Farfalle with pesto and cream cheese sandwiches

The best thing about having a well-stocked pantry and a small herb garden is how I can whip up a great meal in so little time without limiting my options to canned goods and instant noodles with MSG-laden seasoning. I made a simple pasta dish, farfalle (bow-tie pasta) with pesto, and served it with smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches and everything was done in less than 30 minutes. But it’s Sunday! Why didn’t Speedy do the cooking when it was Dad’s turn to cook day? He’s attending a mid-year conference so he’s couldn’t. He did make up for it though, in advance, by cooking dinner on Thursday evening.

Now, about the farfalle with pesto and the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches. The pesto I made with basil I picked from my garden. I’m not saying you have to have a herb garden. I lived in the city for decades and I know about limited space. No place to plant a herb garden? You can grow herbs in pots, actually, and you can even put them on the window sill to do away with the limited space issue. But if herb gardening isn’t your thing but you like pesto, keeping a jar of good quality store-bought pesto in the fridge is a good strategy too.

While the pasta cooks, make the pesto and the smoked salmon and cream cheese filling. When the pasta is ready, toss with the pesto. Keep warm. Split the focaccia in half horizontally, spread the bottom half with the smoked salmon and cream cheese filling, cover with the top half, and cut into mini-sandwiches about two inches wide by three inches long.

Cold Soba and Scallops

A meal for one that takes no more than ten minutes to prepare. The ingredients are few, the cooking procedure is simple and no special cooking equipment is required. Despite the simplicity, this seafood and noodle dish is filling, and rich in flavor and texture. If scallops are not available, feel free to substitute any shucked shellfish. Clams and mussels are equally good. If you want meat rather than seafood, strips of boneless chicken will work just as well.

Boil three to four cups of water. Add the soba noodles and boil for four to five minutes. Scoop out the noodles with a slotted spoon (reserve the water and let it keep boiling), plunge in iced water, and drain again. Transfer to a bowl. Add the scallops to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. DO NOT overcook as shellfish turn dry and tough with overcooking. Drain the scallops and add to the noodles. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the toasted sesame seeds, and toss well.