Last night I risked everything and tried making dinner without a recipe. I guess for the more experienced this might even be a pretty normal thing to do, but considering that I have only recently been spending more time in the kitchen, it was a little more of a challenge. Fortunately the only people whose taste buds could be disappointed if the dish turned into an atrocity were my immediate family members so I didn't have to be too worried. If I screwed up, I could live with it, and they'd still have to live with me. Well, hopefully. I shouldn't push my luck but I'd hope not to be kicked out of the house and sent back to Berkeley a few weeks early all because of one less than satisfactory meal.
Anyway, none of that applies because everyone enjoyed the dish. This is what I made: linguini with green zucchini, yellow zucchini, bell peppers, onion, garlic, basil, sungold tomatoes, thai chilis, chili pepper flakes, a cherry tomato sauce, shrimp, and goat cheese. In other words, basically everything in our kitchen. I wanted to use up a lot of vegetables since I knew we'd be getting a new box the next day so I just grabbed everything I saw on the counter or in the fridge that seemed like it had the potential to work in a pasta. The baby shrimpies were added for protein and because they're just so delicious (and cute!). To make the sauce I just sauteed everything little by little starting with a tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic and onions and gradually adding the rest of the vegetables, pureed red cherry tomatoes, and spices. I tossed in the sungold tomatoes near the end and the shrimp last. Then, just before pouring the mixture over the pasta, I stirred in a couple ounces of goat cheese. This was inspired by the spinach pasta with goat cheese on the menu at Mescolanza on Clement St. in San Francisco (we went last weekend and thought it was pretty good-especially the bruschetta). The goat cheese really adds flavor and gives the pasta a nice texure, making it creamier. The linguini was a little spicy because of the 2 thai chilis I added, leftover from the green curry, but the spicy flavor went well with all the ingredients. We set a few hot rolls from Trader Joe's on the table, seasoned the linguini with a little salt and pepper, and the meal was complete.
This success in creating a meal more complicated than a sandwich without a recipe has given me a little more confidence and I will definitely try more dishes in the future without instructions. It's much more exciting and gives you the chance to express some creativity at the same time.