Sometimes the best meals happen on the spur of the moment. I came home today with no plans for dinner, but with a lovely loaf of ciabatta bread. I was inspired to buy this bread after seeing Ina Garten make garlic bread with ciabatta on her Barefoot Contessa program not too long ago. When I told my dad that I wanted to make garlic bread, he suggested spaghetti marinara. Sounded good to me! Dad went out to buy some marinara mix, and I started working on dinner.
For the pasta sauce, I sautéed finely chopped onion and garlic in olive oil, then added a tin of chopped tomatoes and let them simmer slowly until thickened. I let it sit on the stove, and when Dad came home I stirred in the marinara mix until it cooked - about 4 minutes. Whilst it simmered, I cooked the pasta (fettucine was all we had in the pantry) and prepared the garlic bread. Ina's exact recipe is here, but here is a rough set of instructions:
Take one loaf of ciabatta and slice it in half lengthways...
Sautée finely chopped garlic and parsley in good olive oil... (you can imagine how good this smells!)
Spread the mixture on one of the slices.
Spread butter on the other side. Reassemble the loaf, cover in foil, and bake in a moderate oven for 5 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 5 minutes to crisp it up. Slice into chunky fingers.
Then it was simply a case of tossing the cooked pasta with the sauce, and scattering some chopped parsley over. Ta-dah! Dinner was done. Easy and delicious! It only took about 30 minutes all up. Even without a recipe, the pasta turned out really well (and I almost never cook without a recipe). Lucky. I loved Ina's garlic bread, and highly recommend it as a tasty accompaniment that's a little bit different from the usual.