Today, I am thankful for fresh herbs, straight from my garden.
Tutti a tavola a mangiare!
(Everyone, to the table to eat!)
~ the invitation Lidia issues at the end of her cooking shows
This summer, we're eating a lot of pasta dressed in homemade tomato-based sauces. The dishes are simple, tasty and healthy - typical rustic Italian cuisine. Plus I get to perfect the cooking techniques I've learned from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich on her PBS shows.
I guess I'm becoming a cooking snob. Since my edible garden now provides a bounty of fresh herbs, I refuse to use the dried, store-bought ones that crowd the cupboard shelf.
As chopped red onions and minced garlic caramelize in a heavy saucepan, I step into the garden. There, with kitchen shears in hand, I clip leaves and stems, filling a soup bowl with fresh herbs: sage, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, celery, lovage and parsley.
After carefully washing and drying my treasures, I rough chop them before adding them to the sauce. The aroma is amazing. Deliziosa!
Of course, my real test as a cook comes when, M, our Air Force Academy cadet, visits. For dinner, I serve linguine with meat sauce. To S and me, the sauce is perfect. But, others, not used to my cooking style or preference for intense flavors, might think otherwise.
The verdict: As M finishes his second heaping plateful, he tells me that he really loves the sauce.
For this blessing, I am grateful.