no plan pasta
I had the whole thing planned. There would be upscale appetizers, Champagne cocktails, even a prize for the winner of our first annual Who Guessed It Best contest. The house was going to be sparkling clean. I have two pairs of jeans; I was going to wear the nicer pair.
Then we had what we are referring to as The Weekend of Insanity. I don’t need to get into it. The name about sums it up. So our big Academy Award Party (can two people count as a party?) was set to Monday. After spending the day exploring another town near Quito, we arrived home mildly sunburned and totally wiped out. At that point, all the plans flew out the window. The best we could manage was running to the store for some vino tinto and watching the red carpet while throwing together the world’s most loyal stand-by: pasta. There were no fancy cocktails. No classy hors-d’oeuvres. I wore pajamas and big man slippers.
Oscar night pasta was thus the result of opening the fridge door and collecting anything inside that looked like it still had some life to it. These items were prepped while watching the Red Carpet. It was crucial to building our anticipation. 2 thoughts: Emma Stone = adorable. And Brad Pitt, why must you continually demonstrate how easily you can grow your hair out? Show off.
We did go ahead with Who Guessed it Best. We had a list of all the nominees and we wrote them down on separate sheets of paper, being a tad paranoid that the other was sneaking a peak and turning our backs to such a degree that we could barely see the list at one point. And I do mean all the nominees. I have no real clue as to the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, but I forged ahead nonetheless, trying to think like a Sound Guy. ‘If I were a Sound Guy, who knew lots of Sound Stuff, which Sound would be the Best Sound?’ Ah yes, ’twas indeed a scientific thought process I followed.
A similar approach was taken to the pasta. No precise measurements here, my friends. Because as much as the evening itself was thrown together, so was this pasta. And it was delicious.
a big handful of spaghetti noodles
few slices of bacon
a couple of onions, chopped up real good
plenty of chopped garlic
a pile of sliced leeks
a red pepper, finely sliced
a small mound of halved cherry tomatoes
a big ol’ glug of tomato sauce
a few spoonfuls of herb cream cheese
a dash of whole milk
several sprigs of fresh thyme
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add your noodles and cook for 7-10 minutes, until al dente.
While the noodles are cooking, fry up your bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper towel to absorb the grease. Break the bacon into pieces and set aside (after sampling a few pieces, obviously.) Keep your bacon fat in the pan, we’re going to use it! Add the onions to your pan and cook for a couple minutes. Add garlic, then leeks, then red pepper, and cherry tomatoes, cooking each until it starts to soften, then adding the next. Cook until tomatoes are soft and squishy looking. Add the tomato sauce, herb cheese (I had made an extra batch when we had our celebratory eggs!) and milk. Stir in the cheese until smooth. The herbs are so lovely and fragrant as they cook into the sauce, mmm…
Your sauce won’t need much time, it is already quite thick. If you find it needs more liquid to thin out or even if the veggies need some moisture at the beginning, what I like to do is spoon some of the boiling salted water into the pan while the pasta is cooking. The noodles don’t mind; they can share.
Add the thyme leaves from your sprigs and taste the sauce and see if needs any more seasoning. Drain noodles and add to pan, using tongs to mix it all in together.
Spoon into bowls and garnish with chives, bacon pieces, and freshly grated parmesan.
Best eaten wearing pajamas.
I WON‘t tell you who won Who Guessed it Best…ahem, but in the end, some of the great moments in life are the most low-key. The ones spent with someone you love, enjoying what transpires, not minding at all the plans that flew away. Far far away.