Every Saturday I sit down to the task of writing out the weekly grocery shopping list. It starts off easily with the staples: bread, milk, fruit, white truffles …
But then comes the tricky part: what to eat for dinner for the next seven days. Sometimes inspiration hits and I easily come up with seven tasty, nutritionally balanced dishes with a combination of ingredients that’s both affordable and at least slightly adventurous. And that yields just the right amount of left-overs to pop into a plastic container for tomorrow’s lunch.
Other times I enter into a flight of fancy that Waz might have some ideas for the week’s dinners: “Waz, can you suggest something for dinner this week?” Typical reply: “Twice smoked duck’s liver on a bed of wilted sea kale with smoked maple dressing.” Or, alternatively: “Fish.”
Yeah, thanks Waz.
So I usually end up flipping through our surprisingly meagre supply of recipe books searching for ideas.
Other times I get to the end of the list and couldn’t be shagged with more page-flipping and I fall back on one of my staples. You know what I’m talking about. You all have them: those dishes that you know how to make with one arm tied behind your back, no peeking at the recipe book necessary. Things like spag bol (spaghetti bolognese for you non-Aussies out there), beef and veg stir fry, roast chook.
Then sometimes you strike gold: the NEW staple to add to your repertoire. You come across a recipe that’s easy and delicious and keeps creeping back onto the weekly shopping list until, before you know it, you’re happily cooking it every second week.
Spaghetti puttanesca is just such a dish for me. It’s easy to make, I always have the ingredients tucked away in the pantry and just need a handful of fresh basil and a grating of parmesan cheese to add the final touches. Oftentimes I make it with tinned tomatoes. But if they’re having a special on fresh cherry tomatoes down at the market hall I buy a couple of pounds because they make this dish extra special, lending it a much more subtle sweetness. If you are using tinned tomatoes it’s a good idea to add about a tablespoon of tomato paste because, depending on the quality, tinned tommies can sometimes make a dish a bit runny and tomato paste will just thicken it up a bit.
So I hope you try this dish and maybe it’ll end up as one of your staples, too.