When I am making a dish from my ‘tried and true’ recipe pile, I am on autopilot, I can cook, do algebra problems, and paint my daughter’s nails all at the same time. But when I am making a recipe from thin air, I get this look on my face that suggests major consternation. My eyes are glazed over, I flit about, the world ceases to exist. I make notes before I begin but I am constantly thinking through every step. Did I really want him to see this side of me, crazy-eyes and all?
But in the end, I felt he needed the cooking tips and another home-cooked meal. Plus, that meant I got a prep cook, a student, and most importantly, excellent company. And the extra pound of Brussels sprouts now chilling in the refrigerator had a purpose…his dinner and further indoctrination into the goodness of Brussels sprouts.
We cooked and chatted and dinner got done rather efficiently. Xavier, Jim, and I loved the different flavors that came together in the dish. But the greatest praise, the highest seal of approval came from my daughter Elizabeth. She came home from playing with one of her BFF’s and asked what I was making. I said Spaghetti. I wasn’t going to slaughter the fancy Italian name I gave this dish when telling her plus she wouldn’t be impressed with my Italian language skills anyway. Sadly, she thought I said Spaghetti-O’s and went into near meltdown when I kept repeating to her that I was not making Spaghetti-O’s.
While I have no problem making the adults wait to eat dinner (which is usually near cold by the time they get to) so I can take pictures, I wasn’t going to do that to her. I asked Jim to serve her. Remember that part above where the world ceases to exist…that is still in effect during the photo shoots, possibly more so because that is the part I am the worst at.
I ran in from the “studio” (currently my backyard since the light is great this time of year) and I hear, “This is yummy.” That stopped me in my tracks. I looked at her and she was eating it. Tomatoes, sprouts, bacon, noodles…but no onions. She told me she liked it. This child hasn’t willingly eaten anything of mine lately.
This dish is a perfect success to me. Take the delicious factor, add the great time cooking with Xavier, passing on some of my kitchen know-how to him, and the fact that Elizabeth ate it with gusto, well that is what perfect success is to me. The flavors were simple, light, clean, and pure. I am certain that sounds funny, but make the dish, you’ll understand.
Spaghetti alla Cavolini di Bruxelles
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 onion; thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 lb bacon; cooked and crumbled
- 1 lb Brussels sprouts; trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Salt/Pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Shaved parmesan
Cook spaghetti according to package directions, but reduce cooking time by one minute.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat.
Add the olive oil and onions.
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes.
Cook for one minute. Add the Brussels sprouts, mix well.
Add the bacon, stir.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the tomatoes and oregano.
Mix well and bring to a quick simmer.
Add the lemon juice.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly begin to add the now cooked pasta straight from the water.
Don't drain the pasta.
Scoop it out with a spaghetti fork or the like, allowing the pasta water to cling to it and add to the sauce.
Incorporate the pasta into the sauce.
Serve with shaved parmesan.