With her mac and cheese in the oven, the cook preps ingredients for her favorite salad, which reminds her to mention the new, six-week, 11-vendor farmers market held Wednesday afternoons in front of Healy Hall. Imondi would like its customer base to stay strong; the fall market, whose season ends today, is underwritten by student-run groups at GU and managed by students. “I love fresh produce. This makes it so much easier than getting up to the [Georgetown] Safeway,” she says.
Her lightweight plastic-handled knife, from a set her mother won, ka-chinks against a textured-glass cutting board. Cherry tomatoes, basil, baguette and mozzarella are dispatched with care. Utensils, pots and pans are few in number, the kind you wouldn’t mind leaving behind by senior year.
Imondi’s kitchen skills date to high school days, when her mom asked her two daughters to help get weeknight meals on the table. “When I started cooking, I was all about sticking to recipes. Now I’ve learned to tailor them. If I don’t have spices or something else on hand, I’ll leave them out or use what I do have.”
She learned to rub cut garlic on bread in Florence, when she lived with an Italian family during her study abroad last spring. That was about the extent of any cucina lessons, however. “It was fun watching this Italian mama. She made it look so easy. But she moved too fast and didn’t measure a thing,” Imondi says. “We ate a different second course every night: veal, turkey, chicken, rabbit.”
Soon, the room-filling scent of cut basil and roasted tomatoes signals that the salad is ready to come together, except Imondi can find no receptacle large enough to handle the job. At a moment of impasse, neighbors from across the path in Village A walk by Imondi’s open door.
She darts out: “Hey, do you have a bowl I could borrow?”
A minute or two later, her roasted caprese panzanella is ready for sampling and for its close-up.
“See,” she says. “It always really works out. So dig in.”
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Caprese Panzanella Salad
Do you have questions about college cooking? Imondi will join today’s Free Range chat at noon: live.washingtonpost.com.