Friends were over for dinner last night… not the Facebook kind, the neighborhood kind. It was an unusual day at work because I made a pasta sauce while I called on clients and did layout designs for the Sumner School District calendar. It really made me think about what we mean when we say “multi-tasking”. Many times the tasks are so similar that they are undistinguishable from one another. Stirring a pot, smelling the garlic and saffron both complimented and contrasted the design work at hand. No one complained about my cooking until I took it home and the aroma left with me.

Since I’m here I’ll leave a recipe of sorts. It’s not a formal recipe per se… as is often the case I just combined ingredients as I went along. This frustrates my family since they can’t return to the exact meal… but it’s about the moment.

I think the key to this dish is the farm-fresh garlic I started with. Scrawny little bulbs… but mild. Sautéed in olive oil and a little bit of butter. A couple of cups of cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas) went in next. Simmered until the garbanzos softened a bit more. When things get glisteny and started to smell like “I want to eat some now”, then its time to add the next ingredient. I added a cup of pancetta. A couple pinches of dried oregano and a pinch of crushed saffron stems. I’ve been known to overdo saffron. Considering its price… thank goodness it only takes a pinch to change the world. You know those big roasted peppers in a jar? I chopped 3 or 4 of those and added them along with and a can of low-sodium chopped tomatoes. Good, all this stuff is starting to look sloppy and good. Black pepper (large enough grind so that the eater can stumble into pieces large enough to say “ouch”) and salt to taste.

I hardly ever get the chance to simmer, and let the stuff rest, and combine. THIS MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

At home I combined it with al dente penne and let them heat together for a tad so that the pasta could absorb some of the essence of the sauce, and then topped it with those small cubes of frozen basil (I get them from Trader Joes). Covered the pot just until they melted and started to run down into the pasta. I didn’t toss again… I liked the look of the green globs on top.

If you’ve been to Italy, this is what it tastes like.