How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spaghetti of La Mancha

Tonight was a perfect time to try a quick new dinner between my afternoon classes and an early-evening meeting. We were in the same situation a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant. "Nice" and "nearby" are almost mutually exclusive terms when applied to restaurants near our Bridgewater home, but there are a few gems. Still, as much as we like to support the local economy, we also like to cook at home, where a little planning can lead to a lot of thrift.

In this case, the planning involved doing what Nueva Receta is all about -- careful readers will notice we've been pretty good about this lately, and we have a couple more entries along these lines coming up. In this case, we opened up one of our most important cookbooks, which we call the "Mini Moosewood." We purchased it when I was leaving Pam for three months to do dissertation work in the Amazon, and  she was concerned about maintaining healthy eating habits while I was gone. It is hard to cook for one if you are used to cooking for two or more, so we selected this book of "weeknight" recipes from the famous vegetarian restaurant -- what its cooks make in their own homes. This book provides a lot of ideas that do well on the nutritious-delicious-easy-cheap trade-off matrix.

For tonight, I was drawn to a VERY simple recipe calling for just a few ingredients: spaghetti, Pecorino cheese, olive oil, and freshly-ground pepper.

I had never heard of Pecorino (I can be such a Philistine at times), but I looked it up and realized it is generally similar to Manchego, which I discovered only a few years ago as a key ingredient in the extremely decadent champandongo casserole. I had recently purchased a big block of this Spanish sheep's-milk cheese and decided it should work for this dish, which is made by cooking the first ingredient and then tossing it with the rest. That is all.

Results: this is like high-end mac & cheese. One cannot go wrong. We had nothing but sweet wines in the house, somehow, so we paired this nicely with water. We also had a serving of Pam's amazing new carrot salad, which seems to go nicely with so many different foods!

Here is the geography of these cheeses, not that anyone asked. Manchego comes from La Mancha (just like "The Man of"), while Pecorino comes from several different areas of Italy. Since the most common of these is Sardinia, I chose it as the location from which to find driving directions to La Mancha.

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