Welcome-Home Pasta

The good news is this pasta was delicious.  The bad news is the whole pan of oven-dried tomatoes has been demolished already.  There go all my meal plans for the week.  And my serving had more tomatoes on it than Yancey's-- I've been watching the kids all week, so I think that's a fair trade.

When Yancey comes home after four days at fire school (we're in week 10 of 12 weeks), we usually eat a late welcome-home dinner.  He's been eating chicken-fried cubed steak and iceberg lettuce shreds all week and is particularly appreciative of me on Thursday nights.  For a family with young children, a late dinner is anytime after 6:00, by the way.   I console myself with the fact that eating earlier is supposed to be better for your health.  

After I got home from my meeting and once the kids started watching Ruff Ruffman, I took stock of anything that might be worthy of a welcome-home dinner.  This is the reason pasta was invented.  In addition to the much-touted tomatoes, I had spaghetti, MORE chevre! (if you buy something at Costco, you'd better be reading my blog for ideas), half a loaf of stale Macrina onion rye and some fresh herbs from my "garden" (read:  struggling plants that prove the existence of a higher power.)  

I quite delight in stale bread, actually.  The better to fry with.  Slice it up, throw it in a hot skillet with olive oil.  There's nothing better.  You can eat the slices alone, as bruschetta, or cube them as I did here to top the pasta with.  I often begin a fritatta this way as well--frying stale cubes of bread in a skillet, pouring the eggs over the top, dotting the whole thing with cheese and herbs, and watching it puff up.  A kind of stovetop savory bread pudding.  Remind me to tell you more about that later.

Anyway, we had a wonderful reunion dinner, exchanging details about the fires Yancey put out during the week and how many people posted comments on my blog.  Sadly, the numbers are still quite low, but I put a brave face on.  

Lest you think the dinner was executed without chaos, take comfort from this photo of my cutting board. Now that Yancey's home, he can clean up.

Welcome-Home Pasta

1 lb. spaghetti

1 log chevre, crumbled (about 6 ounces, I think?)

two big handfuls chopped fresh herbs (I used chives, dill, and oregano)

5 or 6 large slices of fried artisan bread--fry in a couple glugs of olive oil on medium high, then cube it

1 c. oven-dried tomatoes 

olive oil (even better, use the olive oil that the tomatoes roasted in if you can.  I forgot to tell you to reserve it)

salt and pepper to taste

Finely grated parmesan

Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Drain it when it's done.  Toss hot pasta with chevre, most of the herbs, tomatoes, salt, pepper, enough olive oil to moisten it to your liking.   Serve in pasta bowls and top with fried bread, parmesan, and another sprinkle of herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.  Whether you're alone or have Ruff Ruffman blaring in your ear, be thankful you made it through another week.

P.S.  Again, this is a recipe in the barest sense of the word.  If you haven't left your oven on for hours for the tomatoes like I have, you could roast some eggplant cubes in olive oil and garlic instead (about 45 minutes) or saute some greens (kale, chard, spinach) or use some good olive-oil packed sundried tomatoes.