Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pasta and boys on the side

Sometimes , when you are cooking every day, you can get stuck in a sort of food rut. The same way to make chicken, the same way to make pork chops, and after a time it seems the same ole salad mix and pasta or rice the same ole way.With pasta it seems you think either butter and Parmesan cheese or tomato sauce or the ole cheddar cheese standby. In desperation you reach for a can of cream of whatever soup, the family is happy, but something deep inside screams for a new idea for a side.

I think you need to look no further than the Italians for a millions tasty, creative ways to make pasta exciting, usually with very common ingredients. I had come across this  combination many times, but something about it made me thing it would be too weird or too "carby". Last night for dinner I was feeling daring, and a little stuck for a side with a most excellent piece of cod. I do know it has an Italian name, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it is. Lets simply call it Pasta with breadcrumbs and walnuts. Call it whatever you will- just as long as you don't forget to call me to eat when it is ready !

                             Pasta with breadcrumbs, walnuts, parsley and garlic- serves 4-6

1 lb pasta with ridges ( Rigatoni works nice)
1 handful italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and then chopped
2-8 cloves of garlic, germed and chopped ( to taste)
1/2 c olive oil

In a big bowl combine the breadcrumbs, parsley  and walnuts. Cook the pasta to al dente. Meanwhile in a small pan saute the garlic in olive oil, being careful not to burn. Drain the pasta, reserving a small amount of water. Add pasta to the breadcrumb mix, toss, add the reserved water, toss and then pour on the olive oil. Toss and serve. No need for cheese here as the breadcrumbs give the mouth feel of cheese, the walnuts and olive oil give the smooth texture of cheese. It is lick the plate, mixing bowl and utensils yummy ! I served it with a simple peice of cod, seasoned with a little salt, pepper, dill, pats of butter and lemon slices, baked in a 425 oven for 12 minutes and placed on top a bed of baby spinach

The boys in the house ( as well as this mom) loved it ! Simple, nourishing ingredients make a satisfying meal.  After discovering yet again how well these Italian flavor combinations work, I am becoming brave enough to tackle one of the very few foods I have never tried- anchovy ! I hear mixed reviews about these, and I am beginning to believe that it is the way they are combined with other flavors that makes then loved or despised. The guys in the house don't seem to have the same desire I have for new culinary horizons. Don't get me wrong- they are happy as anything with the results coming out of the kitchen since I began cooking just real food. However , they do not look at cans of artichokes, wondering if they would work in a tuna salad or get giddy over the prospects of fleur de selle ( fancy french sea salt). They simply get excited when something smells really good in the kitchen and the clock says that they will be eating it in a matter of minutes. Not a bad thing , really.They are always ready and willing to pitch in and help if I need it, do the dishes just because and go on shopping quests for all kinds of nifty ingredients. Like a side car on a motorcycle, they make the journey a whole lot more fun- and keep me happily stocked up in hugs, kisses and love .

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