Sunday, June 5, 2011

spaghettini with banana pepper arrabiata

Do you know that I was a hair's breadth from becoming a crazy cat lady? It's true. I love my cat. No... really. I really really love my cat.

Why am I taking this moment to introduce you to my favourite redhead? Because she's unwell. Not seriously unwell, only temporarily. I'll spare you the details because they're gross, but she has a bladder infection. She spent the day at the vet on Friday, undergoing a battery of (very expensive) tests. She was shaved, poked, drained, examined, manhandled and had a thermometer stuck up her bum. It was a lot for an old lady to handle. The technicians put a cone on her head for their own protection and wore elbow-length gloves.

Chloe is not exactly a loveable cat for most. She is fickle and unfriendly to newcomers. She hisses, bites and scratches if approached too quickly. She sits in her little cardboard house most of the day, either sleeping or looking sinister.  She is thirteen years old and set in her ways. She is sort of like one of those old people who have stopped censoring themselves. She does not tolerate change. She gets incredibly jealous and demonstrated this by clawing the back of Adam's head the first time he came over to my apartment (she must have known he was the one!). She refuses to eat anything but Fancy Feast tender chicken and liver pate. Don't bother trying to get her on anything healthier - she will nibble through half of her dish (maybe), but that will be it, and there will be no encore performance. The rest of the can will go to waste. You can forget anything that has chunks and gravy.

But there's a side to Chloe that most people don't see. It's the side of her that flops over for belly rubs, the side of her that runs to the door when I return home from ... anywhere. The side of her that follows me from one end of the apartment to the other, and the side of her that waits patiently by the door when I'm in the bathroom. This cat does not bestow her trust quickly or easily, but she is a very loving cat, despite her reputation.

What does my cat have to do with banana pepper arrabiata? Nothing, unless you take into account her fiery personality. I've been craving a spicy tomato sauce lately and simultaneously trying to think of ways to use up my giant jar of pickled banana peppers.  I wasn't sure whether or not it was reasonable to put banana peppers in pasta, but then I realised that I am a grownup and I can do whatever I want.  It worked. In fact, it was awesome! It was simple, spicy and had an understated pickleness to it. Yum. Make it. 

spaghettini with banana pepper arrabiata
serves 4

375g spaghettini, cooked according to package directions (I use whole wheat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup finely diced onions (rougly 1 large onion)
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup finely minced pickled banana peppers
2 1/2 cups passata (pureed, strained tomatoes) or crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
good quality parmigiano reggiano for sprinkling

Heat the oil on medium-high heat. Sautee onions until lightly browned and transparent. Add garlic and peppers and sautee for another two minutes. Pour in your passata and add salt. Simmer on low heat, stirring regularly, for 15 minutes. Serve with a generous heap of reggiano.

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