Since my illness, I've been trying to exercise more. On weekends that involves talking the wife into coming along. Yes, I could just go out by myself, but truth be told, we both need it. Usually we incorporate the plan to exercise with some other activity since it's hard for some to just exercise as an end in itself. (Jack Lalaine I'm not). Last weekend, we took the subway into the city and walked to and around "Eataly", Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich's incredible but really expensive food market. Fortunately, I had a gift card from one of my daughters and we had a good time sampling some of the food and picking out some items for the pantry. I found this "Tubetti" pasta which at $4 was very expensive, but made in a way that rendered it thicker than regular supermarket pasta. Whether that made it "worth" $4 a pound I'm not sure. I bet it wasn't sold in Italy for the equivalent of $4, but this was after all, Manhattan so I bought it.
This Sunday, we went to a few of my wife's favorite dress shops at the mall. That tired me following her around while she looked at clothes with no plan to buy. I spent some of the time looking at the latest models of food processors, or Rachel Ray cookware with no plan to buy.By the time we arrived home, I needed to "rest my eyes" on the couch while she watched Namaste America, an Indian version of American Bandstand if you're unfamiliar with it. I awoke at two and went in to make Sunday dinner while she lounged. So this whole prep and cooking took 60 minutes from start to finish.The pasta was perfect and the meal delicious.Here's my recipe.
For the two of us, I started out with two cloves of garlic chopped, a medium onion diced, about two stalks of celery diced, a cup or less of prepared tomato sauce, 3 tsp. of chopped basil (Trader Joe's makes frozen chopped basil in handy one tsp. cubes), about half a small head of escarole, 1/2 a can or less of white kidney beans and about 3/4 cup of tubeti or other small pasta.
Begin by gently sauteing the celery and onion in olive oil along with
salt and red pepper flakes. When the vegetables soften, add the garlic.
After about 5 minutes, add the basil (or fresh parsley) to the pot. Then, cook
two minutes and add the tomato sauce. Notice the vegetables haven't browned
and the tomato sauce is not overwhelming the pot. The finished dish is a thick
soup. At this point, you can add the pasta to a pot of salted, boiling water. It
takes about six minutes for small pasta like Tubeti to be al dente.
Add the beans and a 1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock to the pot.Cook a
few more minutes to incorporate the flavors, then add the torn escarole leaves.
Cook till the escarole leaves are wilted, then add the cooked pasta to the
pot with a little of the cooking water.
Stir for one more minute, then plate the pasta and pass the cheese!
Notice again, the finished dish is dense-less like a soup than a stew.