A note from Christy Rost:
The summer of 2020 will undoubtedly go down in my memory as one of the most unusual summers of my lifetime. Even though much of my time is consumed by the same summer activities as every other year – cooking, grilling, gardening, filming, plus the inevitable office work – it’s the limiting of social activities and the knowledge Randy and I become vulnerable once we leave the relative seclusion of Swan’s Nest that has changed the way I view our small piece of the world.
I continue to limit my grocery runs to once every two-to-three weeks to reduce our exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Stocking my pantry with shelf-stable canned and packaged ingredients I can use in multiple recipes has become key. A quick glance at my pantry shelves reveals cans of tomato products, artichokes, beans, vegetables, and a selection of vinegars, syrups, jams, dried beans and pastas, rice, quinoa, oatmeal, condiments, plus everything I need for baking.
Simple, comforting dishes are what Randy and I most yearn for these days, so when we developed a craving for pasta last week, I headed straight for my pantry. I grabbed cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, an onion, and a box of thin spaghetti, and 45 minutes later, we sat down to a romantic Italian feast.
If ever there were a time to celebrate HOME around the table, this is it. Putting the emphasis on dining, rather than just eating makes mealtime an event – one that helps us connect, cherish this time of togetherness, and reduce stress. Many are embracing this movement, as evidenced by all the carefully plated homemade meals I see pictured on social media and texted to me by our sons.
Thoughtfully setting the table now and then is a great first step. For our super-easy Italian Night, I covered the breakfast room table with a deep red tablecloth, added candles, a plant, and napkins cinched with gold and silver napkin rings. Instant Atmosphere! Then, while Randy sautéed asparagus in a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet, I opened a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Hahn Family Wines, knowing its dark cherry and blackcurrant flavors and spicy aromas would pair beautifully with my marinara sauce.
Whether you’re home alone, with a loved one, or a houseful of kids, finding simple ways to celebrate HOME during this ongoing coronavirus pandemic can add joy to these summer days.
A Personal Note: I feel so very grateful for those who work in our big box stores, supermarkets, grocery stores, and neighborhood markets to ensure we have food on our tables. They are essential workers on the front lines, arriving each day to stock shelves, check out customers, and maintain store cleanliness . Before our food even reaches the markets, our nation’s farmers, ranchers, producers, food packing, and transportation workers are putting in countless hours to feed us. THANK YOU!
Remember! Through August 1, 2020, for every purchase of my Celebrating Home cookbook ordered via my website, I’ll donate 25% to Feeding America. Details below.
To access my ready-to-air Stay-At-Home segments that are connecting with viewers in markets across the United States, visit this link.
Take care. Stay Safe. Find the Joy.
Spaghetti with Pantry Marinara Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup sweet onion, peeled and chopped fine
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 3-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 package spaghetti
Preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add onion and sauté several minutes until it begins to soften. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the diced tomatoes soften.
Reduce the heat to low. Add oregano, rubbing it between your hands to release its flavor. Cover and simmer the sauce 15 to 20 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Meanwhile, cook desired amount of spaghetti according to package directions. When the pasta is al dente, drain and serve with marinara sauce.
Yield: 2 to 3 servings Cook’s Note: Since this recipe only uses 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, divide remaining paste into 1 tablespoon portions, and freeze in an ice cube tray or in squares of plastic wrap. Twist the tops of the plastic wrap to form little pouches and store them in a plastic zipper bag in the freezer.