I have not done a cooking post in a while, possibly because I have not had occasion to do much cooking. Monday, however, I fixed dinner without benefit of recipe, so I thought it might be good for a few paragraphs.
I had half of a rather large green pepper, so I chopped that into smallish pieces and put it in a heavy pot with oil. The oil I used was some Garlic and Herb Oil I had purchased at a booth at the Canal Fest in Little Falls last summer. It was to benefit something, but I’m damned if I can remember what, which is too bad, because that would have added a nice bit of local color to the story. Still, I did buy it at the Canal Fest in Little Falls (although now that I think about it, it may not have been called Canal Fest, but let that go for now).
There may be some readers shaking their heads or fingers at me right now, because I may have waited too long to use up the oil. I seem to remember reading or hearing somewhere that you should use up olive oil within a certain amount of time after you open it. I can’t remember the time, but I’m fairly sure I’m outside of it. Oh well, I’m living to tell the tale, so it can’t be too egregious a fault.
Where was I? Oh yes, green pepper cooking in oil. I crushed up some garlic and let it breathe for fifteen minutes before adding it. When the peppers looked pretty cooked, I added two tubes of tomato sauce. We have several packets of tomato sauce in the freezer which came with pizza crusts. We don’t usually put tomato sauce on our homemade pizza, unless it’s something leftover that I originally put on pasta. I thawed two of the packets in a pan of warm water. I added basil and oregano, then put basil on the running grocery list on the refrigerator. I also threw in some grated Parmesan cheese, to help the sauce thicken.
When the sauce was well on its way, I started the rigatoni. I grated some mozzarella while the water boiled. There was not much mozzarella, but I wasn’t too worried, because I had plenty of ricotta. If only the ricotta didn’t have a use by date four days earlier. Old olive oil is one thing, I don’t take many chances with dairy. I pitched the ricotta and grated some cheddar to supplement the mozzarella.
I layered the rigatoni, sauce and cheese (in that order), sprinkled more grated Parmesan on top, and put it in a 350 degree oven (I suppose I forgot to mention I had turned on the oven to pre-heat while I chopped the green pepper). I kept it in the oven a little over 20 minutes, since everything was already cooked and I just wanted the cheese to melt. It was pretty yummy, although I realized too late I could have put a can of mushrooms in the sauce.
Some people might feel a little surprised at my recipe, because I was not cooking with wine as I often do (and by cooking with wine, of course I men sip a glass of wine while I cook) (I didn’t really need to say it, did I?). That would certainly be an acceptable variation on the recipe, if you like that sort of thing.