Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Lesson in Simplicity. And Cleanliness.

Have you ever heard the term "cooking clean"? I'm not sure exactly what it means, but I assume it means cooking with whole, pure, healthful ingredients. And it might even mean wiping the counter down when tomato sauce gets an attitude and splatters your white cooktop.

While I like to "cook clean," in at least one sense of the phrase, no one has every accused me of being a clean freak when it comes to, say, my apartment. I consider myself more of a binge cleaner; I throw things on the floor between Monday and Friday (the pile of clothes and towels that accumulates Ross and I have lovingly dubbed the "Traveling Tumbleweed of Textiles," due to our habit of shifting it from the bed to the couch and back to the bed, depending on where we're parked at the time).

Normally, this works out just fine. I wake up on Saturday mornings, grab a coffee and some bagels, and commence the 2-hour cleaning spree that leaves our tiny abode sparkling and pleasant - for a couple of days. When it doesn't work out, however, is when our maintenance man makes an unannounced drop-in. I came home from work today to find my trash can, cat litter box, and granny grocery cart moved to my "dining room" from their usual place in the useless nook blocking the door to the creepy back staircase that we never use (you following?). That nook is also where the previous tenant stored her unused window screens, which I had never bothered to put back in the windows (I know, I know, I'm ridiculously lazy). The screen had been moved from the nook to the window. Alrighty then.

What I didn't notice until a random stop into the bathroom is that the maintenance guy (apparently) had come by not to replace our screens, but to deliver a shiny new bathroom sink console! Behold:

I was really excited to have a little something new for this old house, until I took a look around the place (now with fresh eyes) and realized that it was totally trashed. I could just see it: Tony the Maintenance Guy comes in the back, moves the stinky garbage and cat litter out of the way, and is greeted by the sight of dishes and bits of parsley in the kitchen, half-drunk bottles of wine in the dining room, and - the horror - underwear on the bathroom floor. Needless to say, I was mortified. I'm tempted to invent a leaky pipe or faulty lock just so I can bring Tony back and show him what the place looks like when it's nice and tidy!

Anyway that was a very, very long way of introducing a sauce so simple, so pure, and so delicious that - I can't believe I'm about to say this - you just have to taste to believe. I could not make myself believe that a sauce with only three ingredients could be so delicious. I'm having an existential crisis about everything else I've ever cooked! Have I been over-ingredient-ing this whole time?!?

Without any more chatter, I'll let you in on The Sauce That Set The Blogosphere Ablaze. I urge you to set aside your doubts and commence making this sauce as soon as humanly possible. It's truly marvelous.


1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (you could also use whole) and all juices
1 medium yellow onion
5 T. butter (I used salted butter)
you can add salt to taste, but mine didn't need any
whole wheat spaghetti (or any pasta you like)

1 tilapia filet, fresh
juice of one lemon
1 T. olive oil
red pepper flakes
fresh chopped parsley

fresh chopped Romaine lettuce
1/4 of the onion you stewed in the tomato sauce, sliced
some cooking juice and capers from the cooked fish
grated parmesan cheese
a little more olive oil


Place the tomatoes, onion, and butter in a pot and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down. At this point, strain out the onion. (I left a little of the onion in, then pureed it all with an immersion blender - you can skip this, but it made it super creamy and smooth.)


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350. Put the raw fish in a baking dish. Top it with the lemon juice, oil, salt, red pepper flakes, and capers. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until opaque and flaky. Boil some pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.


Place the lettuce in a bowl. When you fish out the onion from the sauce, chop a little bit of it into pieces and put it on the salad. When the fish is done, spoon a little of the lemon/oil/caper cooking juices from the pan on top of the salad. Top with a little drizzle of olive oil and some fresh parmesan cheese. Serve the sauce and pasta by the fish and enjoy with the salad!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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