Food makes me happy. The smile and the (positive) comments on a dish you made is one of the most rewarding feelings. That feeling when you create something from nothing. You create something that makes people happy by combining things. It is an amazing feeling. (especially if you are good at it).
But let’s talk a little bit about the dishes I made for the last pretty epic day of class. I decided to make dishes that reminded me of my childhood, and what else could I make but some pasta. I know its pretty cliché for an Italian to make pasta, but there is a reason why it’s a cliche.
The first pasta I made, the one on the right, is a pesto sauce with cherry tomatoes. This has been my favorite pasta since I was a kid, and my grandma still makes it every time I go to her house. Traditionally tomatoes are not part of the recipe, but it is a nice variation that has a good contrast between the flavors. The name "pesto" derives from the preparation of the sauce with a pestel and mortar, both very laborious and time consuming. In Italian slang “pesto” means “beating up”, and in the traditional way (with the mortar) you actually beat up the basil!
Here’s how you make pesto:
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts (pignolia)
1 dash salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
Add the garlic to the food processor and mince. Next, add the basil leaves, pine nuts, and a dash of salt and pepper to the bowl. While the processor is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube until all the ingredients are pureed.
You may need to stop the processor at this point and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to get every mixed together. Now add Parmesan cheese and mix it into the rest of the mixture. If the pesto is too thick, add a tablespoon of water. My variation then is with 10 cherry tomatoes, but you can add whatever you wish, creativity is key in cooking.
The second pasta, the one on the left, is a tomato and tuna sauce, even more important to my family. When my mother passed away this pasta was the main dish that my father would make, cause it is easy enough to make and has enough ingredients to feed in one dish all the kids of the family. My variation is with a LOT of red pepper and it is supposed to help your sinus. There is no real recipe for this pasta and the real key is to add whatever you want to the tomato sauce, tuna is used cause is probably the cheapest and most available, but you can use whatever fish you wish.
Yeah fine, I know that this second dish is not very methodical, but this how I learned to cook. Cooking is an art. Cooking is the first form of artistic expression that men ever exposed themselves to. Combining, cutting, mixing is an art. Be creative, be bold. Especially in the kitchen.