Thursday, July 25, 2013

Veg Packed Pasta and Cooking With Fresh Herbs

Up through college spaghetti with red sauce was about the only thing I could cook aside from Cup-o-Noodles, Kraft mac-and-cheese, and Hamburger Helper.  I used to "make" spaghetti sauce that came in a can.  It was typically thin and watery.  It was always...good, but never great.  Sometimes I'd pep it up with a little extra dried herbs or something, but even still there is only so much one can do.  But, I've learned over the years now how to make it with whole, fresh tomatoes and packed with veggies until it is so thick it is hardly a sauce any more.  Its pretty much the opposite of the watery canned version.  Matt calls it goulash.
Last night I was adding a little of this and a little of that (homegrown garlic scapes, chard, and tomatoes, lentils from my uncle's farm, all supplemented with store-bought onion and mushrooms) until I had to switch to the larger of our cast iron pans lest the whole thing spill over onto the stove top.   The oregano was picked mere moments before being tossed into the pot and aside from a little salt and pepper was all the dish needed for simple, subtle, wonderful flavor.  I am really starting to like this cooking with fresh herbs thing.  Its all pretty new to me, but I am just going for it.  I've always been almost intimidated by it since I've only used dried herbs my whole life.  But, as is so often the case I am learning a lot by just jumping in!
So many things which I would never have expected had someone asked me about it many years ago.  That I could cook something that wasn't from a package with detailed instructions.  That I could cook something from scratch without following a recipe.   That I could grow herbs from tiny seeds and know how to use them as mature plants.  That I would cook meals for Matt that he praises repeatedly.  It makes me glad.  It makes me wonder what is next for me to learn....

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