Sam’s doing her portfolio and she’s been shooting a lot of food during weekends. She requests a dish that will look photogenic, I cook, she shoots and then we eat. She asked for a pasta dish for last Sunday’s photoshoot and she had specific instructions about what should go into it.
Do you want tomato sauce? No, she replied, something without sauce but with lots of colorful vegetables. She mentioned broccoli and bell peppers. Pasta aglio e olio with lots of vegetables then? Yes, she agreed. I made a mental note. On Saturday morning, Speedy went to the grocery and bought all the vegetables that we’d need over the weekend. Among them, a head of broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, red onions, two red bell peppers and two green bell peppers.
On Saturday evening while waiting for Sam to get home, Alex and I made pizza. That was on the menu. I even messaged Sam that we were having homemade pizza on Saturday night and she was so thrilled. Because Sam is vegetarian, Alex and I decided that the pizzas — we made two — would be vegetarian. For the meat-eaters, there would be broiled chicken. As a side dish, baked potato wedges.
Alex volunteered to slice the vegetables and grate the cheese for the two pizzas that we would bake. She asked how many bell peppers she should slice, I said three, she said there were only four so why not use all of them and I absentmindedly told her to go ahead. Looking back, I should have focused more on what she was saying. But I was pulling the chicken out of the oven and putting in the tray of potato wedges, and really, I could only focus so much. But more on that later.
Dinner was superb. And FUN.
This is from Sam’s Instagram account:
And, below, from Alex’s:
They were laughing and elbowing each other out of the way to get the best angle while Speedy started munching on the puto pao he brought home because he couldn’t touch any of the homemade dishes until the girls were done Instagramming. By the time we finished dinner, Alex vowed she would never eat again while Sam declared she was so full she was going to burst. Of course, Alex didn’t keep her vow and Sam did not burst.
The significance of me telling Alex to go ahead and slice all the bell peppers for the pizza did not dawn on me until the next day when I started prepping the vegetables for Sam’s requested pasta dish. Drat, we were out of bell peppers. But we had carrots. Sam doesn’t like carrots but she eats them when they’re crisp.
So, I cooked this tasty and very colorful vegetarian (and vegan) pasta dish with vegetables that were cooked through but still with lots of crisp in them. When Sam asked where the bell peppers were, I sheepishly told her that they had all gone on top of the pizzas.
The recipe is very simple.
First, make pasta aglio e olio. That’s what this dish is at its most basic. I just threw in a whole lot of vegetables.
Once you have your pasta aglio e olio, it’s time to prep the vegetables that will give the dish that burst of colors and contrasting textures. Choose vegetables with bright colors and lots of texture. I used broccoli, carrot, red onions and tomatoes. Bell peppers — yellow, green and red — will work well too. So will zucchini, eggplants, peas and mushrooms.
Dice your vegetables and cook them in olive oil with a little salt and pepper. Vegetables that don’t bleed out and cook in more or less the same time can be tossed in oil together. I cooked the broccoli, carrot and red onions in one go.
The tomatoes, I cooked separately. Tomatoes bleed out as they liquefy. If I had tossed them with the other vegetables, the colors would be ruined and Sam would have terrible photos.
Sam tossed the pasta with the vegetables and took photos right after. Just see how each color stands out so distinctly.