The only original recipe I ever made up out of thin air: Ravioli Puttanesque.
Fresh cheese-filled ravioli or tortellini from the refrigerator case, 1 package
Three small very ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse
Fresh basil, chopped coarse
Olives - kalamata and provencal - a handful of each, pitted and chopped medium coarse
Fresh mushrooms, not white, preferably crimini or some kind of assortment
Fresh garlic, chopped fine
A little chicken stock, maybe 1/3-1/2 cup
Parmesan, the real thing, grated
Chop up everything. Sautee the garlic in olive oil until it's fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and sautee until they soften a little--not too hot or too long, because garlic gets bitter when it's burnt. Add the tomatoes, basil, olives, and stock. Heat this until it's just warm; don't boil it or the tomatoes will fall apart.
Meanwhile, boil the pasta according to the package directions, which will probably be about 3 minutes.
Serve the sauce on the pasta and top it with the Parmesan. The liquid in the sauce will be thin and there will just be a little bit on the bottom of each pasta bowl to keep the rest wet.
Some bread on the side is nice. The wine should be a light red, preferably more Old World-style and austere rather than a fruit bomb.
This recipe is really nothing like Puttanesca, or 'Roman whore's pasta', which consists entirely of canned food. No. I came up with this recipe while we were wandering through a wine store with a bottle we wanted to try, but not knowing what we could eat with it. So I made it up.
More generally, this points out that most of what we think of as creativity is really appropriation. As we go through our lives, we see things and realize they would have a different meaning in some other context. That leap is creative, even though arguably nothing new is being created. I cook three or four times a week (my wife also cooks) but this is the only recipe I've ever dreamed up from scratch. Does that mean that my other 199 recipes aren't creative? It's the little improvisations, the accomodations we have to do to adapt a recipe to our kitchen, that are the expressions of our creativity.