Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies. By cooking my own meals I can save money, manage my diet and have fun experimenting with new dishes. Another great bonus is that it gets me out of the dishes. I cook the vast majority of my wife’s and my dinners. Over the years, though, I have found myself getting bored with the meals that I prepare. It feels like I am cooking the same 4 or 5 things on a constant rotation and, as a result, am continuously looking for new ideas.
This has been happening less and less, however, since I have begun to talk more with other people who love cooking. Having friends or family who share your passion for food is important. It allows you to stumble on new meals, techniques and flavors. Also, once you begin sharing your latest culinary ventures, and asking others to share theirs, the conversations take on a life of their own. You sit down for a family meal, eat some thinly sliced chicken rolled with mozzarella, ricotta and tomato sauce and ask “how did you make this?!” Then you start talking about the different things you can stuff the chicken with, like spinach, sweet or hot peppers, or bacon, and all of the sudden you have a culinary experiment you cannot wait to dive into!
Recently I found myself once again bored with my own cooking. I found myself making baked ziti, chicken stir fry, London broil, and fettuccine alfredo month after month. I found myself in need of a new weeknight dish—something fast, but delicious. Then my mother, with whom I regularly exchange recipes, told me about something she threw together from ingredients she had around the house. It’s an easy, variable, and most importantly, fast meal which we will call, very simply:
1 lb. of bowtie pasta
1 can of diced tomatoes (or you can dice fresh plum tomatoes)
2 handfuls of fresh spinach
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan
1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
Boil a large pot of salted water and add the pasta. While the pasta is boiling sauté the garlic, spinach and diced tomatoes in olive oil in a 12 inch skillet until they are cooked through. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan. Toss the pasta in the olive oil and vegetables. Add the mozzarella and parmesan.
Note: Any number of ingredients can be added to this recipe. Meat options include chicken or ground sausage. You may also want to add shrimp. Chopped broccoli or a white onion would be a great addition as well. Experiment! Then talk about it with someone!
Stay tuned for next month’s article: My experiment with broiling the perfect steakhouse steak.
Francis Tucker is a practicing attorney in New York City. He enjoys traveling, experimenting in the kitchen, and a good Scotch.