Even though it sounds like we go out to dinner every night, we don’t. We usually cook. I use the term “we” loosely, since I generally just watch, help cut things up, or distract the chef at inopportune moments. Michael loves to cook, I love to eat—it’s a marriage made in heaven.
This morning I decided that I’d surprise Michael and cook dinner by myself. I chose a recipe for pasta with roasted cauliflower and prosciutto that our younger daughter, Kate, sent us, saying it was “divine—so fresh and yummy tasting.” The good thing for me was that it didn’t look horribly difficult, so I made my shopping list and headed for the farmers market at Campo de’ Fiori.
I’d seen cauliflower in the farmers market last week, and, sure enough, one stall had some. I bought it (it was huge and weighed a ton!) and some spinach from that stall and cherry tomatoes from another stall. Some stalls have small bunches of herbs sometimes. I could find only one stall with herbs today, but I didn’t see any sage. I asked the vendor if he had sage, and he said, “Huh?” Somehow the Italian word for sage popped into my head, and I said, “Salvia.” He asked whether I wanted a sprig or a plant, and I said either. The vendors huddled to discuss my request. One walked out to where I was standing in the middle of the herbs and looked everywhere I had looked. No salvia. (I already knew that.) He shrugged and said, “Domani” (tomorrow) and walked off. I shrugged and thought, “Well, darn. I’ll have to use dried sage.” Suddenly one of the other vendors spoke to him and he started back toward me. He picked up one of the cartons of herbs, and, behold! A single salvia plant appeared in the carton below. “Quanto costa?” said I. “Tre euro,” said the vendor. Sold!
So now, in addition to sage for our pasta tonight, I have my first plant for our someday herb window box. I’ll have to go to the market early one morning and see if that stall sells other herb plants. We had sage in our herb garden in Nellysford, and it’s one of my favorite flavors. If you have Mark Bitman’s How to Cook Everything, you can find a wonderful and simple recipe for pasta with butter, sage, and Parmesan cheese—one of our favorites, especially with homemade pasta. If you don’t have the Bitman cookbook, you can find the recipe on the web. We’ve already made sage pasta here in Rome. Yum!
Anyway, I then walked to the grocery store to get prosciutto and a few other things and dragged all of my purchases home. On my way down Via Giulia, I stopped at a bar to get some lunch. They had only a few panini (sandwiches) left, and I bought one with prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan on bread that I’d never seen before in Italy. It was good, but give me a panino on white pizza dough any day.
So here’s my pasta. We agree with Kate: divine!