Posts tagged: pasta recipes
September 3, 2012

Late-Summer Zucchini with Spaghetti, Walnuts and Herbs

I always love the what to do with all this zucchini?!!? hysteria that happens in August and stretches through the first bright days of September. I find the predictability of this annual quandary comforting: here we are again, once again.

This year, my go-to zucchini solution came from the one cookbook I allowed myself to take with me to Massachusetts for the month of August. Simple food was just what I wanted to cook during those long evenings, and simple food was just what I carried in glass tupperware over to my sister’s third-floor apartment most nights. The best and easiest grilled chicken, a quinoa salad so good it was requested a second time. Simple became the guiding principle of the month. The pleasures were simple (bike rides, ice cream cones, swimming holes), the rhythm was simple (wake-write-work-ride-cook-sleep), my role as a dinner-delivering mother’s helper was simple and all the sweeter for it. It was the first time in a long time I can remember feeling truly needed. And so I unloaded the dishwasher and held the baby during bathroom breaks and watched House Hunters late into the night with a kind of joyful purpose I haven’t ever felt. It was simple.

And this recipe, while perhaps not quite as sweet and simple as two sisters sitting in easy chairs with a newborn passed between them, is one I’ll return to. Just like I hope I get back to the evening nook in that third-floor apartment, clearing the empty plates off the table, depositing them in the dishwasher, and quietly closing the door behind me just before midnight.

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July 27, 2012

A Favorite Recipe and Some List-Making

Months ago, when nothing in this world could excite me more than asparagus, a riff on what you see above was my favorite spring dinner. At least once a week, I would buy a bundle of fat asparagus spears not knowing what I would do with it back at home. Often enough, it was this recipe, which comes together in moments. And now, by thinking of it as a template dinner, it’s become my favorite summer dinner for rushed evenings. This meal is a sweet marriage of pantry staples and fresh vegetables, and it’s reason enough for me to start keeping ricotta in the fridge.

And what, like asparagus, is exciting me these days? Tomatoes and cherries. My new bike. Cracking the spine on Freedom, loaned to me from a friend’s shelf. And also the idea floated to me the other night. I was talking about my recent resistance to gratitude, how sometimes we can say the things we’re grateful for and hear the words coming out of our mouths and still not feel the true weight of it in our bones. Fake it till you make it, some might say. But this particular friend of mine has a knack for giving all feelings––the sweet, joyful ones and the equally icky ones––room to breathe. And because I’m usually so drawn to fixes, her reminder to simply give what’s there the space to be gives me a kind of relaxed breathing room, too.

I made two lists the other day. The first, Things I Care About. The second, Things I Don’t. I was enormously entertained by the latter, which felt like throwing an ex-lover’s clothes out the window (or so I imagine). It’s a fun exercise, and one that I got Sebastian to join in the other night after dinner when our plates sat eaten clean on the coffee table. It’s amazing how much of what we don’t care about can find its way into our daily lives, creeping like a wall-climbing vine over a window. (And this from a woman who claims not to care about celebrities yet has a tabloid sitting on her bedside table next to said copy of Freedom.) But once you’ve made those lists, you can get right down to the important part: how can I get more of this first list into my day to day?

Cooking for people I love and sitting down at the table with them is on that first list. This recipe will get us part of the way there.

Happy weekend, friends. Feel free to cast off your Things I Don’t Care About in the comments. Trust me, it’s fun.

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November 17, 2011

Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Kasseri

We have not been cooking much lately. In the new age of Choose Two, a home-cooked dinner seems to be getting the short end of the stick. And, as always, I have my plans about how I will overcome: saved online shopping lists, visual inspiration of quick weeknight meals. I’m still feeling my way. But a benefit of the Choose Two era is that I’m learning to let go of any associated guilt.

So with minimal cooking going on, coming back to the same recipe twice in two weeks feels all the more meaningful. This dinner was an out-of-the park triumph.

It’s a recipe that’s familiar in its bolognese-like construction, but with unique ingredient substitutes: lamb for ground beef, kasseri (a Greek sheep’s milk cheese) for Parmesan, cilantro for parsley. (And then there’s cumin and cinnamon, oh my!) The result is heaven: an unexpected, utterly surprising explosion of flavor. On a weeknight!

Is there a weeknight recipe you’ve stumbled upon lately that’s knocked your socks off? I need additions to my inspiration file!

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May 23, 2011

Penne with Charred Tomatoes and Hummus (and Taking One Small Step)

You know what I love? That by putting it out there––I am feeling overwhelmed––a chorus of voices rose up in response. Online and off, friends said, “I’m in that same ‘spread thin,’ place.” And while I would prefer for us all to be sipping pink lemonade and playing with puppies, isn’t it comforting to hear that other people get in that place and how they get through it? It reminded me of another truth in life: talking about what’s bothering us––even the worst, most terrible thing–– normalizes it. Keeping quiet can let the problem seep and multiply. But bring it into the light, and we can see it for what it is, and maybe even find the way out.

Take this: I was listing my many complaints to a friend. I wanted to know how and when my life would transform from its parade of stress and takeout food and into equilibrium and equanimity. “One day,” she said, “you might just make one small, tiny choice that reconnects you with that balanced place. Like taking a walk.” Or waking up one morning with enough time to post something on your blog, even if it’s a ramble, because you miss it dreadfully.

So remember that: when you are in the thick of it, in the weeds, and feeling spread thin, there will come a moment when you make the choice to do something small. You won’t be shoving your life into a box of what you think it should be. It will come naturally, my friend said, because you can’t bear to be without it any longer: a deep, mindful breath, a call to a friend, a sun salutation. That one choice might not push you off from the bottom of the deep-end back to the surface. It might not set everything right. But you will have a least given yourself a moment to connect with what makes you feel centered. And it just might do you a world of good.

I recommend this recipe as a potential small choice. It comes together mighty quick with many ingredients you likely already have at home, but it’s got about 40 different vibrant flavors going on that could make your Monday night bowl of pasta a little bit more exciting.

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