Dinner 8/28/22

Pappardelle with roasted tomato sauce and sausage

Every year for at least the last 15 years, I have made a batch of roasted tomato sauce in late August or early September. I usually make a large batch and freeze a couple of containers’ worth of sauce to use for a while, but this year I only made a half-batch. It came out really thick and dark this year, with deep flavor. Maybe the best batch I’ve made in several years. I like to use it with baked pasta dishes, but I had a package of pappardelle in the cupboard and thought it might be good with the big noodles. I browned up half a pound of Italian sausage and added it to about 2/3 cup of the sauce and let that simmer to meld the flavor, then combined it with the cooked pasta and few tablespoons of the pasta water.

I am thinking of using some as a base to add to a lighter tomato sauce for something like chicken cacciatore. I love chicken baked in tomato sauce, and I think the hearty roasted sauce will be perfect with onions and peppers.

Dinner 8/8/22

Fettucine with tomatoes and feta

We really love the zero-effort baked feta and tomatoes pasta sauce that hit the internet in a viral TikTok video in 2020. My wife made this for dinner earlier this week using a container of multi-colored grape tomatoes, along with some garlic and fresh basil, and using fettucine as the pasta. Having made it several times, we agreed that Campari tomatoes are the best ones to use in this dish, but our superamarket does not always have them. If you can’t find Campari tomatoes either, the next best choice is regular cherry tomatoes. Any block feta will do, but don’t use crumbled.

This is the first time we’ve used fettucine, and I have to say I think it’s the perfect choice. The finished sauce loves the flat noodles. We also liked it with bucatini, although that shape is usually associated with Amatriciana sauce. of course, spaghetti will work, if that’s all you have.

Dinner 4/3/22

Spaghetti alla carbonara with spinach

Just a quick Sunday night dinner. The pasta carbonara recipe I use originally came from Emeril Lagasse, and makes for a great meal with very little effort. I prefer to use fettucine, but we didn’t have any on hand. Plus, I had some leftover spinach in the fridge, so I sauteed it with the bacon and garlic. I keep meaning to get some guanciale from the cheese shop, but have yet to remember to do so when we’re actually there.

The skillet was still a little too warm when I added the eggs, so there were a few scrambled bits, but not too much. The spaghetti does not hold the sauce nearly as well as fettucine, so it was not quite as silky as one might like. But, since the alternative was Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, this was fine for a low-key dinner.

Dinner 12/23/21

Potato gnocchi with butter, sage and garlic

Another impromptu dinner for one. Some store-bought potato gnocchi tossed in butter with some chopped sage, chopped garlic, and a little grated Parmesan on top. I managed to forget to save a little pasta water when I drained the gnocchi, because I wasn’t paying attention, and I think it would have made things a little saucier, but it was still plenty tasty. My wife grew a planter of fresh herbs this summer, and though we are late into December, there was still some sage growing. so I used some of that.

I’ve only ever made gnocchi from scratch once, when I was in cooking school. We even used the little ridged board so they would come out with the traditional shape. But that’s optional, and it’s perfectly acceptable to just make little pillow-shaped ones with a knife, I’ve just never gotten around to it. These were perfectly acceptable as is, and it seems like other than bragging rights, there’s no compelling reason to make them from scratch.

Dinner 12/13/21

Bucatini with Tuna Sauce and Capers

I have really scaled back my cooking over the last 6-8 months because my evening commute sometimes doesn’t get me home until 6:30, and because once I did get home, I was often too tired to be bothered. Moreover, withour daughter away at college, cooking for two, when one of those people is a fussy eater, felt like a chore. Nevertheless, I do cook dinner one or two nights a week, as time, energy level and interest permit.

This was an improvised meal I made just for myself, because my wife wasn’t hungry. There was a little bucatini in the cupboard from another easy meal we like (the famous TikTok Feta and Tomato Pasta), and several cans of tuna. I made a basic white sauce and added a can of tuna (drained) to that, then combined it with the pasta and about 1/3 cup of the pasta cooking water. I threw in some capers to add a little acidity, then some grated Parmesan on top.

I learned the pasta water trick from watching Lidia Bastianich’s cooking shows. It works for just about any kind of sauce you have, helping it coat the pasta better and enriching the mouthfeel of the sauce.

Bucatini is a fun pasta, and great with a creamy sauce like this, but I think this would work with shells, orichiette, or even elbow macaroni. The bucatini made it feel a little more elevated and a little less like tuna noodle casserole.