How Dinner Happens

pasta, vegetarian

Sometime back-a-ways, about 47 cups of flour ago, I said something about this blog being a little heavy on the baked goods of late. What I’ve realized is that this is not because I don’t cook as much as I bake, but rather because the way I cook is often kinda spontaneous and recipe-less and the results mostly very tasty, but not always picture worthy. Plus I am terrible at remembering my own exact measurements and ingredients when I am cooking off-the-cuff. The truth is, when it comes to dinner, I only follow a recipe about once a week; the rest of the time I am just improvising, and who wants to hear about that, right? Well, unless I want to rename this blog, ‘Ari Bakes,’ someone is going to have to hear about the way savory meals happen around here, so off we go.

I usually start by taking stock of what’s in the fridge and pantry. Maybe I recently picked up something fun at the market that I want to use, like today’s purchase of fresh spinach fettuccini (yay!). Then I think about how I want to cook tonight. If I’m running short on time, roasting veggies slowly in the oven is not going to work and a stovetop method, like sauteing or steaming, will be a better choice. Also, if we’ve been eating rice or couscous all week, I probably want to think about a different carbohydrate, like potatoes, or maybe some french bread. There is always the protein issue to consider, although it’s not a huge concern since we generally eat plenty of beans, tofu and eggs around here, so if I have to skip it for the sake of time, that’s okay.

Tonight I was looking to get rid of a large head of broccoli, a bag of mixed greens and some garlic that was starting to sprout. Also there were some lovely, ripe tomatoes sitting on the counter and a container of pitted kalamata olives in the fridge.

I cut the head of broccoli into fairly small florets and halved three tomatoes. I tossed those in a 9 x 9 glass baking pan with 6 or 7 peeled cloves of garlic, poured olive oil generously over everything and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. I baked the veggies in the  a 350 degree oven covered with foil for the first 15 or 20 minutes, then uncovered for another 10 or 15 minutes.

Meanwhile I brought a large pot of salted water to a boil and chopped up about 1/3 cup kalamatas and 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley. I washed and dried some of the mixed greens, spread them into the bottom of a wide serving dish, then squeezed some fresh lemon juice over them.

When the broccoli was tender, I pulled the pan out of the oven and put the fresh spinach pasta into the boiling water for just a couple of minutes.

After draining, I spread the pasta on top of the greens and sprinkled that with a little more lemon juice and some olive oil. The roasted veggies went on top of the pasta, followed by the olives and parsley. I then grated some Manchego over everything (you could use Parmesean, but we like Manchego because it is made from sheep’s milk).

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