IT WAS A PLEASANT OCTOBER DAY, the temperature in Charlotte was in the low 70’s, the air crisp and the leaves turning colors in the city. After grocery shopping in the morning, I enjoyed lunch and browsing in the clothing stores with my friend Barbara. We try to meet once a week for lunch, checking out the food and ambiance in a different restaurant each time. We always discuss the books we are reading. Then, we do something interesting, such as viewing a new exhibit at the Mint Museum, browsing the huge Metrolina Antique Market, checking out a sale at a favorite store, spending the afternoon in a bookstore, or seeing a movie on rare occasions.
I NEEDED TO PULL out one of my go-to-meals tonight, if I was to have dinner on the table at the usual time. LIKE SPAGHETTI. I typically change the way I make spaghetti sauce each time I make it. The way I see it, cooking is a creative process and that is what makes it fun.
I MADE A SIMPLE TOSSED SALAD of field greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, grated cheddar cheese and chunks of zucchini.
I put the whole wheat pasta on to cook as I made the sauce.
THE SAUCE FOR TONIGHT’S MEAL INCLUDES: ground beef, onions, garlic, tomato paste, peeled and quartered tomatoes, thinly sliced carrots, mushrooms, salt, pepper, basil, and oregano – and this time, I added a 1/4 cup of sherry (medium to dry). Since I had limited time to prepare dinner this evening, I precooked the carrots in the microwave until partially done. In a skillet, I cooked the ground beef and onions and spices until done, added the garlic for an additional minute or two, then added the remaining ingredients.
I LEFT THE SAUCE TO COOK DOWN somewhat to the thickness I wanted on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
I WATCHED THE PASTA carefully to not overcook and drained it and moved it to the back of the stove for the last few minutes for the sauce to thicken. I set the table and put the garlic bread in the oven to heat. Tossed the salad with a little extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I ARRANGED THE PASTA in my large white tureen, poured the sauce over the pasta and topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I poured glasses of wine. Tonight, it was Moscato Provincial di Pavia Castello del Poggio, Asti Italy. Viola! Dinner is served.
I FOUND A LEMON PASTA at Trader Joe’s that is my new favorite – Lemon Pepper Pappardelle Pasta. I prepare the pasta, then toss it with extra virgin olive oil, toasted pine nuts and onions sautéed in a splash of olive oil and butter – then sprinkle pasta I bowl with parmesan and oregano. Serve with a quarter lemon to squeeze over top. Delicious. Really.
IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIMENT with unusual kinds of pasta and can’t find a local provider who has a variety, I have found an on-line source. Rossi Pasta (rossipasta.com) has 29 kinds to try, such as: Vino Rosso Linguini, Lemon Pepper, Saffron Linguini, Black Olive Linguini, Wild Mushroom Linguini, Spinach Basil Garlic Fettuccini, citrus Angel Hair, Pumpkin Spice Fettuccini (option to serve with sliced turkey) and many more. CIAO.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR GO-TO-MEALS?
Sue Marquis Bishop October 2013