Road blocks

Ferdinand and I were rolling along to school this morning talking about why Mommy lifted up the yellow tape blocking the sidewalk and walked right across the wet tar, when we met Ferdinand’s friend Isabella, spittin’ distance from the school. Isabella had a bear and as soon as I saw it, I knew the rolling along was over. Ferdinand also has a bear, and he decided right then and made it clear to me and the rest of the world that there was no going to school without it. No way, no how. I don’t know where he gets such clarity and commitment to a plan–I want the bear, I’m going to go back home to get the bear, NOW–except that I do. It has taken me most of my 43 years to be remotely flexible. If the recipe said put one large cut onion in the pot, I wanted to know how big exactly was that onion around its girth and in centimeters, what kind of cut are we talking about? And if I didn’t have the onion and already had it in my mind to make the dish with the onion in it, then I was either going to implode, or get in the car and find one.
I would have kept it up, but life is hard living, like that. It is a beautiful thing to know exactly what you want and get it exactly the way you plan when it works out, but on the odd day (which has become nearly every day now), I find it much easier to open the fridge, see a pepper, and think “dinner will be red pepper related tonight” and go from there, wherever that may lead me.
Tonight, I’m going to take that pepper and dice it up with an onion, the pepper cut just a little bit bigger to show it off. First I’ll warm up the pan, swirl in enough olive oil just to cover the bottom, and add three cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Then some red pepper flakes right at the end, along with chopped fresh parsley, because basil would be good, but I don’t have any, and throwing the parsley directly into the oil will make that parsley sing. (you don’t want to brown it, just get it a nice dark green). If you have the time and inclination, you roast the peppers and onions tossed with olive oil and kosher salt on separate sheet pans in a 400 degree oven, or just throw them in the pan with the parsley and garlic until they taste so good you want to eat them on a crostino. If you can wait, get your pasta water ready (penne rigate is good for this), take the pits out of any olives you have, roughly chop them up, and throw them in the mix. Add JUST the tomatoes, squishing them in your hands from a 28 oz. can of San Marzano (it’s’ the only kind I buy, so it’s all I have), and let all that simmer while you wait for your pasta to cook. Otherwise, I happen to have some little balls of fresh mozzarella, and instead of the tomatoes, I think I might slice the tiny cheeses in half and throw them into the noodles right at the end, after the onions and peppers half been tossed through. A little pecorino romano or ricotta salatta grated in, and done. I’m making a big heap of broccoli rabe to go with.

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