Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | July 29, 2015

Weekday Cooking: Simple and Quick without Losing Flavor

By Ernest Barteldes

Renata and I never buy lunch at places near work. Not that there aren’t any good ones around – we both work near Koreatown, so there are a bunch of places to choose from ranging from sandwich joints like Charley’s or Subway to high-end restaurants or Halal stands – the possibilities in the area are pretty limitless if you ask me. But like I have written before, cooking for me is a pleasure, and I also think that it is a completely unnecessary expense if I can make a packed lunch that might just be tastier and more nutritious.

The cost thing is quite obvious – unless you have a slice of pizza, a Happy Meal or some street meat, lunch can be quite costly in the tourist-y neighborhood we work in. I can guarantee that you won’t be able to get a something to eat for less than $6. That might not seem much, but if you calculate that times two between Monday and Friday, that sums up to at least $70 a week for two people. With a fraction of that amount I can make home-cooked meals for the both of us – it just take some effort and organization.

Of course, our daily lunches are not exactly elaborate – I try to keep it as simple as possible, but I am of course concerned with flavor – both Renata and I are big about food that tastes good, so bland flavors are out of the question. Of course, over the years I have accumulated countless recipes and have also adapted many of them to whatever ingredients I might have at home. One of the simplest ones I make is pasta with cauliflower, garlic and anchovies that takes very little time and that is definitely delicious.

I often make that on Friday, since Renata and I observe the Polish tradition of abstaining from meats (except fish) on that day of the week (we also try to have at least one vegetarian day per week – it’s good for us and also for the environment, as I have written before on this space – and it doesn’t have to be something bland at all.

Pasta with cauliflower and anchovies

Serves 2


Three cups of cauliflower cut in florets

One can of anchovy fillets in olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

Ground parmesan to taste

½ package rotini or other cut pasta

Olive oil for serving


In a large saucepan bring about a quart of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and boil until tender. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon and cook pasta using same water until al dente and drain, reserving 1 ½ cups cooking water.  In the meantime, sauté the anchovies with garlic until fish dissolves and garlic is browned. Add cooked cauliflower and basil to anchovy mix and toss.  Add the cauliflower mix to pasta and toss, adding reserved water.  Serve, topped with parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

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