Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella

Paul tries his best to be useful around the house. He is very, very good about taking the trash, helping clean the kitchen after dinner, and putting Matthew to bed. You can also find him in the basement twice each week cursing and threatening the cat while angrily changing the litter box. Riley normally supervises from a safe distance.

However, when it comes to laundry, Paul is less than helpful. First, he will wash everything together: towels, dishrags, underwear, sheets, darks, and whites. It all goes into the same load. Second, this mixed load is always washed in HOT water because this will "get the clothes the cleanest." Third, after washing, the load is immediately placed in the dryer and put on the HIGHEST setting because this way they will "dry as quickly as possible." I don't know why Paul is so concerned with speed because he almost never folds the clothes once they come out of the dryer. Instead, they will sit in the laundry basket and he will just pull what he needs from it while insisting that I not touch it because he will "fold and put everything away later." I have learned that "later" almost always means about 5-8 business days. And then once it is folded, it usually sits in piles on our bed until I tell him where everything goes because we have a super complicated clothing organizational system (heavy, heavy sarcasm).

Over the years, Paul's laundry habits have wrecked havoc on all of our wardrobes but particularly mine. He has shrunk more pants and shirts than anyone I know! We both are still traumatized by the time he shrunk my favorite pair of dress pants to the point where I had to dispose of them. Now, while he still helps with the laundry, he lives in fear of messing up my clothes and usually tries his best to line dry my sweaters, shirts and pants in order to avoid any more catastrophic shrinkage.

Earlier in the winter, Paul and I went on a shopping trip and bought a cute green sweater that has become my favorite piece of clothing this season. I wear it all the time and always receive complements when I do. The other day, Paul was pulling a batch of laundry from the dryer when he noticed a tiny green sweater. Since he always tries to line dry my clothes now, he immediately became angry with himself for missing the sweater when transferring the clothes from the washer and held it up to ensure that it had not shrunk. However, the sweater was so tiny, it would be a stretch for it to fit Riley the cat. He began to perspire and shake, thinking that he had once again ruined a favorite sweater of mine. He slowly walked into the kitchen and held the sweater up to show me: "Uhhh...Monica...this sweater...."

I took one look at it and said: "That's Emma's."

The relief that flooded over his face was hilarious. I just about died laughing. It was sweet how worked up he got over a silly sweater.

She likes to eat the laundry as we fold it. Like I have said before, she'll eat anything!

On busy weeknights, a quick and easy meal is essential to ensuring that we eat by our designated 6:30 pm dinnertime. Enter this recipe for Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella. It is so easy that Paul can make it with very little supervision.  Do not let the simplicity of this recipe fool you, this pasta dish is incredibly delicious and has already become a family favorite. The whole thing can be put together in less than 20 minutes and uses only a handful of ingredients. The longest part is waiting for the pasta water to boil.

Now, because the recipe is so simple, it is important to use good ingredients: beautifully red, juicy, and ripe tomatoes, good-quality olive oil, and fresh mozzarella if possible (although regular, shrink-wrapped mozzarella works great too!). Serve with a light green salad and this is a vegetarian meal that the whole family is sure to love. It's also a great option for the upcoming meatless Fridays during Lent!

Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Mozzarella
from Cook's Illustrated

1 pound fusilli
1½ pounds ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press
3 medium scallions, sliced thin
Table salt
Ground black pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes

Bring 4 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to the boiling water, stir to separate the noodles, and cook until al dente. Drain and return the pasta to the pot.

While the pasta is cooking, combine the tomatoes, oil, garlic, scallions, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. After draining the pasta and returning it to the pot, add the tomato mixture and mozzarella to the pasta in the pot and toss to combine. Toss for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

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