Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dining Solo

E is off with her parents while her mom is in the hospital. Unfortunately, I can't be with her due to logistical issues.

Cooking for one makes me realize I've grown unaccustomed to it. While I'm happy not to be condemned to take-out or frozen dinners, cooking for myself is less than inspiring.

There have been times in my life when I did it without a second thought, but it's been a long time. The only upside is that I can experiment and not worry about being embarrassed by the results.

Tonight I found myself staring at the contents of the pantry searching for dinner ideas. I spotted a can of baby clams purchased many months ago with the intention of making a red clam sauce. It seemed like a perfect time to experiment and what resulted was a pretty good example of how to use what you have on hand.

I started with a couple cloves of garlic, which I always have. I minced the garlic, sauteed it for a minute or two in a healthy pour of olive oil and then added 1/2 cup of white wine and the juice of a lemon (which was on the verge of being a little too old).

Once the wine and lemon juice had been reduced by about half, I added a box of chopped Italian tomatoes (Pomi, 26.5 ounces). E spotted these at the grocery and the quality is great. I added the tomatoes and the drained clams (10 ounce can) to the pan. It would have been great to have some clam juice, but I couldn't bring myself to add the salty water the clams were packed in. Maybe next time.

While the sauce simmered, I chopped a mess of fresh basil (about 1/4 cup plus some extra) -- thanks to my good idea of planting a late season crop of flat-leaf basil. I just can't get enough of basil. I set the basil aside and put a big pot of salted water on to boil.

Once the water boiled, I dropped in some spaghetti noodles and added the basil to the sauce. Right before the noodles finished, I tasted the sauce and added salt and pepper to taste.

I plated up the pasta and garnished it with the extra basil. Here's the result.

When I'm by myself I tend not to break out new wines. I'd rather save those for when I have someone to talk about them with. So, I chose a lighter-style red we've enjoyed in the past.

Maison L. Tramier et Fils Roncier Pinot Noir NV ($8.99, Green's)

The Roncier is a very nice, simple drink of wine with flavors of cherry, dried herbs, earth and a hint of smoke. It was just the thing for a simple dinner of pasta.

I'm looking forward to making this dish again when I have some company.

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