Motherly advice...What to cook when you can't be bothered...Bespoke Pasta...
(Image courtesy tiverylucky at Free Digital Photos)
Definition of Bespoke: made to order
What's that Hon? You're too tired to cook?
You're thinking of getting takeaway, aren't you? One of those family meal deals that sound so inexpensive and tempting when you're all pooped. I know the feeling.
Thing is, you always sort of feel yuck after eating them. They're full of fat and salt, and nutritionally, they're not really preparing you for a busy weekend. Or even a lazy one...hahaha!
Not only that, but no matter how cheap, you're still spending money that you don't need to if you've got a half decent pantry. And you just know that those places are heck-as-all-busy on Fridays, so you're going to be standing or sitting in a queue in your car, churning up the fuel (and gosh isn't fuel expensive now too!), and you'll end up buying other stuff you don't need because you're all famished!
Don't do it. Just don't. You don't need to, I promise.
I always love pasta for a quick and easy meal. Round here, we have Bespoke Pasta night on Fridays.
I gather whatever odds and ends of pasta we have in the pantry. Ours is all gluten free, so that might mean some Pad Thai Noodles (just like fettucine), and some gluten free spirals, but never a whole packet of anything because we tend to use a quarter to a third per meal. So there's always bibs and bobs of stuff around.
Then I dig out whatever bits and pieces we might have in the fridge. Maybe a bit of bacon or ham or salami, some ends of tomatoes (you know my husband...cuts two slices and puts the rest of the tomato in the door of the fridge to shrivel up...that's okay...it's useful for this), an egg or two, perhaps a bit of cream, some olives or sun dried tomatoes, snow peas or beans, baby spinach, zucchini, capsicum...all that. A bit of cheese of some sort is always a bonus. And we love a bit of freshly minced garlic, slivers of fresh chilli, and fresh herbs.
Some nights, if I haven't shopped, all there is, is pasta, eggs, cheese and herbs. And you know, that makes the most gorgeous Pasta Carbonara ever! So don't let lack of variety stop you.
Get the family to help slice and dice all that up and put it into little piles on a platter, so it looks yum.
While that's happening, put enough pots on to cook your assorted pasta or noodles. Chuck them in and let them soften to your liking. We like ours al dente`, so a bit chewy. Drain it all when it's done, and put each variety of pasta or noodles in bowls for everyone to choose from.
Wash up as you go, so you don't have mountains of pots and pans at the end. It takes no time to swirl some steaming tap water and a sponge around a pasta pot.
Now the fun part, and the bit where you actually teach your own family to firstly cook for themselves (yay!), and secondly that you don't need much to make a scrumptious meal.
Get out a large frypan or wok.
Drizzle in a little oil. Olive oil is good but anything will do in a pinch. Let it heat.
Now, toss in a handful of your favourite pasta, and bits of whatever other ingredients you prefer, tossing it all around with tongs. This bit makes you feel very chef-ish, and everyone loves it. It's kind of empowering as opposed to going to the takeaway which really means you've given up in a way!
Add your flavourings like garlic, onion, chilli and herbs, and swirl it immediately into a bowl. Done and yum!
We adore beating an egg in a cup, and adding it at the last minute, tossing it through but not 'cooking' it in the pan as such, rather allowing the heat of the other ingredients to finish cooking it once it's in the bowl. That's how a true Italian Carbonara is done. No cream involved at all. That's somebody elses idea and it's just been adopted as the way to do it! Some shaved parmesan and freshly grated pepper on top is a good way to finish.
It takes less than five minutes for everyone to prepare their Bespoke Pasta, and we all enjoy sitting down, having a try of someone elses speciality. You'll be amazed how good some simple things can taste.
My all time favourite has been pasta spirals, with a little oil, garlic and chilli, topped and tailed snow peas (mange tout), and halved cherry tomatoes. A bit of parmesan on top, and that's it. MMM-mmmmmmm...
Give it a try. It's better than that take-away Sweetie....true.