When I was young, and recovering from the flu, my mom would always make me a fried egg on toast, covered with hot milk. It was the signal that I was going to live after all, and coating a healing digestive system with eggs, bread and milk meant that I would be back outside playing in no time. I remember the droplets of butter floating on top of, and the beautiful saltiness of a perfectly cooked over easy egg. As I scooped a bite, a lovely piece of milky white bread would droop off the spoon, catching a cascade of yellow yumminess and dripping it onto my chin. It was the ultimate comfort food.
Since then, I have a lot of foods that are like a cocoon for the tongue. I would surmise that your definition of comfort food does is similar, and when the world overwhelms you, like a Friday afternoon that should have been a day of skidding into the weekend instead of laying rubber in ever increasing smoking circles, I REACH FOR SOMETHING FAMILIAR.
If you've read any of my previous narratives, its a sure bet that I had no idea what I would make as I took off my shoes and entered the kitchen. As the word "pasta" entered my mind, I reached for macaroni, and gazed at it as though I was flipping the 'on' switch and expected it to begin talking to me.
It did. It said, "cover me in tomato-y and tangy goodness; and don't forget to add the cheese."
Like that was something I'd forget.
Anyway, assembling the basics for a simple marinara, and grabbing a bottle of Newman's Own Fire Roasted and Garlic Pasta Sauce (I can't wait ALL day to be comforted!) I set out to coax the evening into appearing more gently than the day did, and began shutting out the world with a pan, a spoon, and a little mirapoix.
By the time I was finished my kitchen was smelling like rosemary and wine, with the earthy and warm aroma of al dente pasta coating the high notes of onion and garlic. A mound of grated fresh Parmesan cheese was next to the fresh Italian parsley I had rough cut, and all of it was waiting for me like your first love and a sloppy, milk covered smile.
Don't forget to say, "mmmmmm!!"
Fire Roasted Cabernet Marinara and Macaroni
If you haven't noticed, this is a meatless pasta. But you'll never miss the structure because the mirapoix and the cabernet lend deep, satisfying flavor.
2 large carrots diced into small pieces
2 large celery ribs also diced into small pieces
1/2 large onion, diced into small pieces
3 T Rosemary infused olive oil (If you don't have this, add a big sprig of rosemary into the oil as it shimmers and remove after the mirapoix is softened)
1 bottle of Newman's Own Fire Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta Sauce (It has good tomato chunks and a balanced, fresh flavor)
1/3 to 1/2 C water
1/2 C good Cabernet
Salt and Pepper
1 C of finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 C rough chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and Pepper
1 C elbow macaroni
Chop all ingredients and have them ready. This comes together fast. Get a large pot of water near boiling, too. You will make the pasta while the sauce is simmering. Pour 2 to 3 T of the oil into a medium high preheated deep saucepan. When the oil is shimmering, add the mirapoix and saute for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the wine and let reduce for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add a little pepper. Now add the can of sauce and the water, and some salt and a little more pepper. Stir, reduce to low and cover with the lid slightly askew to let a little of the steam out. Simmer on low for 25 minutes. In the meantime, when you have about 5 minutes left, add the macaroni to the boiling water and stir. Take the sauce off the heat and add a handful of cheese, about 3/4 C loose, and 1/8 C of the fresh parsley. When the pasta has cooked to al dente (about 6 minutes or so) drain and add to the sauce. Incorporate all together. Stir and let it heat up the pasta, maybe turning the burner on to VERY low for about 2 minutes. You don't want to get it bubbling again, that will ruin the parsley flavor. To plate, put a mound of pasta down and sprinkle generously with the cheese and dot with the parsley.
Watch my short video about getting comfy in the kitchen.
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.