1) Preheat oven to 400.
2) Toss some brussels sprouts and crimini mushrooms with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. get them in the oven and set a timer for 40 minutes.
3) Chop a sweet onion real fine.
4) Set a deep saucepan to medium-low heat and get some olive oil going. Throw the onions in there with some black pepper and minced garlic (I use the squeeze bottle cuz I’m fancy). Low and slow is the watchword, you want to caramelize these fuckers, not burn ’em. It’s a process. It’ll give you something to do with your hands.
5) Get you some pasta water on the fire. Oil and salt that shit.
6) Probably a good time to roll those brussels sprouts and mushrooms around a bit with a spatula. Do this every 10 minutes or so, or more if you want something besides fidgeting with onions to do with your hyperactive hands.
7) Is your water boiling? Of course it isn’t. Decide to put some BOGO stuffed chicken breasts in the oven in a pan on the rack below the sprouts and shrooms. (You’re about 10 minutes into cook time if we’re keeping tabs, which: that’s up to you, I don’t pay your insurance.) Chicken Florentine. You are skeptical.
8) Water is boiling by now. And you were watching the whole time! Miracles. Throw the pasta of your choice in (I used Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa Fusilli not only because I’m insufferably aspirational but also because it is delicious and seems to hold up well with a sauce on it for reheating as long as you don’t overcook it).
9) (Onion Fidgeting Still In Progress. Contemplate the beauty of your new knowledge of the lies you have been shamelessly sold by cooking shows about the speed of the caramelization process. Roll the sprouts and mushrooms around again because you can’t control yourself.)
10) The onions are soft and gold and copacetic. Put in a can of diced tomatoes. A big one. You know how they have the small ones and the big ones. I’m not going to my pantry to look up ounces for you; you’re too good for that condescending shit and I trust you to know what I mean when I say a big can of goddamn diced tomatoes. Put them in the pan with the onions. Maybe throw in some more olive oil because olive oil is fucking delicious, and black pepper. And more black pepper.
11) (I threw some cooked frozen 41-50 ct shrimp in at this point. It just occurred to me that if you forgo this, this pasta would be vegan as hell and still really tasty. If I did that I would definitely get some beans involved though for protein.)
12) Your pasta is done. (I err heavily on the al dente side because not only am I throwing this in the tomato sauce with the shrimp for a second, I also am portioning it for reheating for meals during the week.)
13) The veggies are roasty and delicious. (Seriously, I love the flavor of a super browned and even almost crispy-on-the-outside brussels sprout. This was the game-changing preparation of this vegetable for me. And the mushrooms become slightly chewy and the flavor is magnified.) Put everything in the pan with the tomato sauce and the shrimp and the pasta. Prepare for multiple proposals of varying natures.
14) Have your friend arrive and tell you that he doesn’t like seafood, realize that this is a perfect opportunity to bring that chicken you were gonna use for lunches into play, throw the half of the pasta you were going to use as dinner building blocks for a few days with the jar of Arrabiata (“Spicy Red Pepper Sauce” by Classico if you are curious) that you decided to give a shot. Give him the pasta and jarred sauce (which has a really nice kick and I’m excited about finishing), you dig in to the crazy home run you just hit, and be stoked about leftovers for the first time in a while.