I try to make dinner decisions by mid-day. I don't want to have to deal at the last minute. So today, I pulled a bratwurst from the freezer. (As usual, the meat I've bought over the last two months has piled up. We eat so little meat that I tend to forget it's there.) Beyond that decision, however, my brain did not go. I was too fixated on work, which, at the moment, is manuscript revision. So there I was, several hours later, glued to my screen, brain-deep in revision. And suddenly realized: Time to think about dinner. (Yes, in our house, I cook. He washes. My choice.) (Because the essence of "women's liberation," as we called it back in the day, is CHOICE.)
Head to the kitchen. Open the frig door. Grab what's in there and start chopping and cooking.
The result was definitely not summer food. But hey! It got the job done, and it was delicious. As always, your frig contents may vary. This is for two people.
“What’s in the Frig?” Pasta; aka “Ack! Time to Fix Dinner!”
- four big mushrooms (more or less) sliced thick
- half a green pepper and half a red pepper (or use a whole one of one or the other)
- four or five oil-preserved sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- one garlic clove, chopped
- two or three big (and good quality) ripe olives, pitted and sliced
- a couple of cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 oz. of pasta (I used Rustichelli Fusilli)
- olive oil (of course!)
Boil water for the pasta and pre-heat your broiler. While you’re waiting:
Heat some oil in a large, sturdy pan. When it’s hot, add as many mushroom slices as will fit. When they’re toasty brown, turn them and brown the other side. Repeat until all the mushrooms are cooked. You may have to add a bit more oil. (Transfer them to paper towel to drain.)
Add a bit more oil to the hot pan and add the peppers. Saute. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and some of their oil. Stir and saute. Add the cherry tomatoes and stir. I took the pan off the heat for these last two steps. The pan was quite hot by that point and I didn’t want to demolish the tomatoes. Add the olives and garlic. (Again, off the heat is good if the pan is still fiery; you don’t want to burn the garlic.)
Right around now, put the brat under the broiler. In my electric oven, I cook it five minutes one side, and one minute the other and then take it out and set the brat on a plate (I don’t want the heat from the broiler pan to keep cooking the brat.)
When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan, which you’ve put back onto a (low) burner. Add a bit of the pasta water and toss and stir to coat the pasta. Transfer to bowls and add the bratwurst (which you’ve halved). (You could slice the brat and add it to the pan before plating.)
Finito! Thanks to the pasta water, sun-dried tomatoes, and mushrooms, the dish has a good deal of umami. Was it "July" food? No. But it was tasty.