on the perks of eating alone

I’ve been cooking for just myself a lot these days. With Joanna and many other friends away from Chicago on grand adventures until school starts back up in a few weeks, and our weekly class potlucks on hiatus until fall, I find myself with fewer dinner guests and more back-porch suppers where only a novel and the songs from my end-of-summer playlist are my fellow attendees.

Now, cooking for others is one of my greatest joys in the world. As you regular readers have probably gathered from earlier posts, in my family, food is love, and the more friends and family you can gather together to eat, the better. But somehow, the older I get, the more appreciation I have for being alone in the kitchen and at the dinner table. I am coming to find equal joy in tripling the garlic in a recipe without worrying if anyone else will like it, in not rushing or lingering to adapt to anyone else’s timetable. Don’t worry, y’all are still welcome for dinner any time you can find the time in your busy schedules to stop by.

When I first read the recipe for this roasted tomato pasta, I lumped it squarely in the cooking-for-one category. Garlic, walnuts, tons of tomatoes, and pomegranate molasses are all things I love, but they didn’t seem like a crowd pleasing combo to me. And while the recipe author had me at “6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced,” I would be a little weary to serve something that potent to guests. As soon as I started eating, I immediately became glad that I didn’t have to share. The odd coupling of these ingredients play off each other beautifully and in a way that I never could have expected. And while the dish is certainly garlicy, I didn’t find it overpoweringly so- the cooking technique lends mildness.

Roasted tomato pasta with walnuts

adapted from Aida Mollenkamp’s blog

1/2 pound spagetthi

1 1/2 lb cherry or grape tomatoes, whole or sliced in half if large

1 c shelled walnut halves

2 T olive oil

1 small onion, diced

Salt and pepper

6 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin

2 T pomegranate molasses

1 handful fresh basil, thinly sliced

1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the spaghetti according to package directions

Toast walnuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven until they are seriously toasted, not burnt but past the point of golden brown. You want to bring out their smoky flavor

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet and sautee the onion until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and the garlic and cook for just a few minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.

Add tomatoes, stir well, and cook until they start to collapse and char, about 5 minutes. If the sauce seems dry, you can add some of the pasta water. Add the molasses and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and/or a pinch of sugar as desired.

Combine the noodles and sauce and stir well to coat the pasta. Add the walnuts and herbs.

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