I define food as a valuable experience. It is the center from which all things connect. We need it to survive and we depend on it. We desperately struggle to maintain a balance in our relationship with it throughout our lives. Food is the experience we share with every other person in the world. There’s a fascinating sense of empowerment with that: everyone else in the world experiences food! Ultimately, we each have a unique approach on how we live it. It is personal and spiritual. It guides us through our troubles and heals all of our pains. In my case, food is a medium that allows me to express my form of art. Via food, I can share what I have to offer the world. How do you experience food?
Cooking with friends is one of the most enjoyable times. Especially, when it occurs randomly and unplanned while still wearing pajamas. Yes, sometimes I leave my house in pajamas! I wasn’t expecting to spend the afternoon making "Pasticho" with friends. A CSA box was the inspiration for the adventure to come! So when the opportunity to cook with a good friend presented itself, I couldn't possibly turn it down for something as insignificant as being in pajamas!
Magic happens when you least expect it. When creativity knocks on the door- answer! I grew up eating Pasticho- commonly known as Lasagna. There was always a pan of Pasticho in the freezer growing up. You could count on it. It was mom's (and grandma's) strategy for utilizing all of the veggies and meats that were "expiring" in our fridge. As you can imagine, it was never the same. There was always a different flavor hidden in the sauce. Today, we played this game and boy did we do well!
The contents of the CSA box included some kale, garlic escapes and broccoli. There were also a few JUMBO zucchinis lying around, gazpacho (that's right), some carrots and some bacon. What can we do with all of this, we wondered? Well, Pasticho of course!
We purchased ground sirloin, mozzarella and pasta and we got to work. The CSA veggies, ingredients already in the fridge, and the purchased items, cost roughly $28. All veggies were rustically chopped (no shame in that) and tons of zucchini was shredded. We also sliced more zucchini, which we marinated in olive oil and red wine vinegar, to use for the layers later on. All veggies and bacon (except the sliced zucchini) went into a large pot to get a nice sweat. Then the gazpacho made its way in. We finished by adding the ground beef, some cinnamon and some balsamic vinegar. Meanwhile, the room filled with wonderful aromas, laughter and enjoyment while working up an appetite.
When the rich sauce was finally done we assembled the Pasticho in a large hotel pan. Layers of sauce, zucchini slices, pasta and cheese work their way to the top. To finish, a thick layer of zucchini and cheese. Simple, beautiful! After baking for 45 minutes and resting for 20 more, 3 friends are faced with 12 generous portions of Pasticho and are filled with joy for these main principles:
1. We spent the afternoon enjoying each other's company while working together to make an exquisite, rustic meal.
2. We absolutely loved the outcome- the final product got 10’s all around!
3. The cost to make it was only $28 and there was plenty of leftover food to last a few days!
The fundamental aspect of food is to experience it to its fullest. To enjoy it, respect it and to treasure it. Most importantly, to share it with friends as often as possible!
Until next time!
"I began learning long ago that those who are happiest are those who do the most for others."
Booker T. Washington