Friday, December 25, 2009

The Cavalier Cook - Numero Ocho

Fire the guns! We are off.

In the words of my friend Y, who is, in Madras lingo, quite a Peter, or perhaps even a Pierre ;), Joyeux Noel!

It's a chilly yet beautifully sunny day in Austin. The semester has ended which means that on most mornings, I work from home. An essential part of morning activities involves cooking lunch. Today, I was in the mood for pasta. My cousin A gets all credit for introducing me to the art of pasta and vegetables sans sauce. It's much lighter on the palate and easier on kitchen time. That he also taught me how to swear in two languages is a tale I will reserve for other marathons. Without further ado, I give you...

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Feta

You will need:

(a) Spaghetti works best; you could use Orecchiette, Fettuccine or even Elbows
(b) 1/2 a teaspoon of butter
(c) Balsamic vinegar

(a) 1 Zucchini, Red and Green Bell peppers: 1 each, 1 large red onion, 2 carrots, 6 or 7 portobello mushrooms. (You could also add halved cherry tomatoes
(b) 2 tablespoons of Olive oil
(c) Salt and pepper
(d) Herbs (Fresh or dried): Basil, Sage, Rosemary
(e) 3 Garlic cloves, peeled

(a) I used Bulgarian sheep's milk feta

* Boil water and wait till it comes to a rolling boil. Add salt and pasta and cook for about 10 to 12 minutes until al dente. And no, that doesn't mean that you cook until the pasta is no longer hard enough to break your teeth. Bite into one; if it feels just a little bit uncooked, then you are done. And no, don't wait until it comes to the consistency of yogurt rice.

* Slice onions and bell peppers lengthwise. Round slices work for the mushrooms, carrots and zucchini.
* Sprinkle large amounts of pepper and a little salt
* Add olive oil and toss
* Add herbs
* Assemble this mixture in a baking dish or if you don't have one, a foil basket. Wrap each garlic clove in foil and add to the vegetables. Broil in the top shelf of your oven for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven when the vegetables are slightly browned; my cue is when my fire alarm goes off but I wouldn't recommend that as a reliable signal.

* Unwrap garlic cloves and either chop and add to the vegetables or store for future use
* Heat butter in a non-stick pan and toss pasta and vegetables for a few minutes
* Drain feta of brine and add generously to pasta and vegetables
* Add a dash of balsamic vinegar

Lunch al dente! I had mine with a glass of pomegranate-cranberry juice.

I assembled a lighter lunch for a friend who didn't feel like pasta. Coucous, vegetables, mushrooms sauteed in butter and chilli flakes, and feta.

Listening to: Los Fabuolosos Cadillacs

Reading: Samedi the Deafness
An excerpt:
You live your life, you try to live compassionately, and that's the end of it. You do a little more than you should have to in order to be a good person. but you don't go making big changes in the world, trying to fix things. It presumes too much to do so. There's only this: if everyone acts quietly, compassionately, things will go a little better than they would have otherwise. But people will still suffer.