Our solution is to start opening cupboards and fridge, pulling out those staples, hopefully present for times such as this. Things you love and shouldn't be without; Parmigiano Reggiano, anchovies, olives, capers, garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes (canned or fresh) and pasta. Then, you add a bit of something to make it your own. Substitutions are allowed. Free expression and all that.
In my case, additions would be a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs, chopped parsley for color and freshness, and some lovely preserved lemon mixed in to offset the anchovies. Also, using a quinoa spaghetti makes it gluten free. Though this is one meal you shouldn't have to go shopping to make. Use what you have on hand. It should be full of "broke da mouth" (local Hawaiian expression) flavor.
1/2 lb. box spaghetti
1 lb. tomatoes, canned or fresh (whole, sauce, crushed, or diced)
1/2 onion, chopped
olive oil as needed
2 tablespoons capers (more or less as desired)
1/2 cup olives, sliced
4-6 whole anchovies, chopped
1/2 teaspoon (or less) red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Definitely do your mise en place for this one. Get everything out, chopped and ready to go, for a whiz bang quick meal. Plenty of water boiling, dump in pasta. I just can't resist that onion, sauteed in olive oil for a start, though it isn't absolutely necessary. Then, everything but the cheese, breadcrumbs and parsley get simmered together a bit while your noodles cook.
Add the drained spaghetti, some pasta water, a drizzle of olive oil, and the cheese. Toss together and sprinkle on the breadcrumbs and parsley, if you're adding.
This will for sure wake up your taste buds, improve a dull day, change a bad attitude, or all of the above. It's my pasta for the week, going over to Bellini Valli of More Than Burnt Toast, our current host for Presto Pasta Nights, an event begun and maintained faithfully by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast. More fabulous pasta meals than you could shake a stick at.