I cooked this sauce a couple weeks ago here in Palm Springs, Californy. There were some folks visiting the Slim Shack. People had come in from around the globe to pay respects to my friend, Abe, who passed away recently.
I cooked many dinners for Abe. When Abe would come over for dinner, I never had to worry if he was lactose intolerant, disputin’ gluten, or fried chicken indifferent.
Abe ate sensibly, Slim People. And he passed away at the age of 97 recently. Not from something I cooked, promise!
He lived a very healthy life right up until his last days. And he ate pretty much whatever he wanted. Well, maybe not pork tartare.
But that was then. And this is now…
And now folks have all kinds of dietary restrictions. After Abe’s memorial service, some folks came over to the Slim Shack, and insisted that I cook. Which was fine, except…
This one doesn’t eat meat. The other one eats chicken, but not the dark meat. That one doesn’t eat onions. This one is a vegetarian but can’t eat tomatoes.
That one can’t eat pasta. Another one doesn’t eat anything fried, not even sautéed. This one is completely vegan…
And the other one will eat fish, but only if it’s wild caught without using nets by fishermen who apprehended them by hand and caressed them gently until they passed away quietly in their sleep.
How did we all get so peculiar?
My Mom’s mom lived to be 94. Had hardly a gray hair on her head. She cooked every day and everything was fried. We ain’t talking sautéed in extra virgin olive oil.
She used Crisco. It was this globby white goo that came in a can and looked like something you might use to dye your hair. Or lube your car.
She’d slap a glob of that goo into a frying pan and fry. Everything was cooked to strict standards. Those standards being that if you needed a chainsaw to cut it, it was done.
Her husband died young, which got me thinking…
Maybe she wasn’t eating the stuff she was cooking.
But I’m pretty sure she was.
She’d fry something to extinction, and feed it to us grandkids. And then-seriously-she’d take the oil that was left in the frying pan and put it back in the Crisco can on top of the stove.
If she made bacon, which she did a lot, she’d put the leftover fat from the frying pan into the Crisco can.
And then she’d use it again for the next batch of unidentified frying objects. Seriously. That Crisco can of used oil and bacon fat stayed on the stove, uncovered.
I wonder what Granny would think about all these dietary restrictions that people are tossing about like roadblocks. They suck the joy out of cooking. Just eat what’s put in front of you, or go out in the backyard and nibble on some shrubbery.
Now, you’d think I’d be angry, having to cook for all these people with all these restrictions.
You’d be wrong. I rarely get angry. I took it as a challenge, my Slim Folks. How could I possibly make anything that would want to be eaten by human beings that was dairy-free, gluten-free, chicken-free, onion-free, tomato-free, fish-free and also tasty?
Well, I made one of the best dishes ever. Seriously. All those restrictions forced me to come up with something I never would have made.
Sure, in the beginning I felt like smacking each numbskull upside the head with a wooden spoon, but after…
Wowza bowza. I’m telling you, it was so good and so healthy. And everybody loved it. Abe would have would have been proud!
But sometimes you get lucky the first time. Even though it was really good, I needed a different set of teeth to chomp on it.
I went to visit my brother and his family outside of Sedona, Arizona. The drive from Palm Springs is beautiful; two lanes stretching as far as the eye can see, sandy desert on each side of the road, spotted with scrub brush, and small brown jagged mountains on each side, way off in the distance.
The trip was wonderful. And Sedona is one of the most unique and beautiful spots you’ll ever see. It looks like Mars.
So, I got to the house, and noticed their teen-aged daughter was there. She’s beautiful and smart and funny and I love my niece to pieces, but what a pain in the ass.
When I was a teenager, I was, too. I know it’s a tough time for a kid, but if she were jumping on the trampoline and flew off the side like one of those America’s Funniest Videos?
And then help pick her up out of the dirt and check for broken bones. She’s family!
I was trying to come up with something to cook that night. I suggested chicken Milanese.
“We just had chicken cutlets three days ago!”
I suggested chicken piccata.
“I don’t like capers!”
So I suggested chicken Marsala.
“That sounds yucky!”
I fought the urge to clap her on the cranium with a frying pan. So I made this primavera sauce. She loved it. Although she did pick out the shallots…
Slim People! I loved this dish, too.
Primavera in Italian means spring. So, the point to this dish is to find all the fresh-not frozen-and colorful spring vegetables you can, and make a delizioso dish with them.
I went to the local grocery, and picked out the most gorgeous vegetables I could find. And there were plenty. Here in California, all the produce looks so beautiful and tastes like it hasn’t been sitting on a truck for a month.
So I found some magnificent vegetables, and then I roasted them, that’s right, roasted them. Because this one doesn’t like fried or sautéed.
And then I put them over pasta. Well, I made one batch with real pasta, and the other one with some quinoa-edamame-tofu-Styrofoam-type fake pasta.
I wasn’t jumping for joy when I tasted the fake pasta. It tasted like packing peanuts.
But when I put this primavera sauce over farfalle? It was one of the best-tasting dishes I’ve made in a while. All because of those knuckleheads!
So, in life, when confronted with knuckleheads, know that they are there to improve you. They are like sandpaper that smooths out your rough edges.
This dish is simple. And quick. And easy. And inexpensive. And ridiculously healthy.
You can put it over pasta, or rice, on a pizza…Or you can serve it with crusty bread.
Or that Ezekiel bread that my brother eats that tastes like a piece of dry wall.
After I sliced and diced and smashed and chopped, I divided up the vegetables equally in two baking pans…half the carrots in one pan, half in the other, and so on, with all the vegetables.
The carrots need to be sliced thinner than the other vegetables. They cook quicker that way, and will be done when the rest of the other vegetables are.
I used a whole garlic clove. There were about 10 bulbs inside, I smashed each one, peeled off the paper, and put 5 in each pan. The roasted garlic was delizioso.
I have two racks in the Slim Oven. I put one pan on the lower rack, and one on the rack above it. After 20 minutes, the lower pan was perfection, so I took it out of the oven. But the upper one needed a little more time.
So I put the upper pan on the lower rack for 5 more minutes, and wow, it was done to perfectly perfect doneness.
I put the grape tomatoes in at the end. For two reasons…One is that they really don’t need to cook/roast. They just get all mushy.
The second reason is…one of the people I cooked this for couldn’t eat tomatoes. Or didn’t like them. Whatever, I left them out of her dish, and put them in after I served her.