Tonight I got to make dinner the way I like it. I could have whatever I wanted, no one else was adding their input because they weren’t hungry and having dinner, so I was free to follow my fancy. The only thing was that I wanted it to be somewhat light, and quick. I’m such a sucker for pasta so I decided that would be my base (also, because I already had a box of Conchigliette at home AND I just finished a grueling hour of Physique). I didn’t want to do the traditional tomato sauce and so I found myself trolling Whole Foods (dangerous, I know) in search of treats for my shells.
When I was a kid, and my mom was out of town, my dad would be left to figure out what to make my brother and I for dinner. I’m fairly certain there were a number of disagreements, but I think my dad really hit the jackpot when he figured out that he could make spaghetti, melt a little butter and toss in some capers to top off the dish and my brother and I would go crazy. Who knew adding capers to butter and pasta could have such an effect. And my dad really let us get into the capers – a whole little jar gone, in one night! With that in mind, I went straight to the olive bar where the capers are stashed. What next? Thankfully the produce section is right next to the olive bar, so I pushed my cart around, stopping to pick up ingredients as I thought they’d go well together.
Here’s what I ended up with: A lemon, arugula, a leek, kalamata olives.
Here’s what I ended up using: Arugula and the leek. I ate too many of the olives and decided I was too lazy to cut the rest of them up. I still wouldn’t rule them out. I didn’t use the lemon, mostly for the reason that I didn’t want to have a half open lemon in the fridge. Pure laziness. But I think both would still go well with everything else, so if you are more motivated than myself, I’d say go for it. Also, leeks are one of my favorite vegetables. So underrated.
Put on a pot of water. While waiting for it to boil, cut up some garlic, and slice up the leek. Adjust to your own personal tastes, and the quantity of pasta you are making. Some people might be offended by extreme garlic breath, but you might like it too much to care. Once the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box. I liked the Conchigliette because the capers hid in the shell and weren’t hard to chase around my bowl. Cook the pasta, drain, and set to the side (you could alternatively do the next steps in a pan while the pasta cooks, but that gets a whole other pan dirty, and I told you, we are lazy). In the same pan, drop in some olive oil, a heart friendly amount. Drop in the leek and garlic, cooking until the leeks are soft, about 4 minutes or so. For some kick add some chili flakes. At the very end, toss in as many capers as you like, DON’T HOLD BACK! Or do, in case you had to buy a jar, and you couldn’t buy in bulk (I’m sorry, but sometimes Whole Foods IS cheaper. Capers. In bulk). Stir around, heating the capers. Toss the mixture into the pasta that had been set aside. I added the arugula at this point, and not in the pan as I didn’t want it to over cook/wilt/get too soggy, but the pasta is still a bit warm so it’s not like a weird pasta/salad combination. If I’d not been so lazy, I’d have added the olives (but perhaps too many strong flavors at this point?) and maybe a bit of the lemon juice. Top with grated parmesan. Voila, dinner in less than 20 minutes.