The Joy of Not Cooking

Perri and Su’s pasta primevera a la minute and butter lettuce with toasted pine nuts

I’ve spent the past several months writing so.much.about.food, that lamentably, my actual kitchen time has been, well, limited to “shoot I have a potluck and I’m the girl who graduated culinary school so there are high expectations and I can’t just show up with a bottle of wine” and “how am I going to turn my leftovers from lunch into dinner?”

Nights have been filled with holiday dinners, catching up with old friends and internal monologues of “Well, I have this thing Thursday night anyways so what’s the point in going grocery shopping for the two meals I’ll be in this week?” Jake, wanna go to Mole for dinner? Guilty.

For sure, it’s made me really sad. And I’ve often worried that like anything that takes a lot of patience and practice (Hey, 30 days of Bikram yoga…), when I pick up a knife next, I won’t even know how to small dice my way through a carrot (Did I ever?). But happily, like returning to the gym after a few months of, say, Bikram yoga, you realize, you still know how to work the elliptical, you still know how to do lunges, and yes, you can still hold a plank for about 20 seconds longer than you want to.

Last week, when cooking dinner at Aunt Su’s, I realized there’s something really nice about not cooking for a couple of weeks. You’re flooded with a sense of relief and happiness when you realize you still, in fact, know how to make a red pepper coulis, you still remember the proper washing technique for tackling leeks, and like anything in life, you still know how to fuck a few things up and rebound from it.

It’s like taking a few months off from listening to your favorite band. The moment one of their songs pop up on shuffle, it always feels like coming home. You’re right back where you left off and suddenly remember why you fell in love in the first place. And now you get to do it all over again. And really, what could be better than that?

4997c349-3e43-4397-b7e2-9dde2b789819

Easy Vegan Fall Pasta Even Carnivores Will Crave

Lately, I’ve been really inspired by this thing called carbs. Luckily, when they come accompanied by loads of wholesome goodness and veggies, you don’t have to serve ’em with a side order of guilt. Behold: Last week’s Meatless Monday’s (erm, two Thursday agos…) Pasta extravaganza at Bob & Su’s.
Su and I tossed together this simple pasta salad, while Bob eagerly eyed the prime rib defrosting on the counter. Luckily, by the end of this hearty feasty, all parties had lost interest in steak. Heck, all we could even manage for dessert was raspberries (okay, drizzled with balsamic. and chocolate. lots of chocolate-covered stuff).
As it turned out, the meal was completely vegan (also pictured: simple roasted squash, a beet-studded salad, and caramelized Brussels sprouts), but I don’t think anybody noticed. 
Pasta
1 box mini shells
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch bok choi
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Whatever vegetables you have and want to add
olive oil, lots of
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add oil to hot pan and saute onion until brown.
2. Add peppers and bok choi to mixture.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on box.
4. Add canned tomatoes to pan’s mixture and continue simmering for fifteen minutes or so. Drizzle in more oil. And then probably some more.
5. Season as desired. Pour mixture over pasta and mix thoroughly.
*Note: You don’t have to use pasta shells for this recipe, but as Su wisely pointed out to me, the sauce clings nicely to the pliable shells, likely better than it would to ziti or spaghetti. If you’re lucky, some onion-y bits and tomato-y goodness will hide in the  shells’ nooks for some of the tastiest bites.”