Monday, July 18, 2011

The Heat of the Moment

I've been on this crazy cleaning-slash-organizing tear through my apartment. After seven years in a tiny homestead, it's become time to toss out all of the crap and to get super organized with what remains. My plan was to just go through my closets, but at the urging of a friend, I attacked ALL of my kitchen cabinets too. An episode of Hoarders could totally have been filmed...

Living in such a small space requires creative storage solutions, and unfortunately I am now one of those people who stores their over sized pots and pans in the oven. I always wondered who those crazy people were, and now I know. They're me. (Stay with me. This IS going somewhere.)

The thing is, once you store things in surprising places, you have to actually remember that you did. Like, when you turn your oven up to 400+ degrees, like, when you're making scones or something, you might not want to leave certain pans in the broiler that have been layered with rubbery/plastic like substances to protect them from scratches. Scratches won't mean much to you once the plastic has melted and glued your nice Le Creuset frying pan to your $3.99 quarter sheet pan. (Oh, yes. That happened!)

Fortunately I am crafty and figured out how to separate my pans (low heat to soften said plastic material) and how to remove a charred substance from the face of my frying pan (water/vinegar/baking soda/heat). How did I even discover this whole mess? Only when I decided to roast a bunch of yellow peppers in my broiler but found a modernist kitchen pan sculpture in the way. But all's well that ends well. I only lost the cheapie pan and still managed to make dinner.

My first pepper pasta dish was made for a True Blood post last year and used red peppers that were simply sauteed. This recipe uses yellow peppers that have been roasted,* but the recipes are pretty interchangeable. You can even use roasted peppers from a jar. But if you decide to make your own, just make sure that you haven't stashed any winter sweaters in the oven before you turn it on.

*TO ROAST: Cut the peppers in half lengthwise, remove the stems and seeds, place them cut side down on a sheet pan, and place them under the broiler until the skins turn completely black. Once cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin and cut the peppers into strips.)

Pasta With Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese
(Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup thinly sliced roasted sweet peppers (from a jar or homemade, see above)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large basil leaves, cut in slivers (optional)
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
3/4 pound pasta, any shape

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced roasted peppers, and stir together for about a minute. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the basil (if using) and the goat cheese. Remove from the heat.

2. When the water comes to a boil, cook the pasta until al dente — firm to the bite — following the recommendations on the package. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water into the frying pan, and stir well so that the goat cheese begins to melt. Drain the pasta, and toss immediately with the pepper mixture in the pan. (You can place the pan over low heat if the pepper mixture needs to be rewarmed.) Serves four.

Advance preparation: You can make this through Step 1 several hours before you wish to serve it. Add the basil and cheese only when you reheat it.


WendyB said...

Once you're done cleaning your place, come over and work on mine!

Sonia said...

I never used the broiler...I am sort of scared that things will go horrible wrong...we usually roast eggplant (for our spicy mashed eggplant dish) on the stove fire... :)

stacy said...

What kind of pasta did you use? Looks delicious. This post made me laugh. Sounds like my kitchen. I've melted lots of things.