I really enjoyed pepper week. With squash and mushrooms I knew what I was up against since they’d been forced down my throat before, but I went into the battle with peppers armed with a lot of misinformation. That shit’ll getcha killed. Fortunately, peppers are but weak, meek little vegetables and I dominated them with my cunning and sheer determination to win, win, win.
I cooked my last pepper meal, Beth’s roasted pepper pasta, last night and it was about as cumbersome as Melissa’s stuffed peppers. It wasn’t hard, but it was time consuming and involved several moving parts. I can only do about one part at a time when I’m cooking—I read and re-read recipes, I check and re-check ingredients, I wash and re-wash the cutting board—so dinner took a long, long, long time to get all those parts cranking to a slow crawl. And I knew pepper pasta would take a while, but I wasn’t in a hurry and that just gave me more time to….what the? Is David hovering? Is he rushing me?
Friends. Don’t hover. I had just gotten the peppers turned in the oven and the water boiling on the stove for the pasta (count that, two things going at once) when David said, “Do you think dinner will be ready by 8? There’s this band I want to see…” Then he started trying to help. I read somewhere once that positive reinforcement techniques used in animal training also work on people; the woman who wrote the article tried it on her husband when he was hovering in the kitchen, so I tried it on David. I directed him to the other side of the counter, cut up some cheese and crackers, put them in front of him, and said, “Stay.” He did. Score.
For the next several minutes we discussed whether it would be OK to use Pecorino Romano in addition to or instead of parmesan because I was running low on parmesan, and I had a whole block of Romano from last week when I tried to make mushroom risotto but couldn’t find all the ingredients at the farmer’s market (I basically only found the cheese…I don’t know why I bought it even though I couldn’t find anything else and it was looking likely that I would abandon the risotto…oh, yes I do, because it’s cheese). While I was grating what was left of the parmesan, I remembered Sarah’s golden cheese gem from last week—when it looks like enough, add more. So I decided it would probably be necessary to use all the parmesan and a bit (or half) of the Romano.
So. The peppers were roasting, the water was boiling, the cheese was grated and….plates were spinning. It was definitely coming together. I was feeling confident. I read the recipe, assessed my ingredients, washed the cutting board again and then determined I had enough time to throw a load of laundry in the wash before I had to read the recipe and wash the cutting board again.
I was feeling so proud when I was in the laundry room, singing self-congratulatory tunes to myself about how great I am (it was my own private party drenched in delusions of grandeur…the very best goddamn kind). I was cooking. I was cleaning. I was eating grown up food. I was reminding myself to tell David to tell me he was proud of me, too, when I heard, “MAGGIE!”
Maggie. The dog.
David said, “Hey, you had decided you were cool with Pecorino Romano, right?”
Then he made kissy faces at the dog, who had just eaten what was left of my parmesan. David and Maggie totally fucked up my mojo last night. I directed them both to the living room and instead of treats I gave them evil looks. “Stay.”
Beth’s roasted pepper pasta meal really is easy. There’s not a ton to do; it’s mostly a lot of sitting around and waiting for the peppers to bake or roast or whatever, a little bit of reading the recipe a thousand times, and then, right at the very end, everything comes together very quickly. Or at least it did for me. Or at least, I felt totally frantic trying to get everything just so and timed just right and just, just, just. But of course, I’m still me and I still don’t know how to cook, so there was just no way in hell I was going to get all those parts moving in my favor. I should probably also take this opportunity to mention that I only know how to cook at one temperature and one speed: hot and fast. I don’t really understand the physics of cooking, but it seems to me if you turn everything on high heat it will get done faster. Right? Many, many meals of mine have gone south (very quickly) this way. At least it was fast. So, right when everything was coming together—the pasta was cooked and drained, the peppers were peeled and diced—I burned the shit out of the garlic I was sautéing (it was absolutely the first time in my life I’ve ever “sautéed” anything). Seriously. Who came up with that word? Sauté?
So, I put everything else away, aside, on hold, and did what works for me: one thing at a time. I stood there and sautéed garlic. Slowly. On medium heat. It took forever. A minute or two at least. Then I added the pasta and peppers and voila….the hardest easy pasta meal you’ll ever make.
I really, really, really, really, really, really liked the roasted pepper pasta. We ate it all. All of it. Every last bit. I liked it so much better than pasta with red sauce. And I know I keep saying each meal was my favorite meal yet, but really, this was it, it’s my favorite so far. Beth has agreed to let me share the recipe here, so, enjoy!
3 large peppers (1 yellow, 2 orange)
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 package spaghetti noodles
- Heat oven to 450. Put peppers on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Use tongs to turn peppers over. Bake for 20 more minutes. They will look burntish.
- Remove peppers from oven. Chuck them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Wait 5 minutes.
- Boil salted water and make spaghetti noodles according to package directions.
- Pour cold water in the bowl with the peppers.
- Pull the skin off of the peppers and remove seeds. This is all done, very easily, with your hands. Cut peppers into chunks.
- Mince or press garlic clove.
- Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic and saute until just golden. Add peppers and drained pasta and toss to coat.
- Serve with grated Parmesan cheese. (I obviously used Pecorino Romano, and it was great.)