There comes a time in your life when you are hunger rich but time poor. That time for me is often known by a mercurial, shifting title that always ends with ‘…day.’ There’s a pattern there.
There’s also a temptation on days like that to just say ‘Sod it! Bring the milk and the cereal! We’re having breakfast! Again!’ followed closely after by ‘Actually yes, some toast would be lovely!’ and then it’s the morning, you’ve had breakfast six times in the last 24 hours and are no longer quite sure what day it is, time it is, or if you actually like scrambled eggs.
On days like that you need food that’s fast, protein-heavy and tastes of things. Lovely things. This is food that tastes of those things. This…is SAUSAGE TRIAGE!
Wait that sounds filthy
Anyway! Victor! Suspects! GOGOGO!
From the left we have:
A red pepper
Some wholewheat pasta. I like fusilli, partly because it has surface area that catches the delicious goop and partially because it’s a fun word to say.
A red onion
So, first off, let’s chop some stuff. I am working very hard on getting better at this at the moment because, for the longest time, it’s felt a little like the knives I’ve chopped vegetables with have been my hands instead of being IN my hands. Enthusiasm? Totally my strong point. Accuracy and small bits? Nooooooooooot so much.
So! Here’s an onion
And here’s me slicing through it way too high.
But the basic system still works. What you’re looking to do here is small pieces not rings or mysterious half broken ankhs that edible conspiracy theorists can obsess over. Although bless them, they maybe should, it might be fun.
Also ‘Edible Conspiracy Theorists’ is the name of my Soul Coughing cover band.
Anyway, small pieces means chopping horizontally down the onion like this three times at least. Then, holding the pieces together, chop vertically and they’ll fall apart into either lovely, precise, Oliverian
(We lug in his name)
Pieces or in my case, roof slates made out of onion. Either way, tasty! Onwards!
There are a couple of ways to smash up garlic big style. The first is to take a unitasker kitchen instrument like my garlic smasher upper ™ and mince the little chap. This way? Less precise (You’re short on time, remember) but more fun. Flat of the blade on the clove. Lean on it. The clove pops. Like so.
Chop that the same way you chopped all those others, then avenge Morgan Freeman’s brutal death before riding off into the metaphorical suns-
Wait that the plot of Unforgiven
Chop the little chap up, don’t worry about being precise, you won’t be, and throw him and the onion tiles in a pan. Throw some butter in there if you’re that way inclined. I like olive oil myself but whatever works.
Meanwhile, pasta! Boil a pan of water, throw some salt in there if you’re feeling fancy and then throw the pasta in. Cooking pasta is both dull and, on occasion, hilarious. I was first introduced to the phrase Al Dente for example by a University friend who taught me that it meant ‘bloody raw’ and that the spaghetti was done when it stuck to the wall you threw it at. Also my first ever editor. Nuff respect, Ali. St Johns posse for life. Etc.
Anyway, while the pasta going through its training montage, take your pepper, put it on its side and chop through about a centimetre below the stem. Julienne (Ribbon, really) the lid, then reach in and pull the middle out. Some people will want to wash it out to make sure there are no pepper seeds in their food. I’m okay with it but, again, mileage, vary, etc. Once that’s done, halve the pepper and ribbon it. Again if you want to remove the whiter bits do and if you want to chop it fine, do. We’re working fast and (metaphorically) dirty here.
Deep breath, think of England, chaps. Chop the end off and then, pushing from the non chopped end, toothpaste style, spooge the meat out into the pan.
I KNOW. You do not have to tell me what this looks like. You have two choices, leave them as they are and lightly fry some delicious cosplaying-as-turds meat or get in there and break them up. Go for the latter, it’s messier, more fun and far more reassuring. Distract yourself from the possible horror you’re feeling by added the garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. You’re going to think you’ve not put enough in, unless you forgot to put the lid on the jar and you dump the entire contents into the pan.
The secret to dealing with that by the way is scoop the dry stuff out really quick and add some water to boil off some of the rest.
Now, the crux of this meal is timing. If the pasta still tastes like angry wet cardboard by the time the meat’s ready that’s going to be rubbish. Know what the answer is? SCIENCE
As the A Life Less Ordinary soundtrack once advised you, well…me, put a lid on it. That keeps the water and steam in there, raises the temperature faster and boils over in a really exciting way. Bonus! That ca be avoid by putting the lid at a jaunty angle though, so do that.
Once you’re done, drain the pasta and pop it into a bowl, then, drump the meat/vegetable mix over the top.
Then stir about a tablespoon of the red pesto in. You will, if you were me when I was in my teens, be tempted to use the entire jar. And by tempted I mean I would always put the entire jar in there.
Do not do this. Firstly because you’ll have pesto for several other meals and secondly because putting an entire jar of pesto into a meal for two people is like smashing an egg with a hammer. Made of cheese and olive oil. And then eating the hammer. And wondering why you’re throwing up a not especially digested hammer.
Tablespoon. Trust me.
Stir it round, so everything’s nice and coated then, transfer it to bowls. Then shave some parmesan over the top and throw it into your facehole, down your front or if you’re me, on occasion, both.
So there you go, superquick meaty vegetable pasta. You can do this in about twenty minutes and have some left for lunch the next day. Winner winner Butternut Squash dinner! As no one in Vegas says!