It can seriously perplex people what to make for dinner. I am going to tell you why.
A: People don’t know what they want. Because they are not taking the time to think about it, or they are asking themselves the wrong questions.
B: if they do know what they want, they are afraid to eat it. They think something terrible is going to happen.
I am going to help you. Ask yourself what you want. Don’t lie about it. Don’t pick something you think you should want or try to make everybody else happy. That is not what I am talking about. I know you have to think about what other people want to eat sometimes, to be practical. I have a kid. I used to try and stay married. Forget that. I am talking about, what do you want. Close your eyes and focus on your tongue. Go from your tongue to your chest and from there, spill down to your intestines and let whatever is beginning to thrum start to rise up into your brain. Call on your memory. Let it shout. It will shout. If nothing happens, you are tired. Have some oatmeal and try again tomorrow.
If it comes to you, put the music on and have a dance party. That is a beautiful thing, to know what you want. Let it sit for a minute to see if anything else gets stirred up.
Now B: Do not shove A, down. Cook A. Get ready though, because thinking this way can keep going. Just, going and going.
Two days ago, what I wanted was for it to be anything I didn’t have to shop for. I found half of a red pepper and a red onion and looked at those for a while. I added garlic, twigs of rosemary and thyme, and a can of chickpeas. I looked for the pasta and there was none. I thought about it, and walked to the store for the pasta. That is one of the reasons I live in NYC. In less than 3 minutes I can walk somewhere that is open 24 hours a day and has just about everything. If you don’t live in NYC and that sounds appealing, I don’t know, maybe you have more thinking to do. You don’t see me living in Hartford. You don’t see me living in Champaign Urbana. I used to live in Hartford. I used to live in Champaign Urbana.
I like De Cecco.
I chopped up the pepper and the onion pretty finely and sliced the garlic as thinly as I could get it. I dropped it into a wide, high edged saute pan with a few whole pepperoncini and a good spill of olive oil. I added salt and black pepper and the twigs; let it go until there is some caramelization and serious softening of the vegetables. Add a can of well rinsed chickpeas and smash about half with a fork. Add a little water, just to cover and another good serious spill of olive oil. When you are using good olive oil, it adds a flavor you are looking for. You can add either a rind of parm or pecorino at this point, or a little bit that has been grated. You are not looking for the flavor of the cheese to punch, just to be there in the background. Put the pasta on to boil in water that has been well seasoned with salt and scoop it out when it is still unquestionably al dente, right into your sauce. Hold back if you have too much pasta. Your sauce is not a dumping ground. Use extra pasta for something else. Let the pasta cook another 30 seconds in the sauce and then turn the flame off. Taste for salt, pepper and olive oil. The pasta should be well coated, almost soupy, because of the type of sauce this is. Serve extra cheese on a plate.
Alongside: strips of slow cooked bacon and broccoli rabe.