Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Idiots Who Can't Cook and Marinara Sauce with Fresh Basil

It's been a few days since I've made a post. No, that does not mean I haven't eaten anything since my last post. I took the train back to my house to pick up a few things and slept over at The Boyfriend's house with a few friends, and my diet on those days consisted mainly of Philly's cheese steak and Papa John's pizza.

I would like to take this moment to crown Papa John's as the best restaurant/takeout pizza you can get. Why this bold declaration, you ask?

*It's not super-greasy. Many restaurant pizzas have so much oil floating on top of the cheese that it could be soaked up with a sponge.
*The cheese is not burnt, it is perfectly soft and melted.
*The tomato sauce is not just salty, it is sweet and tastes deliciously of tomatoes.
*The dough is soft and bread-y.
*The crust is crisp, but not hard.

Yes. I love my pizza, and Papa John's has appealed to me for all of the above reasons.

On Monday morning, my dad dropped me off at Princeton Junction Station. After I took the NJ Transit back to New York, and rode the subway to 1st Avenue, all the while lugging a duffel bag that I swear weighed about 80 pounds (I'm 105 lbs., so you see why this is a problem.) and carting a plastic crate loaded with even more stuff, I was too broken in body and spirit to even attempt to make myself dinner. So I caved and ran to the nearest CVS and bought myself a few cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli. (Oh no she di'nt!)

Anyway, onto food that I actually made. I have had a package of linguine sitting on my desk shelf since I moved in (if you squint at the picture of my desk I posted on August 20th, you'll see it sitting next to the bag of rice), and since Mi and E had invited a friend, J, who lives on the 1st floor of our dormitory building, up for dinner tonight, I figured tonight would be a good opportunity to use it. So on our way back from Orientation, we stopped by Whole Foods and grabbed a jar of 365 Everyday Value Classic Marinara pasta sauce, frozen okra, and some Canola Oil (we looked for olive oil, which I prefer, but all they had was Extra-Virgin for like $10 a bottle and we're too poor for that).

Back in our cramped dorm room kitchen, I was about to start cooking when...dun dun duuuun! Disaster strikes! The fire alarm starts blaring, for the second time that day (we were gone for the first time). My room is on the 11th floor, and during fire alarms we aren't allowed to take the elevator, so it was down 11 flights of stairs we went. By the time the fire trucks had pulled away, it was 6:45 and dinner was late.

Okay, as I was typing this, the fire alarm just went off AGAIN. And apparently the reason for these THREE alarms in one day was because some people kept burning stuff on the kitchen stove, which created so much smoke that it set off the alarms. What the fuck? (this is probably a good time to mention this blog is not for young impressionable children.) It is not difficult to keep from burning things on an electric stove. If you're really that bad at cooking, you should probably either have someone teach you how to avoid burning things, or just stay the hell away from the kitchen. I'm getting tired of walking down 11 flights of stairs in the midst of a piercing fire alarm.

ANYWAY. On to the recipe. Before walking down 11 flights of stairs for the second time today, I would have said this isn't going to add any kind of extra wisdom to one's mental library of culinary knowledge...but now I think otherwise. So without further ado, I present spaghetti for dummies.

Twice-Interrupted Linguine with Marinara Sauce and Veggies

4 servings of linguine (about 2 oz. per person)
1 1/2 cup of marinara sauce
1 large tomato, diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup okra, chopped
1/2 cup button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp oil
a few sprigs of fresh basil, chopped

~Toss the linguine in a pot of water with a pinch of salt and set it to boil.
~In a large pan, heat up the oil and put in the chopped basil leaves and diced onion and stir on medium heat until the onion is lightly browned.
~Add the mushrooms, okra, and tomato, and push it around some more until the tomatoes become mushy.
~Tip in the marinara sauce, and stir it until it's hot and the entire kitchen smells like an Italian restaurant.
~The linguine is done when you throw it at the wall and it sticks. Do not overcook it. I prefer my pasta with a little bite--al dente, for all you cooking geeks, meaning to tooth. Cooking this particular pasta to al dente should take about 10 minutes in boiling water. Drain your linguine and divvy it up into four bowls. Pour the sauce and veggies over it and enjoy!

Makes enough for 4 people.

Sauteing the onions and basil.

This is J.

You can also basically do this with any other type of pasta. I intend on making it with shells, which is my favorite pasta shape because the yummy sauces can hide in the little "bowl" the shell makes, and each bite contains a burst of tomato-y goodness.

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