Cylindrical dinner ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

19 March 2007

Cylindrical dinner

This weekend was all about lying around the house, a project I like quite a bit. Well, we WANTED it to be all about lying around the house. We didn't exactly accomplish this plan, at least at first. After a Friday with no dinner, lots of hanging out with neighbors, and several vodka appletinis, not to mention a Saturday morning consisting of two and a half relentlessly fun-filled hours at the dentist, we were certainly ready to accomplish a different goal than, say, the "moving ever again" goal. Perhaps the "actual dinner" goal?

Friday night I had brought home two big bags of ziti, a bottle of champagne and one of sauvignon blanc, and a bag of goldfish crackers, half of which I'd already scarfed down in the staff room. What could this possibly inspire? I rejected the tomato soup with goldfish in favor of scarfing the rest of the bag before dinner. Pasta it is, then.

This business is easy and classic. It's more or less a variation on the general aglio e olio, which we have pretty frequently due to its quickness, easiness, and deliciousness. In this case the ziti inspired me to make everything cylindrical. Not that anyone would be fooled into thinking a green bean was actually pasta, or vice versa. It's more that a plate full of uniform shapes is pretty, and everyone likes to eat pretty food.

Cylindrical dinner
i.e. Pasta with garlic and green beans

1/2 package ziti
couple big handfuls green beans
at least 6 or 8 cloves garlic
olive oil
dry vermouth
basil, cayenne
couple stems fresh parsley
salt, pepper
parmesan/other for grating

Cook pasta at an appropriate moment in the following procedures. You're not an idiot, and I'm not going to act like you are.

Smash, peel, and mince garlic. Throw it in a decent saute pan with a substantial glug of olive oil, a little dried basil, and a shake of cayenne. Cook on medium-low until things are soft but not browned. My garlic, of course, started to go golden and look threateningly crisp. If this happens, you can add a cup or so of water to evenly distribute the heat and keep the garlic from burning. It works pretty well, but not as well as actually keeping the heat low enough.

Top and tail the green beans, and cut into maybe inch and a half pieces. I didn't try all that hard to get these perfect, just reasonable. Green beans curl; it's not a problem. Add them to the pan and stir to combine. You may want a little more oil at this point. I would also probably turn the heat up a bit, since green beans will release at least a little liquid. Give them a few minutes with just the garlic mixture, then add a couple glugs of dry vermouth. Cook togther until the green beans are done to your liking. Maybe 5 minutes should be plenty. While they're cooking, strip the leaves off a few stems of parsley and chop them roughly.

When everything is done, add first the parsley and then the drained pasta to your pan of garlic and beans. Salt and pepper. Stir it all up and top with more pepper. This stuff likes pepper.

Eat with lots of grated cheese and some sauvignon blanc. If you were so inclined, and if you had the right ingredients, you could add some pesto to this mix with excellent effect. Whole pine nuts would work, or maybe some lemon zest if you're into the sweet and sour. Or you could go whole hog with the hot pepper content and add whatever spice you want early on. I myself had it plain. It was delicious that way, too.

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