Cold Pasta with Lemon Sauce

The meal du jour is a lunch special: a cold pasta with butter, lemon juice and tomatoes. 
The first thing to do is put water on to boil.  I won’t insult your intelligence by giving step to step pictures and instructions on how to fill the pot with about twice the volume of your dried pasta, add a pinch of salt and put the pot on high.  I really don’t need to do that.
Do I?

While waiting for the water to come to a boil, you can use the time to meditate on the transient nature of life.  Or you can chop up your tomato.

Why, yes, I do use a lot of tomatoes.  Because they are delicious.

Dice the tomato. I did a very rough chop (the pieces shown below range from about a quarter to three-quarters of an inch).  Chopping them smaller will give the end dish a more homogeneous texture.  It is up to you how you would like it.

I, personally, hate homogeneity. 

At last, the water has come to a boil! Dump in your pasta. Shown here is a half pound of bowties because that was what I had in. You can also use fusilli or spiralle, any pasta that is small and dense.

Mmmm…raw pasta is delicious

While that is cooking, it is time to tackle the dressing.  In a small sauce pot, melt about a quarter stick of butter. The best way to do this is to have the burner on medium low.  If it is hotter, the butter will, of course, melt faster, but you have to be on guard for burning.

It’s melty.

Add to that a few squeezes of lemon juice and set that to low for the rest of the cooking of the pasta.  If it begins to really boil, turn off the heat immediately.

Now the pasta is cooked, it needs to be strained and chilled. If you are not in a hurry, you can let the pasta cool in the fridge.  Or you can dump ice into the strainer. That works too.

Cooked pasta is deliciouser.

Pour your concoction over the pasta

Add your chopped tomato and some basil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Mix it all together and suddenly, a yummy pasta for lunch appears.

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Lavash Open-face Sandwich

I was originally going to call today’s recipe lavash pizza, but the end result was more of a pile of veggies on top of lavash, so that plan went pretty far out the window.
But anyway, the dish itself remained the same. The first thing you need to do is to place your lavash bread on a cookie sheet (I had two sheets minus some).  

If this is your first experience with lavash, I highly recommend buying some and tasting it prior to making this recipe. It is very bland and not knowing what you are dealing with is one of the worst things you can do when trying a new ingredient. If you are feeling adventurous you can make your own. The next step for me was to feed an increasingly hungry boyfriend (this step may be omitted if non applicable) 
To be fair, he is excellent at layering cheese and slicing vegetables

Once your lavash is placed, it is time to layer your first cheese.  For this dish, I picked a pecorino romano and a parmesean, but you can use any two strong cheeses that will compliment each other, such as the Vermont cheddar I used  yesterday and a monterey jack.

I, however, will always have a soft spot for hard Italian cheeses. 

Pick whichever cheese you think would work better in a slightly stronger position (I chose the pecorino) and sliced it into small cubes.

I ended up chopping the cheese even smaller than shown here so that it would melt evenly.

 Spread the cheese across your lavash base

Next take some thin sliced deli ham

I only ended up using about four slices (less, what got eaten in the making of the meal)
and slice it into inch long strips

Place it over the cheese so that the entire base gets an approximately even coating of ham.

Layer your second cheese across the top of the meat.
Luckily, the parm was pre-shaved

Now it’s veggie time! You may notice a new vegetable from yesterday: the zuccini. When preparing treat it like and eggplant and discard both the topmost and bottom portions of the fruit.

Today, instead of chopping the veggies, I sliced them thin.

I would have used a mandolin but a) I always think I will cut myself and b) I don’t have one.

 Layer the veggies one at a time atop your ever growing mound of food.

I had to squash them down at one point. Otherwise, this could have gotten silly.

Another layer of your first cheese goes on the top

and put it in the oven on 350 for about fifteen minutes, or until the eggplant begins to brown.

Add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Now you have a delicious meal. Bon apatite!

Three Things to Do with Six Veggies

Today I’m going to give you three recipes that can easily be done with six cheap and delicious vegetables: Cannelloni Beans, Black Beans, Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Zuccini and Onions.
And don’t they just look delicious!

Now, if you are feeling far more ambitious than I, you can buy the beans and chickpeas dried and soak them overnight. Bon apatite has some great tips if you want to learn how to do that.

Since I am abhorrently lazy, however, I buy my beans canned and will be using the 15.5oz standard Goya can as my standard system of measurement for all things bean related.

Anyhow, if you are like me and haven’t the desire to prepare the beans yourself, you can at least reduce your sodium intake (and, honestly, the salt that gets added to canned foods is the only reason I might maybe consider switching from canned to dried) by draining the beans and rinsing them in a strainer or a colander before adding them to your pot.

Rinse gently, to avoid breaking the beans. Seriously, broken beans are kinda nasty.

Go ahead and put all of your beans in the pot.

All of your beans in one pot is less of an issue than all of your eggs in one basket.

Now it’s time to attack your vegetables. I got mine from a local farmers market, but even if you get them from Costco, make sure they are ripe and healthy looking..

Avoid vegetables and fruits with obvious bruises and splotches. 
Cut them up into bite-sized portions, being sure to discard the nasty portions of each part, specifically: the skins tops and bottoms of the onions, the place on the tomato where the stem meets the fruit and the top and bottom of the eggplant.
I shed many tears to get the onions that perfect looking. Really, two onions is a great deal of onion juice.

 Once everything is in the pot, add liberal amounts of salt and pepper:

You also may want to use a bigger pot than I did

and enough water to fill the pot the rest of the way.

Stir very gently if you have a small pot like I do.

Bring to a boil and then lower the pot to a simmer for about twenty minutes and then you have your first dish, a fantastic vegetable soup!

If soup isn’t quite your speed, then you might want to try a slight modification.
Drain out the liquid from the soup (I used a cup measure, you don’t need to completely dry it out) and add about two to three tablespoons of olive oil.

Yes, I keep my oil in a wine bottle. What of it?

Let that simmer for another ten minutes until it is reduced by a third, add more salt and pepper and some chili powder, suddenly, you have vegan chili!

Oh my God! Amazing
But maybe you weren’t feeling chili either. Well that can be remedied if you have a half block of sharp cheddar.
Which, fortunately, I did
Since you will be adding it to your chili, cut it into small pieces, remember more surface area equals faster melting.

Throw that on top of your soon to be not-chili.

Mix that cheese in until it is completely melted

I really need to get a better camera, because this looked better in person.

Voila! you have a delicious three-bean cheddar dip. If you want to see more of this, please let me know!