Friday, March 13, 2009

Pasta Rituals

So if you're anything like me, when you come home from work you're tired and you're hungry and the last thing you want to do is get into some complex and time consuming meal preparation. Don't get me wrong. I love food and I love cooking, I'm just so hungry when I get home that I fall on my most primal instincts, which are A) get a snack, B) find the quickest way from point a (hunger) to point b (dinner).

The first thing required in my A to B dinner tactic is to make sure I have snack food at home. I bought some blue corn chips a while ago and they have served me well. At other times I've done a sliver of cheese and crackers or left over steamed plantains slices. Carbohydrates seem to be a common theme.

Pasta is a staple because it is both cheap and fast. My friend made pasta with peanut sauce for me and since then I have reconsidered my dislike of wheat pasta. Consequently, I always buy the wheat variety, but I tend to vary the shape to keep things fresh.

I also buy sauce. I know there will be hecklers who will go on about how I could very easily make my own, which, in a pinch, I've done before. Don't forget, however, that one of the highest values in this whole adventure is speed. You can't beat pouring from a jar.

Additionally, I keep Parmesan cheese in the house. I have a chunk of it and grate what I will mix into my pasta with a steak knife. To recap, having to make you're own pasta sauce is a load of crap, but grating your own cheese will certainly, the palate, please. (Sorry, I couldn't help myself).

For a long time I was only eating pasta. It was really sad because when I lived near the Park Slope Coop, I always ate great produce and I varied what I ate quite a bit. I was lamenting my addiction to pasta and my lack of vegetable eating, but not really doing much about it until I went to visit my aunt.

While I stayed with her she made extravagant meals every night. There was a lot of grilled meat, but what struck me the most was her sauteed spinach and the green peppers left on the grill. I was in heaven, it tasted so good and it was just the inspiration I needed to re-inject the color green into my daily eating habits.

Now that I'm back in New York, I am still eating my pasta but I've also added a lot of green to my plate. I supplement my meal with mixed salad greens that are drizzled with olive oil and toasted sesame seeds and some other cooked greens. The first week I had sauteed spinach just like my aunt made. I ate it cold out of the fridge for a week. The following week, however, I opted for steamed kale drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of pepper flakes.

Adding the green hasn't added much time to my meal prep, but it sure has added flavor and nutrition. When I get home, I get my snack food out. I heat the water for the pasta. take out the pre-washed greens and put them on a plate. I then take out the cooked greens and put them on the plate too. I take out the olive oil and the pasta sauce and the cheese. The pepper flakes and sesame seeds are already on the table. I season my greens and cook the pasta. When it's close to done I drain the water and put the pasta, still in the pot, back on the heat. I pour the sauce on with the cheese, mix for a minute or two and serve. This whole ordeal never takes more than fifteen minutes and it's just so yummy.

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