Monday, January 24, 2011
In a near-perfect world, my evenings would unfold something like this. I'd bike or stroll home from my personally fulfilling and financially rewarding job to our spacious modern apartment. There, I'd survey the array of fine fresh and local ingredients and assemble dinner in my state-of-the-art kitchen. We would enjoy this fine repast, along with a bottle of good wine, while leisurely taking in our magnificent views from our floor-to-ceiling windows and trading bon mots over our vintage harvest table.
The reality is a bit like the bizzaro version of the above. It's from another dimension and has a goatee. In this one, I ride the crowded, hot subway from work, squeeze in an hour or so at the cramped, sweaty gym, rush home for a shower, open a beer and consider what we can scrape together from the fridge that can be both tasty and fast enough to make so as not to scupper the remainder of our evening.
I'm sure a lot of people can relate: if not, our supermarkets wouldn't be filled with horrible, and horribly over-packaged, "meals in minutes" and the multi-million dollar convenience food industry would not be seeing its profits expand with the waistlines of its customers. Still, I have a hard time sympathizing with the frozen dinner crowd. Yes, we all have busy lives, but there's simply no reason in my book to eat that kind of shit. Not when magazines and the internet are full of quick and easy recipes using fresh ingredients (and yes, it's great to eat local when you can but I'd really rather see people eating fresh produce from Mexico than, say, a roast beef that you can cook in your microwave in 15 minutes. What the hell is that?). Or when anyone with a few culinary brain cells to rub together can ad lib something edible in half an hour. That's how long it took me to pull this together, which yields taste completely disproportionate to the effort involved.
Roasted garlic and tomato pasta with goat cheese and arugula
2 pints grape tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
8 ounces shaped pasta, such as penne or shells
1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
A lump of goat cheese (depending on how much you like goat cheese)
A couple of fistfuls of arugula or spinach
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place tomatoes, garlic, shallots, and thyme on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tomatoes burst, shallots are browned, and garlic is soft, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.
Peel roasted garlic and mash with the flat side of a chef's knife. Add to pasta pot, along with vegetables, olives, and pasta water. Cook over medium-high until sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Let cool slightly, then toss with arugula.
See also: Sunday in the Pot