Gettin’ Sweaty in the Kitchen

In the book Divine Secrets of the Ha-Ya Sisterhood, Vivi talks about how she can practically taste good sleep, like a perfect BLT (exact wording may vary, as I’m too lazy to pull out the book right now).  I couldn’t agree more.  I’m coming off a four-night stretch of night shifts, which doesn’t sound so bad until you consider that my body is only used to two at a time, and I’m still working other shifts the rest of the time.  I don’t know whether I’m supposed to be asleep or awake, and I have no will for . . . anything.

Anything except cooking, that is.  And not just any kind of cooking, but Cooking Unnecessarily Involved Dishes That Seem Simple And Quick Until I’m Past The Point of No Return And Probably Shouldn’t Have Been Undertaken In A Kitchen Without Air Conditioning.  Best way to waste an afternoon.  Also one of the sweatiest that does not require nakedness.  But, hey, it cleaned out the fridge.

Apparently, good sleep tastes like Pasta Primavera.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera

* 1 6-8 ounce package sliced mushrooms
* 1 Red bell pepper, sliced into strips (it would be good if you used one that was just this side of wrinkly, just like I did)
* 1 Medium-largish onion, halved and sliced medium thin.
* 3 Carrots, peeled and sliced into into strips
* 3 Small zucchini, peeled and sliced into thin strips (or the good parts of 3 medium zucchini that were also just this side of wrinkly)
* 1 Head of garlic, prepared for roasting
* Olive oil
* Salt and pepper
* 1 12 ounce package of spinach fettuccine
* About 1/2 cup of prepared pesto
* About 1/2 cup of half-and-half (cream would have been better, but I didn’t have any)
* Parmesan, the kind you grate yourself.

* Heat the oven to 450.
* In the biggest bowl you own, toss the vegetables with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Don’t be stingy!  Divide the veggies between two baking sheets and pop in the oven along with the garlic (since my oven is really small, I just popped the garlic in its little foil packet right on one of the baking sheets).
* Roast until the vegetables are as tender as you’d like – I prefer mine fairly soft but not squishy – and lightly browned around the edges.  30 minutes is a good guideline.  Stir and switch the pans from upper to lower rack every 10 minutes are so.  If the garlic is not done (quite squishy and fragrant), reduce the oven temperature to 350-ish and let it finish cooking while everything else finishes.
* When the vegetables are almost done, start the pasta.  I kept the veggies warm by consolidating them to one dish and using it as a lid for the pasta pot.
* When the pasta is done, fish it out with a pasta server or tongs and add it to the veggies.  (Or drain it, reserving  some cooking water.)  If the baking dish is not deep enough to add the pasta and have room to stir, use the big-ass bowl you used earlier.
* When the garlic is done, carefully remove it from its paper into a small bowl and mash with a fork, adding some of the reserved pasta water to make a runny garlic paste.
* Add the garlic, pesto, and half-and-half, a little more salt and pepper, and some grated parmesan.  Toss together and taste.  If it’s too thick, add a little of the pasta water to thin it out.  Adjust seasonings as needed.
* Enjoy!  Possibly with a bit more parmesan on top.

I recommend making this for more than one person, because it makes a metric ton of yuminess that I suspect won’t save more than a couple of days.  Also, it would benefit from some lemon juice, to break up the richness.

And, as the final dish was not really photogenic, especially not with a camera phone, I instead include a photo of my kitchen supervisor, Erida, without whose expert guidance I’m sure I could not produce a single kitchen success.

image

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