Over the last few months, I have had a lot of shit going on.
-First, I had house guests for six weeks. My brother and his wife. He was doing some kind of random duty tour with my husband at the Academy, which mostly consisted of them working out together and coming home early to play Modern Warfare. I may or may not have also played. And I made them a lot of dinners, but mostly it was while I was drinking, so I wasn’t in a writing kind of place. Also, cooking for additional people, trying to keep the house clean, wrangling a baby who wants attention alwaysallthetime, and playing video games when called upon keeps a girl busy, you know? And before you even ask, no, my brother was not capable of providing child care. Until this visit, he thought that babies were a myth created to keep college students from batting chlamydia back and forth at one another like it’s the final match at Wimbledon.
-Then my husband had surgery on his top teeth. He ground down his teeth in med school and residency from all the “stress.” I don’t know…I’ve seen Scrubs and they don’t seem all that stressed. So he’s getting all sorts of things done to his mouth so that when he smiles he looks more like a Colgate commercial and less like a man in his thirties. Excitement. He’s a giant wussmobile when he’s not feeling well, though, so I had to feed him percocet and let him watch episodes of The Last Airbender for a week.
-Then I got LASIK. I’ve worn contacts since 8th grade, and have taken them out at night a total of maybe five times since then. It was time for a change. Preceding the surgery, I had to wear my glasses for a whole week. And that would have been fine if I had a pair of wire-rimmed, slutty-secretary glasses. But when I originally purchased my glasses, I assumed they would never be worn. None of my other glasses ever had been. So I chose a pair of black and hot pink plastic glasses that said, in graffiti font along the side, “No Soul To Sell.” I had to wear those suckers all the time, even at the gym and at dinner out. Not wearing anything wasn’t an option, because I had approximately 20/200 vision. Which meant that, without corrective measures, I was basically Helen Keller. Anyway, I got them lasered up and am now bionic. Perfect vision, no correction needed, and also I can explode things with my eyeballs if someone cuts me off in traffic or something.
-Then Chris got lasered. But his eyes were diagnosed with STIGMATA, and the Air Force is pretty conservative, so he had to get PRK. PRK is not the ideal type of surgery for someone who is, as previously mentioned, a total wussmobile. Apparently it involves pain and long term blindness. He claims he still can’t see, although I’ve noticed that he still drives to work and reads books on worm composting, so I’m suspicious. Anyway, he was very brave, and took lots of very brave naps.
-Plus I’ve been trying to be less fat, so I’ve been exercising like a lunatic whenever there’s childcare to be had. Gym things. And rock climbing.
So in the interest of all this absurd BUSY, I thought I’d hook you up with the worlds fastest, simplest, tastiest recipe that comes entirely from ingredients that you have in your pantry and/or the bottom of your refrigerator crisper. You can make this in no time, and it doesn’t seem to get old. Ever.
Plus, it’s vegetarian. And high in protein. And low in fat.
Before I give you the recipe, I’m going to give you a picture this time. Because it doesn’t sound delicious at first. But it looks delicious. And IS delicious. So give it a chance to deliver, okay? That’s it. Pasta con cece. Sort of. You see, pasta con cece is a soupy thing made with ditalini pasta and chickpeas. I make it more saucy, and prefer to use white beans. But in the interest of simplicity, let’s just call it:
-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 medium yellow onion, diced (1/2″ dice)
-2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped (1/2″ dice)
-1 T tomato paste (I like to buy the kind in the tube so I can use small amounts)
-1 sprig of rosemary or about a 1/2 t dried
-1 sprig of thyme or about 1/2 t dried
-3 T olive oil
-2 15 oz cans white beans (cannelini or white kidney), drained and rinsed well
-2 C vegetable stock (more if needed)
-1 lb ditalini (short, tubular pasta)
In large pan, saute the garlic, onions, carrots, and herbs in olive oil until the onions are translucent and fragrant.
Add the tomato paste and cook an additional two minutes.
Add the stock and the herbs and simmer until the carrots are tender.
Strain the vegetables, reserving the cooking liquid and discarding any fresh herb sprigs.
In a blender or food processor, put the beans, vegetables, and a cup or so of the cooking liquid. Pulse to make a puree, but don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with glue. Add enough cooking liquid to give it the texture of a loose marinara sauce.
Save the rest of the cooking liquid for a soup or something. Return the bean/veg sauce to the original pot. Taste and add salt and pepper to get the flavor right.
Meanwhile, cook your ditalini according to package instructions (giant pot of salty water, usually about 8 minutes). Use the lower end of the recommended time so they’re still al dente.
Drain the pasta, and add the pasta to the sauce, stirring to make sure it’s all coated. Allow it to simmer on low heat so that the sauce thickens a little to a slightly thicker texture. Taste again for salt and pepper.
Serve either alone, or with a homemade pesto sauce drizzled on top.
It’s comfort food that really sticks to your insides, and is fantastic as leftovers. Even the most devout carnivores will find it satisfying and not feel like it’s missing meat. And if you have one of those spouses who complains about a meal if it doesn’t have meat in it, then please punch them in the face and stop cooking for them. They’ll learn to eat and like new things if they’re beaten hard enough.
And speaking of family members enjoying this meal, my six month old will eat this like it’s his job. Try blending some up and giving them a taste before you add the final seasonings. It’s full of vegetables and fiber, so it’s great for them when they’re starting to eat solids and spend most of their free time trying desperately to poop while making “nnnnhhhhhhhhhhh” noises and going purple in the face. Better out than in, when it comes to babies.
Speak of the devil. He’s up. He’s yelling. The dog looks distressed. Back to the foxhole of parenthood I trot.