Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pasta is Love


I love food, as we know. But if I had to name one just one dish that equated love to me? It would not, shockingly, be barbecue. Barbecue might be termed "heart," or certainly, "home," but not "love." Love, to me, is pasta. It always has been, and I imagine it always will be.

I have loads of pasta recipes. I have the pasta equivalent of a marriage proposal, of putting all your cards on the table: a three-page lasagna recipe that uses a different scrumptious sauce for each layer. It takes all day to make, and it will get any romantic job done. I have the sexy date at home dish: a red-hot vodka sauce that sears and soothes in equal measure. I have the first dish I ever made that snapped T's head around and left him begging for more: an earthy, spicy sauceless pasta with sausage, spinach, and crunchy breadcrumbs.

What I also have, though, are simple, steadfast dishes that please year in, year out, day after day, no matter the company. They're not special occasion dishes. They're everyday dishes that aren't made to impress, but to nourish and to share and to quietly delight instead. They're simple love, these dishes... which is so often the best kind.

Here, then, are two of my favorite everyday pasta dishes, and I'm finally including the recipes here, because, well... that's what one's supposed to do with love. Spread it.


SUMMER ORZO SALAD
Tangy, light, and cooling... made for warm-weather potlucks and leftover lunches.

  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 6-oz package crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh basil (or other herb)
  • 1/2-1 cup champagne vinaigrette
Bring salted water to boil in large heavy saucepan. Add orzo and boil until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large wide bowl, tossing frequently until cool. Mix tomatoes, feta, and herbs into orzo. Add vinaigrette; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
    Champagne Vinaigrette
    • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1/2 cup olive oil
    Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.


    SPAGHETTI CARBONARA
    Adapted from Ruth Reichl ... and as tailor-made for man-friendly (and kid, I'm sure!) weeknight salvation as she advertises. I love eating leftovers cold for lunch. 

    • 1 pound spaghetti
    • 1/4 to 1/2 pound good bacon
    • 2 whole cloves garlic, peeled
    • 3 large eggs
    • Black pepper
    • 1/2 cup grated Parm (plus more for the table)
    Directions
    • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook spaghetti. While the spaghetti is cooking, cut the bacon crosswise into small pieces. Put them in a skillet and cook for 2 minutes, until fat begins to render. Add the whole cloves of garlic and cook another 5 minutes, until the edges of the bacon begin to get crisp. Don't overcook, because if there's too much crispiness the bacon won't meld with the pasta.
    • Meanwhile, break the eggs into the bowl you will serve the pasta in and beat with a fork. Grind in some fresh pepper.
    • Remove the garlic from the bacon pan. If it looks like too much fat to you, discard some, but be judicious - you want to toss the bacon with most of its fat into the pasta. If this bothers you, this isn't the right dish for you.
    • Drain the cooked pasta and immediately put it into the beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. The heat of the spaghetti will cook the eggs and turn them into a sauce. Add the bacon with its fat, toss again, add cheese, and serve.

    11 comments:

    1. And I will be making the Orzo Pasta Salad - for the 4th time in 6 weeks - to bring to Miami, OK this weekend... it's likely to be the only good food I'll put in my mouth throughout the whole trip!

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    2. Yum! As someone who is half Italian, I will say that pasta is definitely love! It is the hug of all foods. I'm going to try your carbonara recipe with the addition of peas...mmmm!

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    3. That summer orzo salad is going on my list of things to make. It's so hot here that it's hard to imagine cooking of any kind, but that pasta looks like it won't require too much time over a hot stove. Plus, it actually looks like a light pasta, instead of the heavy stuff that leaves me so full I can barely move afterwards (although, hey, I'm okay with that every now and then).

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    4. I made Spaghetti Carbonara earlier this week-- its so fast and simple, its an awesome thing to make when you don't want to think too hard about dinner-- and it reminds me of one of the best summer's of my life, so it makes me happy on that level too. Hmm, I want some right now!

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    5. Champagne Vinaigrette is the best. I love it on spinach & strawberry salads. I'm not a huge fan of pasta, but you have me intrigued by this lasagna!

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    6. Shockingly I am not much of a pasta person. (I know!). However, sometimes I will have sucha craving for Carbonara that I am forced to make it then and there. I do love this one lasagna I formulated (much like yours an all day affair), involving a homemade bechamel and a homemade marinara, as well as 4 different kinds of cheese. It's so rich that one serving will last 3 meals. Mmmmm. Love that Sophia Loren quote so much. And I do like orzo in the summer- will definitely make this for my family, as my parents are pasta eaters for sure.

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    7. so i've already figured out how to make the orzo pasta salad WW friendly and I've successfully created a knock-off recipe that is only 6WW points per serving and it includes shrimp! WOOT

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    8. I've been waiting for this orzo recipe! Can't wait to try it out. (My favorite simple pasta dish involves stewed tomatoes, garlic, and basil. So good.)

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    9. I made the orzo salad for the 3rd time tonight- it's just so incredible! :)

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