Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Now They're Never Going to Let Me In The Club

There's something I'vs got to come clean about. It's one of my dirty little culinary secrets:

I hate bacon.

I can hear all of you gasping, feverishly racing for the "back" button on your browser, flummoxed that anyone can hate bacon, but, sadly, I do. It wasn't always this way. Once upon a time, I loved bacon deeply- bacon cheeseburgers, bacon-wrapped meat, bacon and eggs (although I never was a fan of the BLT)- and then, one day, I woke up and I didn't feel the same anymore. I don't know why. Something about the way it smells and the greasy tracks it leaves behind left me... disenchanted.

To be honest, I wish I could love bacon again. It would make my life as a pretender to the culinary throne so much easier. I wouldn't stop reading a recipe or watching a cooking show at the mere mention of bacon. I wouldn't stare perplexed at the screen when contestants and judges alike on Top Chef proclaim their intense passion for it. I wouldn't have to pretend to gag when my husband suggests purchasing and cooking the stuff. (Okay, maybe I don't HAVE to do that, but it feels like I do. You know, to make my point. In case I hadn't made it 376 times before.) But alas, my friends, bacon and I fell out of love a long time ago, and I can't pretend any longer that we haven't. However, I know I'm pretty much alone in my disdain, so, as a mea culpa of sorts, I leave you with this video, because even if we can't agree on bacon, I hope we can all agree on Jim Gaffigan.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Penne with Spring Vegetables

Sometimes you just want something light, fresh, nutritious and filling- but not too filling- and still delicious.  And sometimes, all you need to get that is a few fresh vegetables and some pantry basics.  (Hey, I never claimed to be a revolutionary.)  

Penne with Spring Vegetables

1/2 lb. dried penne pasta  (I like Barilla Plus or Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1 medium Italian yellow squash
1 medium zucchini
2 small broccoli crowns
1 red onion
1 garlic clove
A handful of grape or cherry tomatoes  OR  2 Roma tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil (The good stuff-  cold-pressed, imported from Italy)
Balsamic vinegar (Again, a good one)
Salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add the penne and a small amount of salt.  Continue to cook penne according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan over medium-low heat. 

Halve the squash and zucchini lengthwise.  Halve lengthwise again, so you have long triangular sticks.  Chop the sticks (haha) into pieces approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Cut broccoli crowns off the stem, creating large-ish florets.  If using grape or cherry tomatoes, halve them.  If using Roma or another variety of tomato, seed and dice them.  Remove the skin from the red onion, and slice off two very thin, uh, slices.  (Note to self: work on cooking vocabulary.)  Mince garlic or press in garlic press, whichever you prefer.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the saute pan.  Let it heat through for about a minute, then add the vegetables and garlic, except for the tomatoes.  (If you prefer, you could keep the broccoli out and steam it.  But that means another pot to clean, and I do enough dishes already.)  Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender-crisp or desired doneness.  Remove from heat.

See, it's even pretty while it's cooking.

Combine penne and cooked vegetables in a serving bowl.  Add the tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, also to taste.  Toss to coat.  Admire its gorgeousness.  Serve warm.   (Serves 4.)