Here’s that meatball recipe.

These are the meatballs that Tracy‘s vegetarian boyfriend ate, like, four of. They’re that good, they convert the herbivores. She asked me for the recipe – “they’re like my nonna’s!” she exclaimed – but I explained that there wasn’t one, you just use a little of this and a bit of that, you know?

And then Nick’s sister asked for the recipe, and Sooin did too, and they wanted to know if it was on this site, and I said no, it wasn’t, because it’s the kind of thing you just make. You need a recipe for these? I asked, and people nodded yes. I thought they were everyone’s meatballs. Apparently they are my meatballs, and they are delicious.

I’m a little bit biased though. I mentioned a little while ago that if you were bent on seducing me (and you hadn’t already fed me too much wine, which is my favourite), meatballs would get you most of the way there. I don’t know what it is about them; meatballs, in all their forms, make me sublimely happy. There are probably hundreds of ball jokes to be pulled from that statement, but I stand by it.

So anyway, some friends came for dinner tonight, and I decided that we would have spaghetti and meatballs, because it is one of my favourite things and I like to share it, and I wanted to write the recipe down at last. Really, I’m pretty sure that they’re everyone’s meatballs. There’s no secret to them. But in case they are special, or different, or if you’re looking to score, here’s the recipe.

The meatballs

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (not extra-lean – please, not extra-lean)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. (rounded) fat (butter or bacon fat, or olive oil if you want)
  • 1 tbsp. (rounded) tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Combine all of your ingredients in a large bowl. Squish it all together with your hands to ensure that crumbs and eggs are thoroughly combined. Don’t worry if the meat looks like it isn’t – it’s better to have the meat sort of separate, so that you can taste pork and beef distinctly. And you must use your hands. There is no other way.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Roll meat mixture into balls roughly an inch and a half in diameter. This recipe makes about two dozen – if you have many more, your balls are too small. (Snicker.) And the reverse is true too. Place balls on baking sheet.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

And here’s where it gets interesting.

If you’re just feeding you and another person, or maybe two smaller, miniature persons, then use a dozen, or fewer, and freeze the rest.

If you’re insane and for some reason always end up feeding tons of people even though you’re poor and hardly anyone ever invites you to their homes for dinner even though you’re very nice and don’t always guzzle the wine or step on the cat, cook them all, but double your sauce recipe and use the two-pound bag of spaghetti.

Because these are deceptively large, I would bet that no one will be able to eat more than three. Four is pushing it.

For sauce, there are lots of options. A sauce I am loving right now is tomato sauce with onion and butter from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. In the summer, I use my special slow-cooked tomato sauce, and it’s very nice then too. Tonight, I made a simple sauce of one onion and three cloves of garlic sweated in olive oil, two 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, simmered for forty minutes, then salt, pepper, and basil stirred in right at the end. Keep it simple with the sauce – these are hearty meatballs, and they will be the star of the dish. Stew the meatballs in the sauce for about twenty minutes before serving; they’ll cut the acidity of the tomatoes, and they’ll warm up nicely all on their own.

There it is. See how easy? So easy. Really inexpensive. No reason not to make them for me. I’ll bring dessert. And wine. And soft slippers, because of the cat.

Turnip? Rutabaga? Whatever, just turn it into dinner.

Sunday was our first wedding anniversary. Time flies – that’s now two years of togetherness, though Nick says he’s sure it must have been longer. Nope. Two years, almost to the day, and one year of marriedness, and we spent our anniversary in much the same way we’ve spent most of our days – almost completely out of money more than a week before payday, in the rain, with some of our favourite people.

We went to The Glen at Maple Falls this weekend, which is somewhere near Mount Baker in Washington, and spent three rainy days with a few good friends. The food was fatty, the beer was cheap, and for some reason we all got a little too caught up in the figure skating championships on TV. I blame the cheap American dairy, which was delicious, for the glassy-eyed stupor that befell us all. I ate a pint of ice cream from the dairy on the way down. There must be something magical about American cattle, because we don’t have ice cream like that up here. Egg nog swirl? GENIUS. Maybe the grass is actually greener down south? Could be.

Anyway, last night was our anniversary, and I had intended to turn the turnip into something magical, but Paul’s car had a little bit of trouble on the way home, and, long story short, we ended up pushing it across the border. Canadians really are very nice, and we were grateful for our good-humoured border guard. And as we waited for the tow truck, and then Paul’s sister, and then the SkyTrain ride home, what was going to be an elaborate meal got shelved for an easy bit of soup instead. Until tonight.

Tonight. Chelsea came over, and then Paul, and then we celebrated appropriately – with butter and beer and wine and cheese and this little turnip thing that’s actually kind of a big deal.

I’m going to give you the recipe, but keep in mind that it makes a lot of pasta and I ended up freezing half. Double the sauce recipe if you’re feeding eight, and boil the full amount of gnocchi. If you make the full batch of pasta and you’re only feeding four, you’ll end up with too much to eat, even for lunches the next day.

You can freeze uncooked gnocchi for up to one month – you’ll certainly use it before that. Halve the recipe if you’ve got a smaller turnip (you’ll need a bit more flour because you can’t halve an egg, so adjust as needed), and keep the sauce the same.

Turnip gnocchi

  • 1 2 lb. turnip, peeled, cooked, and puréed
  • 2 tbsp. crème fraîche (bonus points if you made your own; if you’re without, you can use yogurt or sour cream)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup for rolling and kneading, reserved

Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 head roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped and toasted (there are more hazelnuts in the picture above than are listed here because I find I have to make more than I need because I’ll eat half of the nuts laid out for the recipe no matter what. You do what you have to do, you know?)
  • 2 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

I used a food processor, but that’s because it’s Monday night, and at 7:00 pm you just don’t have all day. You don’t have to – if you don’t, though, this might be a recipe better suited to a weekend when you have a bit more time.

Thoroughly combine turnip, crème fraîche, egg, and spices in a large bowl. Gradually stir in flour until dough is formed.

Sprinkle reserved flour on a large surface. Cut dough in half, and form each half into baseball-sized pieces. Roll each piece until it’s about one half-inch in diameter. Slice half-inch chunks, dropping slices onto a cookie sheet until you’re ready to drop the lot into a pot of boiling water. As mentioned, I only used half of this, and froze the rest. But that’s because I only ever have to feed four people.

Boil for eight to ten minutes, in salted water, until gnocchi rise to the top.

In a large pan, melt the butter, and add the uncooked garlic, until you can just smell the buttery garlickness, until the garlic is just slightly golden. Squish in your roasted garlic, and add your gnocchi. Toss to coat.

Let simmer for two to three minutes, then toss with sage and hazelnuts. Let sit for another minute. Grate a bit of cheese over top, and season to taste.

Grate a little bit more cheese over top and sprinkle a bit of nutmeg over before serving. This ends up being quite an inexpensive, very filling feast, one that’s redolent of autumn warmth, especially now that it’s starting to feel a lot like winter. Perfect for an anniversary, or even the day after, with your favourite person or a few of them. Just enough turnip, more than enough but not too much garlic, and butter. You don’t need anything more, except maybe a dollop of that crème fraîche and a little bit of good wine.

There’s no reason why you can’t make gnocchi with any starchy, earthy thing you have on hand, and there’s no reason why you can’t make your own adventure when stranded a couple of hours from home. Both are the kind of thing you’ll surely talk about for a long while afterward.

This is not a post about turkey, because I’m not talking about leftovers yet.

It’s been another busy busy weekend, and we’re just at the end of it now. If you’re not Canadian, you probably didn’t do Thanksgiving this weekend, but up here, we celebrate in October. I don’t quite know why, because I had my head on my desk for much of Canadian history, because there is only so much one can hear about fur traders, and a certain amount less is all that can be absorbed by the brain and then retained. And I wanted to tell you what you should do with all that leftover turkey, but, to be honest? It can wait a day. Too much turkey all at once is why no one eats turkey at all the whole rest of the year. So leave the leftovers for now. We can talk about them tomorrow, or even the next day – they’ll still be there.

So instead of making turkey hash, sandwiches, curries, and soup, make fettuccine. With bacon and garlic. And since we’re very near first frost, gobble up the last of those heirloom tomatoes – they won’t be on the grocery shelves long. I inherited a five-pound bag of green tomatoes from my mom this weekend, and I’ve got big plans for them – I’ll tell you all about green tomato soup this week, I promise, and you’ll love it. But in the meantime, the red ones (and the yellow and orange and pink and striped ones) will be gone soon, and you must enjoy them while they last.

Tomatoes: The last of the fresh red ones for the season.Slice your tomatoes, and drizzle them with a little bit of good olive oil, a bit of your favourite vinegar, some chopped herbs, whatever kind, and a bit of cheese. And then set it aside, because in eleven minutes the rest of the feast will be ready.

You’ve probably been cooking all weekend, or at the very least doing a lot of things this weekend that took up a lot of your time, so pick up a package of fresh pasta. Dried pasta will work fine too, but dinner won’t be ready for sixteen minutes then, and you’ll want that extra five minutes for sitting and sipping wine and enjoying the quiet. You’ll be hovering over the stove souping up those leftovers soon enough.

Fettuccine Kind-of-Alfredo

  • 1 package fresh fettuccine noodles (350g or 3/4 lb.)
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup grated aged Gouda (or other hard aged cheese)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

While your pasta water is on its way to boiling, fry up your slices of bacon over medium-high heat.

When they are crisp and brown, reduce to medium, and add the butter and the garlic. About this time, the water should be boiling – dump in your pasta, and boil for three minutes. Right before the pasta is done, add the cream to your buttery garlicky bacon, and let simmer until the pasta is to your liking.

Dump the pasta into the frying pan, and then add the cheeses. I find that tongs are most useful for mixing this all together – you want the cheese to be melty but not sticky, and you don’t want the noodles to feel dry. If this has happened, add more cream. Nothing bad ever happens if you add a little bit more cream.

Once coated, toss with fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, with a side of sliced tomatoes, and revel in the easiness of this. This weekend marks the beginning of the eating season, which often means a lot of large, complicated meals that, while delicious, are an awful lot of work. There’s a lot to be said for lazy, hearty pasta dishes during this time of year – they’re like lulls, and you should certainly enjoy them (with wine).

The long shot.Busy week though last one was, I hope to be able to tell you about a lot of lovely things this week. It may be soup week, because I’ve got a bit of zucchini and onion that’s itching to be made into this spicy Korean thing that will surely kill any cold that threatens you, and that green tomato business that I mentioned before. And the stew. You want a showstopper stew that’s not actually all that much work but tastes like you slow-cooked it for two days? Got it, in a pumpkin. And maybe something with turkey, though there’s a lot to be said for freezing the leftovers for a week or two. Or three. Maybe I’ll haul it out to celebrate American Thanksgiving in a month or so. It’ll be about time for it again then, yes? I think that sounds about right. But I’ll let you know if anything changes. And in the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving!

The close-up.

Drunken Spaghetti.

Too arthritic and whiny to invest all that much time in cooking, I wanted something flavourful and soothing that I could make and eat in under 20 minutes. I wanted to watch Good Eats, and then Iron Chef, and then Star Trek in my pajamas, and not have to move once the food was done. Solution? Drunken spaghetti. Flavourful, fast, and quite a lovely garnet colour. A pleasure for all the senses, the lazy sense included.

Different. Easy.This recipe grew out of David Rocco’s recipe of the same name. Only this one involves more wine, and is much improved by boiling the noodles in a portion of the wine. Use a cheap but drinkable wine, one you’re not hugely fond of but would drink if you had to. The effect you’re going for here is a winy taste, but the heat is going to kill a lot of what makes the wine distinctive. That’s the idea. Save the good wine for pairing with this dish.

You could use a dry white wine if you wanted to, or if that’s what you had left over. I bet that would be quite nice as well, with asparagus.

Drunken Spaghetti

(Serves four to six. Adapted from David Rocco)

  • 1 lb. spaghetti
  • 3 cups of red wine (1 cup reserved)
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 anchovy fillets, chopped (you can omit these if you’d prefer it be vegetarian)
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. chopped capers
  • 2 tbsp. chili flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Bring two cups of the wine and six cups of water to a boil in a large pasta pot. Add the spaghetti, and cook for seven to eight minutes. You want this to be al dente, and you are going to finish it in the frying pan so don’t worry if it’s got a bit of bite to it.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, and add the anchovies, garlic, capers, and chili flakes. Sauté while the pasta cooks, five to seven minutes.

Once the pasta is about ready, drain it, and add your noodles to the frying pan. Pour in the remaining cup of wine, cooking until the wine has reduced and the spaghetti is done, another two to three minutes. Taste as you go to make sure you get the noodly doneness that you prefer.

Toss with parsley and cheese, and serve hot, with a dry, delicious red wine.Purple?

This is quite a good thing to make when you’re tired from too long a day. It’s easy, and you don’t need to do a lot to make it flavourful – it pretty much flavours itself. Literally. The wine does a fantastic job, and the salty bits and the cheese and the fresh parsley all add quite a lot without costing you much in the way of effort. From the time you set the pot on the stove to boil, it’s twenty minutes to cook, plate, and slip blissfully into your ass groove on the couch. Flavour aside, sometimes that’s the most important thing about a recipe.

Nice salt & pepper shakers.

Sweet potato gnocchi: Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you have to eat poverty food.

Sweet potato gnocchi with sundried tomatoes and basil.

When I called this thing “well fed, flat broke,” it was because payday was looming on the not-too-distant horizon and we had no money, but the quality of our meals did not suffer. And I thought it was appropriate, because even on nights when we literally have nothing left to show for all our hard work, we still manage to eat fantastically well.

This is in part due to my compulsive tendency to hoard when times are good – we always have a fridge full of basics that can be spun into something you’d want to eat. I think it’s also because our cute little existences would end in very clumsy suicide if we had to come home to Kraft Dinner and wieners every night once the cable’s been cut off (it has) and our astronomical debt rears its ugly head (it continues to). I cook because we love to eat, and because we don’t care to be reminded all the time about how many ways we suck (so stop calling, Canada Student Loans). A good meal makes us feel better, like regular people who are good at life and who manage to live on what they earn. A crappy meal reminds us that we are little more than 26- and 27-year-old children playing grown-up. So we are well fed.

And, today, we are flat broke.

But I have basil in the fridge, and sundried tomatoes, and sweet potatoes, and I felt like dining in a spot of sunshine and pretending I was anywhere else, and preferably somewhere where sand in my bathing suit would be my biggest worry at any given time. It’s very easy to indulge those fantasies – all you need is a little bit of preparation.

Oh! Before I get started, I wanted to show you what I mean by “two medium sweet potatoes.” I find that the size of vegetables is very subjective and varies from place to place and depends on what time of year it is.

I am aware of the unfortunate resemblance ... I wanted to show you the shot from the other angle, but at that point the resemblance wasn't merely unfortunate, it was uncanny, and sort of gross.
I am aware of the unfortunate resemblance.

Sweet potato gnocchi

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, baked (bake in a 400°F oven for one hour – cool completely before working with these … I recommend doing this the night before)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour (plus additional flour for kneading – the amount will depend on how much moisture is in your sweet potatoes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, mash your sweet potatoes. Add the flour, the egg, the orange zest, and the nutmeg, white pepper, and salt.

Ingredients.Mix these together until the whole thing forms a dough. It will be a very soft dough, which means that you will need to work a bit more flour into it. As mentioned, this amount is variable, and depends on how wet your potatoes are – I needed an additional cup, plus some to keep the gnocchi from sticking together once formed.

Once a dough is formed, divide it into six chunks of about equal size. I saved one, and threw the rest into the fridge to keep them cool while I worked. Roll the chunk out into a long dough snake. (Official term.) I rolled mine until it was about a half-inch in diameter. Then, cut the dough into small pieces, about half to three-quarters of an inch. If you know how to roll the gnocchi with a fork to make it look nice, go for it. If you’re like me and you just mangle the shit out of it, then you can call the little pieces done. Put them on a tray lined with floured parchment while you cut apart the rest of the dough.

Throw these in a pot of boiling water, and then when they rise to the top, they’re done, about seven minutes. You’ll probably end up with more than you can eat, and if that’s the case then you can freeze the uncooked gnocchi for another fun time.

Once cooked, I tossed these in a pan with two tablespoons melted butter, a 1/2 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes, a whole roasted garlic (with the cloves squished out), and a generous smattering of basil (reserve a bit to top the pasta with). I also threw in a handful of parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi in pan.Serve topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Imagine you’re somewhere drenched in sun that smells like lemons. Drink red wine. Eat. Enjoy.

It may not look like a lot, but this was remarkably filling. Nick couldn't even finish my leftovers.
It may not look like a lot, but this was remarkably filling. Nick couldn’t even finish my leftovers.

Bitochki stroganoff. Or, fresh herbs really shine through in a meatball.

Grace once said that fresh herbs really shine through in a meatloaf. It was right before the karaoke portion of the evening, so she was a little drunk, and the expression on her face, and the seven whiskey sours I’d had (Grace makes excellent whiskey sours), was enough to convince me that she was right, even if that same expression caused Nick to explode whiskey sour out of his mouth. On another evening, she made the fresh herb meatloaf, and it was true: Fresh herbs really do shine through in a meatloaf. Also, Grace makes fantastic meatloaf.

Fresh herbs from deck.And it’s just a few days before payday now, and my arthritis has been a bitch lately, and while it’s tempting just to eat off the McDonald’s extra-value menu for the next couple of days out of laziness and joint fatigue, I think it’s probably better (for our financial state and my general health) to eat food at home. And I have felt like pasta and mushrooms and meatballs, of late, and because we’re down to very few ingredients (but just the right ingredients to have a meal of pasta, mushrooms, and meatballs), it seems like time to use up what we have, and to make the most of it.

Bitochki, which sounds like a crunchy Russian swear, are actually Russian meatballs, and they are excellent in a creamy stroganoff sauce. Add some fresh herbs? Восхитительный!

The great thing about meatballs is that they’re easy to make when your hands barely work and you’re high on painkillers.

Bitochki: Russian Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 slices bread soaked in milk, squeezed dry and broken into hunks
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon (or thyme – thyme would be good too)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs

Stroganoff sauce

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup onions
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • Salt, to taste
  • Chopped chives and parsley, as much as you like

In a pan on the stove, caramelize the onion in the butter for the meatballs. This is important, and also delicious. If these were authentic, you’d use rendered fat from around a cow’s kidneys. But I don’t have any rendered beef kidney fat at the moment. Actually, you wouldn’t use the lemon zest or the tarragon either. Do it my way anyway. Fifteen minutes, minimum. When that’s done, take them off the stove.

Mix together the meatball ingredients, and once cool enough to handle, add your onions. Once again, it’s important to use your hands for meatballs. And if your hands are crippled and sore, the cold meat actually feels kind of nice. When your meatball mixture is, well, mixed, roll your meatballs – an inch in diameter is ideal, or close to the size of golf balls. Before throwing them into the pan, roll each ball in bread crumbs. A little paprika in your bread crumbs would probably be lovely.

Oil the onion pan, and fry the meatballs until browned on all sides. This takes longer for me than most people because I second-guess my playlist and have to keep running back and forth from the kitchen to skip the songs.

Meatballs!When the meatballs are done, put them on a pan and throw it into a warm oven. The idea here isn’t to cook them further, just to keep them warm while you make your sauce. Since I recommend serving this dish with noodles, you could probably put on a pot of pasta right about now as well. I like spaghetti. But you already knew that.

Pour the grease out of the onion/meatball pan, but don’t scrape the solids out. If the pan is quite dry, add butter, and throw in your other chopped onion. Soften, and add your mushrooms, adding water to caramelize the onions and soften the mushrooms. Once the mushrooms have soaked up all those delicious pan flavours (you may want to add a splash of water, just to help things along), add in your wine, milk, and your sour cream, as well as your pepper, nutmeg, and any salt. Stir together, and allow to simmer over medium-low heat until thick, and until your pasta is done.

Meatballs in sauce!Just before you drain your pasta, add the meatballs back to the sauce. Drain your pasta and dump the noodles into the pan as well, and toss to coat. You may want to throw in some chopped spinach, if you feel like your vegetable requirements aren’t being met here. Serve topped with chopped chives and parsley. Accompany with the remainder of the wine. Or vodka. Unless you’re perpetually out of vodka, like me.

Bitochki in stroganoff on pasta.This is good the first day, and remarkable the second day (fresh herbs, you know). And it’s so easy, if you’re really really not feeling well, it’s a breeze to delegate, which I think is the ultimate test of a recipe. Can monkeys do it? Perfect. So can Nick (or whoever you prefer to boss around). And even though it sounds like it would be impossibly rich, it’s really not – you won’t feel disgusting after eating it. I am very much looking forward to this for lunch tomorrow. And now I am going to eat some more painkillers and start in on that wine….

Puttanesca: Scandal Pasta for a Night Alone

Sometimes I like an evening to sit around in my underpants eating my favourite things and sipping the kind of wine that Nick can’t drink because he’s never learned to sip and big red wines give him headaches. And he doesn’t like olives or capers and I don’t think he’s ever tasted an anchovy, and the obvious question is “why did you marry him?” but the truth is this whole ’til death thing was kind of revenge for both of us. So sometimes he’s away for the evening and that’s when I make spaghetti alla puttanesca, that delicious brothel favourite that goes tremendously well with a fruity (yet manly) malbec, both of which are infinitely better when consumed on the couch while wearing your favourite underwears and a shirt you don’t mind splattering sauce on, because it’s messy. And that’s sexy. Try to imagine me thinner and dripping with spicy, briny pasta sauce. Instead of bloated and wearing Nick’s elephant-eating-a-guy beige T-shirt. I’ve never been cool. Or alluring.

Italian hookers smell like garlic and olives and strong cheese. I'm hoping to adopt one.
Italian hookers smell like garlic and olives and strong cheese. I'm hoping to adopt one.

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

(About enough for two. Serve with delicious crusty bread.)

Don’t worry about the measurements for this. You should be impassioned and a little sweaty while you make this. And you should be wearing red lipstick.

  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti (note: that’s a 1/2 lb. pre-cooked. I have no idea how much it weighs when it’s cooked.)
  • A splash of good olive oil – maybe a tablespoon, maybe two
  • 1 tsp. dried red chili flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped (don’t get all anal-retentive about the mincing – it doesn’t matter here. Chunks are fine.)
  • 10 to 12 kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. small to medium-sized capers
  • 2 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 5 or 6 canned plum tomatoes, diced
  • A splash of wine – whatever you’re drinking will probably do; red is better
  • A heaping tablespoon or so of chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated pecorino cheese to top (if you don’t have it, regular old parmesan will work fine too)

Boil a big enough pot of salted water to cook your pasta. Measure out enough for two servings – 1/2 lb. should do. When it’s boiling, put noodles in pot.

Heat the olive oil in a pan. When it’s hot, toss in your chilies, your garlic, your olives, and your capers.

Cooking!

Let them cook for a minute or so together, then toss in your lemon zest, your tomatoes, and your anchovies. Toss these in the pan together until your pasta is just about al denté, or about six minutes. When it’s just about ready, drain off your pasta and throw it into the pan. Add the wine, and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Give the pasta two to three minutes to finish cooking and absorb all those sumptuous flavours.

Just before you remove it from the heat, throw the parsley in there, toss again. Get a smug, self-satisfied look on your face at how good this smells.

Plate it, on one or two plates, or plate half and put the other half in a container for your lunch tomorrow. I guess you could even divide this in four and serve it as a side dish. But this pasta is kind of a big deal, so I wouldn’t let something stupid like chicken relegate this to the side.

Shave as much cheese as you like onto the top of the pasta, and serve as is, with a side of bread.

Plated puttanesca awesomeness.

I didn’t tell you to add salt or pepper, because the sauce itself is very salty with all the olives, capers, and anchovies, and the chilies add the right amount of heat, but if you’re into salt-licks and you just can’t live without pepper, add either or both in at the end of cooking.

For dessert, I’m considering a modest bowl of strawberries with a dribble of cream and a delicate sprinkling of berry sugar. I don’t know why people worry about dying alone – if you can cook, it hardly matters, because you can continuously delight yourself, and you never have to wear pants and you can drink the whole bottle of wine if you want to. And no one ever gets all disappointed in you for staining their shirt and leaving dishes everywhere and spending ten dollars on a jar of olives that you’ll eat over the course of a single episode of Iron Chef, which some people think is weird and kind of a waste of ten dollars.

I like Nick. I don’t know why he likes me.

Food porn.
Slightly blurry food porn.