Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This One's for You, Beth!

Beth, the very first reader of Magpie Eats, wrote the following today:

Like you, I am pressed for time; and when I get home from work at 8:30 pm, the last thing I want to do is attempt to cook. So I'm hopeful that eventually something will pop up here that can be made in one pot, in less than 20 minutes.

I usually get home at 9 pm or later so I completely understand the ravenous arrival and the need for something easy and satisfying. Here's what I end up eating at least once a week. There is but one catch: you must buy Pastures of Eden kosher sheep's milk feta from Israel. I buy it regularly at Trader Joe's. It is my all time favorite cheese. When I was staring down the barrel of intense dietary restrictions I insisted I could do without all other dairy if I could just have this cheese in my life. And, while I am sensitive to cow's milk, this sheep's milk cheese doesn't bother me at all. It is creamy, mild, just slightly tangy, and simply divine.

So once you've hit TJ's and made sure you have a package or two of this lovely cheese in your fridge, you come home ravenous and looking for something to eat RIGHT NOW. Bring a pot of water to boil and throw in some kind of tiny pasta. I like orzo best, but there are numerous tiny (quick cooking) shapes. If greens are your thing, add a handful of finely sliced spinach, kale, chard, or mustard greens just before draining the pasta, for a quick wilt. Drain the pasta (and greens), toss everything in the bowl with a dash of olive oil, a clove of pressed garlic, a good grind of black pepper and the crucial couple of handfuls of crumbled Pastures of Eden feta. Give it a moment--the heat from the pasta will soften the cheese and, once you stir, you will have a deliciously creamy and delightful sauce coating your tiny pasta.

I can't tell you how satisfying this is. Obviously you can get more complicated: chopped parsley and basil are lovely additions as are chopped kalamata olives, strips of roasted red pepper, and tiny sliced tomatoes are divine with this if they're in season. But you can also leave the extras out--the pasta with the cheese is amazingly satisfying. But, please, buy the right cheese. Any other feta, in my experience, is unlikely to produce the same result, so you've been warned.

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