How Not to Cook Pasta with Leeks and Parsley

We are having a completely freaky spring in Western NY. We had a spell of cold weather a week or so ago, but, other than that, it’s been really warm. The last couple days have been about 80 degrees. Those of you who live here understand this. Those of you who don’t should know that if it were snowing right now, none of us would be surprised. Typically in May, I’m pretty glad if it’s 60 degrees and sunny and not raining every single minute of the day.

This has meant a lot of things for me on a personal level: lots of yard work, walks, sneezing, and ice cream. I also have this crazy bumper crop of parsley. It’s the parsley I grew last year, really, which never died over the winter and is now as big as I might expect to see a little-used parsley plant in, say, July. So yesterday morning, I thought I should start trying to use some of this parsley. I consulted the How to Cook Everything app I got for my iPod a couple weeks ago and came up with Pasta with Leeks and Parsley, which I decided to try for lunch.

First, let me just say that while the How to Cook Everything app is really handy for searching for recipes and getting ideas, it is not good to try to cook something from a recipe that’s on your iPod, on account of the way the iPod and your kitchen don’t mix. As soon as my hands got dirty, I was like, “Oh, YEAH, I should have written that down.” So that’s one reason this recipe went wrong.

Second, and really more critical to the failure of this experiment, when it came time to put in the red pepper flakes, I did that thing you aren’t supposed to do where you shake the container that doesn’t have a shaker lid directly into the pan, and a LOT of red pepper flakes came out. Really a lot. “Well,” I thought, “I like hot dishes.” I did start to worry, though, when the fumes from the sautéing started making me cough the way the fumes from the dehydrator do when I’m drying hot peppers.

I had a bit of a cold this past week, and so one positive thing I can say about the way this recipe turned out is that it cleared out my sinuses. The cats also showed absolutely no interest in it, which is always nice. On the negative side, the red pepper flakes overwhelmed the whole. I could see where it might have been a nice dish had I made it properly (caramelized leeks=YUM). I ate what I needed of this for my lunch, and then I gave myself permission to throw the rest out, and the cats returned to the kitchen.


  1. Posted May 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Oh, dear. I tend to forget the simple rules for dealing with peppers – flakes, chillies, chili powder — never put it on a hot surface alone. I have hacked and coughed too many times from too much pepper in a hot pan — I feel your pain.

    And it’s good to give yourself permission to say, “This was a disaster,” and let it go.

    UK leeks are REALLY crazy hot spicy. It’s surprising, after the mild California leeks I grew up with – really weird!

  2. adrienne
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Tanita, I also seem to need to relearn “don’t touch the inside of the jalapeno with your bare hands” at least once every year or two.

    Spicy leeks, you say? I can’t quite imagine.

  3. Xandi
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I love that you find some positive aspects…with every great culinary mishap, I like to think that I gain a new way to make people laugh!

  4. Posted May 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I am going to lobby for the Tanita and Adrienne cooking show. There would be delicious food, but there would also be a lot of potential for near-disaster humor.

  5. Posted May 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Xandi, I like to think I learn something, although, as I hope I’ve made clear, I do have a tendency to make the same mistakes over and over. I believe my teachers used to call that “careless” when I was in school.

    Farida, We could call it “What Could Go Wrong?”

  6. Posted May 25, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

    Adrienne: Hee hee. Let me work with that….

  7. Posted May 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    A few cayenne flakes? A touch of black pepper? What Could Go Wrong?

    Actually, we could also have an episode where one of us (*cough*) tries to just “shake” a little bit of flour from an open canister, instead of, oh, scooping it out like a non-moronic person, or using a measuring cup… and instead of the two tablespoons one wanted to start a roux, a full two cups tumbles out.

    Yep. What Could Go Wrong?

  8. Posted May 26, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    One time, I lifted one of my flour bins by the lid instead of the container itself. A whole, whole lot more than 2 tablespoons came out.

    My cats found this particular accident quite entertaining.

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