One night this past week, I had a particularly long day. It was a great day, but nonetheless, it was a long one. The boyfriend and I had entertained quite a bit this week and subsequently, I feel like a Sumo wrestler with everything I ate. So, one night, the boyfriend was out running errands and I was by myself watching reruns of Law and Order, my guilty pleasure. And well, because no one in my life will watch it with me. I love cooking, but sometimes when you’ve cooked a lot, you can become what I call “overcooked”. Know what I mean? So, I’m at home, tired, and watching Law and Order, wishing some elves would just show up at my door and make me some homemade Fettuccine Alfredo and a martini. Well, that didn’t happen, so I had to do the next best thing…what the Barefoot Contessa and many chefs calls “Midnight Pasta”.
Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa, is a cooking personality I’ve always admired. When I was married, all I knew how to make was Asian style noodles and curry! I armed myself with her cookbooks and I gradually learned how to make some classic dishes, that in my opinion, everyone should master. She doesn’t have hundreds of recipes with a dizzying ingredient list. A lot of her recipes have ingredients are interchangeable and simple. That is also the same way I try to create recipes as well. I don’t believe in intimidating, high maintenance recipes that take 10 hours to comprehend.
I also believe that you just need to unwind after a long day and make yourself something low fuss, comforting and not give a damn whether it’s “healthy” or not. I’m not suggesting you pig out on pizza and beer every day, but once in a while, it is stress relieving to not stress out about food and what you’re consuming. Every now and then, I’ll meet someone who has a hang up about food. I don’t want to judge here, as there are definitely some things I don’t eat, but what in the world did a good ol’ plate of pasta ever do to you?! Goodness…so many of my friends act like pasta was the devil and their stomachs will instantly inflate into monster truck tire size after one bowl of some spaghetti. Single ladies and men, listen up: Men (and women) would rather you eat what you want at dinner than be that “boiled breast of chicken with a side of steamed broccoli” person. I’m certainly no expert on what guys and girls want, but my unscientific survey of my friends has shown that all people, men or women, would rather not deal with a food “hang-up” person. You know who you are, if you’re one of them.
Therefore, this is my ode to the almighty pasta. When you’ve had a long day, pat yourself on your back for doing all the things you do for everyone else. Enjoy a luscious bowl of delicious pasta and don’t worry about whether you’re going to gain 1000 calories. You probably spend half that just worrying about it. I once saw a group of my girlfriends have a 30 minute conversation about artificial sweeteners and which one was evil vs. good, while they were lunching over fried rice, dumplings and martinis. They probably could have better spent their 30 minutes building each other up, instead of vilifying some random ingredient. So, here’s an idea: When you’re in the mood for something comforting, and a bit too lazy to have a big production in the kitchen, cook up some midnight pasta and zone out watching some brainless TV and be good to yourself for all that you do!
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ cup pasta water
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Parmesan for grating, optional.
1. Put the spaghetti in your large IMUSA stockpot of well-salted rapidly boiling water and cook only until firmly al dente. (About 8-10 minutes)
2. While the pasta is cooking, warm the olive oil in your IMUSA caldero over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, without letting it brown. Next add the pasta water. Stir in the red pepper flakes and cook for a half-minute more, then remove from the heat.
3. Once the pasta is cooked, drain the pasta and place in the IMUSA caldero with the garlic mixture, add the parsley and toss well to coat. Serve with grated Parmesan if desired.