Some days this is all I can manage. While I’m waiting for my little housette to be ready, I’ve made best friends with an electric frying pan (skillet). A frying pan is a piece of kit designed to fry stuff, but cooking for one allows you to get more value out of a plug-in pan. I blanch beans in it. I wilt greens in it, oh, and I kid you not, I cook pasta in it. I can only fit in enough pasta for me, with maybe a bit leftover for my lunch the next day, mind, so don’t go thinking I’ll be inviting you around anytime soon for a slap-up Italian pasta meal. Nope. It’s just spag for one. But it has made me realise that we probably buy more equipment than we need.
Has anyone else got any quirky cooking habits? I mean the idiosyncratic things that you do, the things that you make do with. Send in your secrets. With pics!
My spag in a skillet is a rescue remedy for those nights when I just can‘t be bothered to cook but I’m desperate to have something substantial, something savoury and something satisfying. Carbs after dark? Yep. I love busting rules.
What I do in a normal life is mix a few generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil, sliced garlic and a few flecks of dried chilli in a frying pan and cook the pasta in a saucepan. Sometimes I add slivered black olives – not too much, just to give a little kick of salt. Other nights I add a few halved cherry tomatoes, placing them cut side down in the pan when warming the oil. And I let this heat up very slowly, so that the ingredients soften somewhat and open up their flavours. They mustn’t fry. I cook the pasta, drain it, reserving a cup of cooking water, and add pasta to the pan and fold it all gently together, then I add a big handful of rocket leaves (arugula) and a smattering of grated parmesan. A few gentle tosses until the rocket is just wilted, adding in a splash or two of water to keep everything flowing if necessary. I dish it up and smother with a mountain of freshly grated parmesan. Then lock the door! There’s no sharing. Time to scoff it up!
Of course, with just the one pan, I’ve got to warm the oil and seasonings through first then transfer them to a bowl, using a scraper to get all the bits, so I can cook the pasta in the pan. Don’t wipe out the pan – the oily trace is added flavour.
It’s a 5-min prep dish that you can do while cooking the pasta. Nice. Always reliable, faster than ordering in food, cheaper than buying food in a bag or a box, and you have control over what you eat. It’s up to you what type of pasta you choose, but FGS (I think that means for gods sake), use local garlic, not peeled suspiciously white garlic imported from China and believed to grow in poo ponds (this may be an exaggeration, but there is some truth in it to be sure), good extra virgin olive oil – and again, I urge buy the oil made in the country you live in if available, and wash and spin dry the rocket if you are buying rocket in a bag.