Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Red Pepper Pasta

Pasta Primavera
Kitchen Sink Pasta
Whats in the Fridge? Pasta

This is one of those dinners where you get back from a meeting at 8:30 and you're staring at each other wondering what's for dinner.  This is what's for dinner. Again, not a recipe.  So few things are.  This is more like, look, I put these things together, and I ate it.  And I liked it.

I had a red pepper (because Whole Foods started selling some organic bell peppers imported from who knows where, and while I want to eat seasonally, I also want to eat bell peppers).  I had some frozen asparagus.  I had half a tub of white mushrooms left over from yesterday.

I sliced up a quarter of a huge onion and three cloves of garlic and got them started in a pan with olive oil while I set pasta water to boil.

Small slices of garlic that will cook a while are awesome 
I don't add anything to my pasta water.  It's water, and pasta.  Occasionally, it's stock and pasta, but that uses up a lot of stock.  I think there's a time and place for adding both salt and oil to a dish, and neither of those time/places is about boiling water.

Do you use whole wheat pasta?  Because you like it, or because you should?   We forced ourselves into it, kicking and screaming (I think it was just me doing the screaming) a few years ago, and now I can't imagine buying white pasta.  I remember gradually introducing it, I'd put a handful of white pasta and a handful of whole wheat pasta into the same dish, and then I'd refine the rules - whole wheat had "too much flavor" so I could use it for dishes like this, but not for spaghetti and red sauce... and then, I don't know, it just took over.  It's not like the skim milk/whole milk thing, where now I can't make eye contact with whole milk without feeling a bit ill,  I could totally eat white pasta - but this tastes so much better.   I remember when it didn't.

So I got the onions translucent and the garlic started to smell delicious and I put my frozen asparagus into the microwave to defrost.  I added sliced peppers and onions to the pan, and put a lid on it on medium for a few so that the steam would help to cook the peppers.

Then, when looking in the fridge for something else, I came across this: 

Tapenade left over from a recent party.  It still smelled ok, so I added about a quarter cup.   Not that I think you have this on hand and will run and get your TJ's Tapenade and a measuring cup.  You could add a scant bit of tomato sauce, or mild salsa or whatever is leftover in your fridge from your last party, or replace it with jarred roasted red peppers or whatever.  

I also added four star-shaped cubes of stock, probably a little less than a tablespoon each?

Stirred to melt the stock and to convince it to start turning into sauce.  I added a good bit of red pepper flakes.  Cheese helps.  Here's a bit less than a quarter cup of parm.

Sous Chef Brian in action
The pasta was truly al dente, which is not how I like my pasta, but everything else had pretty much come together, and it was late, so I figured, let's finish the pasta in the sauce.  

Add the cheese to the "stuff" rather than to the "sauce" and then it won't turn into a glob in your pan when you stir it.

I added it to the pan, stirred it all around, and the started swearing profusely.  There were frozen asparagus spears somewhere, right?  Oh yeah, in the microwave.

I tossed them around in the pasta until they were warm.  Then put it into bowls.  That's about it.

Two dinners, and two lunches.

Send me an email if you have last minute dinner ideas, thoughts on whole wheat pasta, or want to point out how long ago it was when I first served this tapenade.

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