Since my biological clock has not yet shifted over to daylight savings time, I woke up Monday at two minutes to seven. It was damp, dark, and dreary outside, which made me think twice about getting out of bed; but I put the extra hour to good use by making a pumpkin quickbread. Since I have David Lebovitz’s banana cake recipe ingrained in my noggin, I used that as my launching point. I swapped canned pumpkin for the banana puree and made a few other adjustments, simplifying the recipe to include just the ingredients I deemed essential.
Mark Bittman’s article in the NYT about cooking pasta risotto-style left distracting images of pasta swirling around in my head all day. To someone who would much rather stand over the stove for 20 minutes than wash an extra pot, the idea is utter brilliance. So I bought a box of rigatoni on my way home from the gym and got to work. I knew pumpkin and zucchini would work, and it seemed only natural that the trusty trio of garlic, onions, and butter should get the ball rolling. Ah, and the secret ingredient? As I folded in the pureed pumpkin and egg to create that luscious, silky sauce, it occurred to me that the pasta needed something to elevate it. Something crunchy and cheesy, and in my pantry…and then it hit me: CHEEZ-ITS!!! @^%#%^%$*^^%#@#$*!!! Smacking genius.
It turns out pasta never knew a better topping. I had parmesan and garlic flavored cheez-its but I’m sure even the regular kind would work wonders. The dish was a delight: nicely cooked pasta draped in rich, orange velvet robes, and the crushed cheez-its, with their sharp, crunchy, distinctly artificial cheesiness, providing a playful, contrasting touch. Like a king wearing an off-kilter baseball cap. A soft warmth tingled the back of my mouth, probably from the chili powder; and even though the finished product wasn’t visually appealing, essentially a muddled collection of various yellows, it gave me supreme satisfaction to eat and put a dorky smile on my face. Maybe on paper cheez-its and pasta shouldn’t make sense but they do, at least to me, at least for tonight. Now if I can just remember to bring some cheez-its to work tomorrow..
(Picture after the jump.)