Cannellini Beans, Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions (With Optional Egg On Top)

A round white bowl on a red background filled with cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and pearl onions, a thick gravy, and topped with a crisp egg and crostini.

I know, I know. I really, truly know. “Put an egg on it!” has become the mantra of millennial home cooks everywhere (hey, we had to eventually move past putting a bird on it, okay?). Leftover pizza? Put an egg on it! (Actually do this, it’s really good). Have some plain, cooked oats kicking around? Honestly, put an egg on it. This thick, ultra-savoury cannellini bean, tomato, and cipollini onion concoction? Definitely put an egg on it. I first started making this recipe (courtesy of my much-used and very dog-eared copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook) near the beginning of the summer. One evening, a few hours before hosting a dinner party that hadn’t gotten out of the planning stages yet (as my dinner parties are wont to do), I revisited this gorgeous little recipe. As expected, the recipe was simple to prepare and a huge hit with my guests (thanks, Deb!). Over the course of the summer I’ve done some tinkering with the recipe, nothing too over-the-top, but a few subtle changes have been made. I like to add a good glug of white vermouth or a super-dry white wine, I think it enhances the bright flavours of the tomatoes and adds complexity to the earthy cannellini beans and cipollini onions. I also like to add several sprigs of fresh thyme and oregano, I just leave them whole and remove the woody sprigs before serving. And speaking of serving, I like this dish best when it’s piled into a large, shallow serving bowl and accompanied by olive oil-brushed, thinly sliced crostini. The egg is used to revive any leftovers, although the way this lovely stew-like concoction disappears when placed in front of guests leaves me with no choice but to recommend a) sneakily hiding some away right in the back of your fridge off the bat or b) doubling the recipe.

cannellini beans, roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions (with optional egg on top):

1 bag (or 1 lb.) cipollini onions

1 15-ounce tin cannellini beans, drained

1 1/2 lb. tomatoes (Roma, cherry, heirloom, whatever you’ve got!)

1 head of garlic, left whole but with the top part cut off so that the cloves are just visible

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vermouth or dry white wine

1 Tbsp. sugar*

Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

A few sprigs each of fresh thyme and oregano

Olive oil-brushed crostini

Eggs

*If using fabulous, in-season tomatoes you may not need the sugar.

  1. Prepare the cipollini onions by boiling a large pot of water. Slice off the tips of the onions and plunge them into the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute and then drain, rinsing the onions with cool water so that you can handle them without burning yourself. When they’re cool enough to handle, slip the cipollini peppers out of their skins and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. On a large, rimmed backing sheet or roasting pan, spread the tomatoes (leave whole and pierce with a sharp knife if they’re quite small or halve if using large tomatoes). Add the cipollini onions, cannelini beans, and the head of garlic (leave intact while roasting).
  4. Generously coat the vegetables and beans with the olive oil, white vermouth or white wine, and sugar, using your hands to make sure the ingredients are thoroughly covered. Season generously with salt and pepper, topping with the fresh herbs.
  5. Roast everything for about an hour, using a spatula or wooden spoon to stir every 20 minutes or so. The ingredients should be blackened in spots and fork-tender, meltingly soft. The pan juices are what makes this dish, so be sure to save them.
  6. Remove the baking sheet or roasting pan from the oven and let the contents come to room temperature. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin and mix in with the other ingredients. Stir in the cannellini beans and allow to sit until the mixture comes to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve the roasted vegetables and beans piled onto a serving bowl with thinly-sliced crostini.
  7. Reheat the next day and add a crispy or poached egg, the yolk should be soft enough that it thickens the leftover tomato sauce as they melt together.

This song is tight as a wire, epic in scope, and vibrating with gigantic, bursting emotion. Interestingly, Perfume Genius is one of the few bands with vocals I can listen to when I’m writing (I usually find lyrics too distracting when I work). And of course, when I’m cooking (which is often part of work, anyway). If Perfume Genius is new to you (in which case I’m very jealous you can hear everything for the time), think PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Wild Beasts, Kate Bush, and a tiny hint of Hawksley Workman without his annoying Canadian celebrity bravado.

Perfume Genius – Slip Away

 

Cannellini Bean, Wild Rice, and Grapefruit Salad with Fresh Mint and Parsley

Cannellini bean salad in a round white bowl on a batik-print tablecloth with yellow cloth napkin.

Are you ever in need of virtuous food? After a weekend spent drinking Rosé-Aperol Spritzes (thank you Bon Appetit a million times over for this super simple, not overwhelmingly boozy cocktail!) and eating about a hundred za’atar-spiked chicken thighs, massive amounts of cheese, and birthday cake? No? Just me? Okay well in that case here’s a totally delicious, totally portable, and totally great salad to have sitting in your fridge for a few days. Made from creamy white cannellini beans, wild rice (or any other grain you have handy) this unique salad is punctuated with an entire bunch of thinly sliced flat-leaf parsley, fresh mint, and the juice and flesh of a pink grapefruit. I like to serve this substantial salad on a bed of arugula, its peppery bite is the perfect foil to the wonderful blandness of the beans and the bittersweetness of the grapefruit but it could also be served with chicken, shrimp, or a piece of poached or grilled fish. Cannellini bean, wild rice, and grapefruit salad with fresh mint and parsley is also an ideal bean salad for school and workweek meals and you’ll find that this recipe can be easily pre-portioned into containers or jars for a full week’s worth of lunches. Feel free to halve this recipe if desired, I tend to make it for bigger crowds and have gradually adjusted the amounts needed to compensate for larger numbers.

cannellini bean, wild rice, and grapefruit salad with fresh mint and parsley:

2×425 gram/15 ounce cans white cannellini beans

1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled (or any other grain you prefer)

1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, washed and thinly sliced

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 bunch fresh mint, thinly sliced

1 grapefruit, cut in half and flesh removed with a paring knife (reserve all juice)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 tsp. allspice

Kosher or sea salt, to taste

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  1. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans in a colander, let them sit as you prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl or shallow serving platter, gently combine the rinsed cannellini beans, wild rice, parsley, scallions, and mint. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the grapefruit flesh and juice, olive oil, white wine vinegar, allspice, salt, and black pepper to taste. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  4. Pour the grapefruit juice dressing over the cannellini bean mixture and use a large spoon or tongs to coat the salad ingredients.
  5. Let the salad sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving or store in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days.

Part of me is like, YES! THE RETURN OF HOPELESSLY AUTUMNAL MUSIC IS HERE! And then part of me is like, NO ASHLEY, YA GOTTA HOLD ONTO TO THOSE GOOD SUMMER VIBES. I’ve been listening to lots and lots of the sweetly twee, surf rock-beachy-lo-fi wonderfulness of Fazerdaze lately and I feel like it’s extending summer if only for just a little bit (the very much-needed rainfall here in Vancouver is imminent, a sort of “will she or won’t she?” situation.) I’ll look to the title of this song for a good reminder to take it slow because we haven’t quite reached the dark months yet.

Fazerdaze – Take It Slow

Warm Eggplant and Zucchini Salad

Cooked eggplant and zucchini salad topped with beetroot hummus, Greek yogurt and chilies. The salad is in a large white bowl, garnished with a sprig of mint, and laid out on a black and white striped tablecloth.

This gorgeous summery recipe is the very definition of food flexibility; it can be a warm, silky soft salad or a rustic, satisfyingly chunky dip. Eggplant and zucchini are sliced into fat rounds and pan-fried in a hot cast iron pan or, for all my lucky readers who have access to a barbecue, grilled outdoors. Add plenty of fresh herbs, pickled red onions, capers, and a zesty red wine vinegar dressing and the result you’re left with is a dish that’s equally perfect for lazily eating at a beach picnic or for picking away at while anxiously watching Sharp Objects in the dark (literally to prevent bugs from flying into my apartment and metaphorically, just how is this show going to wrap up without any loose ends?) What this recipe does require is time; time to let the vegetables reach the warmish side of room temperature, time to let the flavours mingle, and time to decide what you’re going to serve with this salad. In the picture above I’m leaning towards a more salad-like interpretation of the recipe, serving it with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt and beetroot hummus. If you’re planning on using this recipe as a warm eggplant and zucchini dip I gently (but fervently) urge you to buy the freshest pita bread you can find (or make your own if you’re a fan of homemade baking projects) to use for scooping up big piles of the stuff.

warm eggplant and zucchini salad:

1/4 cup (plus a little bit more) olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/2″ rounds on the diagonal*

2 zucchini, sliced into 1/2″ rounds on the diagonal*

1/2 large red onion, cut into thin half-moon slices

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup fresh mint, loosely torn

1/2 cup fresh basil, loosely torn

2 Tbsp. capers, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Pinch dried red chili flakes

Kosher or Maldon salt, to taste

Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

*Slicing the vegetables on the diagonal will create more surface area for them to cook.

  1. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large cast-iron or stainless steel skillet. Warm over medium-high heat until the oil just begins to sizzle.
  2. Working in batches, pan-fry the sliced eggplant and zucchini until golden brown on each side. The eggplant will soak up a lot of oil, so you may need to add extra in between batches. Don’t crowd the skillet, the eggplant and zucchini pieces shouldn’t touch each other. Remove the vegetables from the hot oil and drain on pieces of paper towel.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together the red onion slices and red wine vinegar. Set aside.
  4. When the eggplant and zucchini are cool enough to handle, cut them into a rough dice. Add them to the red onion and red wine vinegar mixture.
  5. Gently fold in the rest of the ingredients, tasting for seasoning before and after the salad has had a chance to sit. Let the salad marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to 24 hours before eating.

So we went to see Beach House on Sunday night at The Orpheum (my favourite concert venue in town!) and I’m SO glad we got there early enough to catch the opener, Sound of Ceres. In fact, I think I preferred the Sound of Ceres show out of the two performances; the visuals, the sound, and the vibe were 100 percent gorgeous. They reminded me of so many of my loves: Broadcast, Slowdive, Elizabeth Fraser, The Ruby Suns, and Royksöpp. If you love ethereal, space-aged dream pop then give everything else they’ve made a listen, it’s a total pleasure and a treat.

Sound of Ceres – Ember Age

Composed Summer Tomato Salad

Composed summer tomato salad with fresh basil and shaved parmesan in a white shallow bowl.

When you’re in the thick of it (tomato season, that is) you don’t actually have to do anything to tomatoes. Yes, you can stack them up with thick slabs of buffalo mozzarella, heaping dollops of burrata, a smear of ricotta, your best balsamic reduction, and a drizzle of the fruitiest olive oil in your pantry but you can also haphazardly cut them into chunks, sprinkle on some Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper and call it a day. That’s the thing with heavily ripe heirloom tomatoes, they’re a rare, gorgeous gift we only receive once a year* and when we have them, we need to make the best of them (however that may be.) I’ve been eating tomatoes nonstop this week, usually with a baguette that’s been heavily coated with fresh goat’s milk cheese and maybe some chili flakes. We’re in the middle of a heat wave in Vancouver, no one has air conditioning, and I live in an apartment without the faintest hint of a cross-breeze so I’m thankful for the ease that is fresh tomatoes on multiple levels. Here’s how I’ve been enjoying local tomatoes most nights; with a sense of playfulness based entirely on ingredient improvisation and of course, shining a spotlight on the natural flavour of the tomatoes. You’ll notice I don’t use any oil or vinegar here, feel free to add either or both if you like a more traditional salad.

*Unless, of course, you live somewhere perpetually warm and sunny (which Vancouver is definitively not.)

Composed summer tomato salad with fresh basil and shaved parmesan in a white shallow bowl with baguette slices and goat cheese.

composed summer tomato salad:

Big ripe summer tomatoes, cut into slices or chunks

Pinch of salt (I like kosher or Maldon)

Pinch of white granulated sugar

Fresh basil, cut into a loose chiffonade

Shaved parmesan

Dried chili flakes

Freshly cracked pepper

Arrange the tomatoes on a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and white sugar. Let sit for 15 minutes. Give the tomatoes a little stir. Top with shaved parmesan, dried chili flakes, and freshly cracked pepper. Eat at room temperature with a glass of lightly chilled pinot noir. Enjoy!

Yellow tomato salad on a white heart-shaped plate on a blue background.

I’ve been listening to Chopin nonstop for about a week – it’s calming and it’s beautiful and I can write at the same time (when I’m writing professionally I find it difficult to listen to music with lyrics at the same time.)

Chopin – Nocturnes

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta

It’s terribly difficult being a food writer who specializes in cheese. I mean, what are you supposed to do when you have copious amounts of ricotta leftover from a photo shoot? Well, in my case, I happily ate fresh strawberries, honey, and ricotta for breakfast and spread it on thick slices of olive bread with slices of tomato and a generous application of Maldon salt and freshly cracked pepper. Despite all my best efforts I still had an impressive amount of ricotta to use before it went bad (once opened, ricotta only keeps for 3-4 days before it starts to smell sour.) I was on the lookout for ricotta recipes that a) weren’t stuffed pasta and b) weren’t dessert (because I’m not a very dessert-y person.) Eventually I found this intriguing recipe for charred green beans with ricotta and lemon on Epicurius and felt inspired by the elegant simplicity of the recipe. The first time I tried this recipe (and with great success, I might add) I followed the instructions to a T and yes, it was just as gorgeous and delicious as I’d hoped. However, me being me, I wanted to fiddle around with the basics and create my own riff on this already brilliant idea (this sort of creative license is why I’m a disastrous baker.) Lo and behold, this recipe for roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta was born. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t have a grill to fall back on but if I did I would be using it for this recipe – the slightly charred green beans and broccolini add a sweet and nutty flavour which complements the light creaminess of the ricotta*. Fortunately, a hot oven can mostly replicate this effect (albeit, without any aesthetically pleasing grill marks.) Don’t skip roasting the lemons with the green beans and broccolini, they won’t get those beautiful char marks food stylists strive for but the moderately high heat results in fat wedges of lemon with meltingly tender, almost buttery pulp. The quantities called for are open to interpretation, you can use more or less of everything depending on how many servings you need.

Ricotta

*A note on ricotta: Buy the best, full-fat ricotta you can find (remember, this doesn’t necessarily mean the most expensive ricotta you can find.) If you’re in Canada and you can find Quality Food’s Canadian Cheese Grand Prix-winning ricotta I’d highly recommend this particular brand. Another tasty option is sheep’s milk ricotta (if you can’t find it at the grocery store check out your local cheese shop or farmer’s market.) Sheep’s milk ricotta has a light, milky taste and is generally well-tolerated by people who suffer from lactose intolerances or allergies.

roasted green beans and broccolini on a bed of ricotta:

1 lb. green beans, tipped and tailed

1 lb. broccolini

2 Tbsp. + 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

2-3 lemons, halved

1 – 1 1/2 cups full-fat ricotta

Dried red chili flakes

Fresh parsley and basil, roughly chopped/torn

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.
  2. Line 1-2 baking sheets (depending on their size) with parchment paper or a Silpat.
  3. Spread the green beans, broccolini and lemon halves (pulp side down) across the baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, gently massaging it into the vegetables. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast the vegetables for 30-40 minutes, stirring everything two or three times as it cooks. If the green beans and broccolini look like they’re cooking in a shorter amount of time reduce the heat to 350°.
  5. While the vegetables are roasting, spread a generous layer of ricotta across the bottom of a large serving platter (or a smaller one, depending on the number of servings you end up with.)
  6. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and loosely pile across the surface of the ricotta, drizzling with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and any juices that may have accumulated in the baking sheet.
  7. Finish the dish by slicing the lemon halves into smaller wedges, nestling them into the ricotta with the vegetables. Sprinkle the dried chilies, fresh basil, and parsley over top before serving.

Roasted Green Beans and Broccolini On a Bed of Ricotta 2

When I was a little kid I was obsessed with Tina Turner (and Lionel Richie, but that’s another story.) I used to wear my leotard from ballet lessons and make up dances to every single song on Tina Turner’s Simply the Best album in my room with the door closed. I’m pretty sure I wore out the tape from overuse, I’d listen to it on my Walkman walking to school, mowing the lawn with a clunky old push mower, and lying in bed at night. I actually hadn’t listened to Tina in a long time, years in fact, but the other day I was trying to do some writing and I felt really stuck and (unsurprisingly) this amazing greatest hits collection saved the day! I’m choosing “Better Be Good To Me” for this post because it has an amazing video involving a werewolf-like man and a song you can strut to.

Tina Turner – Better Be Good To Me

Halloumi Salad with Roasted Red and Jalapeño Peppers, Pickled Red Onions, and Mint

Halloumi Salad with Roasted Red and Jalapeño Peppers, Pickled Red Onions, and Mint in a long, white serving dish on a white background.

As some of you may already know, I love halloumi cheese. This halloumi salad is, in fact, a natural progression from my recipe for Slow Roasted Sweet Pepper and Baked Halloumi Salad with Oregano and Chilies. This version adds smokey-sweet roasted jalapeño peppers, bright pink pickled red onions, and lots of fresh mint and basil to bring the salad together. Just in case you’re wondering, “is it ludicrous to add feta cheese to a baked cheese salad?” I’ll admit that you’d be correct in thinking this is too much cheese but for this recipe I use ultra-creamy (and only mildly salty) Macedonian feta. Surprisingly, the addition of creamy feta really brings the whole salad together (you can also use chèvre if you prefer.) If you have access to a barbecue on this fine Canada Day weekend (which I sadly do not) you can grill the peppers and halloumi, just make sure to brush everything with some oil before you begin. I like to let this halloumi salad sit for a good 30 minutes before serving at room temperature, this gives all the separate ingredients the chance to mingle and develop while you have a much-needed glass of wine or a cold beer. This halloumi salad recipe stands on its own as a main dish or you can serve it the way I prefer, with plenty of other dishes (think corn on the cob, a big green salad, olives, roasted chicken, marinated artichokes, potato salad, etc.)

halloumi salad with roasted red and jalapeño peppers, pickled red onions, and mint:

4 large sweet peppers

4 jalapeño peppers

1 + 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 medium-sized red onion, cut in half and then into thin slices

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 packages of halloumi

1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

 1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped

1/2 cup crumbled Macedonian feta

Freshly cracked pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Add the red onion slices to a bowl and toss with the juice of 2 limes and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar.
  3. Pierce each pepper with a sharp paring knife (both sweet and spicy), this will prevent any accidental pepper explosions in your oven. Rub the peppers with 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and evenly spread out on a baking sheet.
  4. Roast the whole peppers, turning occasionally, for 45 minutes. They should be evenly charred on the outside.
  5. Carefully remove the peppers from the oven and transfer them to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a large plate. Set aside.
  6. Slice the halloumi lengthwise into pieces that are about 1-2 centimetres thick (or about the thickness of your pinky finger.) Add the remaining grapeseed oil to a large rimmed baking sheet.
  7. Cover the halloumi slices with the oil in baking sheet, turning once or twice to evenly coat.
  8. Bake the halloumi in the same hot oven as the peppers for 10-15 minutes, turning once. The cheese should soften and spread only slightly, halloumi will keep its shape when heated. Remove the halloumi from the oven and set aside.
  9. Go back to the roasted peppers. Remove the plastic wrap or plate and carefully peel away the charred skin (it should come off easily, use gloves if you feel more comfortable.) Using a sharp knife, cut the peppers into large thirds or halves and lay flat.
  10. To assemble the salad alternate slices of halloumi, roasted peppers, and pickled onion. I like to do this on a flat, narrow serving platter but any serving dish will work.
  11. Drizzle the remaining red onion pickling liquid over the layered salad. Top with crumbled Macedonian feta, fresh mint and basil, and freshly cracked pepper.
  12. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving at room temperature.

Halloumi Salad with Roasted Red and Jalapeño Peppers, Pickled Red Onions, and Mint in a narrow white serving dish on a white tablecloth.

There’s something really calming about Kurt Vile’s music, it’s almost like listening to someone talk to themselves for a prolonged amount of time (and I talk to myself all day long since I work from home, alone.) It’s good, twangy summer music, too; even on a cold rainy day like today. At the very least it makes me feel like there’s a warm end in sight (and I hope that’s true, because I really want to go to the beach!)

Kurt Vile – Was All Talk

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Meat Sauce for Busy Weeknights

Shallow earth-coloured bowl on a turquoise tablecloth. The bowl contains a tomato and ground meat sauce, butternut squash "noodles" and shredded fresh basil.

Although it would be lovely to have a pot of bolognese sauce magically simmering away on the stove when you get home from work on a particularly hellish Tuesday, it’s not something one typically indulges in during the week (I mean, if we’re going the magical route I’d also like to request a nightly boulevardier while I sit with my legs dangling in my completely fictitious backyard pool). So, in the same way I settle for a slightly chilly shower and a glass of ice water in place of a bourbon-based treat, this recipe is a perfectly delicious way to “settle” when you’re short on time and energy. You can use ground turkey, chicken, beef, or pork (or any combination thereof), you can even use crumbled tofu, tempeh, or lentils if you’re looking for a meatless version. The finely chopped mushrooms have enough umami heft to blend in with the ground meat, I like to use a mix of portobello and shiitake mushrooms if I have them but more often than not I use regular white button mushrooms (with great success, I might add). Don’t leave out the oil-packed sundried tomatoes, they have an intensely tomato-y taste that gives occasionally lacklustre canned tomatoes a huge boost in flavour. This recipe makes a lot of sauce (is it even possible to make a small amount of pasta sauce?) so go ahead and freeze it for even easier weeknight dinners. To make things ever easier at the end of a long day, prep the onion, mushrooms, garlic, and sundried tomatoes the day before, the ground meat can also be cooked ahead of time. Depending on what’s in my pantry and fridge at the time, I like to use this sauce on both traditional pasta and spiralized vegetables (especially butternut squash and zucchini noodles).

quick and easy meat sauce for busy weeknights:

1+1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 lbs. ground meat (the picture above is of the sauce made with ground turkey)

1 medium-sized white onion, finely diced

2 cups finely chopped mushrooms

1 tsp. kosher salt (plus more to taste)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning

1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, finely chopped

14/-1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes

1/2 cup red wine (optional)

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 14-oz. can puréed tomatoes

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup fresh basil (plus more for garnish), cut into a thin chiffonade

1/2 fresh parsley (plus more for garnish), roughly chopped

  1. Cook the ground meat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet until the meat is no longer pink inside. Drain off the fat and set aside.
  2. In a large pot heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onion and chopped mushrooms. Sprinkle the kosher salt over the onion and mushrooms, allowing them to cook for 8-10 minutes or until softened.
  3. Add the minced garlic, dried Italian seasoning, sundried tomatoes, dried chili flakes, and optional red wine. Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes before adding the diced and puréed tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the ground meat and stir to combine.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the sauce to cook for another 30 minutes, covered. Stir in the fresh herbs towards the end of the cooking time, taste and adjust seasonings as needed before serving.

PJ Harvey makes some of my favourite “being alone” music, everything she does sounds like it’s somehow a secret just for you. This album came out in the middle of my high school career, I had heard PJ Harvey before but never felt intimately acquainted because I was a few years too young for her earlier work. I remember Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea was considered her most commercial work at the time, but it was a perfect diving-off point for me as a 16-year old. It clearly had an impact, this is still the album I turn to when I’m alone most often – especially when I’m alone and cooking.

PJ Harvey – A Place Called Home