Mom on the Run: Pasta in a pinch

Advocate staff photo by BETH COLVINMediterranean Pasta makes for a quick weeknight dish that's great for adults and kids alike. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by BETH COLVINMediterranean Pasta makes for a quick weeknight dish that's great for adults and kids alike.

Some days, cooking is an indulgence.

There’s time for reveling in the craft — the perfect dice, the fresh herbs, taking the extra step to roast the garlic first.

Time for a slow simmer, for roasting, basting and enjoying carving the perfect slice of beef or chicken. Those days are idyllic and treasures, for they are few and far between.

The title of this column is Mom on the Run and it’s not because I’m a fanatical jogger, though I might like to try it some day.

When I have time. Which would be never. Kids, husband, dogs, house, laundry, work, commuting, traffic, friends and trying to do a little something good for the community and for myself means time is scarce. Very scarce.

I do have priorities, and one of those is to provide, as best I can, a decent, wholesome supper for my family on a weeknight.

Here’s the scene: After spending roughly an hour in traffic, I pick up my daughter, who is almost immediately starving.

We still have to get home, usually with a stop at the store for milk, which my family burns through at an alarming rate, feed the pets, collect the mail and put some part of my house to rights, all while cooking dinner.

At some point, my husband will arrive and pitch in, which is nice, but he’s hungry, too. And truth be told, so am I.

It would be easy to, while at the store, grab something to-go or to stop off at a drive-through.

If I’m honest, it does come to that on occasion and I do my best not to feel guilty. Most nights, though, John and I are pressed to provide a decent meal that everyone likes in about 30 minutes.

Thanks to Advocate food columnist Julie Kay and the slow-cooker, at least one night a week this is fairly easy. Then there are the other nights.

Pasta is a great go-to, with some pantry items like black olives and artichoke hearts to make it a little more than your average weeknight dinner. It’s also flexible enough to handle whatever’s in the vegetable drawer and goes well with a little leftover chicken and whatever cheese you have on hand. It’s also both kid-friendly and can be made sophisticated enough for adult palates.

With enough of these recipes, maybe I will find that time to jog. Or not ... .

Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at bcolvin@theadvocate.com