I know, it sounds like a really weird title for a blog post. What on earth do the two have to do with each other?
Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. Maybe by the time I’m finished writing this blog post, I’ll know myself.
It has been a surreal week for me. Last Monday, about 5;30am, I couldn’t sleep any longer. And since I refuse to get up and be productive any earlier than I have to on a Monday, I did the only logical thing. I grabbed my phone from the bathroom (yes, we charge our phones in the bathroom, to keep them away from us for at least 7 hours a day!) and hopped back in bed.
I went through all the important stuff, and then naturally, I strolled over to Instagram. In the Direct Message section there was a message from Julie Miguel, a fellow Torontonian blogger, over at Daily Tiramisu. I saw the word ‘Congrats!’ I immediately opened it to find out why on earth I was being congratulated. I read her message, and it was a tad surreal. “Congrats on getting shortlisted in the Taste Canada Awards!!!!!!!!” I was blown away. And I wasn’t sure I believed it. I went directly over to my email, and yes, there it was, the announcement from Taste Canada. After listing all the cookbook authors that had been shortlisted, the blogs were announced. And mine was one of the top five for the General Food Blog category! Taste Canada has a team that pours over all the Canadian food author content for the year, and narrows down their choices to receive top honours. We have so much amazing talent here in Canada. The cookbooks released in the last year or so are truly exceptional. And not just Canadians recognize this. These cookbooks are on shelves and kitchen counters all over the world. I am proud to be using so many of the nominations in my own kitchen. You can check out the entire list of the 2018 Nominations here!
And I am thrilled to have this little blog make such an honour. You know when some actor or actress says, “It’s an honour just to have been nominated”? Well now I understand. To me, I have already won. To have a serious group of highly selective and critical people judge my blog to be worthy of consideration gives me such confidence that I must be doing something right! 🙂 You guys know me, I’m just happy to be in my kitchen, cooking, experimenting, failing, refining, perfecting, and finally sharing the recipes that keep us fed. This blog is all about how we eat, and how I try to make it as fun and accessible to all as possible. When you guys let me know how much you love a recipe, or ask me questions on how to fix something, or find an alternative ingredient, then the connections that I wanted to make are cemented. This is why we’re all here!
I’m in great company for this years awards. Baked, The Blog, Stems and Forks, Rhubarb and Cod, and Baking For Friends are the other nominations in my category. Each blog brings something unique to the table. Baked, the Blog is a collaboration of several baking-centric bloggers, so you can find all their creations in one site; Betty over at Stems and Forks brings her opulent and bucolic photographic style to her fantastic baked creations; Susan’s blog, Rhubarb and Cod is a lovely combination of recipes and illustrations, and highlights the ingredients of the Canadian east coast; and Baking for Friends showcases Alie Romano’s recipes, desserts in particular that she creates to bring friends and family together. I hope you can check them all out. One day I would love my photographs to be as amazing at Betty’s. I would love to perfect my baking the way Alie and those on Baked, the Blog have, and I would love to share my own artistic side the way Susan does (Jim keeps pushing me to do this) The actual awards won’t be till the end of October, so I will just have to be patient till then, when I can actually meet my fellow nominees in person!
So yes, this news kept me somewhat distracted all week. Add to that distraction were work deadlines, stifling hot weather, counters full of dirty dishes, cat vomit that has left stains on my bedroom carpet, a bird’s nest with babies in one of our planters right above the BBQ (we’ve since had to move said BBQ to avoid being attacked by a defensive and protective mama bird) and now, a bum knee. Don’t ask me how I did it. I was standing on a chair to water a hanging planter on the patio, and when I stepped down, I could barely put my weight on it. It began to swell more and more, and now I am hobbling around. Pathetic klutz that I am!
One of the recipes that got us through this week’s mid summer heat wave is this Bruschetta Pasta dish. I had a craving for pasta. But I really didn’t want a sauce simmering on the stove. And I know that Jim loves a tomato based sauce of some sort. When we go out for dinner he is that most basic of customers: “Spaghetti Pomodoro, please.” Yep. Oh sometimes he’ll go out on a limb and order the Arrabiata instead!
So I wondered, what would make us both happy? Sometimes I will take a large ripe beefsteak tomato and just grate it over the cooked pasta, along with freshly chopped garlic and onion, and basil. Add a bit of seasoning, and call it a night. Jim loves it. But he also loves bruschetta. So I thought, ‘why not take my Harissa Bruschetta recipe and turn it into a sauce?’ So this is what I did!! It’s so easy to whip together. Chopped tomatoes, minced garlic and onion, and chopped parsley all get marinated in harissa olive oil. Let that combo get to become good friends in the bowl while the pasta cooks up, and we’re now in the home stretch. When the pasta has cooked up and been drained, place it in an oven proof baking dish or pie plate. Cover it with the bruschetta mixture, and top it all with a goodly amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Pop it all into the oven, under the broiler and in no time flat, you have the most amazing pasta dish. This is exactly how I prepare my bruschetta, which is often a dinner for us in the summer. The tomatoes that are available right now are the best that we can imagine here in Canada. Tomato season is just brilliant isn’t it?! And while I love me a good beefsteak or heirloom tomato on toast or in my BLT’s, this recipe works perfectly with Roma tomatoes- they are less seedy and liquidy. Add to the tomatoes, the freshest summer basil and this is becomes the reason to make a no-cook sauce from scratch. It is so easy, and really highlights the season’s best offerings.
So how does this dish have anything to do with a writing award nomination? Well, when I first started blogging, I was having fun going through what seemed like a lifetime of family recipes that I could share with you all. Then one day a brilliant little company, Entube, approached me and asked if I would be willing to develop recipes using their products. This is when I first realized that I could not just share what I already knew, but could share recipes that came from my head, inspired by one ingredient. They gave me my start in collaborating, and I have never looked back. I try to only work with brands that reflect my own sensibilities and style. You guys would see right through me if I suddenly started pushing pre packaged veggie burgers (not that there’s anything wrong with them. It’s just not the way we eat) Along the way, I hope I’ve been able to share the laughter, the frustration, and a sensible and practical recipe with each new idea. Hopefully my writing and the way that this blog is laid out, is good for you. If you can find a recipe easily, if you enjoy reading my little musings, and most of all, if a recipe is accurate and easy to follow, then I have totally set out what I wanted to do. I know that one of my pet peeves is advertising on websites. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to find the recipes, only to have ads constantly pop up and get in the way. So I have made a promise that I will never do it to you. And hopefully this is one more reason you appreciate visiting me here at The Lemon Apron!
Have a fabulous week everyone! Think of me as I hobble around doing laundry, picking up after the cats (yes, they pull their toys out the box daily and deposit them EVERYWHERE), get to another sinkful of dishes, and hopefully get some ice on my knee again. Thankfully there is leftover Bruschetta Pasta for dinner this evening!
Ooh, alternatively, why not just toss your cooked pasta with the bruschetta ‘sauce’ and sprinkle with the cheese and basil and call it a Bruschetta Pasta Salad!? 😉
Harissa Bruschetta Pasta
A fresh summery pasta dish with a no-cook 'sauce' made from a spicy bruschetta base. Chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, cheese and basil all come together to smother freshly cooked pasta. Eat it warm from the oven (just to melt the cheese) or cold as a pasta salad!
- 5-6 Roma tomatoes quartered middle pulp and seeds removed, finely diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves finely minced or more dependant on your garlic tolerance!
- 1/3 cup yellow or white onion finely diced
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil plus more for the pasta
- 2-3 tsp Entube Harissa paste to taste and heat tolerance
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 lb shorter pasta like rigatoni or penne (a pasta with nooks and crannies is best for this 'sauce')
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese or pecorino for topping
- Freshly torn basil for garnish
Mix the tomatoes, garlic, onions and parsley in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil and harissa paste together. Toss into the veggies.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let sit to let the flavours marry.
Preheat the broiler on your oven, and raise a rack to the top third of the oven.
Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Drain the pasta and place into a baking dish or pie plate, tossed with a little olive oil.
Spoon the bruschetta mixture over the pasta.
Sprinkle the grated parmesan or peccorino over the bruschetta mixture and pasta.
Place the baking dish onto a baking sheet.
Place the baking sheet into the oven and broil for about 2-3 minutes, until the cheese has started to melt into a gooey topping.
Garnish with fresh basil and serve.
Alternatively, you can toss the cooked pasta with the sauce and half of the cheese, evenly distributing both. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with remaining cheese and torn basil. Serve at room temperature or even cold. Brushcetta Pasta Salad!