At some point in my life, I decided I didn't like pasta. Well, not pasta as much as pasta dishes. And, at that time in my life, pasta dishes consisted nearly 100% of spaghetti with either meat sauce or non-meat tomato sauce. I don't think I considered
lasagna to fall into the same category as spaghetti, but I never really loved lasagna anyhow.
I did like Spaghetti-O's. I mean I really liked Spaghetti-O's, but even then I think I suspected those too somehow didn't really consist of the same food products as what I'd come to think of as pasta dishes.
Whatever the case, the concept of a pasta dish eventually became to mean an overly heavy plate of squishy stuff swimming in a pool of thin, bland sauce.
And, yes, you can take this to mean I was completely unaware of the many, many forms pasta takes. I'm pretty sure I was already driving by the time I understood what linguine was and that it qualified as a pasta.
I'm not exaggerating.
Eventually I did learn to understand pasta as but an ingredient which comes in many, many forms. I won't go as far as to say I understand how the different forms are differently suited for particular applications, but I know they're out there.
I also managed to learn there were more than two potential sauces for pasta, which was probably the greater reason for its reintegration into my diet. While I'm not completely anti-tomato sauce or meat sauce, I'm pretty happy for realizing all the other
options available, including the one I tend to use most: just throw something together.
The Missus suggested pasta for dinner. I knew we had a few varieties of whole wheat pastas in the pantry, some chicken sausages and all sorts of newly delivered organic produce.
Unfortunately, rather than learn how to make some flavorful pasta sauces, I've defaulted to improvising with pasta. Cook the pasta al dente and toss it with whatever you have. I wouldn't say the results are always great, but they're vast improvements on
the dishes of my youth that nearly drove me away from what is really a staple food for most.
I knew I wanted to use the fresh organic spinach that came in our delivery yesterday as well as one of the varieties of sausages. Beyond that...maybe tomatoes? I chose the penne over the rotini for no really good reason and got the water on the stove while
evaluating how to proceed.
Digging through the refrigerator, I remembered I had some ginger leftover from a prior dinner.
Once upon a time, the idea of ginger in a pasta dish would have seemed absurd and improper, not to mention outside the rules for pasta.
Sometimes, wanting to just use some of your on-hand items can be very liberating.
A little olive oil into the big skillet, get it hot and add the 2 tablespoons, give or take, of minced ginger.
I quartered the sausages (with sun-dried tomato and basil) length-wise and then sliced them to get smallish pieces. I think sometimes I go too far with the knife, to be honest. I want the ingredients to distribute well into the dish, but end up burying
them because they're too small.
Guilty on this one as well.
Quartering the grape tomatoes, however, worked out just fine and in they went with the sausages.
A coworker brought some of her extra herbs from her garden to give away today, so some fresh summer savory ended up being the next thing in the pan.
"I know you're experimenting," said the Missus upon entering the kitchen, "but that smells fantastic."
And, while it did smell pretty fantastic, my calculations were that she had only just finished changing a diaper, so, really, her olfactory judgment might be slightly skewed.
On a whim I decided to pour a few cups of chicken stock into the mixture. I figured, if nothing else, it'll help steam the spinach. I was a little concerned about it making things too thin, but by the time I drained and added the pasta and the spinach
steamed enough, the liquid had reduced to a good point.
From there, just pour a few glasses of Pinot Grigio and...that's dinner.