“You made that up?”
“Out of your head? Like it’s original?”
“Then you have to post it.”
This is the conversation Fab Hub and I had as we discussed the potential success of Tuesday night’s pasta dinner.
Even though Kidzilla and I conquered the grocery store on Saturday and came home with a generous bounty, I haven’t quite finished assigning meals to days for this week. I knew tonight was pasta, but wasn’t quite sure what the specifics would be.
Recently, I read through Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Cooking. You can read about it here – it’s a great read and has lots of interesting tips and simple, delicious recipes. Early in the book, in a section titled “Cooking from the Pantry,” Waters says that if you have a pantry stocked with staples and ingredients listed in this section of the book, you can make “a surprising number of dishes.” The list includes items such as pasta, beans, vegetables, herbs, cheeses, and more.
OK, I thought…today was a long day. My brain is tired. We are three hungry people and I want simple. Let’s see if Waters’ theory stands up to dinnertime.
I ventured into the cupboard and fridge and came up with a meal. I don’t know what to call it. It’s completely made up from my head. I tossed together what I thought would taste good together and it worked. Fab Hub and Kidzilla ate it. Hub did so without complaint and with sincere appreciation for the finished product; Kidzilla said something about the beans tasting like dirt, but then ate a big kid sized portion complete with Happy Noises and her Dinner Dance Wiggle. She pretended to hate it; we pretended not to notice.
It was fresh, flavorful, really easy, and put a bunch of leftover items from other recipes to good use. I call that a win. For a name, all I can come up with is “faker pasta,” but that’s kind of vague. It’s got a bit of a southwest feel to it, but not really. It’s vegetarian, but doesn’t have to be. It is kind of “let’s see what I can come up with from the following staples and leftover items,” but that’s not a catchy name, either. Fab Hub just suggested “awesome pasta,” but that’s what he calls just about every pasta dish I’ve ever made. (He’s appreciative, if not very original.)
Good news…I remembered to take a picture!
I will share what I did to get dinner on the table tonight. If you want to experience the same taste sensation we enjoyed, follow the instructions below. But you could vary this just about any way you like. It’s like “make up your own pasta recipe and call it whatever you want.” Hey, maybe that’s it…why don’t YOU name it? Put your great name idea in the comments.
Name That Pasta – Or Whatever You Want to Call It
You will need:
One to two tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil – whatever you like)
One 14 ounce box Barilla veggie farfalle pasta that Kidzilla selected at the supermarket
¼ to ½ a red onion, chopped (I had a quarter of a huge one in the refrigerator to use)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
One 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
One 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes, drained
One to two cups of chopped or diced bell peppers (I had a half each of a red, orange, and yellow left in the veggie drawer)
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ to ½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon oregano
(Disclaimer – I am estimating my seasoning amounts here. You know I do the “cover the top lightly and then taste it” method as a rule.)
Ricotta salata cheese (amount is to taste preference – I had some left from another recipe and decided it was just enough to grate over the top)
Fresh lime wedges
Fresh or dried cilantro to garnish (eyeball it – it’s mostly to garnish on top of the white cheese, but also to add a nice balance for the cumin and lime; tonight, I used dried)
What to do:
Boil water for pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.
While pasta water boils and pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add red onion and cook until translucent.
Add garlic and cook about two more minutes.
Add black beans and diced tomatoes. Add salt and pepper. Add cumin.
Stir and cook until it bubbles.
Once your pasta is ready, drain it and add to the skillet.
Add chopped bell peppers.
Toss well to coat pasta and cook until peppers are warmed, but not too soft.
Plate your pasta and top with freshly grated ricotta salata cheese, lime juice (squeeze from limes or serve each plate with a wedge), and cilantro.
Start to finish – thirty minutes, including chop time. Since the only thing that really needed to be cooked was the pasta and the onion and garlic, it’s mostly a matter of heating everything up and blending together.
This preparation tasted fantastic. But here’s the thing: you could change up the pasta, vary the beans and vegetables any way you like, experiment with cheeses or seasonings to your own personal taste. Add some wine or some leftover chicken. It’s really more about the preparation than the specific ingredients here. It really is “name your own pasta.”
Want to get the kids involved? They could help select the items. Kidzilla and her Fab Dad were in the middle of a play date while I cooked tonight, but on another night, she would be all over picking out what to put in the pasta. She loves to help in the kitchen and would absolutely get a kick out of making up her own dish and naming it.
We added a side of honeydew melon to this. For dessert, we enjoyed Ciao Bella coconut sorbet topped with blackberries and golden raspberries – another Kidzilla find. It was very pretty.
I even took a photo.
And promptly deleted it by mistake!
This post was previously published on The Meaning of Me and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: The Meaning of Me