I’m not much of a birthday planner.
Planning elaborate, creative parties for myself makes me cranky and stressed out to the max. I love planning things for other people but something about picking a venue, inviting people who mesh well together, organizing carpool, parking, where to go afterwards, dinner only, dinner + drinks, just drinks, what to wear, who to tell, making a dumb Facebook event where 90% of the people reply “maybe” all for myself seems a little pretentious… I don’t know.
Here I am recovering after my birthday. Thank god we had leftover pizza.
I’ve been having a lot of cake, wine, sushi, cocktails, whiskey, cookies, beer, red meat, and Mexican food. A whole lotta food vices and gluttony for my birthday. Which I don’t even really enjoy celebrating to begin with.
So, I decided to KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Invited the girls over and made them dinner as a little appreciation for having them be there for me throughout my college years – here are some pictures of my pizzas and the lovely little gifts that I received.
blooming onion appetizer
mushroom & caramelized onion pizza
I’ve been on a cooking binge recently. I caramelized about 15 onions last week. It took me two hours. I was drenched in onion juice for like two days and have been eating caramelized onions non-stop. They taste amazing on everything by the way. Grilled cheese… Omelets… Pizza…. Sandwiches…. Pasta….. Mmmmm..
sweet Italian sausage & pepper pizza
And look! Presents!
Black truffle in grey Baltic sea salt! From N.
Food Rules! From the roomie, S. <3 Michael Pollan.
Camelbak bottle for hiking from the big sis!
Started working out this week after last week’s binge. The water bottle is very handy.
Gorgeous set of cheese plates from E.
So, after all this binge eating, I’ve decided to detox the body. Been avoiding red meat (kind of paired with that study that came out this week about how 3 ounces of red meat a day increases your chances of death by 13%) and eating a lot of vegetables. I regressed last night by having some red wine and a bit of Scotch, but I’ve been doing relatively well this week.
I’ve gotten into using the oven for something other than sugary buttery desserts. Roasted vegetables! Woohoo!
I was just sitting at work, chugging through some spreadsheets and eating a grilled vegetable salad that I ordered for lunch yesterday when I felt PANGS OF NOSTALGIA. The slightly charred, caramelized zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers… It just took me back to one of my favorite meals in New York last September. Funny how things you eat transport you back to a lot of your fondest memories. Or I’m just a fatass who remembers everything I consume, but anyway.
I remembered sitting in East Harlem with one of my friends at a little Italian place called Pisticci. The sun was starting to set, so we were outdoors on the sidewalk cafe with a slight breeze and the outdoor string of bulbs had just been lit. I had a summer roasted vegetable rigatoni topped with ricotta cheese; the roasted zucchini, mushrooms, and eggplant meshed so perfectly everything. Al dente rigatoni. Soft, creamy ricotta cheese. The sharp, spicy scent of basil. The crisp, sweet air you only smell when summer starts winding down into autumn.
That special meal inspired this UBER SIMPLE meal. I decided to roast my own medley of “summer” vegetables. I’ve been missing summer because the weather’s had a strange turn to Cali winter this week and there’s a storm brewing for the coming weekend; but I had a nice summer nostalgic moment cooking and smelling the roasting veggies in the oven. I can’t wait for it to really get warm! I’m so stoked for summer to get here. :) I’ve booked tickets to a far away place!
A lot of these ingredients were leftover from my pizza night so if you happen to have tomatoes, basil, and some cheese in your fridge, you’re pretty much good to go – Roasted Vegetable Pasta and Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Tomatoes!
Roasted Vegetable Pasta
1/2 pound pasta (I used whole wheat fusilli)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 large Roma tomato
1 bell pepper, diced
1 eggplant, diced
1 banana squash or zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
Handful basil, chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place vegetables and garlic in a large roasting pan and coat with about 3 tablespoons olive oil. Toss to cover vegetables. Salt and pepper to taste. Roast in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Cook until caramelized and starting to brown. Remove from oven and set aside.
Boil water and cook pasta according to directions on package.
When pasta is al dente, drain and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss with vegetables and basil. Plate and top with ricotta cheese and grate Parmesan cheese on top. Garnish with extra basil.
Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes
2 Roma tomatoes
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 cloves garlic
1 small bunch basil, chopped
truffle salt (or sea salt)
(I imagine Italian parsley would be really good, too)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice Roma tomatoes in half. Scoop out flesh and set aside shells upside down on paper towel. Mix ricotta with basil and garlic and salt to taste (be generous as ricotta is usually not salted). Place filling into tomatoes and place right side up on pan. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes until cheese is cooked and slightly bubbling.
Enjoy with wine. :)