This was an intimate dinner for two. The two of us, uncharacteristically, home alone. The others out of the house for various reasons. Two places were set at the table. There was wine for me and water for him - after all, he is only 10 years old. Yes, my son and I shared a rare cosy, quiet dinner together, eating and talking and enjoying each others company.
I knew we would be alone for dinner so I wanted to cook something that was "all about him". He's our "vegetarian" (term used quite loosely, depending on if there are any burgers around). So I started to plan a veg-out for us. However, when I told him it would be just us two for dinner, he uped-the-ante and said "Yay, we can eat vegan (which he pronounces "ved-jen").
I didn't quite achieve vegetarian, let alone vegan, but he ate every last morsel and came back for seconds.
from Pete Evans' My Table
Serves 2, (One Mum and one hungry 10 year old)
75ml extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small chilli, finely chopped
3 anchovies (or leave them out if you want it "ved-jen")
1 tablespoon capers
1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon white wine
1 small handful of basil leeaves
250g whole wheat penne
juice of 1/2 lemon
shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve (or omit if your little "ved-jen" insists)
Put the oil, chilli and anchovies into a cold pan. I almost always start garlic off in a cold pan. I find it burns way too quickly if it goes straight into a hot pan. Heat the pan on a medium-low heat until the garlic starts to go golden. Break the anchovies up with the back of a fork. If you prefer not to use them, then you could add a couple of teaspoons of vegetarian worcestershire sauce (or to taste) at this point. Like all smelly fish condiments such as Thai fish sauce, Thai shrimp paste, regular Worcestershire sauce and Nonya belachan, anchovies add a real savoury hit to the dish which you can't really replicate. Leave them out if you wish, it's still a cracking dish without them, but my little dinner companion was none the wiser - wink.
Add the capers, tomatoes and white wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 3 minutes, then toss in the basil.
Cook the penne in lots of boiling salted water according to packet instructions. The whole wheat penne I used took 14 minutes - whole wheat takes longer than regular pasta. Drain, reserve some of the pasta water. Add the penne to the sauce and toss well. Add some of the reserved pasta water if you think it needs a little more moisture.Stir the lemon juice in and serve with shaved parmesan.
Make it for the special little (or grown up) person in your life and savour both the food and the company.