Friday, January 1, 2010

Cooking With Abandon


The most important thing I have gained in the kitchen after years of increasingly serious cooking is the confidence to improvise. The other night I was making an incredibly simple tomato-and-basil pasta sauce, one I've made dozens and dozens of times before. I opened the fridge to get the garlic, and saw some shallots and spinach, and I thought... hmm, that sounds good. So I took the tomato-and-basil theme, and riffed on it with shallots and spinach. The result was a pleasant diversion from the original, and absolutely delicious.

So here's the recipe, such as it is. I hesitate to even call it a recipe, but it is a tasty departure from the standard marinara sauce, to be sure.

Tomato and Spinach Sauce

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1-2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large can whole peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped, juices included
10 fresh basil leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried basil
2 cups fresh baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste

Add about 2 Tbsp of the olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and saute a minute or two, until fragrant. Add the rest of the olive oil and tomatoes and juices, and simmer over low to moderate heat for about ten minutes. Add the basil and the spinach and simmer another 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over linguine, and enjoy!

Pasta with Improvised Sauce

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