My second Vancouver host was a hardcore stoner who bragged there was no way I could make a meal from the food in his kitchen.
Not gonna lie – it was super gross. All the months-old veggies had new life forms growing on them, the scraps of bread were so moldy they looked like they were competing to grow new strains of penicillin, and the only meat was solid slabs of freezer burned hamburger patties that the box said were three years old. On top of that he handed me a bottle of 12 year old Ras Al Hanout he bought in Morocco and insisted I use it as his secret ingredient.
While I stared, wide eyed, he cheerfully laughed his stoned butt off, sure he’d be the first person on my travels to stump the chef.
The look on his face when I handed him this bowl of pasta an hour later was priceless.
If you give this Moroccan inspired pasta a try, please don’t use bell peppers so old they’re moldy inside or dented cans that flirt with botulism or age-spotted noodles purchased in the
For the Noodles
- 1 package pappardelle noodles
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
For the Sauce
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- ½ lb hamburger (optional – exclude for vegan!)
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 ½ tbsp Moroccan Ras Al Hanout spice blend
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 colored bell peppers (red, yellow, orange), chopped
- Boil a big pot of water.
- While the water is boiling, grab a mixing bowl big enough for all the pasta. Mix your olive oil, 1 tbsp minced garlic, and 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Set the bowl aside.
- Now it’s time to cook your spices and aromatics. Pour more olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat and gently cook 2 tbsp garlic until barely brown. Add in the Ras Al Hanout, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Cooking your spices really brings out the flavor.
- MEAT OPTION: Add your hamburger to the skillet and continue cooking until the hamburger is completely browned, stirring often. I used two freezer burnt pre-formed hamburger
patties,because that’s what my host had in his freezer. If you chop things small enough, add enough spice, and drown it in sauceyou can get away with gently reusing small amounts of less than optimal meat.
- Once the hamburger is completely browned, pour the tomato sauce and tomato paste into the skillet and mix thoroughly.
- If you’re not using meat, pour the tomato sauce and paste into the skillet as soon as you’re done cooking the spices.
- Remove the stems, seeds, and veiny bits from all the bell peppers, then cut them into 1 ½ inch chunks. I also had to remove all the moldy flesh. Don’t be that guy.
- The water should be boiling by now. When you throw the pasta in the water, that’s a good time to also throw the bell pepper chunks into your freshly made red sauce.
- Turn the red sauce down to a low simmer. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions.
- Drain the pasta, but don’t rinse it. You want it to still be warm and a little starchy.
- Remember that bowl of garlic, olive oil, salt
andpepper? Toss your hot pasta directly in there and stir until the pasta is completely coated with your impromptu garlic sauce. I did this because one of the people my host invited over said she really likes noodles but doesn’t eat meat. She also might not have trusted anything that came out of his kitchen – and I can’t blame her.
- Ladle the garlic pasta into dishes for however many people you’re serving (in my case, four) and top that with equal quantities of the
home made sauce.
I’ve tried this since, and it’s quite refreshing with a nice cucumber and apple salad as a side and some nice crusty garlic bread. And twice as much meat. And actual fresh ingredients. But hey, the lesson here is that no matter how gross your kitchen is, with a little creativity you’ll be surprised what you can scrounge up.
– When cooking for vegans, check your noodles ingredients to ensure they’re not made with eggs or other animal byproducts. Lots of noodles aren’t vegan!