Cooking is wonderful. You create a magic combination of texture and flavor and sight and smell. But sometimes, the best thing you can do is step back and let the ingredients’ magic sing all by itself.
Tonight I cooked Trader Joe’s organic pasta, using my good heavy dutch oven; I really think that the heat retention helps the texture of the pasta, by making sure the temperature doesn’t dip too much. A generous amount of salt in the water, of course. I managed to catch it at the moment of pure al dente perfection, firm to the tooth without being chewy or hard.
I’d prepared a quick sauce for it — Trader Joe’s vodka sauce, simmered with large TVP chunks to add meaty-tasting vegetarian protein — and it was a tasty enough weeknight accompaniment. But when I tasted that pasta, I couldn’t bear to drown it out. So I spooned the pasta into a bowl, drizzled on my Terra Medi extra-virgin olive oil, tossed it with a spoon, and ate it, just like that. The olive oil coated the pasta in a fragrant, buttery lushness, adding depth and body to the gentle wheat core. Modest in its simplicity, the dish sang.
Yesterday, I was treated to the best sushi in town. It was delicious, each piece a delight to the palate and imagination. But for sheer perfected pleasure, I think that I’d have to side with tonight’s simple olive oil on pasta.