It's easy to cook for someone from the same cultural background as you. My boyfriend, P., is basically a meat and potatoes guy. But thanks to spending the first 13 years of his life in Uzbekistan, the former Soviet republic, he knows all about Russian food. Kasha? He was practically weaned on that stuff. Tvorog? A wonderful midnight snack. Beet salad? I want some more, please. How often do you find a big guy's guy who happily eats cabbage and beef aspic?
Unfortunately, P.'s palate is too russified for some popular American foods. Namely pasta, but especially any kind of veggie-sauce pasta, which he says is food for "girls on diets." (Dried pasta gets no respect in Russian cooking. One cookbook I own advises boiling it for 25 minutes.) I love girlie pasta and that's what I often make when I find myself eating on my own. Today's lunch wasn't technically a pasta dish, but it's good with any kind of noodle.
Slice a bunch of zucchini and yellow squash (I used two of each) into 1/4 inch rounds. In batches, sauté in olive oil for a little while until the vegetables soften. Spread the veggies in a casserole dish with a couple of minced and sautéed garlic cloves. Top with some good tomato sauce. I didn't have any sauce so I used halved cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle the whole thing with grated mozzarella--you judge how much is enough--and Parmesan. Bake in a 425-degree oven until the cheese is slightly browned.
Appropriate sides are good bread or new potatoes, but I ate this with linguine, pouring the zucchini-olive oil-tomato juices on top. This is really late summer food and I hope that I'll be eating it by the panful in August.