It’s been ages since I last had a good meal by myself. During school days, I just throw a sandwich together and that’s lunch. If I’m feeling extra lazy, then it’s a bowl of cereal followed by a large cup of coffee. But since that Sunday at Fazoli‘s, I’ve been dreaming of making pasta with pesto at home. I would have preferred to make my pesto, you know, the one with pili nuts instead of pine nuts, but my basil died during the weeks of incessant rains (monsoon season here, after all) and I haven’t replanted yet. I knew I would have to settle for bottled pesto in the meantime so I bought one a couple of days ago.
The bottle of pesto had been open for a few days (I had been spreading it on toast for breakfast) but I hadn’t decided when I would have pasta with pesto for lunch. I was supposed to have a grilled fillet of sole with rice today the third fillet in a tray of three, the first two having gone to the kids’ lunch boxes early this morning.
So, there was the fillet sitting in the fridge, absorbing the seasonings and herbs since early morning, and I was contemplating if that was what I wanted. It was, actually, but I wasn’t in the mood for rice. I figured I might as well make the pasta with pesto today and jazz up my lunch. Why not? Besides, the ironing woman hasn’t shown up for the second straight day and I’m bracing myself for an afternoon before the ironing board with “The Mummy” on HBO for company. Not exactly a thrilling thought so why not pamper myself with a good pasta and fish lunch before the torture begins, right? Penne with pesto and oven-grilled fillet of sole with a glass of cucumber juice on the side might psyche me up.
Well, lunch was over 15 minutes ago, “The Mummy” was blaring from the living room TV and all that lunch inspired was for me to blog about it. The ironing can wait. The rule should be iron-your-own-clothes when the ironing woman fails to show up. This is a “cooking for one” meal so that’s self-explanatory. If anyone posts a comment asking how many people this meal is good for, I’ll ban him.
Cook the pasta in boiling water. While waiting for it to cook, prepare the fish. Season the fillet of sole with a little salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, and some mixed herbs. Brush a baking tray with olive oil. Lay the fish on the oiled part of the tray and pour the rest of the olive oil over it. Grill in a 180oC oven for 10 minutes. Open the oven door partially to keep the fish hot without overcooking it while you assemble the pasta.
Drain the pasta. No need to douse it with cold water. Place in a bowl, add a tablespoonful of pesto (add or subtract according to your preference), and grind more pepper over it. Pour in a tablespoonful or so of extra virgin olive oil, if you wish. Toss everything together until every piece of pasta is coated with olive oil and pesto.
Transfer the pasta to a plate, sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, then take the fish out of the oven and place it beside the pasta.
If you feel you need something a bit sweet to balance the saltiness of the fish and pasta, enjoy your meal with a glass of cucumber cooler, a truly refreshing drink that my friend Lisa introduced me to many, many years ago.