"Cherry Tomatoes" by Sandra Beasley + Pasta al Pomodoro

I remember the evening well. I was sitting with my parents and boyfriend on the shaded patio of an Italian restaurant in Santa Barbara. This was one of those "let's take you out to dinner to be sure you're eating well" meals parents often take their children to when they're still in college. By this time I had been cooking for myself out of necessity for at least a year, but wasn't the most adventurous when it came to trying new dishes. When I scanned a menu, once my eye paused on Pasta al Pomodoro, the decision was made. But this particular evening, I couldn't shake the price. Although I wasn't paying for it, fourteen dollars for a bowl seemed somewhat unreasonable considering I could buy a bag of spaghetti, two pounds of tomatoes, some basil and cheese for less than $10 and have multiple servings. Suddenly, my mentality shifted as I began to realize that my favorite restaurant meals were achievable in my own kitchen.