Paccheri with Turkey Bolognese
You know that feeling you get — of secret relief — when dinner guests cancel or plans fall through at the last minute? The smile spreading across your face as they break the news from the other end of the line, as you force your voice to convey your “disappointment” at the “unfortunate” turn of events. All the while thanking the fates, because you are, in truth, a) exhausted, b) not feeling well, c) just plain antisocial at the moment or, in all likelihood, d) all of the above. Am I alone here? Maybe it’s only in my head, and I just think it’s a common sentiment to justify years of flaking out myself.
Don’t get me wrong, we are disappointed. We really, truly, honestly would have been thrilled if you’d shown up. We’d have laughed and drank wine and talked until our faces turned blue. But, as I settle in for a quiet evening with the hubs — already in our pajamas at 6:30pm — I can’t help but feel very, well, relieved.
It’s not that I don’t love to host and cook dinner for friends, or go on a cleaning rampage in preparation for their arrival. In fact, it’s always worth it in the end. The feeling of accomplishment, the good company. But, sometimes I am not particularly overcome with an urge to dust the bookshelves. Occasionally, I don’t feel like making my food “look nice”. And, there are certainly days I would prefer not to keep up conversation…beyond the grunts of satisfaction that Jason and I make while enjoying our food side by side in front of the tube.
So tonight, when our plans unexpectedly changed and we were no longer expecting guests for dinner, it seemed like a good night for a quick fix. I threw together a quick tomato sauce from crushed and puréed canned tomatoes, sautéed onions and garlic, salt, pepper and a touch of cream. In a separate pan I seared ground turkey seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili flakes. Once the meat was browned, I added it to the simmering sauce.
Meanwhile, I boiled off some fancy pasta (part of an amazing wedding gift from out friends Carly and Jordan). Once it was al dente (perhaps a bit more than Jason would have liked), I drained it and combined it with the bolognese sauce and tossed it together off the heat. To finish the dish, I quickly toasted some breadcrumbs in butter with lemon zest and chili flakes for a bit of crunch and grated a
modest copious amount of Parmigiano Reggiano on top. Voila! Well, that’s French, but you get the idea.
As we tucked in to the steaming plates of pasta in front of us — glasses filled with spicy red wine, the theme music for the season premier of Downton Abbey striking up on the television — I couldn’t have been happier for last minute cancellations and the good company I am fortunate to live with every day.
Last Meal: You’re looking at it.