I’ve always loved to write. I remember my “what I did for summer vacation” assignment in 3rd grade that turned into a multi-page story with illustrations. And from there, I continued to write in journals, take creative writing classes, and make up stories. Although I didn’t pursue writing as a profession until later in life, as you can see from my website, I finally funneled all that passion into published novels.
My other passion? Cooking!
Cooking, for me, is another way to be creative. I love to discover new recipes, make my tried-and-true dishes and, the most creative and fun of all, see what I can conjure from what I happen to have on hand in the cupboard and fridge, a la Chopped. And here I have to admit that I watch Food Network while I’m cooking. This has to be my favorite time of day.
I also subscribe to several cooking magazines. Every month I find a comfy place to relax, maybe in the summer on the deck with a glass of wine or in the winter inside with a cup of tea, and examine and imagine each recipe. The ones that excite me will end up either on the counter to try in the immediate future or directly into my recipe binder. I have quite a collection by now, and many of them have become some of my tried-and-true dishes.
I’ve been laid up the past couple of weeks from a foot operation (nothing serious, thank goodness), but it’s definitely kept me out of the kitchen.
I’m restless and anxious to get back to it. My husband’s been super about cooking and cleaning—oh, and serving me!
But I’m feeling a little better, so I thought tonight I’d surprise him with dinner. Something quick. Something simple. But something delicious. And from ingredients on hand, a Chopped moment.
What I came up with is also one of my favorites. And though hubby likes his meat, he also loves this dish: Pasta Pomodoro.
If I don’t have summer tomatoes yet, I use cherry tomatoes. I think for winter tomatoes, they have a lot more flavor. (Another trick with any winter tomato is to cut them in half, arrange cut side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and roast in a 325 degree oven until browned. You’ll be amazed at the rich tomato flavor. Make a big batch and store packets in the freezer for later use.)
For the Pomodoro, quantities for each ingredient aren’t critical; add according to your taste. First sauté a couple cloves of minced garlic in olive oil just until softened. (The garlic can become bitter if overcooked.) Then add the tomatoes (either fresh chopped or the roasted ones) and more olive oil if necessary. Simmer those until they form a saucy consistency. To kick it up, I add a couple of chopped Calabrian chilies, which are hot but have a wonderful smoky flavor.
Next, stir in some of your reserved pasta water, which adds body. Simmer to reduce slightly and incorporate with the tomatoes. Finally, add a handful of chopped fresh basil. Add cooked angel hair pasta or linguine to the pan, toss, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
This makes a great meal when served with a simple green salad of mixed greens and herbs such as basil, mint and parsley tossed with vinaigrette.
Enjoy! And now, I have to get back to Iron Chef America…