How To Make a Pasta Casserole Out of Thin Air, Leftovers, and Love — Cook Like Jazz

In cooking there are few dishes that lend themselves to what cooks wistfully wish after, which is cooking without a recipe. The romantic cook in us all wishes to cook like a grandma or a trained chef — by sense and feel and grasping after a taste you know you can achieve through instinct alone.

But cooking like that doesn’t come out of thin air. You learn it like jazz, memorizing a pile of old standards to then riff and play and tinker in your own voice until making something old feels so new that it is yours.

Soup and stew are like this; learn a few formulas and you can soup on forever without cracking a book. But there are so many other dishes as well, and pasta casserole is perhaps my favorite of all.