Goals, plans, strategies, they’re what keep us on target in life. They are why pocket calendars, calendar apps, pocket diaries, etc. have always been so popular. You make a plan and it becomes your road map to your destination.
For me there is the daily destination of dinner. And lately my strategy is to plan a meal with few ingredients that can be prepared in under 30 minutes, ready to serve immediately. That Rachael Ray was onto something, wasn’t she? That’s just about all the energy any one has at the end of the day to put a healthy, home made meal on the table.
All good strategies need a tweaking once in a while, however, when circumstances change. And this spring I teach a Zentangle® class right when I’m usually cooking dinner, and coming home when the dinner should be magically appearing on the table. I need a new dinner strategy with recipes that can be tossed together even more quickly when I arrive back home from class, because I can’t count on those cats cooking for me, can I? Or, do you think Joe and Louisa should cook instead? Hah! Louisa’s schedule is much too unpredictable to count on her for my healthy meal… and there’s the ever burdensome HOMEWORK. If I asked Joe, chances are he would be home even later than I am. Therefore, I needed a new strategy.
I know, you smart ones are saying to pull out the old crock pot or prepare a dinner in the afternoon that can be left to simmer in the oven until we eat. Or, maybe you would make sandwiches and leave them in the refrigerator. And I may do all of those things in another week. But this week I decided to prepare one of my very first pasta recipes, which is still one of our favorites, mostly because I had on hand the ingredients I needed without an extra trip to the supermarket before class!
I spoke about this recipe almost five years ago on this blog. I think it’s been a long enough time to share it with you again. In terms of strategy, I set up the sauce for the pasta in about 10 minutes before leaving for class. When I returned home two hours later, I only needed to boil the pasta and mix it in, requiring only 15 minutes to have dinner on the table. As the pasta water came to a boil, and the pasta cooked, I prepared a salad. I even had good Italian bread in the freezer which I left out on the counter to defrost while I was out, and popped it into the oven for five minutes to warm as the pasta cooked. The only thing missing was a bottle of red wine, but we discovered our wine cabinet was now an empty, hollow cavern. How did that happen?
It’s going to be tough to resist preparing this pasta every week until my night classes end.
- 1 can of plum tomatoes in their juices
- 4 small cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp good quality olive oil
- 8 oz mozzarella cheese, diced
- ½ cup basil leaves, torn by hand
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound linguine or spaghetti
- In large serving bowl crush the tomatoes with your clean hands. Mix in the other ingredients, except for pasta. Cover and leave out on counter for at least an hour to blend flavors.
- When ready for dinner, cook pasta according to package instructions. Mix cooked pasta into bowl with sauce, and stir so that cheese has time to melt from the heat of the pasta. Adjust seasoning.