Saturday, March 10, 2007

Winging it in the Kitchen

"Wing it." 
That's my general attitude about cooking (and other matters, but let me not get into that). 
That mantra is condemned in the baking world, and understandably so, considering the fickle disposition of baking soda and the infinite nature of The Oven. Remember those peanut butter cookies that ended up tasting like deodorant? What about those oatmeal cookies that ended up as scones? Point taken. With baking, you have to measure things out accurately and precisely to prevent your oven from giving birth to a hideous inedible snafu.
But when it comes to stovestop activities, sometimes it's just better to wing it and "eyeball" the ingredients. Give Intuition the reins, yes? 
Rotini e ceci might just be one of the best dishes to make without the constraints of specificity. When it comes to the elements of this dish, you simply cannot go wrong with adding however much your hungry heart pleases. 
-ground beef

-olive oil

-garbanzo beans

-tomato paste
-rotini pasta
-dried basil
-pine nuts
-salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare the pasta until al dente, drain, and set aside. Add olive oil to a pan, and wait until it heats. Pulverize garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife, and toss it into the heated oil/pan. Immediately add ground beef. As the beef browns, add some salt and pepper, the pesto, the dried basil, and tomato paste. When the beef is nearly all browned, add the pine nuts, and allow them to gently toast from the heat of the pan on low. After about a minute, add the garbanzo beans. To taste, add some ketchup* to the sauce. Finally, when sauce is fully-heated, add the cooked pasta and toss. 
*While most regard ketchup as an unsophistocated ingredient, ketchup is actually an ideal ingredient because it is a perfect flavor neutralizer. I find that a lot of pasta sauces lack body in taste. Adding meat to tomato sauce is a good way to help the sauce gain "body" (because of the fat content in meat), but the plain tomato taste is sometimes still too astringent and straightforwardly sharp. This is where sugar plays an integral role. Adding sugar into the sauce can help disable the overwhelming tartness. But the secret lies in exactly how much to add, and most of us lack the capacity to judge when is "not enough" and when is "too much." Enter: ketchup. Ketchup is a good mellowing agent because it has just the right amount of acidity and sugar content.


Blogger Jennifer said...

yum! yum! yum! so good.

March 13, 2007 at 7:24 PM  

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