Wednesday, February 20, 2008

*postcard from the veg.

What's a vegetarian who doesn't like vegetables? An ... arian? Oh dear, that sounds rather prison yard. I mean, no vegetables? That's oxymoron, cognitive dissonance, a contradiction. Oh, there it is. I'm a contrarian.

I should have been raised in Ireland, or with the Ingalls. They were forever griping about the peasant potato or lamenting having nothing but a hunk of bread and a chunk of cheese in the lunch pail. Pa Ingalls traipsed through snow to put oranges in his kids' Christmas stockings, for chrissake.

I was raised better than that, of course. MY pa would weather the drifts for Brussels sprouts, and the momster will eat ... well, she'll pretty much eat anything that grows out of the ground. But my best vegetable memories are summertime ones. Swatting flies around the massive garbage cans while we shucked ear after ear of corn; cutting the "bad parts" out of the white peaches to the point that they became bite-size, which made them a justifiable snack; and salivating over endless tubs of bumpy, beautiful tomatoes.

It's been in the 60s today, so whingeing about how my distaste for vegetables is somehow seasonal would be disingenuous. Although it should be said that most of the deceit of my childhood was perpetrated in the name of winter vegetables—yes, parents, we do remember this stuff (These sweet potatoes taste suspiciously like butternut squash. Put all the marinara you want on it, spaghetti squash is not, in fact, spaghetti. You can call it pizza, but I can see that the "crust" is a thin slice of zucchini.) .

Still, my body has been sobbing for nutrients lately, something fresh and healthy and preferably smothered with cheese. Thank you, Giada! First, I cut up zucchini, red bell peppers, onion, and—in an oddly specific moment—4 cremini mushrooms. The recipe also calls for summer squash, but the offerings at The Pub were shrunken and shriveled.

What? I don't have to be politically correct. I'm a child. I once sat at a dinner table for 4 hours to avoid eating my cabbage. WHICH, if memory serves, my sister actually asked for as part of her birthday dinner solely because she knew I hated it. Oh, L, you are a cruel one ...

God, get there already. Where was I? Oh, right. Vegetables. A smear of extra-virgin olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and into a 450 oven for 15 minutes. Before:

and after:

No, I was not intoxicated when that photo was taken. It's ARTISTIC.

The remaining ingredients were frozen peas, penne, butter, Italian seasoning, pasta sauce, Parmigiano (and seriously, how long have I been hacking away at that?), smoked mozz, and, in lieu of fontina, provolone (snore).

A little boil on the pasta, and everything got mixed together and spilled into a baking dish. Want to know what happened with the butter? E-mail me at It's not for maternal ears. A mere 20 minutes later ...

I think the vegetables probably could have roasted a little longer. There was a decided crunch on them. But the flavors were good, and that pasta sauce was stick-your-tongue-in-the-jar fantastic. Not that I would do that.

All in all, it was good not great. Not precisely the thing one hopes for after a day that started with a flat tire and progressed to include two hours staring dumbly at Fox "News" at the car dealership while wondering why strangers feel compelled to shout their agreement at the TV screen. Hey you? Fifty-year-old guy who came with the mother he clearly still lives with? "John McCain is the only one who's going to stick to his word, I'll tell you that!" would go a much longer way toward confirming your talent for political punditry if you weren't CUTTING YOUR KNUCKLE HAIR WITH FINGERNAIL CLIPPERS.

You can't make this shit up, people.


at: 11:58 PM said...

as we've established, I have little to offer in the way of culinary commentary, so I'll comment on the political portion of this post. also, not so much a fan of the vegetables (in general, I am sure yours were delish).

the only thing worse than shouting at one's television at home, is shouting at one's television in public. the knuckle hair thing, I can't even deal with.

I might have to reconsider who I am voting for now. dammit.

John-Bryan Hopkins says:
at: 12:45 PM said...

Let me get this straight. Your were sitting waiting for your PRIUS to be fixed having to watch Murdock Mania?

Is that an oxymoron or something?

I would think the PIRIUS place would have like Al Gore round table discussion rooms or NPR head sets?

Toyota makes a red state car? Who knew!!

at: 9:37 PM said...

Kudos to you for trying to increase your vegetable consumption. I remember steadfastly holding out in front of stewed squash and being accused of not liking anything but potatoes and peas. And I remember an older co-worker (40-something) disdaining my penchant for putting cream sauces on vegetables or always making them into cheesy casseroles when I was in my 20s. Remember, you liked cabbage when it was mixed with mashed potatoes to make colcannon. I think there's a survival instinct in us that makes kids favor sweeter starchy vegies over stronger tasting broccoli and brussels sprouts. Once you're grown, you can recognize that arugula isn't poisonous--it's irresistible! If you make up your mind you want to make your diet more colorful, it's easy to find ways to do it and few vegetables aren't delicious roasted. (Can't speak for parsnips or beets here)

K. says:
at: 9:11 AM said...

doug: if you reconsider who you're voting for, even having to USE the phrase "knuckle hair" will have been worth it.

john-bryan hopkins/terrance g. finley: i think i could do some sort of study on fox. it's kind of mesmerizing, in a you-MUST-be-kidding-me sort of way. did you know the john mccain/blonde lobbyist story is going to reflect badly on the new york times? yeah, me neither.

ma: no food should be stewed. but i'm with you on the potatoes and peas!



my foodgawker gallery



I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.