One thing to know about me: I have a lot of nervous energy. The weekend comes and in theory I’d like to laze about over a long and luxurious breakfast, put my feet up and make an extra pot of coffee. Maybe sit outside if the weather’s nice and read or just be for a little while. Doesn’t that sound lovely? But the truth is that even if I didn’t have a very small person to occupy any down time — and there is surprisingly some down time with a 6-month-old, or at least more than I anticipated (read: you do get to put your feet up on occasion, if just during her 30-minute sleep periods) — I wouldn’t spend it ‘doing nothing’ no matter how appealing that idea may sound.
No — I’ll use S’s naps or dad being home to go for a run (6 miles on a cool and moody Saturday morning!) or bake a batch of cookies for a get-together. Instead of lazing about the backyard we bundle her into the car and cart ourselves to the Carrefour for the weekly shopping or go to the track at one of the American schools a short drive away from our house and log a few miles, then stop at the ‘King’s [bio] Market’ for milk and yogurt on the way home. And still I feel like I need to do more — for example, Sunday used to be my long run day regardles of if I was training for something. I’d take advantage of afternoon hours in San Francisco to go all the way through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach for 9+ miles RT, and if I ‘felt like it’ I’d go left down the trail that paralleled the highway and as far as I could manage. You know, ‘just for fun’. (If I was in Pt. Reyes I’d try to do a morning trek out to Arch Rock and make a semi-elaborate dinner later.) Back at home, pleasantly exhausted and starving, maybe I’d lounge in Alamo Square Park for a bit with the paper but more likely I’d make jam, bake, work on a deadline, etc., etc. I miss that.
I admit that this is a problem.
I wish that I could relax more.
Please send the pastries Chez Paul forgot to include in our bag when we got bread on Saturday (sob!).
At any rate, yesterday, Sunday, marked the start of Daylight Savings Time here in Morocco. I’ll be honest: it was rough. We had a lot of people over the night before for games and snacks (re why I made the cookies, and blondies, and a new-to-me brownie recipe) and we stayed up far too late for having to deal with a time change. I made scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast for breakfast and for a wee treat opened a jar of the strawberry-rhubarb jam I’d canned last summer. Lots of coffee. We squeezed in a bit of a run but the day disappeared rather fast for it being a weekend day, and I landed up in the late afternoon nibbling on bread and cheese and a quick white bean hummus I made when we got home and thought about what to make for dinner.
My answer these days, when my slide into wrangling with that nervous energy/inability to just chill out for awhile for the love of all that’s holy and thus the hours are full and busy (in a good way) is: pasta. Sundays for whatever reason have now become Pasta Sundays and I couldn’t be gladder about that. My brain, which for the past 6+ months seems to be operating on half-speed, appreciates the ease and adaptability provided by using pasta as a base for a meal and really, who doesn’t love a good bowl of pasta? I try to mostly use the whole grain kind so I feel better about it, but after all if I load it up with vegetables it’s pretty nourishing no matter what.
Yesterday I roasted some quartered out-of-season tomatoes (I’m going to hell most likely anyway so I might as well buy the occasional non-seasonal item) and a yellow onion, drizzling them first with olive oil and a bit of salt, and when they turned jammy and sweet and melting I tossed them with whole grain pasta spirals, a little more olive oil, some dried basil, fresh-ground pepper, and some feta cheese. I perhaps should have also quickly stir-fried some green beans and/or spinach but the time change had caught up to me by that point. And this one bowl meal was lacking in absolutely nothing: it was comforting, hearty enough without being heavy, with a lovely balance of the slightly sweet (from the tomatoes) and slightly sharp (from the feta). More, please, and maybe next weekend.
This recipe is a bit loosy-goosy just because it’s the kind of thing that’s easily adaptable to your own taste. Like lots of tomatoes? Throw more in the pan! Prefer roasted garlic to onions (or in addtion to)? Go for it. My one note is that I think the type of pasta used would better serve the rather sauce-y tomatoes if it was not a spaghetti or a flat noodle … i.e. spirals, ziti, rigatoni, etc.
Makes 4 servings.
Pasta for 4
About 6-7 (or more less) medium tomatoes, quartered
1 red or yellow onion, roughly sliced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus oil for coating pan
1 teaspoon dried herbs: basil, oregano, herbs du Provence, thyme, or a mixture
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Heat oven to 375. Lightly oil a large baking dish with olive oil and spread tomatoes and sliced onion in a large baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, dried herbs, and salt. Place in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes to one hour, until onion is slightly caramelized and tomatoes are soft and juicy. Watch so the onion does not burn. You want the tomatoes juicy but not too juicy; in other words they’re just slightly becoming a bit wizened but not yet dry.
When tomatoes and onion are cooked to your liking, turn off the oven (leave the pan inside). Boil a large pot of salted water, then cook pasta according to its package directions.
Drain pasta, reserving a bit of the cooking water, and place in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and onion, the feta cheese, and a little of the reserved cooking water. Stir to combine. Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the fresh-ground pepper and stir gently to incorporate. Salt to taste.
Serve warm or at room temperature.