Saturday night seems to be that night of the week that my brain completely shuts down and has no clue what to cook for dinner. If I had my way, my four year old would sustain herself on the protein that she picks from her nose. I’m pretty sure that my six year old could figure out something from the bottom drawer of the refrigerator (think cheese and salami). Thankfully, I thought ahead and made my marinara sauce to wait for me in the freezer for these very days. I figured out my brain was on full shut down mode when I grabbed the can opener and actually placed it on the wine bottle to open it. Yes you read that right. So, pasta night it became. I opted to go with no meat tonight, my Buddhist vegetarian sister would be so proud.
Let’s begin with the basics; pasta preparation. I know many people who insist on putting oil in their water so that the noodles don’t stick together. I also know people who immediately rinse their noodles in fresh water. You don’t need to do either of these “tricks” for your noodles. The trick is to use an adequate size pot with enough water and a good handful of kosher salt. I typically shove my hand in the salt pig to grab about 2-3 tablespoons of salt. Bring the water to a full boil and then add in the pasta. Follow package directions for the amount of time for the noodle you are using. I like my noodles to be al dente (to the tooth), when in doubt bite a noodle to try it out. I tend to not use a strainer once my noodles are done and merely pour off as much water as I can.
Yes, you could use the basic marinara sauce recipe as is if you want or you could be like me and tweak with it. I decided to dice up half of a red pepper and a green pepper, slice up the five organic mushrooms that my husband picked up from Homegrown Market, sliced up kalamata olives, added in about 2 tablespoons of capers, and about 1/4 cup red wine (I was drinking Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 this particular night). I let this come to a simmer and just before serving I added in finely chopped flat leaf parsley and basil. Top with freshly grated Parmigino Reggiano (please splurge for this) and you have an excellent meal. Enjoy and here’s to those thoughtless nights.