I’ve been in a bad mood for… three weeks or so, and I’ve decided that part of the problem might be just not enough pasta!
Hurray for the return of the farmer’s market. I like to buy the gimpy tomatoes for a reduced price (these are greenhouse but still local). Aren’t they GORGE?!
This meal was sort of a hybrid between two food memories: lowbrow- the spiffed-up Annie’s mac and cheese I made last fall (I have an insane memory for meals)- and highbrow- my grandmother’s variation on carbonara with egg and tomatoes and cauliflower and parmesan (it was heaven!).
So I set out to, what else, roast up some veg (when in doubt, I roast up some veg. If they drop the bomb, I’ll likely get out my pan and say “Well, nuclear winter would probably be improved by some nice roasted veggies!”)
So that’s one giant gimpy tomato, two lil heads of cauliflower (I love wimpy spring vegetables!) and, because that didn’t look substantial enough and I figured it’d do nice things for color, a handful of frozen peas. I drizzled everyone with olive oil and roasted at 350 for half an hour.
When you roast tomatoes, they make this amazing olive-oil tomato-sap liqueur.
And then it was all pretty simple. I made some pasta (Trader Joe’s organic whole wheat penne, smashing) and threw in a bit of flavor in the form of parmesan (the last of a heel- 1 ounce ish? Thinly sliced rather than shredded one cause I was lazy and two because I kind of like globs of cheese) and a sprig of fresh thyme (I ran out onto our deck in some light springtime rain to pick this and felt like I was in an Italian film).
The ensuing pasta was almost insanely delicious. All roasted vegetables taste good, but cauliflower roasted is like 75 times more delicious than regular cauliflower. The vegetables were sweet and tender and flavorful and awesome. My belly was very, very, VERY happy after eating this.
We had some leftover grits in the fridge and on a whim I decided to try to make my version of an appetizer I used to eat at my favorite restaurant in the North End in Boston (which has subsequently closed, waaah). Their version was way unhealthier (and deliciouser) than mine, but basically it was a pyramid of pan fried polenta and veggies and bleu cheese. Like, be still my beating heart. Grits are basically polenta, so I made the (cold) leftover grits into little cakes and stuck ‘em in a hot pan with a film of olive oil.
Flipping was a flippin’ pain, and the resulting cakes looked a little… busted.
But with some tapenade on top, I thought they were positively endearing looking. And they were yummy! And sometime’s it’s fun to have an appetizer when you are just eating in :D
So that was Friday. Then it was Monday… and I decided it was important that I had some pasta again (true story: my mom, whilst broke and living in New York city, ate pasta every night for a year. Then she went on her first date with my dad and, after telling him this, ordered pasta).
I had just the leftovers-utilizing thing: pasta with lamb ragu from Cooking Light. We still have leftover lamb from Easter in the freezer, so I thawed eight ounces of it and shredded it nice and small. Then I just followed the recipe, except I skipped the step where you brown the lamb and began with sautéing the carrots and onions in olive oil.
The sauce was amaaaaaaaaaaazing. I love when you make a ragu you have the tiny little onion and carrot bits that get all caramelized and sweet and succulent. And anything with fresh rosemary is basically guaranteed to make my belly happy. Using shredded rather than ground lamb was not a problem AT ALL- it incorporated really well into the sauce and was super tender.
I didn’t have fresh ricotta and mint, and I used whole wheat spaghetti instead of farfalle, but even simple and unadorned, this pasta was really really really super mega awesomely delicious.
To round out the meal I made a super delicious salad that I then realized was COMPLETELY LOCAL! That’s fresh lettuce and radishes from the farmer’s market, and the dressing is vidalia dressing we got from a farm stand in North Carolina. Love that!