I need a nap. No, seriously, I need a nap. It’s 3:30 on Saturday afternoon and that is usually my nap time. Instead, I’m laying on the couch writing this post because I feel so bad that it has, once again, been a few days since I’ve graced you guys with my awesomeness. (Sorry, I went a little overboard, I can’t help it)
We’ve been running all around the surrounding areas of Indianapolis today. We started 8:30 this morning in Zionsville for their farmer’s market (which I can’t wait to make dinner with the ingredients I got there and even more, I can’t wait to share it with you!), then the wine store, then ran to my work to show everyone the puppy (Cash went with us this morning, he was quite a hit), then to my parents to ride on their new Vespa scooter, then home, then lunch, Petco, Party City and then finally, the grocery store for some milk and cream for dinner. What!? It’s ridiculous how much we end up doing with our free days. Running errands takes so much time. But it’s been a fun day so far and it’s going to get so much better with what I’m making for dinner.
Speaking of dinner…
Last week I made this incredibly, wonderfully, delicious pasta and tomato sauce. I’ve made it about 3 times before and every time I eat it, I fall more in love with it.
Now, I’ve never been out of the country. Oh wait, yes I have, I’ve been to Mexico… but I’ve never been to Europe. I so desperately want to go to France and Italy one day and it’s because of the food. I can guarantee when we go, I’ll probably gain a good 10 pounds because all I will do is eat. Anyway… the point of me saying all of this is that this pasta is what I would imagine you would find in France or Italy.
It’s so simple, has so few ingredients but tastes so fresh and is so unbearably good. It’s not your jarred tomato sauce or sauce that you make with canned tomatoes… Nope. This is FRESH tomato sauce. With whole tomatoes (from our farmstand-style market), garlic, basil and olive oil (and a pad or two of butter, just for good measure). I think you should be warned that this dish has serious potential to blow your mind.
I’m not kidding.
(I have the prettiest pans ever ^)
While it’s not the quickest meal to make, if you set aside the time to make it, you will forever thank yourself. There’s nothing technical about it, but I will tell you… there’s a lot of dish washing. Blah. But again, it’s worth it. Just trust me. If you have never had fresh tomato sauce (which I’ll admit, I hadn’t before finding this recipe. I usually used canned tomatoes) this is a serious must-make recipe. I couldn’t believe that I had been missing out for long.
Don’t even bother sending me Thank You notes. You’ll be too busy scarfing this pasta down. I understand, don’t worry.
Naked Tomato Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen with pretty much no changes at all.
3 pounds of Roma or plum tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Small handful of basil leaves (I used about 6), some left whole, some sliced for garnish
1/4 cup olive oil
12 ounces of pasta (I recommend NOT using whole wheat pasta. It just doesn’t work well with this. You need the real, good stuff)
1 or 2 tablespoons of butter (please, whatever you do, don’t skip this part)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut an “X” at the bottom of each tomato. Blanch the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10-30 seconds (I definitely had to go on the longer side). When the skin starts to peel away at the X, spoon them out and either rinse under cold water or shock them in ice water. Peel the skins away and discard. You can use the leftover water to cook the pasta in, however, mine had a lot of tomato bits in it so I dumped it.
Cut each tomato in half and spoon out all the seeds and put in a strainer over a bowl. Discard the seeds, keep the juices though.
Add tomatoes and salt to a large saucepan over medium heat. Mash the tomatoes with a potato masher, or by hand to get the preferred consistency of the sauce. You can always mash more later.
Bring the sauce to a boil, once that happens bring the temp back done and let it simmer for a good 35-45 minutes. If the sauce looks a little dry, add some of the reserved tomato juices.
In the meantime, in a small sauce pan over the lowest possible heat, pour in the olive oil, garlic and basil leaves. Heat until it all comes to a simmer. Remove the basil leaves and the garlic and set aside.
Once the tomato sauce has been simmering for a good 25 minutes, start cooking your pasta to the packages directions. Once it’s cooked, drain the pasta, but save about 1/2 cup of the pasta water in case you need it later.
Once the sauce has been simmering for 35-45 minutes and is the consistency you would like, stir in the olive oil and pasta. Let that simmer for just a couple minutes, adding the pasta water if you feel necessary. At the last minute add the butter and give it one last stir. Serve immediately with the sliced basil for garnish (I skipped this). This tastes just as good the next day for lunch too!
Ok… so I have come to a conclusion. I am clearly not myself when Brad is away on business trips. He left on Monday and came home late Thursday night and only one night of those 4 did I actually cook something. But it sucked and had to throw it away. I attempted to make enfrijoladas, but unfortunately I found myself eating one and then throwing the rest of the pan away (I made half the recipe though, so it was slightly more ok than if I made a whole recipe). It had it reasons for not turning out well though and they were my fault. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (I used what I had in the house, which means corn tortillas and not enough cheese) so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Plus, it was just… blah.
But my point of the story is that I spent most of my time working, walking Etta and Cash, feeding them, running them outside to pee, cleaning up Cash’s kennel, washing Cash’s towels multiple times a day, listening to him bark and cry, and shouting “Cash, NO” every 10 seconds when I would catch him chewing on everything in (and out) of our home. I was utterly exhausted. So to no one’s surprise, I wasn’t in the mood for slaving away over a meal, especially when I was woken up at 6:15 every morning, moving non-stop throughout the day and couldn’t start cooking until about 7:30 at night.
It was rough. That’s the point of my story, actually. (I’m so dramatic) But I found myself craving mac and cheese and mashed potatoes and frozen pizza and everything but what I had planned to eat. I craved unhealthy food, didn’t do our Tough Mudder workout (we took the whole week off and I can absolutely tell) and didn’t want to touch a baking dish, saucepan, or even open the oven unless it involved putting a pizza in or taking it out. I wouldn’t say that I was lazy… because I certainly was NOT with the dogs (2 long walks a day, sometimes with both of them together, sometimes with them separate is the opposite of lazy), but I realized I felt weird… cooking for myself is not nearly as fun as cooking for someone else. And that is why, when he came home, I felt like cooking again!
Enter: this meal. We had spent most of the day at the track on Friday (for those of you who are confused, I’m talking about the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500 practice and qualifications) and Saturday and so I wanted to make sure we had something simple to make. When you come home from being in the scorching heat all day, cooking an elaborate meal is not exactly at the top of your list.
I had made this meal a few months ago and thought I would bring it back out due to it’s incredible easiness and deliciousness. I started to panic though when I opened the pantry to grab pasta only to find that we had about 1/4 cup of elbow macaroni, a couple lasagna noodles, half a package of buckwheat noodles, 1/2 cup of quinoa and half a bag of Amish egg noodles. Welp… egg noodles it was (actually, I had Brad choose which we should have and he chose egg noodles). I was worried that it might be weird since I’ve only used the egg noodles in chicken noodle soup, but to my surprise, they worked quite well! They were far better than I thought they would be! Needless to say, though, I bought pasta at the grocery store today.
This pasta dish is delicious! And if you don’t want to or don’t have a grill, it works great under the broiler! (Actually, that’s what we used because one of the wheels was falling off our grill so we avoided using it that night. We got it taken care of though, no worries.) Anyway… it’s such a simple meal to make. The most labor intensive thing you have to do is slice the zucchini. Woop-di-do. It’s a great, quick meal for a weeknight but it would go over super well with any gathering of friends or family. It also makes a perfect Meatless Monday meal. But you could add grilled chicken or maybe even grilled shrimp if you wanted to for a little something extra!
Plus, it has artichokes. Need I say more?
Grilled Zucchini, Artichoke and Cherry Tomato Pasta
Makes 2-4 servings
1 can quartered artichokes, drained
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2″ thick slices
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
1/2 pound egg noodles or any other pasta of your choice
Cook pasta according to directions on package.
On a greased baking sheet or grill pan (to go on the grill) toss artichokes, zucchini and cherry tomatoes in a couple tablespoons of olive oil (I just drizzle it until it looks like enough) and salt and pepper. Place on grill or under broiler until vegetables are soft and starting to get a nice char.
Serve pasta on a plate with veggies spooned over top. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil if desired.
Ok… so I apologize for it being a whole freaking however many days since I wrote a post. I think the last one I wrote was Thursday or Friday. Allow me to explain what has happened….
Brad and I may or may not have adopted an 8 week old puppy. Ok… we DID adopt an 8 week old puppy. I have learned that having an 8 week old puppy is something like having a baby. Only…. you have to take the puppy outside 50 times a day and walk it 7 times a day as well. Oh and it barks and cries and pees on your floor. And it drinks water by the gallon. And it tries to eat everything in sight. Babies don’t do any of that right? . . .
So as you can imagine, it’s a little hard to focus on writing a post when you have a miniature terrorizing tornado in your house running around chewing and peeing on everything and trying to play rough with Etta. And that my friends, is why I haven’t written in a few days. Oh wait… he just peed on the floor. Hang on.
Ok… deep breaths.
I have still been cooking though! Nothing to worry about there! In honor of Cinco De Mayo, this weekend we had Mexican! Shocking! We loaded up on margaritas, queso, guacamole, and southwestern egg rolls (that counts right?). SO the next 3 posts after this will probably be Mexican related! Yay!
We make guacamole probably once a week. Wait, maybe once every 2 weeks. The other week we make salsa. They are our two favorite things to eat. You really can’t go wrong with either. Now, I know we all think we have the best recipe for guacamole, but I have news for you. I actually do make the best guacamole. So… sorry, but yours probably isn’t as good as mine.
It’s terribly simple too (simple is always best). All that’s required are avocados, tomatoes, cilantro and lime! That’s it! And all of that seriously makes the best guacamole ever. You have to keep in mind though that guacamole is always best right after you make it (that’s what I think anyway). I won’t eat it the next day because it gets all gross and brown aannnnnd I don’t like it super cold. Room temp is best for me! So don’t go making batches of guacamole thinking it’ll last you for the week. Because, well, it just won’t. But you might eat it all anyway in one sitting, so I guess just make as much as you want.
2 ripe avocados (not too ripe because then they are nasty and brown inside)
1 small vine-ripe tomato (those are usually smaller)
1/2 – 1 whole lime, juiced
1 big handful of cilantro, stems removed
Cut the avocados in half and take the pit out. Scoop the insides into a bowl and mash a little with a fork. Finely dice the tomato and add to the avocados. Add lime juice (start off with 1/2 of the lime. I like a lot of lime in mine so I usually use a whole lime). Coarsely chop the cilantro and add to the bowl. Mix all together. Some people add salt, but I think the saltiness of the chips is enough. That’s it! Dip your chips and you are ready to feast!