Hey the blog is back!
And seven months later, a lot has changed. I am no longer sleeping on a pull out coach in Boston or living with my family in Connecticut. I finally have my own 2 bedroom, 1/8 bath, 5 story walk up in New York. I have a new roommate (Sarah!) to overfeed and drive crazy with unnecessary stacks of dirty dishes and no dishwasher.
I have a food related art wall.
I have an herb garden on my bedroom window sill (I often fall asleep smelling basil and dreaming of pizza).
I also have the motivation to finally start writing this blog again.
Inspiration didn't happen all at once. This is the fourth recipe I've made recently that I dutifully took pictures of in between chopping and stirring. And even though those recipes- chicken and dumplings, calamari salad, lasagna Bolognese- were certainly more elaborate than this pasta, it was this dish that made me want to write again. It's just so fundamentally easy, delicious and adaptable. It doesn't need any special ingredients. On dreary days (weeks) like this, its the kind of food I crave.
Last time I made this dish it was the dead of winter and I had just spend a day fruitlessly looking at apartments all over the city. As Sarah and I walked back to her studio in the snow, we picked up a pound of pasta and a can of tomatoes, and whipped this up, the perfect antidote to the chill outside. We warmed up and poured over Craigslist apartment listings. A few days later we found a great place that, despite its incessant radiator, slanted floors, live-in mouse (mice as of this morning) and frequent pigeon visitor, I love dearly. Especially the pig doormat.
And of course there's the food: late night falafel on the street in the lower East Side, the Union Square farmers market, a pastrami sandwich from Katz's deli, free s'mores pie from a bartender at Fatty 'cue.
But often I just want to be at home cooking things like this.
The recipe is loosely based off the Wednesday Chef, though you don't really need any directions after making it once.
Grab a pint of cherry tomatoes, a few plum tomatoes or just a can of drained tomatoes, which I did here. Turn on your oven to 400. Slice the tomatoes in half and place in a gratin dish, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix together a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs with slightly more grated Parmesan cheese. Add to the mix a clove or two of garlic and whatever spices you are craving. Today it was a lot of red pepper flakes and oregano. Mix and sprinkle over the tomatoes. Drizzle with more olive oil. Place in the oven until the juices are bubbling and the edges are browned (for me this took about 30 minutes, though the original recipe says 20). Meanwhile, toss your spaghetti in boiling salted water, cook and drain. When the tomatoes are done, sprinkle with fresh torn basil leaves and mash the tomatoes with a fork, making a sauce. Add the pasta and toss. Taste and add more cheese, olive oil or salt as needed (or all three, if you're me). Enjoy, in your new apartment, on the table recycled from your parents' basement.