Pop Quiz

I think we are way overdue for another edition of Wax-On, Wax-Off, don’t you? You know the concept, right: Once you learn how to cook something without using a recipe, you are more inclined to cook it. So taking everything you know about pasta (you can use this really helpful primer from Bon App to refresh yourself), take a look at the ingredients on the cutting board above, and maybe, if you’re a by-the-book, stick-to-the-recipe-kind of cook, try winging it tonight instead.

And of course, let me know what you come back with.

Pictured above are all the makings of an easy 20-minute dinner: Pappardelle, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, goat cheese, shallots. (Olive oil, salt, and pepper not shown.)

The mushrooms are maitake (aka hen-of-the-woods) that I picked up at the farmer’s market, but you can sub in your favorite mushrooms if maitakes are a tall order. You can also replace the pappardelle with fettucini and the goat cheese with Parm or Pecorino. The point is: Have fun, improvise, and if you screw up  — who cares?

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Filed under: Dinner, Vegetarian

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I have to say first that I love your blog. This is how I ways cook. I look in the fridge and the pantry, see what’s available and cook from ingredients. My Dad cooks this way and I learned to cook from watching him as a child. I would love to create a recipe with these ingredients but I’m nursing my little guy and he’s allergic to dairy and eggs. I would make a kick-ass spicy mushroom pasta dish!


Funny, I just did this today! I was craving pasta, and was this close to taking myself out to lunch to get some, but then I thought about the veggies I had leftover from dinner last night and the hunk of buffalo mozzarella in the fridge. I absolutely loved that Bon Appetit primer and think about it whenever I make pasta now. Followed their steps, and threw it all together for a delicious pasta that fulfilled my craving perfectly! And (kinda) for free, so I didn’t need to buy anything else.


i know what i might sub, but am interested in what you’d use for someone who can’t stand mushrooms (e.g. me)


I came up with a shallot, bacon, shredded brussel sprout, goat and pecorino cheese pasta based completely on what was lingering in my fridge. Not perfect, but got a few “yum”s from my family!