I am sorry to do this, I really am.
I hate it when recipe bloggers give you the entire history of their family and how they came over on the Mayflower with this fantastic means of making biscuits.
Okay, I get it.
You have a rich culinary cultural history that dates back to the hills of the old country where your great-great-grandmammy used to make biscuits for your great-great-grandpappy before he went out to herd the goats on the little green knoll that overlooked your ancestor’s idyllic village.
Just give me the damn recipe!
We are going to do a little background development before I share with you one of the easiest and most delicious pasta dishes I have ever made.
So, here in the U.S. of A., we just celebrated Independence Day.
I’m all for acknowledging our various freedoms.
I’m all for people “getting down” however they feel like it. I dig BBQ, and I even like fireworks in certain arenas, like rodeos and fireworks shows. And though my mom graciously invited me over for dinner, I wasn’t feeling any of it.
As I’ve gotten older, my nervous system only cares for so much stimulation, and more and more living a life that is sensual and in integrity with who I am looks like slowing down and staying in.
Besides, public events typically expect you to wear pants.
Earlier in the day, before going to work, I was watching some cooking reels. One of them was a chef talking about what Italian people might eat before going to bed. It was a beautifully simple dish. Italians don’t traditionally do the heavy pastas that we have become accustomed to in America. The ingredients for their dishes are lighter and often contain olive oil, fresh herbs, lemon, maybe a few veggies, and occasionally some protein. What they do that we tend not to is use the pasta water in the sauce itself—and therein lies the magic.
The parking lot was practically deserted when I got to the grocery store, and I was relieved to see so, considering it was a holiday. For a moment I wondered if they were even open. But lo and behold, the automatic doors released their seal with a sigh as I slipped through the entryway and grabbed a small green basket for my goodies.
What was on the list?
Well, I knew I needed pasta, as I had none and that was the craving, but before I made it to that aisle I was waylaid by the beautiful deli island. I didn’t have a recipe, so I was just going by what attracted me so I grabbed some olives, peppers, and cheese.
Next, I added a bottle of blushed rose because well, what is pasta without wine?
I proceeded to the pasta aisle where I selected linguine. And then to the produce section where I grabbed a lemon and one of those toothpaste-like tubes of herbs: roasted garlic. I decided to cheat a bit and not roast my own garlic, as that would have taken five times as long as the rest of the recipe.
I am on an Italian kick. It suits my body so well.
I recently made Caprese salad with tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil. I am growing basil, and I want to make use of it before the weather turns and it grows limp. It is so sweet and vital, just delicious.
Upon arriving at my little tin cottage, after navigating the mostly deserted streets, I poured a glass of peachy colored wine, and instructed my Alexa, “Play some music!” The little AI DJ did good, and in a moment we were jamming away.
Wine poured, with tunes drifting through the open door—the tone was set.
Be forewarned: I am a cook, not a baker. I do things by sight and taste. A “smidge” is probably a teaspoon. A “sploosh” is the equivalent of a tablespoon, a “handful” is maybe a cup. I don’t really know because I don’t measure. I feel. I use my senses and don’t freak out if I make a mistake. Cooking is an art, but it is also fun.
And now for the cooking:
I filled the pot with salted water to boil. Once it was roiling, I added about a quarter size measurement of the linguine; I’ve heard that it is usually about serving for one.
As I was doing that, I cut half the package of sweet/hot peppers, sliced half the Sicilian olives I had grabbed from the deli, and set them aside (about a handful). I pulled a handful of fresh basil leaves off the plant, chiffonade them, and set that aside. I also diced up some uncured salami (optional).
When the pasta was close to done, I heated a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet, added a sploosh of the roasted garlic paste, a drizzle of the pasta water, then the sliced olives and peppers.
Gave that a stir then, checking that the pasta was al dente, added that to the skillet with a full ladle of pasta water. I zested a lemon into the mix, then added a handful of Asiago cheese, stirring it all together then covering it long enough for the cheese to melt.
Once the dish had a creamy consistency, I heaped it into a bowl, topped it with diced salami, sprinkled liberally with basil, added a bit more cheese, salt ground pepper to taste and…voila!
I laid my feast on a little tray—and then happily pulled off my pants!
This recipe would probably have been perfect for two with a bit more pasta, but it was so good I could not stop eating it, and because it was so light, I felt no need to restrain myself.
After all, cooking is emotional and spiritual as well as physical. A beautiful, well-prepared dish nourishes our mind, body, and soul.