Pasta musings

Usually on my evening commute, I can be found tucked away and lost in my own world amongst the mobs of people on the t. Ipod firmly in place, I tune out the stresses of the day and focus on what really matters to me: What's for dinner. This is my favorite part of my Monday through Friday. It's my time and in my own nerdy food ways, it's thrilling. I dance around this topic all day but this...this is crunch time! What do I feel like? What do I have at home? Will I need to stop on my way home to pick up fresh basil? These are the important questions that I love answering and it always amazes me that no matter how tiring the day was, I still greet this series of questions with the same level of excitement and anticipation of what's to come.

It seemed that this week was a little busier than usual, making my evening commute questions all the more valuable. I find that on a tough day, the meal at the end of it is even more important than on an average day. With a few chops of a knife and a stir of this or that, I wholeheartedly believe that a ho-hum day seems a little better with some Frank Sinatra, a good glass of red, and a very comforting meal. I think it's fair to say that everyone has their own go-to list of foods that they find comforting. For me, it's usually one of three meals: Cheeseburgers, Pizza, or (and this is the one that usually sits firmly at the top of my list) PASTA, with lots of melted cheese, of course. Tonight, I couldn't take it anymore, I needed some cheesy pasta and I needed it now. I have no idea why this dish is the food equivalent of a giant hug to me, but it is. This concoction changes based on what's on hand and what I'm really craving but it's pretty much the same idea. I make a simple sauce consisting of good quality canned tomatoes (I like San Marzano's the best) add in whatever herbs I have on hand (tonight was a combo of basil, rosemary and oregano), a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil, some lean ground beef, garlic and fresh sliced button mushrooms. The sauce is added to giant fresh-cut dried wagon wheel pasta (my favorite place to buy this pasta is J. Pace in the North End. They have a dizzying selection of pasta choices..) and this is all topped with fresh mozzarella. Then the whole thing goes in the oven until the cheese bubbles and little bits of exposed pasta get a subtle crunch to it. It's so very basic but this dish just does it for me. I like to eat it slowly, savoring each bite of noodley deliciousness and washing it down with a nice Rioja (I'm still on a Spanish wine kick).

I'd like to end my noodle musings with a quote that seems fitting:

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating" - Luciano Pavarotti.

Well that's all for tonight, I'm full.

Happy Eating!


Anonymous said...

I have a question on your recipe...

You put the noodles in the oven dry? So the sauce cooks the noodles instead of water? Also, about how long did you put it in for?

Thanks for all the good reads! I just love your blog. :)

katie said...

Sorry I wasn't a little more specific, I think I got caught up in the comforts of this dish rather than the recipe itself..I did boil the noodles in salted water until they were still very al dente (meaning they still had a little bit of bite to them) then I baked it all in the oven at 350 until the cheese
started to bubble and get a little brown. Plan on baking it for about 30 mins. but it really depends on the amount that you are making. Good luck and thank you for reading!

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