By Michele, Luci, and Billa
All cooks have days when they just don't feel like making a big deal out of making dinner. Take a look at what the three of us do on these occasions.
Afterwards, we invite you to comment about what you do when you're not in the mood to cook. Michele - What do I make when I don't feel like cooking or being creative? It’s pasta, always pasta, which is always available in many shapes in my pantry. My favorite dishes are Spaghetti Carbonara and Pasta Piselli. Both recipes are quick and easy to prepare. The major ingredients are typically found in my pantry and refrigerator. They include eggs, bacon, grated cheese, frozen or canned peas, and cans of tomatoes. I’m sure you have most of these ingredients as well! Below are my two favorite “go to” recipes. Spaghetti Carbonara – a creamy sauce made from egg and cheese with crunchy bits of bacon and lots of black pepper
Ingredients 1 pound of spaghetti 1 tablespoon olive oil ¼ pound of bacon, more if you prefer 4-6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated 3 eggs 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese Fresh black pepper Parsley, chopped for garnish ½ cup of pasta water Preparation 1. Heat olive oil in skillet. Add bacon and cook until desired crispness. Add in garlic for 1-2
minutes, but do not brown. Remove skillet from heat and set aside. 2. In a small bowl, place eggs and cheese and mix well. Set aside. 3. Cook pasta, drain (reserving ½ cup of pasta water) and place in large serving bowl. Add in
bacon and garlic, as well as all drippings in the skillet (bacon fat YUM!) Mix well. Add in egg
and cheese mixture and stir to combine. If sauce is too thick add a little of the pasta water
as needed. Pasta Piselli (pasta with peas)
Ingredients 1/3 cup olive oil 1 medium onion, finely diced 3 gloves garlic, diced 2 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped 1 6-ounce can tomato paste 2 cups water Pinch of sugar ¼ teaspoon salt Fresh ground pepper to taste 1 15-ounce bag frozen peas 1 cup of dried pasta, your choice* Optional – 1 tablespoon of butter Preparation 1. Heat oil in medium skillet. Sauté the onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic
and parsley cook for 1-2 minutes more. 2. Add tomato paste and sauté until it becomes slightly darker 3-4 minutes. Add sugar, salt,
pepper and water. 3. Simmer, partially covered, until thickened, approximately 10 minutes. Add peas to the sauce and simmer, covered, approximately 20 minutes. Stir frequently. 4. While sauce is simmering, cook pasta and drain. 5. When sauce is done, add pasta to sauce. Stir to incorporate and serve. Optional: Swirl butter in cooked sauce for extra richness. *I used Penne Rigate in this recipe. You may also use Ditalini, Tubettini, or any short tube-like pasta on hand.
Luci - It’s a blah day. The idea of cooking is joyless. What to do? PIZZA! From Joe and Pat’s. Double cheese on my half (I’m a melted cheese freak), peppers on his. So delicious! So comforting!
A second line of defense - the freezer. It housed microwaveable packets of main dishes, prepared for the blah days.
OK. Occasionally we would throw something together. Our favorite was Pasta in a Sauce of Wine, Cream, Shallots and Bacon. Absolutely delicious, easy to make and good enough for company.
What’s to love about this dish? Taste - the marriages of fat and grain (think bread and butter, etc.) and fat and salt; robust umami from cream and bacon, plus subtle sweetness and tang from the sautéed shallots and white wine. Texture - the pasta’s coating is lusciously unctuous, yielding to its inner firmness while bacon adds crunch. And fragrance! Heady and heavenly - the aroma is strong and penetrating in a delightful way: slightly smoky, a touch of pungency and the impression of rich taste.
Notes: It freezes beautifully. For a vegetarian dish, substitute for the bacon mushrooms or other vegetables, especially peas or broccoli rabe. A topping of grated parmesan cheese will please many.
Billa - My sister-in-law, Elaine, once told me, “As long as you have eggs in the house, you have a meal.” I always remember that, especially on days when I just don’t feel like cooking. Here are my three favorite standby “egg dinners”:
Just butter some toast, put avocado slices sprinkled with lemon juice, salt, and pepper on it, and top that with a sunny side up egg. Round the meal up with a sliced tomato and sweet onion salad.
Make an omelette. Stuff it with some cheese and with whatever vegetables are left over from the previous night’s dinner: broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts - it’s all good.
Pictured above is an omelet stuffed with goat cheese and leftover ratatouille accompanied by a salad of tomato, avocado, cucumber, and hearts of palm.
Hard-Boiled Egg sandwich
My favorite one is made of sourdough bread with feta cheese, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes - topped with slices of a hard-boiled egg. Served with a broccoli and tomato salad, it becomes a satisfying meal.
What about You? What do you make when you don't feel like cooking?