Do you know this poem? It’s one of my favorites. I re-read it recently after a day where there was a mishap with breakfast (quinoa, I’m sorry, I just don’t like you), an allergy-induced, epic-long sneezing session, and excitement over receiving two bundt cake pans from my mom in the mail.
The poem touches upon about something much more sad and serious (reflection on her brother’s death), but what it reminded me was just how much of these non-eventful events make up the majority of our days. They say you spend twenty years of your life asleep, but I wonder what kind of numbers “being in transit” or “adjusting to get comfortable” would put up? Living in NYC especially, you can be so consumed trying to achieve the lifestyle/career/love life of your dreams, that you float in and out of the humdrum moment, the filler time, not fully remembering the constant readjusting and tiny decision-making and the brushes with strangers that happen throughout the day. But really, isn’t our life primarily consumed by that walk home from the subway, carrying cake pans awkwardly, or talking to the guy behind the deli counter about which allergy medicine works best, or about waiting for your darn quinoa to finish cooking?
What all of this is to say is that there are some simple foods that I love that I forget to make because of it’s lack of flash, because it’s so obvious to make. I’m not someone who likes repetitive eating, so that in my quest for variety, I block out in my mind things that seem on the surface level too obvious to make. I love Caeser Salad, for example, but realized I hadn’t made it in more than a few years. Pasta Puttanesca, with its simple pantry-friendly ingredients of olives, capers and garlic (no anchovies for me, thanks), is an amazing sauce considering its humble parts. The amount of flavor in this pasta and salad dinner reminded me to slow down a bit, and to stop searching through so many recipes. What’s right in front of me is more than good enough.
Caeser Salad Dressing
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen
*Anchovy lovers: simply add 1 finely chopped oil-packed anchovy fillet to the below
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, plus a drop or two more, to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil*
*I had run out of olive oil and used canola to no detriment
Whisk all except last together. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup oil. Season with salt and pepper. (Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and rewhisk before using.)
Adapted from Joie de Vivre
- 1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
- 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste (optional – I did not use)
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- Pinch of sugar (optional)
- handful of coarsely chopped basil
Cook spaghetti in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
While pasta boils, cook garlic, (anchovy paste), red-pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Be careful to not let the garlic burn.
Add tomato purée to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is ready. Stir in sugar if desired.
Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with basil.