Last Sunday, everyone seemed to be out of town or otherwise
busy, so it was only Dave, Steve, and I for dinner. I didn't
want to waste anything too elaborate on such a small crowd so I
resorted to two of my favorite fast things -- pasta and
pressure cooker.

For the pasta, I quickened thing even further by making
Linguini Puttanesca. Puttanesca is the Italian word for
prostitute and the dish is reputed to be one that is easy to
make quickly by "working" girls, owing I think to the strong
flavors which don't take all day to bring out with simmering.

Saute a half onion, chopped, and four or five minced garlic
cloves in a little olive oil. Add

a teaspoon crushed red pepper
a big handful of chopped parsley
a 14 ounce can of tomato sauce or chopped or crushed tomatoes
a dozen pitted, halved Greek or other Mediterranean olives
a few tablespoons drained bottled capers

Simmer for a little while -- as little as 20 minutes -- and
serve over a pound of spaghetti, linguini, or fettucini, with
fresh parmesan. Authentically, you should have added 4-6
anchovy fillets, minced, but I didn't. Also authentically, you
should use more olive oil, like a third of a cup, but I didn't.
Use whatever canned tomato product you like. I do it
differently every time, depending on what I have in the

It's easy to pit the olives if you smush them with the side of
a knife, or used the bottom of the can. Then the pit should
just peel right out and you can halve the olive with your
fingers. I used to cut a circle around the olives with a knife
and try to peel the meat off and it was terribly tedious.

For the pressure cooker part, I made a recipe I like from
_Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure_ by Lorna Sass. It's
Tarragon Cabbage and Potatoes; adapt for a regular pot as you
see fit.

Saute 1 cup thinly sliced leeks in the cooker in 2 teaspoons
olive oil for a minute. Add 1 cup water (stand back). Layer
1.5 pounds shredded cabbage (one head?), 1 pound potatoes,
peeled and diced in 1/2 inch pieces, and one 14 ounce can
chopped tomatoes (not sauce or crushed or pureed because you
want the bigger pieces.) Sprinkle 2 teaspoons tarragon and 1
teaspoon salt on top. Pressure cook on high for three minutes,
then lower the pressure with quick release. Stir and let stand
for 20 minutes. You can serve it as soup immediately but the
20 minutes lets it thicken up better and you can eat it on a
plate. It sounds simple, but it's really delicious.