Meals I Have Made to Woo Men, Part IV

knife pesto in progress

The thing that has most surprised me about moving in with someone is the sheer amount of compromise required. Living alone, my days and nights were wild stretches of me-ness, my every desire, whim, need coded into my surroundings with complete disregard for anything except the vibrancy of light coming through the windows, the particularities of my cat. The way the hand towel rests on the rack. The doors I would close, open, the temperature adjusted to my perpetual chill. I’d leave a glass empty on the counter and it would be waiting there, unfilled, when I came back.

I spent four years educating myself on how to live alone. I aced it. It’s a lot to give up. He’s worth it.

In between negotiating book storage, wondering how men spend so much time on the toilet, and arguing about throw pillows (DO NOT ASK ME ABOUT THE THROW PILLOWS), I’ve been cooking.

We signed up with a CSA this summer ($480 for 20 weeks of produce) and every Wednesday we get a bag of vegetables, herbs, and fruit grown on a farm just a few miles outside Toronto. It’s been amazing. I met kohlrabi (great!) and ground cherries (very sweet in their little paper hats but ultimately confusing in my mouth!) and we’re in the glut of Ontario tomatoes right now, which is one thing I’ll give this province — they know how to grow a tomato.

We’ve been mostly having stupid fresh salads or grain bowls, but sometimes we “indulge” (gross) in pasta. This one relies on good produce, so don’t make it unless you have access to cheap summer bounty. My partner doesn’t tolerate tomatoes, so I slow-roasted them down into wilted, puckered mouthfuls, slumped in their own juices. He can’t eat spicy foods, so I saved the red pepper flakes and sprinkled them over my portion. It is a pasta of compromises. It is made with love.

Cost: $$ (out of $$$$$); $4ish/serving, pantry staples excluded.

  • 5 or 6 good (but not perfect) summer tomatoes
  • Few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • Few handfuls fresh basil
  • Handful toasted almonds
  • 2 small zucchini or summer squash
  • Half box of spaghetti
  • Parmesan
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Lemon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Toss olive oil, sprigs of rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper, and one clove sliced garlic in a large baking dish. Cut tomatoes in half and remove stems, and place them cut side down in dish. Give a shake to slick them with the oil and herbs.

Bake for two hours, until tomatoes are wrinkled and juicy and smelling like heaven.

Make a “knife pesto” by chopping the garlic and nuts together while slowly adding handfuls of basil. Sprinkle with salt to help break things down. Keep slicing. Chop at this until it comes together into a muddled pile.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and cook zucchini until just browned. Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices. Chop in one or two fresh tomatoes for good measure. Add salt and pepper. Squeeze half a lemon over the mix.

Cook spaghetti until al dente, reserving one cup of pasta water.

Over very low heat, add cooked spaghetti to vegetables. Toss slowly, adding knife pesto, more salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and dribbles of pasta water until it forms a deliciously slick sauce coat.

Top with a drizzle of your best olive oil and plenty of parmesan.

Serves 4.

Success Rate: Three weeks into cohabitation. The throw pillow standoff continues.

Parts I, II, and III.