Penchant for Peppered Pasta

**Happy birthday to the best mom!  Thank you for instilling and nurturing my culinary passions among so many other things!  Have a beautiful day**

Ok, I won’t say that life has thrust itself into a fiery pit of doom and despair the past two weeks, but things have been a bit awry of late; certainly has felt like a hot poker keeps stabbing its way into my business, burning holes and inflaming everyday routine with stress and worry. The blame falls squarely on a little known problem called cluster headaches, and the fact that my poor husband is dealing with them right now. As such, everything takes a back seat while we try to ensure they don’t hinder his daily livelihood. Thankfully the cycle should pass soon but until then my cooking has turned uber simple, uber healthy, and uber repetitive. I only want to make things I know won’t instigate the headaches, and since my mind can’t focus on conjuring up new things, I tend to hit the repeat button.

The first week, the kitchen wasn’t enthralling for me at all, but I did make one very simple dish that the husband really loved and I fancy as well, spicy Italian pepper pasta. (Evidently bell peppers are supposed to help alleviate the magnitude of the headaches… doesn’t hurt to try!) A quick and basic pasta dish with alya-flare, this recipe includes lots of easy herb and spice resources I have spread out in the cabinet and freezer alike.

One thing my sister in law introduced us to that has become very useful have been frozen spice cubes found in such places as Trader Joes or farmers markets. I prefer garlic and ginger, but you can also find frozen chili, parsley, cilantro, and basil (possibly others).  Simply just a tray of frozen cubes of an ingredient, with no preservatives (maybe a little lemon juice, I’d have to check) simply diced or ground up and frozen fresh.  Perfect for adding a few tsps of some ginger with a fresh taste rather than the pasty manufactured ginger pastes you can find.

But I digress. the point is, I used a few of these in the recipe below. If you can’t find these trays though, consider that 1 cube=1 tsp.  Now off we go!

Ingredients

  • angel hair pasta
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, halved and diced (into half-circles)
  • 3 tsp minced garlic (preferred because I like the itty-bitty pieces in each bite, as opposed to completely melted-in garlic)
  • 2 cubes frozen red chili
  • 3 cubes basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • crushed black pepper to taste

I’m in the process of writing up a bunch of simple recipes I’ve drummed up lately, but this one definitely ranks high in the speed and efficacy of flavor output–I really could discern every ingredient, and I’m sure if the husband didn’t shovel the food in the bliss of cranial peace, he would say the same.empty pasta all gone!Start by boiling the pasta as directed on your package. Cook and drain accordingly, covering with a damp towel to retain moisture (may also mix in a little olive oil once drained to keep it from sticking together while other parts are prepped).

In a large frying pan, saute the peppers and minced garlic in a few tbsp of olive oil to your desired state of wiltiness.  If I had the desire, i would have fire roasted and peeled the pepper first to remove the waxy outer layer, but I find that also adds a nice crunch too.  In this instance, I sauteed just so they were softened, but retained their sweet pepper flavor.  The jalapenos will soften a lot faster (since smaller cut) which is preferable too.  It allows for a variety of textures and also enhances the flavor of the jalapeno.

Next, add the chili cubes and basil cubes, mixing vigourously until melted.  At this point you can turn the heat down incredibly low and toss in the noodles, flipping and mixing til it’s all a nice hot mess.  Add the oregano, salt and pepper, and if you like, a fresh squeeze of lime and serve!We had this with some leftover chana masala (garbanzo beans); turned out to be a perfect dinner–I ate more peppers than noodles, and the boy didn’t get a headache from the food :).  And two days later, upon request, I made it again.  I do not lie, it was a delight!

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