i’m in a rut

and I need this pasta to snap me out it.

I’m not sure if it’s a food rut or a writing rut but it’s a rut nonetheless. I haven’t been excited about food which is baffling considering I have three new All-Clad pans that need breaking in, a new Jamie cookbook, a gorgeous baking book and Thomas Keller’s AdHoc that are begging to get used. Not to mention the amazing fresh local produce I have access to. What is my problem? I feel like a spoiled brat with all these great toys and I want nothing to do with them. Maybe I need Steve to threaten to give them to someone who would appreciate them more. That might get me back in the kitchen!

Although I don’t understand this funk, I’m determined to snap out of it and the best way I know how is to make pasta. Kneading and rolling out ribbons of homemade pasta is therapeutic for me. Now add in a little Ray LaMontange in the background and before long I am happy to be in the kitchen and covered in flour.

Making pasta isn’t too laborious but if I’m making it on a weeknight I always try to keep the sauce simple. Our favorite go to recipe is an Arrabiata Sauce that I have tweaked over the years. San Marzano tomatoes are the stars of this show; they have the best flavor and can be found in most grocery stores. The tomatoes are amped up with lots of garlic and a kick of red pepper flakes and then finished with toasted pine nuts, basil and a generous helping of Parmesan Reggiano. Simple as it is it’s one of our favorite meals.

If making homemade pasta isn’t your idea of therapy feel free to use good quality spaghetti instead. This recipe makes enough to serve four – or two with delicious leftovers for lunch the next day.

The Very Best Simple Tomato Sauce

Prep time: 10 Minutes, Cook Time: 30 minutes, Serves Four

1 – 32oz can of San Marzano Tomatoes (Whole or Diced)

4 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 pinch of red pepper flakes (add more for more heat)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

1/4 cup of pine nuts toasted

1 generous handful of basil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1lb pasta – homemade or dried

  1. Make homemade pasta – instructions here. If you are using dried pasta get a big pot of water on to boil. Add the pasta when the sauce has about ten minutes left to cook.
  2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until very fragrant but not brown. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for one minute.
  3. Add the can of tomatoes to the pan and reduce the heat to medium and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is slightly thick. Stir in the toasted pine nuts, basil and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Serve with extra Parmesan, crusty bread and large glass of wine. Enjoy!


  1. doesn’t look like a food or a writing rut to me… the homemade pasta & sauce look amazing! and i agree — a little ray lamontagne & other fab culinary soundtracks are great for a little inspiration in the kitchen. 🙂

  2. Sheri Long says:

    Can’t wait to try it!


  1. […] to content Homeabout me ← i’m in a rut February 16, 2011 · 5:54 pm ↓ Jump to […]

  2. […] year’s garden has provided a generous amount of tomatoes. Jars of our favorite sauce are crammed into every crevice of the freezer like a fierce game of Tetris, a rainbow of salsas […]

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