I have a confession to make: I haven’t dated in a long while. This November will be the ninth anniversary since the last time I met someone who might have turned out differently.
The reasons for the hiatus are many, but they all stem from the same place. I used to meet guys who were coming off from having broken up with their latest boyfriends, or who weren’t interested in someone who looked younger than his years, or who weren’t attracted to someone who was a thirty-something, or who preferred more mentally- or emotionally-’mature’ individuals. After having been told ‘no’ enough times, I pretty much just focused on my own life and stopped looking. Occasionally I’d get curious about the possibilities of meeting someone, go to a social mixer or two, but those opportunities didn’t really pan out as I’d hoped.
This time, things may be slightly different. It appears I’ve “met” someone … and we’ve been talking for a few months now. Later this year … in mid-autumn, I’ll have met him in the flesh for the first time. I don’t have any expectations other than seeing how everything plays out. After all, the destination isn’t as important as much as the journey.
If you’d told me a few years ago that long-distance-dating might be a possibility, I’d have laughed in your face. Though in retrospect, if it turns out that you’re attracted to men who happen to live halfway across the country, or maybe on the West Coast or even a few states away, perhaps the universe is telling me something and I should pay attention, eh?
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There are few things in this world that are as magical and beautiful as onions that have been slow-cooked in olive oil.
Thinly sliced onions that have been cooked in gently warmed olive oil over medium-low heat are slowly transformed into a sweetly luscious condiment that packs a flavorful wallop in each delicious spoonful.
Spaghetti con acciughe e pangrattato, otherwise known as spaghetti with anchovies and breadcrumbs.
This version contains slow-cooked onion instead of the usual garlic, in addition to bread crumbs from a loaf of bread I baked from scratch a few weeks ago. As pasta dishes go, it’s fairly elemental; the ingredients consist of nothing more than anchovies, onions, parsley, olive oil, bread crumbs, spaghetti, salt and a small pinch of red chile flakes. A bowl of this and a glass of red wine equals a dinner made in heaven.
2 large yellow onions, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
a small pinch of dried red chile pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley + one tablespoon chopped parsley, reserved for garnish
sea salt, to taste
extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish
Gently warm two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until it shimmers slightly, about 1 minute. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onions become golden brown. Transfer the onions to a small bowl and set aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the spaghetti according to package directions. (Ideally, the pasta should be started towards the last 5 minutes of cooking the onions.) Cook the spaghetti until it becomes al dente. Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Set aside.
Add the anchovies directly to the same pan that was used to cook the onions. There should still be a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan. Mash the anchovies with the back of a wooden spoon; they should disintegrate in the hot oil after about a few seconds. Return the onions to the pan and raise the heat to medium. Stir in half of the bread crumbs, the red chile pepper flakes and the parsley. Let the mixture sit for about 30 seconds. If the mixture seems too dry, add reserved pasta cooking water tablespoon by tablespoon until a light sauce is formed. Let the sauce reduce for about a minute, taste for salt, then add the pasta directly to the pan. Toss to ensure that the pasta is thoroughly coated with the sauce. Let the pasta absorb the sauce for about a minute more, then remove from heat. Fold in the remaining breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with parsley, drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the pasta and serve at once.