
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook:  Set water to boil over high heat. In separate non-stick pan, add olive oil to coat and heat over medium low.  Slice garlic cloves in half and add to pan, sautéing until fragrant but careful not to burn, about 2-3 mins; remove. Add cherry tomatoes, red pepper, oregano and salt to pan, raising heat to medium; allow tomato sauce to simmer until tomatoes begin to break down, adding oil or hot pasta water as needed to thin sauce, about 7 mins total. While sauce is cooking, boil spaghetti as instructed on packaging until al dente; it should be soft but still somewhat firm. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before straining, then add spaghetti straight into the saucepan with tomatoes. Add capers as desired (I love these little flower buds, so about 2-3 tbs is great, but feel free to use less). Mix sauce and pasta well, thinning with reserved water if needed. Mangia!


Simple? Sure - but trust me when I say the flavors are anything but.


Waiting Games: Round 1

September 16, 2009

(Monday): Whole wheat pasta with spinach, turkey, tomato and red pepper flakes. Straightforward enough – brown ground turkey in pan with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper while rotini cooks. Set aside. Strain 1/4 can diced tomatoes and add to small nonstick pan with 1 cup cooked turkey, red pepper flakes and frozen spinach until warmed through. Top over cooked pasta and add olive oil and pasta water to moisten.

Round 1 – DONE.

Anyone care to make this interesting?

Summer Table: Minute-Made

August 4, 2009

When it comes to cooking, I’m a subscriber of the ‘food-on-the-fly’ philosophy – which basically amounts to throwing together any and every item from my pantry shelf or refrigerator door, with a vague hope that the sum of aggregate parts will in the end resemble somewhat of a substantial and flavorful (if not refined) main course.

In most cases, pasta dishes are my go-to, since a box of whole wheat rotini is a permanent food cupboard fixture. Toss hot pasta with extra-virgin olive oil and any number of ingredients – frozen spinach and cherry tomatoes; lemon zest and pecorino romano; fresh arugula and kidney beans; shrimp, white wine and garlic; capers and canned tomatoes; tuna and greek olives; fresh basil and toasted pine nuts… the possibilities are endless and are all pretty delicious to boot.

Now that summer is in full swing, I’ve been switching up routine to take full advantage of the abundance of locally grown produce. It’s my own never-ending salad bar. Same rules apply: any and everything is fair game.

One of my favorite food writers, NYT columnist Mark Bittman (aka ‘The Minimalist), shares my ‘fresh-is-more’ approach and is out to prove it with this July story: 101 Simple Salads for the Season. All, in theory, take less than 20 minutes to prepare with simple ingredients in your fruit and veggie crisper. Fear not, carnivores – there are plenty of entries that include meat and seafood, as well as grains, lentils and noodles. #59 is a personal favorite, as are #41 and #47. It’s summer – time to step away from the stove.

Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times
Image courtesy of Francesco Tonelli for The New York Times