Dinner at Home

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Guest at the Table: Andrea Speed, author of the Infected Series, with Vegetarian Puttanesca

Thanks for having me today, Rick. Food doesn’t play a huge part in the Infected universe, but then again, it sort of does. Roan has to eat lots of food after shifts, since it sends his metabolism haywire, and while he’s a meat eater, Dylan, his significant other, is very much a vegetarian, and also the better cook of the two. There isn’t much conflict over this, because Dylan doesn’t care if Roan eats meat, and Roan doesn’t care that Dylan is trying to make him eat more vegetarian fare. They’ve worked it out. (And, if left to his own devices, Roan would eat nothing but takeout.) 

Here is where today’s recipe is from, in Infected: Freefall  -

Excerpt from Infected: Freefall
From the stairs he glanced down at his television and saw that Dylan was watching Doctor Who as he cooked. Roan was nearly at the base of the stairs when Dylan finally noticed him. “Hey, should you be out of bed?”

“I was shot in the hand. I’m not an invalid. If I play my cards right, I won’t even have a limp.”

Dylan gave him a warning frown, tearing a sheet of aluminum foil off the roll. “You must feel better. You’re back to being a smart-ass.”

“Hard to keep a good smart-ass down.” As he entered the kitchen and went to the fridge, he saw a couple of pans on the stove, steaming away. He’d almost forgotten he had pans like that. “Smells great. What is it?”

“Penne alla puttanesca.”

“Wow, I love puttanesca sauce.”

“I know, that’s why I made it. It’s ready if you’re hungry.”

Roan pulled an old Gatorade bottle from the back of the shelf and gulped it down. It was disgusting, but he had to admit he felt a little less logy afterwards. And as disgusting as it was, he drank it all. He had to get his fluid levels back up; he probably hadn’t lost that much blood, but he was bleeding pretty good there for a while. “Yeah, I guess I am, thanks.” He paused for a moment. “Doesn’t puttanesca sauce have anchovies in it?”

“Mine doesn’t.”

“That’s what I thought.”

Roan got a plate down from the cupboard—at least he remembered where they were—and helped himself to a ladle full of pasta (whole wheat, of course, and probably organic; he was dating a hippie) and sauce, which were in separate pans. The sauce smelled really good, anchovies be damned.


This is a variation on the recipe I found here: http://easylifecooking.com/vegetarian-penne-alla-puttanesca.html  I'm big on modifying recipes to suit your own taste, and I've done that here by adding a bell pepper, mushrooms, and thyme,  giving a small boost to the red pepper flakes, and omitting orange juice (not sure why that was in the original recipe). I've also included the textured protein variation, where you add some meat substitute. Not everyone's a fan of that, so it's just included as an option.

Dylan’s Vegetarian Penne alla Puttanesca

2 Tbs.  olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced and peeled
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper (I prefer red, but it's up to you - green or yellow might give you more of a color variation)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/3 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine (you could also use red - I won't tell)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (I like brown cremini, but you can add any kind you like)
One 28-oz. can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved
1/3 cup pitted olives, quartered (I prefer black, but you could use green, or even use a mix of green and black)
2 Tbs. capers, rinsed
8 oz.  penne pasta (or whatever pasta you like - this is good with angel hair, spaghetti, macaroni, you name it)
1/2 cup grated  Romano cheese (Or Parmasean - it's totally up to your preference)
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil
Salt & black pepper (at least a dash of each)

If you'd like, you could also add soy protein meat substitute meatballs or sausage, chopped (Morningstar Farms makes some, but so do others, such as Tofurky - again, all a matter of personal preference). Make according to their package directions, and add at the end, when assembling the dish.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushroom, oregano, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender (5 to 6 minutes). Add the wine and simmer until it has almost evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, olives, thyme, and capers. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta per package directions. (I don't need to tell you how to make pasta, do I?) Everybody has a favorite way to do it, so do that.

Pour the pasta into the pan or a separate bowl and toss with the sauce. Serve as you will, and sprinkle with cheese and parsley (or basil).

I've found this tastes even better after a day or two, or maybe that's just my perception. You may not have that many leftovers. As I said, this sauce is good on any pasta, and if you really like heat,  feel free to double the red pepper flakes, or add a bit of cayenne. Cooking is no fun if you can't modify the recipes to suit your own tastes. Have fun, experiment; remember recipes are really just guidelines, not hard and fast rules.

Blurb for Infected: Freefall

In a world where a werecat virus has changed society, Roan McKichan, a born infected and ex-cop, works as a private detective trying to solve crimes involving other infecteds.

Conceived bearing the lion strain of the virus, Roan is the only fully functioning virus child in the country—maybe in the world. But that doesn’t mean he’s okay. He’s still struggling with the death of his husband and the guilt of finding new love; his old enemy, the Church of the Divine Transformation, is becoming increasingly hostile; and he’s taken on a tragic cold case involving a long-missing boy.

As Roan fights to control the lion inside him, his world explodes with all kinds of trouble. The leader of the church is ramping up the violence against him, calling Roan out as a traitor to his kind. There’s a loose Infected terrorizing the city. And Holden, male prostitute and Roan’s unofficial assistant, brings him a case involving the suspicious death of one of Holden’s clients, which puts Roan far too close to a murderer for his state of mind....


Andrea Speed Bio
Andrea Speed was born looking for trouble in some hot month without an R in it. While succeeding in finding Trouble, she has also been found by its twin brother, Clean Up, and is now on the run, wanted for the murder of a mop and a really cute, innocent bucket that was only one day away from retirement. (I was framed, I tell you – framed!)

In her spare time, she arms lemurs in preparation for the upcoming war against the Mole Men. Viva la revolution!

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