Improvised Pasta Salad

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I’m growing quite brave in my kitchen. Whereas before I’d shriek if I so much as missed half an ingredient for a recipe, now I make up my own recipes. Today I came home to found bounty from yesterday’s trip to the farmer’s market (which was an exhausting endeavor—that sun was so blistering hot that when I saw Bill Buford walk past me with several bags, I couldn’t tell if he was a hallucination or the real deal; my air-conditioned, calmer self now tells me it was really him.) On my table upon coming home tonight with my new computer (can I tell you how much I love my new computer? To quote Molly Shannon: I love it, I love it, I love it) there were:

– two ears of corn

– a bunch of beets

– spring onions

– a moldy cucumber

I threw out the moldy cucumber and set on my way. I brought two pots of water to a boil. In the first pot, I added salt, shucked the corn, added the whole cobs, turned off the heat (as Amanda Hesser suggests in her book) and took them out after three minutes. I turned the heat back on and added the pasta. In the other pot, I added a splash of olive oil, salt, some leftover thyme and then the beets. Those I boiled for about 30 minutes, until tender with a knife.

How did this thing come together? Well I drained the pasta after it was done boiling. I added it to a bowl and quickly poured on some olive oil and balsamic vinegar (quickly, because I wanted the hot, hungry pasta to absorb these flavoring agents.) Then I added corn that I cut off the cob, a crumbling of goat cheese I had in my ‘fridge from Coach Farms. Then I took the beet greens and sauteed them in olive oil which was weird because I think I should’ve boiled them first. But in those went and then finally the beets themselves, which I peeled and cubed.

What is this pasta I made? Is this a mess? Do the food gods frown? I’m not sure, but I really enjoyed eating it after letting it cool. (The cooling process allowed me to play with my new computer.) ‘Twas a fun night of innovation and the sort of thing that makes kitchen bravery a worthwhile trait to possess.

11 comments

  1. those food gods, who knows? maybe they´re smiling with approval, or maybe they´re falling about laughing. I hardly think they´d frown, even if the mix sounds a little odd.

  2. Your comment regarding the “hot, hungry pasta” is almost pornographic. Bravo!

    I’d like to believe we each have our own personal food gods and that they smile on us continuously. I think, however, mine were frowning last night for my sorry attempt at making homemade onion rings. If at first you don’t succeed…

  3. I’ve always been a solipsistic foodie at heart- and if I’m the only extant being on the earth, who exactly wrote all those cookbooks? That’s right, nobody. So creating my own recipes has been a craft dear to my heart forever.

    This looks really yummy. I’ve never cooked beets- perhaps it’s time I did.

    Did you buy the cuke and then find out it was moldy, or did it entropize on the way home in the searing heat? I think you probably could have created some kind of fermented bev with it.

  4. Oh man, I had a terrible beet pasta experience when I was learning how to cook. I think it was the beet chickpea combo that did it, though. Some goat cheese might have made it more palatable. I didn’t think it could be done, but you’ve made me consider, again, the potential of the beautiful beet combined with pasta.

  5. I cook corn-on-the-cob EXACTLY this same way precisely because of Amanda Hesser. (I love Cooking for Mr. Latte.) I used to cook corn so much that it turned into grainy, sweet mush. But now – heaven. I’m ready for the corn season to hit the Rocky Mountain region – bring it on!

  6. there is an absolutely goregous recipe for beet pasta i make that involves a beet puree, some heavy cream, a lot of pepper, some cheese and mint

    it sounds odd, but its simply magical and can be eaten hot or cold

    good for you AG! i’m glad you winged it! winging it is wunderbar!

  7. Throwing away any food item – even a moldy cucumber – does not seem quite right. Congrats on moving away from the cookbook to your instincts. The left over Google trick works for me. Google whatever is left over in the frig along with recipe and see what fate has in store! Love your blog. Best of luck.

  8. I’m not a huge fan of beets, but i have to say – good for you for getting braver with your cooking! Lots of people can follow a recipe, but it takes talent to improvise!

  9. You really cooked as per your instincts, but the recipe sounds great.

    I am sure I am going to try it. No regrests about never frying beets when using them in recipes as simply sauteed beets with salt and pepper tastes simply awesome!

    A handful of broccoli florets and bit of mushroom with a sprinkle of black pepper and a bit oregano would have been just the perfect completion to your innovation.

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