Pasta with Fresh Herbs; I have CCC: Creative Cooking Compulsion

Pasta with Fresh Herbs

It started innocently enough, as many compulsions do: the local church cookbook as a newlywed; followed by Betty Crocker and Joy of Cooking.

There was the occasional exchange of recipes with siblings and friends; a subscription to Bon Appetit.

Then mon mari gave me a wok, and '1.000 Chinese Recipes'.  (See?  I keep saying it's all his fault but he never accepts responsibility – typical modern man.)

It was a slide down the slippery slope from there: 'Larrouse Gastronomique',  followed by  'Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking', followed by the entire Time Life 'Foods of the World',  followed by countless others.  At last count there were more than 200 on the shelves.

That's when it started happening.

I could no longer just fry some pork chops for dinner.

A simple pot roast with potatoes and carrots would no longer work for me.

Hamburgers?  I think not.  Frozen pizza?  At my house?   Are you joking????

I had all of these lovely cook books, therefore I must use them.
(I think; therefore I am.)

The last year we lived in the U.S., whilst sorting through our worldly possessions, packing and preparing to move, I decided I should make something different for dinner every night for that year.  Seemed like a good idea at the time….

We moved. We moved again.

New countries, new food, new challenges, new experiences: exciting times in the kitchen chez moi.

Then, in the interest of supporting our current lifestyle (ie. feeding ourselves) I started my website/menu planner.  Since I couldn't really just rattle on about food on the site I started this blog. 

That's when, what had been a healthy interest in food and cooking, turned into a full-out compulsion.

Not only do I have to make something different every night, it has to be 'new', 'daring', 'innovative'.

I pour over the cook books but would never actually follow a recipe…. That would be cheating!

The minute I find that 'fantastic new recipe', I start tweaking it, making it mine.

And then there are the photos. 

First, and most importantly, they help me remember just what, exactly, I put into the dish…since actually writing the recipe down while I cooked  would be far too simple.  I mean, where's the challenge in that?

My mother made certain that dinner arrived on the table piping hot.

I try to get food on the table before it gets ice cold.

Timing is everything: first I have to calculate which foods cool off the fastest so I know in which order to take my 1,000 or so photos, then I have to adjust the lighting and take said photos.

Of course, this usually involves some discussion with mon mari, which, often, is much hotter than the food….

And, sometimes, halfway through dinner, I realize/decide/think I should have taken the shot from a different angle so back we (the food and I) go to the kitchen for more camera fun.

I now know, for those of you who don't: 
     Broccoli cools off faster than most other vegetables.
     Foods with a sauce stay warmer than those without.
     Foods with a crust stay warmer than those without.
     Potatoes that are roasted stay warmer longer than those that are boiled.
     Cold, coagulated gravy is best served over dog food.
     Hot foods served in a cold, French farmhouse in winter are less appetizing than cold foods served in a hot, French farmhouse in summer.
     Mon mari is grateful summer is almost here.

I've offered, by way of the give and take so important in a marriage, to do the cooking in stilettos and a skimpy maid uniform….

Mon mari said he'd rather have the food hot….


Occasionally,  I do make something simple; not requiring thought, recipe or more planning than cutting the herbs before dark.

I try to remember that, in cooking as in life, simple is often best.

This pasta dish, for Ruth's Presto Pasta Nights, is one of those.

Stop by  Once Upon a Feast, on Friday, to get the complete round-up of pasta from around the world.

Oh, and if you look through my tulips, you can see my garlic chives and, further back, the mint just starting.

Pasta with Fresh Herbs  no thought required

1 cup dried pasta, cooked
2 – 3 tbs fresh herbs (here I used chives and garlic chives)
2 – 3 green garlic  (had a few left)
2 – 3 tbs good, fruity olive oil
Parmesan, optional (I didn't – wanted the herbs to shine)

Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Snip the herbs.
If using green garlic: Heat 1 tbs  olive oil in skillet.  Slice green garlic and add to skillet and let warm slowly over low heat.
Just before pasta is done, warm remaining olive oil and herbs in skillet – do not 'fry', just warm.  Pour over drained pasta and serve.

I'm looking at this photo and thinking:  I could add sliced cherry tomatoes; or goat cheese; or avocado; or slivered snow peas; or tuna; or a splash of white Balsamic vinegar; or lots and lots of fresh oregano or

Someone, please, make me stop.  My head hurts…. Please….

I wonder how strawberries would be…with some spinach, yeah, tha..

20 thoughts on “Pasta with Fresh Herbs; I have CCC: Creative Cooking Compulsion”

  1. Not only fine, but really really good! With simple ingredients, less is more, and this dish shows that beautifully.
    I’m an avid food blog reader, and I’ve often thought about starting my own blog, but then I think about how bad the lighting in my kitchen is, and how many measuring cups I’d have to wash each night if I carefully measured all my ingredients so I could blog a recipe with confidence, and… I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m just a small step away from the point of obsession you describe but I’m trying so hard not to go over the edge!

  2. Amy, but it’s so HARD!!!!
    Joanna, try not to go over the edge….step back, take a deep breath…
    Colleen, it was just the giant hand coming to smack me on the side of the head…I’m fine now….I’m fin not….I;m finee no…

  3. Oh, my, that looks good. I am just home from work, starving and what am I doing? Reading about other people’s meals instead of fixing my own.
    I have had some real adventures (and misadventures) trying to cook creatively.

  4. No thought, throw together pastas are always fun! I like all of the fresh herbs in this pasta. I am looking forward to the local fresh herbs showing up in the farmers market again.

  5. Ah, I just finished eating my bowtie pasta when I opened your latest blog post about bowtie pasta! Yummy! I made mine by putting the hot pasta back in the pot, and then added a raw egg, a little milk, butter and a little cheese to make a creamy sauce with the residual heat of the pasta and pot. I used blue cheese instead of Parma, which added a nice bite to the dish. I don’t know what the raw egg method is called, but when it works out, it is really good!

  6. The entire Time Life! Yes, me too.
    Why oh why am I so irrational when it comes to cook books. At least I’m in excellent company!
    Yes, all those would be good with the pasta but it looks complete if only it were in front of me for dinner tonight!

  7. I’ve started “cheating”: I take photos of leftovers. The chutney on my website? Yah.. took hat three days after I made it. The Challah.. those photos were from last month’s baking spree… I claim it’s because the lighting in my kitchen is not particularly good at night and I hate my flash, so I should only take photos during the day. In reality, it just feels like so much of a hassle.
    But my photography skills have gotten way better!

  8. Lydia, have you checked your doorstops? It is rather a large tome….
    Mimi, we don’t talk about the ones that don’t work… mon mari does, WE do not!
    Kevin, right now I’m confined to chives and oregano…soon the others will start growing.
    Zoomie, asparagus with strawberries…
    Lannae, I would just call it delicious! I don’t do that often enough…
    Ashely, we all need that occasionally..
    Tigerfish, I hadn’t realized (until recently) that garlic chives were ‘Asian’. I’ve just always loved them.
    Tanna, I did not 1 but 2 entire Time Life series…but I won’t admit to it…
    Neen, but you see the trick to that is to HAVE the leftovers! Not be little pigs and eat it all…sometimes. But it IS a good idea!

  9. I love that you call it a “full-out compulsion.” Since I started my food blog, I’d have to say it’s become a full out compulsion for me as well!
    I love dishes like this – ones that can be change and added to and taken away from. But always delicious!

  10. I so agree with you on this dish. I love my pasta sauces, but a simple treatment of pasta is the best. The pasta is allowed to show how it really tastes. Your photo has me salivating here!!!

  11. You must have been married a while for your husband to pick hot food over hot wife. Being a hot wife compensated for a lot of bad food when I was a newlywed. Now I’m a better cook, so it all balances out.
    Your pasta looks perfect. Stop tweaking and eat already!

  12. I loved reading this post! We are going to have to start a support group for obsessed food bloggers 😉
    Truly, this is my favorite way to enjoy pasta. The herbs get to shine!

  13. Just wanted to let you know that your post is featured on BlogHer, Techniques to Improve Blog Writing! ~ AK

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