No wonder pasta is Italy's iconic dish: look how pretty the red, white and green are! (For those of you who failed geography and have never seen a World Cup soccer match, those are also the colors of the Italian flag.) I had big plans last Wednesday night - all day, really - none of which materialized. Instead, I strenuously procrastinated on my work and gave up on the idea of being experimental in the kitchen. Both these things seem to happen with alarming frequency...though my friend R. assures me that having 4 sentences to show for a day's work is quite respectable, and possibly a sign of genius. "Your brain is probably still processing all the information," she confidently assures me. Two TiVO'd Oprah shows later I know better, but willingly accept her rationale (hey, Nate Berkus is a cutie pie and apparently 85% of all us women are wearing the wrong bra size. How could I turn away???)
By dinner time I had thrown away my long list of exotic ingredients in favor of a simple summery pasta of fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic. Boring? Not to my tastebuds. Whenever Mr. Food Musings and I debate what one cuisine we'd want on a desert island (speaking of, did you see the Lost finale? Man! That is the best show on television. I'm so hooked I kept waking up during the night to ponder what those creepy Others, who look like they wandered over from the set of Deliverance, want with Walt...) I choose Italian, namely for the pasta. He chooses Mexican (do you see what I'm dealing with???)
Anyhoo, the point is (yeah, what is the point?) that we had a really lip-smacking good dinner and it took me 2 minutes to think of, 10 minutes to shop for (only because I couldn't decide on a vegetable accompaniment - finally went with the gorgeous zucchini you see here, browned from roasting and sprinkled with Parmesan) and 15 minutes to make.
It really doesn't merit a recipe: just make enough pasta for two people, whatever shape you like, and while the water's boiling chop up a couple of tomatoes (or, if you can't find any good tomatoes, open a can of them), a few cloves of garlic and some fresh basil leaves. Then toss the cooked pasta first with as much/little olive oil as suits you, throw in the garlic and some salt and pepper (toss again) and add the tomatoes and basil. Supper is on the table and you are in fine form for watching the real American Idol lose out to an insipid, plastic, cotton candy-voiced statue. Ah, well, America voted, and - yet again - proved themselves complete buffoons.
- add a handful of cooked fresh or frozen peas and substitute mint for the basil
- add chopped artichokes, the kind canned in oil, and substitute rosemary for basil
- add soft hunks of fresh mozzarella di buffala, mmm...
- add scallions and pine nuts for zing and crunch
- ditch the tomatoes, add lemon zest and a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and fresh herbs galore from the garden or farmer's market (so it sounds vaguely familiar, so what? Leave me alone! Isn't it obvious that I need my creative powers for more important things these days? Hello, 4 sentences in one afternoon?)
- add cooked prawns and a little goat cheese or feta