My advice to you

If you’re getting a lot of colds in your house, tomato sauce is a great way to squeeze in some extra vitamin C. You could eat raw tomatoes now, but for what? I can’t believe that a fresh tomato in winter, which is nothing more than soft cardboard in a tomato suit, has one iota of vitamin C in it. You’re better off with the San Marzano canned variety. You can make a straight forward red sauce with a little (excellent) olive oil, a few whole garlic cloves simmered in the oil until they are golden, a few fresh basil leaves simmered alongside the garlic (or rosemary or marjoram), and then a can of tomatoes, hand squished before they go in the pan. If you like it spicy, add a few red pepper flakes. Cook the sauce for an hour if you have it, and then at the end, drizzle in a little more of your extra virgin olive oil.

Last night, I added some ricotta cheese; a new brand that I found, Bel Gioioso, which is about a million times better than Polly-o and costs less for some reason. Then I grated in some parmesan–and this is when I really love cooking–I thought I needed more of a zoom, more umph, and I had it! There was some olive tapenade left over from lunch. One dark, satiny spoonful on the top of each red plate, and it was done. Just in case you haven’t made it before, just get a small container of your favorite (pitted) olives, throw them into the food processor, and add a good drizzle of your favorite extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little fresh basil or parsley, a few fresh thyme leaves, some salt, a teeny bit of black pepper, and that’s it.
For your pasta, try fusilli or penne with ridges, cook it until there is still a bit of a white line in the center of the noodle when you bite it, and finish it in the sauce, saving a little pasta water to add to the sauce if you need it. When the pasta is off the heat, add the ricotta, and top with the tapenade. If there is no time for tapenade, just add the olives as they are with a little fresh oregano, right at the end.

You can practice what I preach to Ferd: Don’t kiss on the lips. Pretend you’re the Pope. Kiss people on the head.

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