Tonight, I cook from one of my borrowed cookbooks, Real Simple Meals Made Easy. Cheesy Vegetable Pasta | Real Simple Recipes
In typical fashion, I'm listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney, and I've already cut my finger once chopping tomatos.
This recipe calls for the garlic to be cooked over a low heat, which I haven't done up until now. You don't get that pungent-in-a-good-way smell that comes up from garlic heated quickly and on the verge of burning. It's very subtle, and from a quick fingertip taste, it flavors the olive oil nicely.
Also, forever improvising, I use green peppers and mushrooms instead of zucchini and eggplant and pecorino romano instead of mozerella. Not because it's better, but because this is what I have in the fridge. A lot of my creativity in the kitchen is based more so off of what's on the verge of spoiling.
I must admit that a nervous sigh releases as I fold all of the ingredients together. There's always that moment of thinking, "We're all in now". Cooking has shown me that I've become awfully reliant on back-up plans. Always be prepared, always have two of everything. But these were the last of my green peppers, tomatos, pasta, onions and one roommate's jar of pasta sauce. No turning back now that it's all roasted and tossed in balsamic vinegar and oil.
I have one taste before putting it in the oven. When it first hits your mouth, it's like, "Hmmm. Okay. My world isn't rocked but it's all right." And then, the red pepper sneaks up from behind and wow!
The twists and turns a flavor can do on a slow burn... I love it. I go all in and this gambles pays off.
I think it's a stretch to call this "easy". With prep time included, this is over an hour out of your evening before you even put fork to lip. But it's a fun recipe to play off of and the results are Italian rustic perfection.