Here's how I do cooking:
At store: "Hmm, whole-wheat pasta sounds good. Also mushrooms. Ooh, look! Mini Naked juices! Cheap mini Naked juices! Score!"
At home: "Okay, water on to boil . . . I'm craving some garlic. Five cloves should about do it. Lots of olive oil, low heat . . . Now what else will go with garlic? Might as well use those mushrooms. Rough chop . . . And that would be really good with some tomatoes, too . . . Let's see what's in the fridge. Leftover chipotle peppers? Perfect! It'll be a spicy one . . . Fine chop on those . . . Ooh, sweet yellow bell peppers! That'll be great! Now all those into the mix . . . Hmm, maybe sun-dried tomatoes instead of fresh . . . Whoa, too spicy! What about some tomato paste . . . Yes, that's better; a little sweeter. And oregano! Oregano will go great with these flavors!"
And that's how I come up with new recipes.
Be aware that this one takes a little while. Figure about 30 minutes on prep time.
2 oz whole-wheat pasta (I used thin spaghetti)
Boiling water (reserve some of the water the pasta cooked in for the sauce)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh garlic (I used 6 cloves)
Fresh mushrooms (must be fresh, and I used 3 large ones)
Fresh sweet bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red, as green won't be sweat enough. I'm sure roasted red peppers would be good, too. I used about a quarter of a pepper.)
2 small chipotle peppers (reserve some of the sauce from
Sun-dried tomatoes (I used a handful of grape tomatoes that I dehydrated myself)
Kleenex (trust me)
Start by boiling water with a generous amount of olive oil and salt over high heat. After it comes to a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for 6-8 minutes. While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, prep your veggies and other stuff. Roughly chop the garlic, mushrooms, and sweet pepper. Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and chipotle peppers. Start a saute pan over low heat with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil (if you say E.V.O.O. I'm gonna punch you in the face) and the roughly chopped garlic. Keep the heat low, and let it simmer for about 10 minutes (until the garlic starts to soften; this makes the garlic soft and mild and delicious and also flavors the oil). By this time, the pasta should be done. Reserve 1-2 cups of the water from the pasta, then strain the pasta and run cool water over it to make sure the cooking process stops. Set the pasta aside.
When the garlic is soft and starting to turn translucent, add all the chopped elements (mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, anything else you like). Let the mushrooms and peppers soften, and the flavors come together a little bit. Next, add the liquid from the chipotle peppers, about a tablespoon of it (you can do more, depending on how spicy you like it). Let that cook together for a minute or two. Then add the tomato paste. Start with a tablespoon or so, and add more to taste. You want the sweetness of the tomato to balance out the intense heat of the peppers, so be as generous with the tomato paste as you need to. As you add the tomato paste, add enough of the pasta water to start making a thick sauce. Thinner than gravy, but thicker than water. This is a matter of personal preference, but I go for the consistency of beef stew. I used about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and maybe 3/4 cup of pasta water to achieve what I wanted. Finally, add oregano to taste. It should sort of take the edge off of the peppers a little more. You can also throw in some salt and pepper at this point, although I didn't add any.
Once you're satisfied with the flavor and texture of your sauce, take your cooked pasta and toss it in with the sauce, re-heating it a little bit. You can serve with chicken or shrimp, maybe some tofu. I'm not sure how well it would compliment beef or fish. Chorizo would be excellent with this, provided it's fairly mild. I didn't put any protein with mine, though. Some creme fresh or sour cream would probably be good, and help take the edge off.
And I'm serious about the tissue. I went through two of them.
This was more than enough food for me after a 10-mile run, so if you're cooking for more than one, adjust the amounts accordingly.