Saturday, February 5, 2011

My precious!

One of my favourite comfort foods is a bowl of steaming hot pasta in a simple tomato sauce. It's flavours are exactly what I look for in a dish -spice and tang. At least that's how I like my pasta, punch full of  flavour and spice. That's exactly what I wanted today. And that's what I made.

I am not going to rave about this pasta. You will figure out what you feel about it by the end of it anyways. It doesn't really matter what I claim at the outset. So read on...

Start with 150 grams of fusili or any other pasta that you fancy for that matter. Nothing really matters!
Cook it according to the instructions on the pack.

In a pan, heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil and add 1 large chopped onion to it. Make sure the onion is chopped intricately. It is critical that each chopped piece of precisely the same size as the next one, just like I have done here.

Uh oh! I think I got that absolutely wrong. I meant to say, it doesn't matter what sizes the pieces are as long as they are chopped. Nothing really matters!

Add 3 - 4 cloves of chopped garlic at this point. If you face my predicament and find that there is no garlic in the house, you are allowed to add any pizza sauce or pasta sauce or in fact anything with garlic in it and pray that it tastes good. (If Jesus can turn water into wine, what's a little garlic flavour for the big guy, huh?) (If any of you are gasping and calling me a nincompoop, shut up! This is my recipe and I retain the poetic license! Humph!)

Sweat it for about 5 minutes and add about 3 large chopped tomatoes. I like to give it a few squeezes after I have chopped it so that the juices come out. Also it's always fun to squeeze things I think.

 Let it cook for about 5 minutes with the lids closed.

In the meantime, take a green pepper (or a red pepper or a yellow pepper. Like I said, nothing really matters!) and with the intention of roasting it, place it on the stove and let it fire away. Ignore any malodours that emanate from the pepper at this point.

About a minute before it looks like this, take it off the heat and julienne half of it. Leave the other half of it.

In case you over - roast like I did, just chop up the whole thing and add it to the pasta because your family might not take too kindly to you ruining yet another thing. Because it doesn't make a difference to the taste. And of course, the more the merrier.

Take out some wine from your stash and add a generous swig.

If you're like me and add way too much, you are allowed to take a straw and sip out the excess. But in my defense, I was only trying to take a photograph of the flowing wine. It's not really my fault that it took 3 shots for me to realize that I had poured all the wine in and still didn't have the shot. But it's all good. Repeat after me. The. More. The. Merrier.

There you go.

Now have a go at tasting it.

If it tastes too bitter (possibly from the burnt peppers) or too sour (a tad too much wine perhaps?) or just plain bland, you're on the right track. Because now is when my herbs and spices enter the stage.

First a deed for the brave of heart. Take 3 green chillies, roll up your sleeves and break them into pieces and crush them with your bare fingers. I tell you, there is nothing else that you could do that could make you feel as heroic. Trust me on this. Chilly breaking is a primal experience and I think it should be a mandatory right of passage into adulthood. I am so making my kids perform this before I let them drive. I plan on being the best mother in the world! And as for you and me, we'll talk after you break chillies as well.

Add salt to taste and 1 tsp of ground pepper. 

Take some dried basil (or fresh) and add to the pan liberally. Repeat with oregano. Repeat with red chilly powder. (Yes, you heard me!)

Now let me tell you a little about herbs. The basic rule of food is, 'When in doubt, season some more.' You would do well to follow my advice.

So keep adding the basil, oregano and red chilly powder and keep tasting.  After about 3 rounds and you still don't feel right, it is probably time to stop. Your sauce is probably ruined beyond redemption. But usually, somewhere in the process, the sauce takes on a new life and starts tasting amazing. This did happen today. you can now pat yourself on your back and pour yourself a fresh glass of wine to celebrate.

Add the cooked fusili, using water from the pan to get the right consistency.

Check for seasoning again and always remember the adage. ('When in doubt, season some more.')

Also remember that nothing really matters. (I bet you didn't realize that a discourse with me would involve issues of such depth, spiritually. Welcome to my world child!)

Now eat your food. And  enjoy the wine if that is the only good thing about the meal. Which I can tell you is usually not the case because the pasta is good.


1. The reason my weighing scales show the number that it does is because I have a compulsive urge to cook and everything that I make becomes a mess, at least visually if not taste wise, and I need to eat it up before my mother comes home and tells me again how I should not be cooking but only exercising and lists reasons for saying it, starting with her number 1 point of me wasting thing (which has nothing really to do with my weight so I think she is usually full of crap!). So really, I blame it all on my mother.

2. I don't think I could ever be a cook. It's too unpredictable and I am not sure I want to subject the world to it. Except on this blog. :)

3. If I keep eating all the trash I cook, I might get an embolism. Or somnambulism. Both are less pretty than my food.

4. My mother might throw me out if I tell her that I cooked, ate and finished one more dish. She will either know that I have ruined the dish or think that I don't care about her to even save her a bite. Poor mommy! :(

5. The best the for me and the world would be that I stop cooking. Ha ha ha ha. Ok. Never gonna happen.

I rest my case.

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