Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bachelor Night Experimentation/ Fusion Pasta Fagiole

Since most of my readers are women, I thought I might share with you today a rare, privileged look in to the human male mind. You're welcome. Most of you know The Wife spends three nights a week away from home micromanaging her sons' lives. Usually, I drive her to work  on Monday mornings, and it's " Good bye honey, I'll see you Wednesday". Because our car just died however, she left Sunday night because if she needs to take a bus, it's a much easier trip from her sons' house. Are you following? So, as she was getting her things together to leave on Sunday, she called into me from another part of our apartment. 

"Husband?" Now, she does sometimes call me by the title instead of the name. I think it may be a Guyanese thing, but it immediately caused a warning light to go off deep in the recesses of my brain because it sounded vaguely threatening to me. I mean it's kind of impersonal, isn't it?  (Did I leave the toilet seat up?, was my first thought.)
 I answered, "Uh, what?"
"Will you do me a favor?", she asked.
 I countered with "Uh, what?" (Don't give anything away)
"Will you please clean the refrigerator for Wednesday?" Now, two things crossed my mind in the nano second it took to answer. One was that the refrigerator probably needed to be cleaned. She notices that kind of stuff, whereas I tend to overlook that kind of stuff till it gets much more serious. Second, I thought of mounting the "I do the cooking, so I should be the one to decide" defense, but even as this thought was forming, a more prudent (self- preserving) one was working its way to my speech center.(You have to pick the arguments you stand a chance of winning)
"Uh,OK",I answered. 

I forgot on Monday until later that night, so I wrote myself a note. On Tuesday as I was (dutifully) cleaning, I found two tomatillos I had forgotten about, about 4 ounces of white kidney beans, a jalapeno pepper and some basil. So, that's how I came to making this meal which is something like the pasta dish I made above (follow the link) but because of the jalapeno and the tomatillo turns into a kind of Southwestern/Italian fusion dish instead. The reason I'm posting it at all is to illustrate the point that if you master techniques (as opposed to recipes), you can create unique meals with very little imagination.

Ingredients: 1/2 onion minced; 1 clove garlic chopped; 1/2 stalk celery chopped; 1 jalapeno minced; 2 tomatillos minced; 1/4 tomato chopped (because that's all I had), 3-4 basil leaves chopped; and the beans. I also used a squeeze of tomato paste (about a Tablespoon), a fifth of a box of pasta (I get 5 portions of pasta to a pound) and 3 ounces of chopped meat.

I started by sauteing the aromatics (the onion, garlic, celery and jalapeno) till the onions turned translucent.

Next, I cleared a spot for the meat and browned it with a generous grinding of salt, mustard seed, peppercorns, coriander,onion, garlic and paprika (A spice mix from Trader Joe's)

After the meat gets brown, I add the wet stuff- the tomatillos and tomato pieces. It still looks too dry for pasta fagiole, so I decide to add some tomato paste and pasta cooking water.

You should know the drill by now .Let it simmer till the pasta is a minute shy of being al dente.

Finally, I add the pasta and let it cook at high heat for that final minute. Off the heat, I add a couple of leaves of torn basil and some good olive oil. Then, it's to the plate!


  1. Now I'm hungry! You are right Joe, just little imagination and a taste for good things can create the best meals..great dish!

  2. My favorite post so far! Love the story and the technique/recipe. Also very grateful for the insight in the elusive male mind ;). You know, there just might be something to this Italian/Southwestern fusion thing.

  3. Thanks, Amy. I'm not looking to start a trend. Just pointing out how knowing techniques can help someone clean their fridge and create a meal that works. However, if you want to start a restaurant,I might be available for menu consultation.

  4. Joe, i would like to thank you for following my cooking blog, i really appreciate it :)
    i have to spend sometime reading your blogs, they all seem interesting and fun to read. how do you manage to have 4 blogs and hold a job? ;)
    hope to read you more. thanks again and have a great day/night.

  5. You could put that on my plate and I would be thrilled. It looks delicious. I loved your story and I'm sure your wife appreciated that clean fridge. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  6. Thank you Mary.It was good,but I think my photography skills are improving!

  7. My fridge needs cleaning out too, Joe! I'll give you to next Wednesday, OK? This pasta looks yummy and the fact that you found two tomatillos, it was your lucky day. You did say you lived in Astoria. We lived on Steinway near Ditmars and we had lots of Italian neighbors and friends. A big part of me misses it. Thanks for a fun story and delicious outcome!