I’m riding my bike in the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer next week. 550 miles of hilly, gorgeous, pummeling terrain from Burlington, Vermont to Palmerton, Pennsylvania. I need carbs in my body now. Carbs that last. Oatmeal. Pasta. Whole grains. Mornings this week have been full of stick-to-your-gut cereals. Dinners have been all about height-of-summer vegetables like fresh corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers. Lunches have been pasta. Elbow macaroni with tuna and pesto yesterday. Spaghetti and meatballs the day before…whatever I can scrounge up in the kitchen. I usually only have about 20 minutes for lunch, so I pull together something quick from fridge leftovers, fresh vegetables, and pantry staples. Today, we had some leftover spaghetti, the last of the smoke-roasted peppers from a recent smoking session, and some grilled corn taken off the cob from last night’s dinner. Looks like lunch to me. I brown a little sausage in olive oil, add some garlic, the roasted peppers and corn, then toss in the spaghetti. Some fresh basil from the garden, a few fresh gratings of Pecorino Romano, and lunch is ready.
Some of the most satisfying meals are made this way. You look in your fridge. You look in your pantry. You check the freezer. You start tasting one ingredient along with another in your mind. The roasted peppers and grilled corn share a smoky sweetness — they’ll be perfect together. Over pasta? Sure, why not! Add some fennel-scented Italian sausage and the meal takes on depth. Basil and cheese round out the flavors and olive oil will add just a suggestion of sauce.
Satisfaction often comes by answering the question: what do I want to eat? Not just “what do I want to taste?” but “what does my body need?” Today, I needed carbs. I wanted a meal that didn’t take more than 15 minutes to make. I wanted to taste the bright flavors of summer, and I had a handful of leftovers. Spaghetti with Sausage, Roasted Peppers and Grilled Corn was the answer. I’m not going to write down the recipe because it’s just too simple.