Many people I know had a food they did not like as children. However, over time their appreciation for, and experience of, that food changed over time. For me, this was especially true of pasta sauces. As a child, my favorite pasta preparations were boxed macaroni and cheese and Spaghettio’s. The latter being my favorite primarily because of the sauce. It tasted so much better then my mom’s sauce. She made hers by mixing catsup, cream cheese, and oregano together. I was in my teens when I first experienced I home made pasta sauce which exceeded my expectations and changed my relationship with pasta and with Spaghettio’s, which no longer were acceptable to my palette.
At that point, what I knew about pasta sauces was they should be thick and visibly coat the pasta. You knew the sauce was present because whether it was tomato basil, alfredo, puttanesca, vodka, pomodoro or some other type of pasta sauce it was visibly present on the pasta. You knew you were eating pasta and sauce, or as some of my Italian friends say pasta and gravy.
Last night, I prepared ziti with a red pepper sauce. As I tossed the pasta in this amazingly flavorful sauce, it struck me that while the pasta was highly seasoned and you could taste the presence of the sauce in every bite, you could not always see the presence of the sauce. There were these subtle reminders of the presence of the sauce (i.e. pieces of the chopped up sun dried tomatoes); however, this sauce was strikingly translucent. You knew the sauce was present because you could taste it with each bite. However, rarely did you have physical evidence of its presence.
As I thought about this sauce, I realized that for me this was about evolving relationship with the Infinite Presence, or what many people call God. When I was younger, I had this vision of “God,” sort of like my pasta sauce. God was a physical presence. I thought by day God was the sun looking down on people and at night, God was the moon. Over time, my understanding and experience of the Infinite has transformed and like my pasta sauce from last night, I can now experience the presence of God in every bite of life. Like my pasta sauces of the past, I do not always see physical manifestation of this Higher Power; however, I can experience the presence of the Higher Power in my daily life. Periodically, like the chopped sun dried tomatoes, something will happen, which will be this reminder of the Infinite’s energy and presence in my life and in the world. Other times, I just experience the flavors and aromas of the sauce, or gravy, and give thanks.
Should you be interested in trying this sauce out for yourself, here is the recipe, more or less.
Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce
1 lb ziti
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sun dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tsp basil
2 cups fresh spinach, shredded
Cook your pasta in boiling, salted water.
Boil 1 cup of water and rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes for about 5 minutes and then chop or dice if desired. I left mine julienned.
Sauté garlic and red pepper flakes for about 2 minutes in heated oil. Then add sun dried tomatoes, tomato water, and basil and parmesan cheese and let it reduce.
Add pasta and spinach and toss well.