Sublime Summer Supper

This was a recuperation weekend, a weekend to relax and just do whatever sort of presented itself at the time. My only planned events were to complete a 500 piece puzzle and run some errands. Michael went down to Calgary to spend time with his sister and help around the home with those maintenance things that get put off until there’s a Michael sort around.

Although I’m all for rest and relaxation, I feel adrift and a bit sad if I end up spending too much time on the couch watching TV, or even reading. Doesn’t help of course, when I chose to watch/read tear jerkers. I’m all for a good cry, but sometimes it can be a bit much.

Today was a beautiful Edmonton day. I got outside and ran my errands, and ended up at the Italian Centre Shop. I stopped in for inspiration and thought I’d skip my food delivery app (my usual go-to when at home alone and feeling a bit pathetic) and create something delicious tonight for my supper.

The Italian Centre Shop did not disappoint. Although busy, I have learned the best thing to do is head to the deli first, pull your number, and then leisurely shop until your number nears. Not sure if you noticed, but there is a gentle ding and “being served” numbers throughout the shop towards the ceiling. In the time I had to wait for my number to come up, I finished my shop of non-deli goods.

Although I went into the shop today with a plan for mushroom stuffed gnocchi with a pre-made sauce, I was inspired as I often am, to create something from (at least) semi scratch.

I picked up some arugula, basil, cherry tomatoes, purple garlic, Grana Padano cheese, kalamata olives, and some fancy (expensive) dry pasta.

When supper time rolled around, I was feeling a bit un-energetic and was twitching to pull up the food delivery app. Michael called at that moment and after a bit of a talk and a few laughs, he said why not just pour yourself a glass of wine and start the prep? So I did.

I poured the wine, chopped garlic, olives, tomatoes, washed the arugula and basil and set it aside. I boiled up a pot of water and then switched it off so the apartment wouldn’t burn down while I sat out on our patio to enjoy the view and my glass of wine.

It was (and still is) one of those beautiful evenings. Slight breeze, clear sky, warm, and NO RAIN. I sat out on the patio enjoying my music and my glass of wine.

With the wine finished, and feeling a bit peckish now, I put together the arugula salad. A simple thing to do:  arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, and a generous grating of Grana Padano cheese. I set up a little table on the patio, and promptly watched half my Grana Padano fly away in the breeze. This is why there is no photo. No matter, I mixed up the salad and managed to polish it off with the remaining cheese intact.

After a few long minutes of digestion and polishing off my second glass of wine, went back inside to finish cooking the main dish.

While the pasta was cooking, I cooked up the chopped garlic in generous glugs of olive oil over a medium heat. When the garlic was fragrant, I added the cherry tomatoes and let it break down slowly. As things started to meld, I added the chopped olives, and a few tablespoons of the pasta water. I let that simmer down to a slightly thickened sauce. I added a burst of lemon juice at the end to keep things bright.

I put it all together on my plate, topping it off with a bit of chopped basil and another generous grating of cheese, and headed back to the patio.

I tucked in. I ate slowly. I enjoyed the flavours, the view, listening to the shouts from the baseball game in the valley, the traffic below, watching people rest on the bench along the pathway. At times I just put my head back, and let the sun warm my face while I was truly able to relax and enjoy a beautiful summer evening in our city.

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Now I have my tea, and am thinking of having something a bit sweet to finish the evening. Not sure what that will be yet.

Thanks for reading about my evening. It was one of those memorable ones, and wanted to document it before the memory fades. xo

 

Garlic Spaghetti

Some 20 years ago I went on a cruise with my Auntie Ann through the Caribbean. It was a terrific time. We met some great people, drank an amazing amount of alcohol, did some crazy things, and most importantly ate a lot of great food.

It was our first (and only) cruise, but we hooked up early with some well experienced sailors. One couple in particular took back-to-back cruises, several times a year, and knew the ropes. One of the things that stuck with me, was their nerve to ask the chef to prepare food for them that was not on the ubiquitous set-menu that a person saw on cruises at the time. The chef complied.

One of their requests was spaghetti served with nothing more than olive oil, garlic, and freshly grated parmigiana as a side dish. So simple. So delicious. Ever since then, I’ve cooked it up regularly for Michael and I. The recipe is:

Olive Oil (several good and generous glugs and then a bit more)
Chopped Garlic (as much or as little as you like – tonight we used up two full heads (not cloves, heads) of those small sad Safeway garlics you find withering away in produce)

Sauté the garlic in the olive oil CAREFULLY so it doesn’t burn.

Toss with the cooked and drained spaghetti (do I really have to say drain the spaghetti? Do I? Well, I won’t take chances. If you went through the trouble of peeling and chopping up all that garlic, please, drain the spaghetti). Add as much grated parmigiana as you like.

It should look something like this:

This is a terrific side-dish to chicken. I didn’t take a pic of the chicken, because, as Michael says, who wants to look at a piece of dead bird. The chicken was indeed dead, breast removed and cooked in olive oil, oregano, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Now, you are probably looking at that picture and thinking, “Hm, there is bits of red in that there spaghetti”, and you are right!

Friend Roxanne recently posted a recipe for “Spaghetti, Italian Style”. It’s a variation of the above, by adding cherry (I added grape) tomatoes in with the garlic, and a healthy bunch of pecorino cheese (I stuck with the parmigiana only because I invested a mighty sum of cash into the large wedge in the fridge). I was inspired by her post, and melded our two recipes together. Really, the thing is, you don’t need a recipe. Just toss stuff together until it looks like something you’d eat. Afterall, there will be as many versions of this dish as there are Italian hand gestures.