Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cellentani pasta with roasted tomatoes and arugula

"Auntie JuJu, Auntie JuJu!"

Luciano and Mirabella were here, tumbling through the breezeway door like little puppies. They were eager to pick the cherry tomatoes I have growing in pots and tubs on the back patio, so I give them each a basket, and out they ran. Even at 2 1/2 and 5, they're darn good at choosing just the red ones. Luc eats them straight from the plant, and there was such a bounty from the rain Cape Cod finally received, he declared over and over, "It's a miracle!" His mom, my sister Sue, and I were quite sure he must have heard that somewhere, but you, know, he was right. Tomatoes certainly are a miracle!

I sent Susan and her little ones home with a paper bag full of tomatoes, but I had plenty left. My goals this weekend were to tidy my bedroom drawers (so messy!) and clean out the fridge. Late this Sunday afternoon, I took the ricotta cheese I'd discovered behind the pickles, and started cooking up vegetables. 
I decided to make a casserole with one of my favorite pastas, cellentani. Have you tried these? They're shaped like corkscrews, and cook up very chewy. They have a nice bite, and stay firm when baked.
I mixed the cellentani with ricotta and some arugula, and sauteed the baby yellow squash and zucchini I'd bought Friday. For my labors,  I had a nice little round baking dish for myself later this week, and a good sized casserole to bake for the office tomorrow. And a container of beautifully sauteed squash -- good things in store...

Cellentani pasta con pomodori al forno e rucola
(Cellentani pasta with roasted tomatoes and arugula)

2-3 pounds of cherry tomatoes, halved, or
regular size tomatoes, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1/4 cup parsley, minced fine
8-10 leaves of basil, chopped in chiffonade
l pound cellentani pasta

2 bunches (roughly 3 cups) arugula
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 pounds Ricotta cheese

Place tomatoes in a roasting dish and drizzle with oil and vinegar.
Add salt and pepper, toss and roast for one hour, stirring several times.

Meantime, chop arugula roughly, discarding root end.
Drizzle nonstick skillet with olive oil, and saute lightly, two or three moments.

Cook cellentani in a large sauce pan and drain. 

Return pasta to pot, add ricotta and stir to mix. Add tomatoes, including  juice from roasting pan, along with arugula, parsley and basil. 
Place mixture in low casserole or roasting pan, sprinkle with Parmesan, and bake until hot and bubbly, approximately 20-30 minutes.

So good!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I spy with my animal eye

Have you heard of the "The Once and Future King," the wonderful novel about the Arthurian legend on which Disney based its cartoon feature,  "The Sword and The Stone?" The story of the tutoring of the young Arthur makes for an absorbing  book for both children and adults. (I give it to young people all the time; if they liked Harry P., they'll love this book as well. So will you!)

In the story as told by T.H. White,  Merlin transforms the orphan boy Walt into various animals to teach him about life from their perspectives. The man who was to become king gains great insight into the world this way, and the descriptions of  Walt as a peregrine falcon soaring  through the sky have stayed with me since I first read the book as a teenager.
I've always yearned to have that sort of experience, and to have some sort of understanding from a less, err, human perspective -- and now, through the extraordinary resources of the  Museum of Animal Perspectives, my wish has come true.

With the help of remote controlled cameras all over the world, the Museum of Animal Perspective shows us what a chickadee sees as she brings food to her hungry nestlings, what it's like to be a prairie dog traveling down a tunnel, and what a lobster views at the dank bottom of the ocean. Give it a look -- it's really, really cool!

All photos from the Museum of Animal Perspectives

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Seriously, Martha.

at Martha
Get Ready for Halloween
Will your kids be spooky or sweet? Animal or human? Get a head start with our homemade Halloween costume ideas.

Martha, it's August 8, and you want us to think about Halloween costumes. What are you, CVS? Target? Walmart?

Please, girl. Chill.