Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Tao of Empty Kitchen Pasta

I have been a hermit recently and it’s all art’s fault. Aside from the Cute Gardener and my daughter, art is the third thing I love most in life and I recently embarked on a rather ambitious artwork that has me suddenly acting very antisocial living behind drawn drapes in the same painted pajama dresses everyday. Because of this, and the ensuing mighty macro obsession my project has been extruding from my every living pore, my cupboards and refrigerator have become strikingly bare. What happens is I will wake up hungry but get sucked into blending the perfect color for a background; or I will remember that I haven’t eaten at noon and hop on my bike without thinking in true zombie style, colors and textures still on my brain (amazingly roving the streets to a market without getting hit by a car) and buying one pint of soy ice cream without thinking to shove in increments down my throat once back at home as if I hadn’t really even gone anywhere to begin with. It’s a vicious cycle but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because of this, I have found myself making endless pasta dishes over the past few weeks because that’s the only thing I usually have a plethora in my kitchen alongside scattered, random ingredients that can be easily and spontaneously thrown together.

Here are two versions of my Empty Kitchen Pasta that have emerged from my self-inflicted grocery drought. The principles are easy, much like everything in the kitchen sink breakfast burritos, I only need to choose a pasta, pick a few ingredients to include, pop open the good olive oil, and not forget the salt and pepper. The possibilities are endless and could literally take me all the way down to just butter, salt and pepper before I peel myself off my project and out the door.

There is one trick to this though. You have to treat every ingredient special and take care to extrude the beauty out of it alone before combining into a final pasta dish. This allows you to actually make something great out of nothing while not just filling yourself with a bowl of blah boiled carbs.

The first version is baked like macaroni and cheese and is like an all-American hot dog or hamburger turned into a pasta. I could see it being served at a tailgate party.


1-1/2 cup cherry or grapette tomatoes
¼ of a polska kielbasa sausage (or any other pre-cooked sausage you have around)
4 oz. whole-wheat pasta
1 cup grated cheddar (even though any cheese will work and parmesan is always preferred!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. mustard seed
2 tbls. Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Roast the cherry or grapette tomatoes on a cookie sheet sprinkled with the mustard seed and a tablespoon of olive oil till they pop—about 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

When the tomatoes are done, boil the pasta.

Meanwhile in a toaster oven, slice the kielbasa lengthwise in half and cook at 350 for about ten minutes until blistering. Then dice up into tiny pieces and caramelize the edges on the stovetop along with the garlic in the last tablespoon of olive oil in a nine-inch baking dish.

When the garlic and sausage are sufficiently browned, add in the cooked pasta, cheese, tomatoes and toss it all. Bake at 350 for about fifteen minutes and then serve.


(Yes, in an extremely desperate moment, I actually made pasta for breakfast. Throwing in an egg made me feel justified in that decision.)

4 sundried tomatoes, soaked in water for ten minutes to plump and then dabbed dry with a paper towel
2 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti
3 cloves minced garlic
1 egg
1 tbls. olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling water. Meanwhile, heat garlic and sundried tomatoes in the olive oil until browned and blended. When pasta is done, drain it and add it to the tomatoes and garlic. Swish it around to sop up all the olive oil. Throw an egg in and whisk around so it cooks all over the spaghetti and coats the pasta strands. Salt and pepper and voila!

Thankfully, the CG does seduce me out into the world on weekends for alternatives to pasta. And unfortunately I am running out of pasta so it’s high time to get out the door and to an actual store.

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