Travel Eats

Entries in simple (3)


Pasta Pomodoro

Fellow Texans, when you are suffering in the midst of week of triple digit temperatures take comfort in the fact that we can plant tomatoes in February.  And when you want a nice fresh pasta dish that won't require you to sweat over a hot stove like an Italian grandmother, try this recipe:

  • 3 large ripe red tomatoes, roughly chopped--since the beauty of this recipe is it's ease of preparation I don't peel or seed them.  Don't use canned, this is a summer recipe so you really need nice ripe tomatoes.
  • Arugula--as much or as little as you like, maybe none...that's up to you.  I used it because I think my arugula's days are numbered with the heat wave.  Inevitably I will forget to water it.
  • Basil--as much as you like, keep the leaves whole
  • Garlic--3 large cloves sliced thinly
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 oz. penne pasta
  • Parmesan cheese--grate ~1/2 cup + more for sprinkling
  • Toasted bread crumbs--see this post for directions on toasting your own

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook penne until just shy of al dente.  Drain pasta, reserving ~1 cup cooking water.  Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped tomatoes, garlic, large pinch of kosher salt and several grinds of pepper.  Cook until the tomatoes soften slightly and release their juices.  I add the garlic with the tomatoes because it prevents the thinly sliced garlic from burning.  Add the basil leaves and arugula and cook til just wilted. Add the pasta, reserved cooking water and 1/2 cup grated parmesan.  Add just enough cooking water to make enough sauce to coat the pasta, cooking until the pasta is the desired doneness and the sauce thickens slightly.

To serve, sprinkle with reserved parmesan, bread crumbs and garnish with some uncooked tomatoes.  A perfect pasta dish for a hot night.


Busy Day Curry

If you have all the ingredients on hand, you can have this on the table in ~30 minutes--seriously.  Just don't go crazy with the curry paste, the heat builds, and the dish will be hotter tomorrow.  Most of the ingredients are available at a good Asian grocery or Amazon.

3 TBS. yellow curry paste

1.5 cans coconut milk

2 medium zucchini--quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2" chunks

2 bell peppers--cut into 1/2" chunks

1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2" chunks

2 TBS fish sauce

2 TBS turbinado sugar (or brown sugar)

salt to taste

1/2 cup Thai basil leaves

1/2 lb rice sticks

2 Kaffir lime leaves, sliced thinly

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil and cook rice sticks as directed on package--about 10 minutes, until soft but not mushy.  Drain and cut with scissors into manageable lengths.

Over medium high heat bring 1/2 can coconut milk to a boil, add curry paste and whisk til smooth.  Cook until thickened and oil beads on surface.  Add vegetables and stir to coat with curry/coconut milk mixture.  Cook for ~2 minutes, then add 1 can coconut milk and simmer until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add tofu, fish sauce, sugar, salt, basil, lime leaf and cook until heated through.

Mix in the cooked noodles and toss to coat evenly.  Garnish with more basil.

Maddy and I still laugh at the directions on a certain brand of Asian noodles.  It said, "Please! don't use hot water."  Don't worry, you can use hot water on the rice sticks, they won't cook otherwise.  Enjoy! You can take the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.


Steak and Grilled Caesar

In anticipation of one less mouth to feed with Sophie away at YMCA camp I bought a beautiful strip steak at the farmer's market.  I used my father-in-law's tried and true method and seasoned with Hawaiian Alaea salt and garlic.


After liberally applying minced garlic and salt to both sides of the steak, I let it rest at room temperature for about an hour prior to grilling.  

One of my new addictions is the Table Set podcast--you can find them on iTunes or here .  I was inspired to grill my romaine for this riff on the traditional caesar.   Russ Parsons' breadcrumb discussionon KCRW Good Food podcast was revelatory...imagine the texture and taste of croutons IN EVERY BITE!

To grill the romaine, split head in half and brush lightly with olive oil, grill ~4-5 minutes total, turning once.  I did this while the meat was resting.  I used panko bread crumbs--toss with a little olive oil and toast in a non-stick skillet over medium to medium high.  Watch closely, once they start browning they cook rapidly.  I had a bowl handy to pour them into immediately when  they were golden brown.  I served with my homemade caesar dressingand shaved parmesan.  This concept of a crouton in every bite will blow Sophie's mind.

Although we miss her dearly we had a delightful adult dinner without anyone picking anything out of their meal.

Gratuitous meat shot.....