Thursday, February 23, 2012

The quicker picker-upper

I love cooking.  I mean, I really love cooking.  I cook when I'm excited, I cook when I'm sad, nostalgic, I even cook when I really have no time for the meal that I have envisioned.  I make it work, dammit.  Today I did not want to cook.  I was so tired that I felt like a puddle of my former self, and the last thing that I could think of doing was summoning my creative juices and pouring them into a meal that would just, let's face it, make more dishes.

There I stood, in Sprouts.  I wandered from the grocery to the produce, aimlessly.  I picked up some on-the-vine tomatoes and stared at them.  I love the smell of tomatoes, they smell, and like dirt, and absolutely like summer.  When I grow tomatoes I wander into my little yard each morning with my coffee, and smell the plants as they warm up in the summer sun.  Suddenly, I felt it.  Inspiration.  That moment of throwing dishes to the wind, or however it goes.

Vine tomatoes in the bag, I quickened my pace and grabbed a small container of golden tomatoes.  There's little things more fun than mixing different versions of the same thing on a plate.  White & green asparagus sauteed, yellow & red roasted bell peppers, black & green olives, pumpernickel and brioche stuffing....yellow and red tomatoes.  I knew I had herbs, Parmesan, and garlic at home, so I stood in front of the meat section and what jumped out?  Why ground chicken of course!  I hurried through the checkout lane, chatting the poor checker's ear off as I'm sure she thought, "Oh goody, it's a bubbly person.  When can I take my break?"  I rushed to Trader Joe's, grabbed a package of Organic Spaghetti and rushed to my kitchen.  

I would make Spaghetti with a Raw Tomato Sauce, and Chicken Parmesan Meatballs!  

Now, having made chicken Parm quite a few times (not to mention quite a few summers of raw tomato sauces), I had an idea of which flavors to incorporate, but how to bring it together?  I started with bread chunks soaked in milk, just like any meatball.  In fact, if I was a little Italian grandma I would have been fine using water, I swear they don't waste anything!  I mashed the bread to a paste and squeezed out the extra milk, then added it to the ground chicken, parsley, Parmesan, and salt & pepper.  

I scooped out mini portions, and rolled in toasted breadcrumbs, then browned them in olive oil.  

Meanwhile I tossed chopped tomatoes with olive oil, salt & pepper, vinegar, parsley, and garlic while the spaghetti cooked.  

My favorite part of a raw sauce, is tossing hot pasta into them and smelling the garlic wake up!  

Then all you have to do is taste for salt & pepper and top with chicken Parmesan meatballs!  

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