The cupboards are bare. Or nearly so. My kids haven’t been here the past few days, and I’ve been very lazy about grocery shopping. I’ve lately been living on flatbread (locally-made flatbread which I top with homemade arugula pesto, whatever veggies I have on hand, maybe some diced tofu, and cheese) as well as eggs.
But I don’t feel like going to the grocery store at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night. So I grubbed around and realize I have the ingredients for three great meals tonight:
- Spring rolls (filled with tofu, carrots, cilantro, and bean sprouts, as I recently sprouted a bunch of mung beans). I happen to have a bunch of spring roll wrappers, rice vermicelli, and a sweet chili dipping sauce.
- Stir-fried bean sprouts on rice. Probably tasty, but not at all what I’m in the mood for.
- Angel hair with the last few tired cherry tomatoes, (jarred) garlic, fresh parsley, and fresh Parmesan. That sounds like the most appealing (and low-effort) option right now.
I went with option #3…easy comfort food. Much needed, today.
So here’s how you make yourself a quick, easy dinner with no recipe and very little on hand. And I’m sorry that all the images are sideways/upside-down. New plugin, see.
Get a pot of salted water boiling. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet. Add a glob of jarred garlic if that’s all you have, or a pile of minced fresh garlic if your pantry is better stocked than mine.
Chop up your last tired cherry tomatoes. Toss them into the skillet. If you have some remaining fresh spinach leaves, add them, too. Add any other leftover veggies you might have; I had steamed broccoli in the fridge, so I put in a few florets and mashed them as best I could.
Squeeze in a healthy dose of tomato paste and half as much anchovy paste. These are things that you should have in your fridge at all times, even if you run out of bread and milk and beans and everything else.
Stir it around. Add about half a cup of the pasta cooking water to the skillet.
Drain the pasta. Add it to the skillet, tossing everything around. Let the extra water cook off.
Shower it all with a pile of freshly-grated Parmesan. If you need to use pre-grated cheese, I understand and won’t judge, but do yourself a favor and grate it fresh if you can.
Because you’re worth it and had the absolutely shittiest and most disappointing race/run of your life today, because you ignored your tight calves and sore creaky Achilles and went into a six-hour trail race on ice/snow/mud with very little training,
and at mile 4 your calf pain shifts to a sharp Achilles pain and you know the day is over, and you are at this point down to a T-shirt and capris (no hat or gloves or any warm layer tied around your waist) and it’s 40 degrees out and you try to shortcut back through a snowy bramble field,
possibly crying with anger and disappointment, and when you’re back on trail, scratched and bleeding and limping and shivering, you reassure concerned passing runners that you’re fine and making your way back to the start/finish, and one woman looks extra-concerned and you burst into tears because THIS IS YOUR FAULT,
and she turns around and walks back along the course with you and is very kind and doesn’t even attempt a hug until you’ve gotten yourself under control and are able to recognize that you knew going into this race you had some physical issues you’ve been ignoring and at least this time you didn’t run through the pain but instead stopped when it felt significant, and then you hugged and thanked her and sent her on her way,
and because you drove four other 6-hour runners to the race, so you had to wait around another five-plus hours in the cold drizzle waiting for everyone else to finish.
anyway, toast some bread crumbs in olive oil and toss them in with the pasta. It is delightful. You deserve it. Sprinkle some fresh chopped parsley on it if you have it.
Sprinkle salt over all of it.
While it’s good and hot, eat it. Unless you are me, in which case you realize your younger son’s hamster, in his new hamster ball, has been too quiet for too long, and you discover this:
Eat your cold pasta, after you finally catch and re-cage the hamster. It will still be tasty.