My two kids went to sleep-away camp this summer, and while my partner and I did miss them quite a bit (sniff), one of the unexpected benefits of their absence was being able to eat whatever we wanted.
There was zero planning of meals catered to their ever-fickle tastes and aversions: no tomatoes for that one, nothing spicy for that one, no seafood ever for both. (I know parenting experts say not to cater to your kids’ culinary whims, but a peaceful dinner is more important to me than a nutritionally balanced one. I figure their palates will expand when they go to university?)
We ate all of the spicy, vegetable-abundant, seafood-heavy meals possible over those two weeks, and it was downright blissful. The recipes below are the kind we enjoyed, and they are all outrageously good, fast options for a weeknight, whether you are temporarily free from the demands of picky eaters or not.
By: Alexa Weibel
In this incredibly easy weeknight pasta, red-pepper flakes, capers and tomato paste turn a simple cherry tomato sauce into something hearty enough for cold weather. Sautéeing tomato paste until it caramelises develops deep flavour, while pan-fried capers add crunch and red-pepper flakes provide heat. For smokier undertones, you can use dried ancho chilli or chilli de árbol, chipotle powder or Aleppo pepper in place of the red-pepper flakes. A dollop of ricotta, freshly grated pecorino or parmesan, or shaved ricotta salata is not necessary, but takes the dish up a notch.
Total time: 25 minutes
Salt and black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp drained jarred capers
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 to 2 tsp red-pepper flakes (optional)
450g orecchiette or other shaped pasta
680g cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful thinly sliced fresh basil, plus small whole leaves, for garnish
Fresh ricotta, shaved ricotta salata, or grated pecorino or parmesan, for garnish (optional)