I thought about whether this pasta dish deserves a recipe, but honestly it doesn’t. I chose three of my favorite late-summer ingredients (fresh cranberry beans, one zucchini, one ear of corn), then sauteed everything in a pan with lemon, garlic, shallots, and butter until golden and soft. I love the handmade pastas at Marché Milano, which are always super fresh and affordable. (I spent about $6 for 10 portions’ worth). The pasta is quickly boiled and then tossed into the pan, alongside a few ladles of starchy pasta water, some grated Parmesan, a pinch of red chili flakes, and more lemon juice.
I love having fresh beans around the house when they’re in season, but sometimes, when you’re really hungry, the last thing you want to do is spent 10 minutes shelling a bowl of beans, and then wait another 30 minutes while they boil. I tend to make huge batches of fresh beans, and then freeze them in small quantities, ready to be consumed at a moment’s notice. Then you can enjoy a supremely satisfying lunch that materializes in about 15 minutes.
At the farmer’s market a few weeks ago, I was easily tempted by a giant ziploc bag stuffed with fresh Oregon blueberries for only $10. We already had a flat of tender peaches, but I swore that I would bake them all, in some way. After much careful deliberation, I made Ruth Reichl’s blueberry muffins, which appeared in Gourmet magazine a while back. Their tart blueberry flavor was delicious, but I found them a bit heavy — I think because of the butter she uses instead of the traditional vegetable oil. Honestly I just don’t think I have the baking touch yet—I have these grandiose, dreamy visions of perfect baked goods but they never come out quite right.
It’s been so hot here lately that all I can manage is the easiest of meal preparation. Spinach salads tossed with toasted walnut and feta and leftover breakfast hash. A heaping bowl of charred broccoli, kale, and fingerling potatoes. Diced cubes of sweet watermelon.
The first week I returned to Portland from Singapore, all I wanted to eat was small, simple meals prepared in as little time as possible. Whole wheat penne strewn with basil confetti, boiled French green lentils, toasted walnuts, shaved Pecorino, a little starchy pasta water. Fluffy baguettes cleaved in half and smeared with local salted butter. Medallions of golden beets dressed with vinegar and cilantro. Bowls of juicy cherries for breakfast with tea. It took me an unusually long time to get over my jetlag — I was going to bed at 9pm and waking at 6am for at least a week — and it was a nice culinary respite from the excesses and decadence of Singapore.
I’m still figuring out how to cook for one person. I almost always make too much food. In what universe did I think it would be a good idea to boil 1/2 lb of pasta?! The other afternoon, I was craving chicken cacciatore. I made easily enough food for a family of four! One huge chicken breast was cut into three pieces and seared in a cast iron skillet with olive oil over high heat. Next, a big cup of finely diced carrots and a few cloves of garlic that fried until golden brown. I added some leftover red wine, a big can of crushed tomatoes, dried bay, and fresh lemon thyme and oregano from my garden, and then popped the whole mess into a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to let it braise.
Served over whole wheat penne, and alongside blanched green beans, dressed with lemon juice and grated pecorino. Felt like a pretty wholesome, healthy, “square” meal. After discovering (admittedly belatedly) the genius of dark thigh meat over the breast, I rarely eat the white meat from a chicken anymore. This is the only way I like it — a slow braise that yields tender, juicy flesh.
Twice baked potatoes, you guys!!! Ultimate comfort food maybe?
One gigantic potato, scrubbed, pricked with a fork, tented with foil and roasted in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees. Sliced lengthwise, scooped out mushy insides, and mashed with some cooked black beans, grated cheddar, red onion and hot sauce. Stuffed back into aforementioned potato and finished off for 15 minutes. Topped with minced parsley and plenty of scallions and cracked black pepper. The easiest, most comforting lunch. Also so easy to make for one person. I think I liked this way more than I logically should have.
Okay — off to the UFO Fest. My weekends in Portland keep getting weirder and weirder…