Because the G20’s in Pittsburgh, 2 of tomorrow’s 3 classes are canceled, so I have a little longer than usual to get my work done. I tamp down mid-week stress, I decided to cook my meals for the next few days. I decided to experiment with the lovely dried lavender my mom sent me from home. I’ve never really learned to follow instructions for recipes, and usually follow the whatever-is-in-the-fridge-and-looks-like-it-would-taste-nice method of pasta sauce creation.
But this time I decided to be a little more organized, which I how I have come up with a recipe to describe my creation. To give the sauce more dimension, I added half a jar of mild salsa (a great way to add veggis and heat to pasta sauce without chopping veggis). As all of the chicken-breast in the house is frozen, and I have a veggi housemate, I used canned kidney beans to add protein. Here is the recipe, more or less:
- 5 twigs of dried lavender, just the buds.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, for simmering
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 red pepper, chopped roughly (each piece is around 1/2 x 1/2, though different sizes helps give the pasta body, so don’t worry about it too much)
- 1/2 a jar of salsa (around a 1/2 a cup)
- 1 large tomato, roughly chopped (mine was between the sizes of a baseball and a softball)
- 2.5 cups of kidney beans
- 20 ounces of a 26 ounce generic pasta sauce (we had some fancy kind, I usually just use Prego as a base)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Washing the lavender twigs, and strip the buds.
- Drizzle the olive oil in a medium pot (pots reduce splatter), start heating it at about medium heat, add the lavender buds. (I love the way the house smells when I am cooking, and simmering the buds alone made sure I was cooking within a pleasant fog of lavender smell. Also, when my housemates come home and say “oh, my god. That smells incredible. oh my god,” it is good for my ego.)
- Dice the garlic, throw it in, stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the pan. Reduce or increase heat as necessary.
- Chop the pepper, throw it in, stir.
- With the pot hot, dump the salsa in. Most store-bought salsa is massively watery, so let a lot of that boil off while your chopping the tomato.
- Let this simmer for a while, reducing and getting thick. Smell (carefully! splatter hurts.) and make sure the lavender and the garlic are playing nicely.
- This is a great time to wash up the cutting board, unload the dishwasher, whatever.
- Add kidney beans (drain as much of the fluid off as possible–it will add texture and flavor, but boiling off excess liquid takes annoying time)
- Add pasta sauce. Let simmer, about 1/2 an hour (more if you like your sauces thick, less if you are rushed).
I used this time to finish the big batch of rigatoni I had boiling, and package it all away in tupperware. I finished up the dishes, unpacked our box from Alice.com, and check my rehearsal time tonight.
I usually believe that pasta sauce should serve as a meal by itself, and so get it as thick and stew-y as possible, but it smelled like this batch was going to be a little lavender-heavy and I didn’t want to concentrate that too much, so I boxed it up while it was still soup-y.
I just had it on top of some rigatoni, and mmmm, I really like what lavender does in pasta sauce. It’s like eating hearty perfume. Yumm.
“Non-cooks think it’s silly to invest two hours’ work in two minutes’ enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet.”–Julia Child