Frank C. Siraguso
April 8, 2020
In these sequestered days, we don’s always order food for pickup. We always liked cooking at home, although sometimes we have periods of going out a lot, but sometimes it’s good to get something you can’t get at a restaurant. I say this in the same vein that there are some foods you can’t make well at home.
This is partly due to scale. For instance, one can make good tempura at home but the logistics for making lots of it – making the batter, heating a pot of oil – make it simpler to just go get some. I have made tempura at home, and my Japanese friends’ mom made killer tempura for all of us one holiday.
Then again, I think nothing of making a vat of spaghetti sauce at home because, well, I like it best. It’s my nonnie’s recipe and I can’t get that taste anywhere else. An aside, once at Fric’s years ago I asked bartender Chris for some spaghetti sauce for my zukes. He corrected me – “you mean marinara” – and I said yes but my Sicilian nonnie never called it that. Ever. We became great friends.
So today we made pasta with veggies. Because these plague days we go to the store only during the spring thaw, one has to plan ahead. Some ingredients we keep in bulk but veggies don’t travel all that well. So:
Garlic (2-4 cloves)
1 onion, any kind but red
1 red bell pepper
1/2 pound mushrooms (white – champignons; you could use creminis, but not shiitakes: they don’t fry that well, imho)
We also had half a leftover zucchini.
For the pasta: mostaccioli, without the lines (mostaccioli rigate). Use the smooth kind. Trust Nonnie.
Chop it all up, fry the garlic, onion, pepper and zuke in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper. When the onions are clear and the pepper soft, add the mushrooms. When it looks good, add some wine to deglaze and flavor. You can use what you got: White, red, champagne. We didn’t have any of that so I used some sweet (red) vermouth, left over from making Manhattans.
As the sauce – the veggies – are cooking boil about 2 quarts of water and cook a half pound of mostaccioli (or whatever the hell you like but try this).
Time it so the sauce is done first. The pasta should take about 12 minutes, but when you think it may be done, taste a piece. Remember: the sauce will wait for the pasta but the pasta won’t wait for the sauce.
Drain the pasta, plate it up and eat. Add Parmesan or Romano, and or pesto, or plain. Doesn’t take long if you have decent knife skills for chopping. And you can’t get this at a restaurant.