My younger daughter, Alex, had been hankering for pasta for weeks so when she suddenly sent a text message yesterday saying she was arriving home in three hours or so, I decided I would cook some spaghetti for her. For those of you who are new here, my daughters are in college and they are only home on weekends. Alex doesn’t have classes on Fridays for this term and, often, she doesn’t wait for the Friday night pick-up but takes a train after her Thursday classes.
Yesterday, since I still had three hours or so, I thought I could do a little work first. One thing led to another, in short I got too engrossed with the writing and, the next time I noticed the clock on top of my iMac’s monitor, it was after 12.30 p.m., a mere 20 minutes before Alex’s expected time of arrival. To make a long story short, I scrambled and made it in the nick of time. I was pouring the topping over the spaghetti when Alex stepped through the front door. I asked her to indulge me for a minute while I took one last photo.
Minus the time for taking photos, this pasta dish was cooked in just under 15 minutes. Truly.
- enough pasta for two (I eyeball it, really)
a drizzle of olive oil
150 g. of belly bacon
1 c. of diced tomatoes (yes, canned!)
a sprig of oregano (from the garden)
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
sugar, to taste
For the topping:
1/4 of a 250 g. block of cream cheese
about 3 tbsps. of milk
chopped parsley (I used dried)
- Boil water in a pot (lucky for me, I already had hot water in the kettle so I just poured all of it into the pot). Dump the pasta.
While the pasta boils, thinly slice the bacon (mine was semi-frozen which made cutting easier). Chop the onion.
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add the bacon and cook for a minute. Add the chopped onion and continue cooking until the onion bits starts to turn translucent. Pour in the diced tomatoes. Strip the oregano leaves directly into the pan. Season with salt, pepper and a bit of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Stir and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to medium but do NOT cover to thicken the sauce FAST. It takes less than 10 minutes.
By the time the pasta is done, the sauce should be too. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce. Then, make a very quick but utterly wonderful topping. See, I realized we didn’t have cheese that I could grate over the spaghetti so I improvised. Since Alex adores the creamy cheese topping that I use for my baked mac, I decided I could use something creamy.
I cut a quarter from a 250 g. block of cream cheese. Obviously, it was too firm for stirring since it just came out of the fridge. I put the cheese in a small glass mixing bowl and put it in the microwave on high for 20 seconds. Presto! It had softened sufficiently for beating. And beat it, I did. But it was still not pourable. So I added milk, tablespoonful by tablespoonful, until I got the right consistency — almost pourable but still thick enough that most of the mixture had to be scraped off the sides of the mixing bowl. For panache, some dried parsley. And on top of the spaghetti went the cream cheese sauce.
Alex’s verdict? Telling stories between mouthfuls, after finishing a bowl of pasta, she said she was so full she felt she was going to burst. Of course, she only ate half of what I cooked because I cooked enough for two persons. She later stored the remaining half in the fridge and I’ll just have to make that super easy cream cheese sauce again to go with it. Which will probably in a little while when she wakes up.
Cooking time (duration): 15 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 2
Meal type: lunch