Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Spaghetti with rocket or how not to go shopping


I subscribed to a vegetable delivery service, similar to the neighbourhood CSAs in the US, only my vegetables don't come from a community garden in the city but from a farm nearby. Every other week, I get to collect my bag at the drop-off point in our neighbourhood. I love the fact that the vegetables are organic and haven't travelled around the world before they reach my plate. The killing of a live lobster during a theater performance witnessed by my very dear friend M. sparked a heated debate between a group of friends as to how we treat animals and more generally - how we feed ourselves. I considered the killing - and possibly torturing - of the poor lobster for the sake of theater to be completely inacceptable while M. argued that surely it didn't matter whether lobsters were killed at restaurants or on a theater stage and what about slaughtering chickens, cows, pigs - why wasn't I opposed to that? I'm not going to replay the whole lobster debate here but it did get me thinking about what food I buy and how I handle it. (Which will make M. happy as it proves just how powerful theater can be and because it might mean that the lobster didn't die in vain.) Enough about seafood though, back to the veg. Here's what I got in my first delivery:

  • a huge bag of spinach
  • a somewhat huge bag of baby salad leaves
  • a relatively huge bag of fiercely peppery rocket
  • a fennel bulb
  • a cucumber
The spinach I polished off right away. For the next dinner it was going to be salad (obviously) and rocket-something. Pizza with parma ham and rocket? I had my shop for pizza dough, mozzarella, canned tomatoes and parma ham all planned out when it hit me: I go food shopping all the time, way too often, always buying new ingredients rather than putting together what I already have. I decided there and then to stop. There was food for many meals in the cupboards and I was going to use it. The result of this new mindset (let's hope I can keep it up - it will not only save me money, but time, too!) were spaghetti with b├ęchamel sauce, ham and chopped rocket*, generously topped with grated parmesan. My grandmother used to make this with peas instead of rocket and bake it in the oven. Quintessentially unitalian. It was a good dish, not something I would want every day, but still good. The real revelation? Not going shopping - every so satisfactory.

* Make a b├ęchamel sauce, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, add the ham and some grated parmesan. Add the cooked pasta and the chopped rocket and mix carefully for a minute or two over a low heat, maybe adding some reserved cooking water if needed.

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