Midnight Pasta

Whenever my dad goes out of town, my mom makes something called Snaffles Mousse, which is the drag queen who gets kicked off Drag Race UK in week one a military-grade garlic dip pungent enough to kill a vampiric horse. Eat it on Ruffles, or use it to fumigate your house!

Many of us grew up with a healthy fear of Too Much Garlic, but I don’t live that life anymore. This spaghetti made me rethink my entire relationship to the garlic arts. Welcome to the Cult of the Midnight Pasta. We have fabulous robes, and we don’t care what our breath is like.

This recipe comes from Ina Garten, but you can find versions of it everywhere. It’s called midnight pasta, because apparently it’s the comfort food chefs make for themselves when they get home at 3am after a 15-hour shift. It’s middle-of-the-night-staring-into-the-fridge food. It’s macaroni and cheese if you’re fancy as hell. It’s butter noodles on steroids. And it uses an entire head of garlic.

Best of all, it takes literally 20 minutes, and it makes a sensational frittata for lunch the next day. Like nearly all good pasta sauces, it’s thrown together quickly with stuff you have around. It’s Italian stir-fry. All you need is parsley, red pepper flakes, garlic, and parmesan.

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Simple Summer Salad + French Vinaigrette

Vegetables. Even the word is high-maintenance. Other food groups have simple, iconic, one-syllable names, like Cher.  Fruit. Meat. Bread. Cheese.  You expect me to chew my way through the entirety of “vegetable”? I’m already exhausted.

Salad can be such a bummer. Bad salad tastes like licking a hedge clipper and feels like a punishment, and yet people eat it all the time.

I used to bring those pre-washed bagged salad mixes to school as preteen, as if middle school isn’t miserable enough already. Stabbing a plastic fork into a bag of tough, bitter “spring mix” covered in enough ranch to kill a horse is a sensation I think we should all leave behind us as we age, like Linkin Park and studded belts.

Really good salads are usually full of things that aren’t salad – meats and croutons and cheeses and interesting nuts. You think people are going to Sweetgreen for the kale?

And listen, I’ve made a Sweetgreen harvest bowl at home from scratch. Technically, it’s possible. But by hour 4, after roasting a chicken and two sweet potatoes, making brown rice, chopping apples and massaging kale and sprinkling chopped almonds and forgetting to not eat the goat cheese, I’ve determined that only Olympic athletes and the guy from Free Solo have the stamina to do this on a regular basis.

Actually delicious, lick-the-bowl-clean make-at-home salad is possible, and it doesn’t involve trying to keep an entire 50-garnish salad bar alive in your fridge.

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Golden Latkes

Fried potato is one of the most delicious things you can eat, but I understand not wanting to make potato pancakes from scratch. When hours of work can turn so easily into nothing but grey-brown lumps of sadness and broken dreams, I fully understand the urge to rip off all your clothes and take to the hills, screaming, to live out the rest of your days as a hermit. Or at least, to run out to the store, pick up a pack of frozen hash-browns and call it a day.

And frozen hash-browns are delicious. They were a staple of my college dining hall brunch buffet, and they’re the one frozen potato product sold in the UK that doesn’t suck. (Why is this? This is a largely potato-based culture, you’d think they’d have it figured out by now.) But they are not the same as latkes. Hash-browns are for hangovers, and latkes are for joy.

Latkes are for special occasions. Latkes are for celebrating how great life is and how lucky we are to be living it. Your first thought on eating a latke should be “I can’t believe this is happening to me. I can’t believe I actually get to eat this. I need 5 more of these, immediately.”

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