pasta bolognese

pasta bolognese

This might not be the kind of meal you want to photograph, but it’s one certainly worth eating. I’ll tell you something that may sound pretty gross, but it’s one of the few fond memories from my childhood.

Growing up, I ate pasta. A lot. Lasagne, spaghetti and meatballs–the whole lot. And while the meal itself was exceptional, we always waited for the leftovers. We’d grease a pan with butter and add the cold pasta and fry it up. Nothing compared to the taste of a little butter in a meat sauce, how the noodles got slick and tender, and how we’d pile cheese on top. Nothing compared to pan-fried pasta, and even to this day, I still savor leftovers.

I’ve been in my new home since Wednesday and I couldn’t be happier. I hosted a guest on Friday and I made my four-hour bolognese, and my guest and I devoured two bowls.

And this weekend I had all. the. leftovers. Pan-fried, et all.

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lb ground sirloin
1/2 lb ground pork
1 yellow onion, rough chop
4 cloves garlic, rough chop
2 carrots, rough chop
2 ribs of celery hearts, rough chop
1 28-ounce can San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can organic tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
2 cups red wine (I tend to use a full-bodied Cabernet, but if you’re not down with white, simply sub in some beef stock)
6 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
3-4 tbsp of sugar, to taste (adjust based on the acidity of your tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (you can opt to use vegan butter)
1 1/2 lb penne

DIRECTIONS
In a large pot (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven), heat olive oil. Make sure you have enough to thinly coat the pan, and that your pan is searing hot. There’s nothing more criminal than boiling beef, so use a large pot and ensure that it’s scorching hot. Once you have the heat of Hades, toss in your meats, flavor with salt and pepper and stir gently with a wooden spoon to break apart the meat.

While your meat is browning (5-7 minutes), blitz your mirepoix — onion, carrots, celery — and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. It’s important that all of your veggies are roughly the same size because no one wants a huge chunk of carrot or onion in their pasta bowl. NO ONE.

After your meat has browned on all sides, deglaze the pan with the wine and add your veggie mix. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and oregano. Bring all the ingredients to a simmer and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Simmer covered for about 2-4 hours. The longer, the better, and I tend to stir the sauce every hour. When the sauce is done, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a hefty pinch of salt to the water then add your pasta. Stir and cook until al dente. Add the pasta to the sauce; be sure to save some pasta water in case you need some. If the sauce is too thick, add the water until the desired consistency.

Remove from heat. Add the butter. Drizzle each serving with some extra olive oil. DIG IN.

gluten-free meat, chicken + fish recipes pasta recipes

spaghetti with tomato and walnut pesto

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I made this dish for a friend who came over for brunch one Saturday. I greeted her, and a guy I’d hired off Task Rabbit to assemble a file cabinet (naturally they arrived at the same time), with a deafening smoke alarm from the tomatoes I’d been roasting in the oven. The three of us held up towels and magazines, trying to air out my apartment from all the smoke that had accumulated, and we ended up laughing because my cat nearly went airborne trying to flee the alarm. Good times. 

I just finished Heather Havrilesky’s excellent column collection, How to Be a Person in the World (buy it, read it, effective yesterday), and one of the Ask Polly columns resonated so deeply with me–a woman moved to a new city and struggled to make new friends. While I prefer to spend much of my time alone (I actually take solace in the quiet of my own company), I do miss the ease of my east coast friendships. The feeling that I could hop on a subway and see a friend in the middle of the day. Since I’m a consultant much of my time is spent at home, in seclusion, and while I have a set of good friends, I wouldn’t mind a slow and deliberate expansion of my circle. A loosening of a belt, if you will. And I loved how Heather talked about opening your heart in the sense that you’d be surprised how the people who remain and thrive are those whom you least suspect. It’s okay to connect with people who are not your vision of an ideal friend because we need people, and companionship, in any form, is a comfort. 

So I’m joining a few groups, took up membership at a really cool gym where the members actually socialize (who knew?) and talk to one another, and I can’t wait to have new friends over for dinner. 

DIRECTIONS: Recipe from Bon Appetit
⅔ cup walnuts
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons plus ⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped (I nixed this because fish)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces spaghetti (I used gluten-free fettucini)
½ cup (packed) basil leaves

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.
Heat broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt. Broil, tossing once, until tomatoes are blistered and have released some of their liquid, 5–7 minutes. Let cool.

Pulse anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, and ½ oz. Parmesan in a food processor until finely ground. Add walnuts and half of tomatoes, then, with motor running, stream in ⅓ cup oil; process just until combined. Season with salt. Transfer pesto to a large bowl and stir in black pepper.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid.

Transfer pasta to bowl with pesto and add a splash of pasta cooking liquid. Toss, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil and remaining tomatoes.

Divide among bowls; top with more Parmesan and black pepper and drizzle with oil.
.

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pasta bolognese

pasta bolognese

Yes, I know, another pasta recipe. Every week I make a pasta pot and alternate the hearty dishes with veggies, grains and legumes. This dish makes for 6 meals and it’s perfect for the days when you want to cuddle up with the remote, your feline and a bowl of piping hot YES.

This week was a hectic one–I met up with old friends and had a few new business calls and lunches. The leads are slowly trickling in, and although nothing has landed just yet I continue to be hopeful. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the semantics of happy, and I’m shying away from the phrase “be positive” because it feels forced. It feels as if I should cloak my real feelings with artificial ones. I don’t want the blindness of relentless positivity, rather I want to sit in what I’m going through now. Getting sober is akin to having dozens of band-aids ripped off and although the pain is searing, it’s brief. Drinking, or any form of anaesthesia only serves to prolong the inevitable. The pain is omnipresent, the circumstances in your life haven’t changed, and the only way to get beyond it is to go through it–to sit in discomfort with the knowledge that the sorrow and pain will lessen with the passage of each day.

So I don’t want to “be positive”. I grew up in the generation of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, but I want to worry when worry is warranted. Instead of engaging in blind positivity or whitewash my life with smiley faces and emoticons, I want to be realistic, honest, and hopeful.

Until my next project, there’s pasta.

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
5 small carrots or 3 medium ones
2 celery stalks
1 shallot
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 lbs of ground sirloin
1/2 tube of tomato paste (1/2 of a 4.5oz tube)
1 cup red wine (or you can also use beef stock)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or you can use whole milk)
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 lb of pasta (you can also use rice, or lentil/bean pasta or spaghetti squash)
1 cup pecorino romano cheese

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DIRECTIONS

Blitz the carrots, shallot, and celery in a food processor to a fine mince. In a large pot or saucepan, on medium heat, add the mirepoix, salt and pepper, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the beef and toss to coat the meat with the veggie mixture. Don’t fuss with the meat all that much or it’ll get overworked and grainy. Turn up the heat to high. Allow the mixture to cook until the meat browns, 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste, wine, and milk, thyme, and stir, cooking until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to low, cover, and cook for at least two hours. The sauce will reduce and thicken.

Fifteen minutes before the bolognese is done, cook your pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the drained pasta and pasta water to the bolognese. Add the pecorino cheese and toss until everything is completely coated. Serve immediately, with extra cheese, of course.

pasta bolognese

gluten-free meat, chicken + fish recipes pasta recipes

recipe: pasta with chicken + chive/parsley pesto

gluten-free pasta with chicken and chive/parsley pesto

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a recipe around these parts. In all candor, keeping up a food blog is pretty expensive and my meals as of late have been about what can be repurposed or stretched and what I can afford. I love this dish because it gives me four filling meals (especially with the lentil pasta), there’s an ocean of green on the plate and it’s delicious. Luckily, I live by a farmer’s market where the produce is inexpensive (the herbs were $1.50 each for a huge bunch!) and fresh.

INGREDIENTS
2 cups parsley, chopped
1 cup chives, chopped
1/2 cup pistachios
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 lb chicken breasts chopped into 1/2 inch cubes/strips
1 lb gluten-free pasta (or you can use this delicious lentil pasta)
Optional: 1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

DIRECTIONS
In a blender (or food processor), blitz the first seven ingredients until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Cook the pasta per the directions on your box, removing a minute early so the noodles are al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water–you’ll need this to make the sauce super creamy.

In a large non-stick skillet, add 1/2-1 tbsp olive oil, the chicken, salt, and pepper and saute until brown, 5-6 minutes.

Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the skillet along with the pesto. Mix until the chicken and noodles are complete combined. Add the reserved pasta water. Finish off with cheese, if that’s your bag. Enjoy!

chicken + fish recipes gluten-free pasta recipes

pasta with pumpkin + tomato sauce // the weight of what you carry

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I’m in this odd place. After a bewildering few weeks, I finally felt some semblance of normal. I cut my hair, ripped hair out of my face (as I’d start to resemble Chewbacca), drafted new project proposals, revised short stories I’d written, and resumed trading cat photos with my closest friends. And then yesterday happened. I couldn’t get out of bed and I felt such a wave or sorrow I crawled under the covers all day and wrote. This felt so unsettling that I made myself walk nearly five miles to Marina Del Ray to watch Room. I had the theater to myself and it was strangely wonderful to enjoy (if one could say that about Room) an exquisite, heartbreaking film. After, I felt normal. On the way home I realized I agreed with this review, that I’d just seen a misogynist movie about misogyny, and thought about all the ways we’ve internalized hating women for the choices they make. Even the most resolute feminists. I came home and it was cold and I stayed up late, seemingly happy, and made plans for today.

Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking about the concept of how we choose to share parts of ourselves online. I’ve shared much of my life (with some very definitive limits I’ve set for myself–things you will never know) on this space but lately I’m feeling the need to withdraw, because sharing drives strangers to tell me what they feel is best for me and even though the words come from a place of good, they’re words from someone who knows only one part of me–the one I’ve chosen to share online. Very people know the whole of other people–doing that not only requires a tremendous amount of vulnerability but it empowers people to know you in context, know you beyond the words you share or how you shape a story. They see beyond your shape.

My friend Amber (who’s the kind of beautiful friend who checks in on me daily and I love her for it) shared this post today and much of it resonated, specifically this:

Another thing I’ve learned about friendship is that you will often be surprised by who shows up for you and who doesn’t. Sometimes, the people you show up and show up and show up for let you down. And sometimes they show up and show up and show up for you and you let them down. And sometimes the people you’ve blown off or that you would blow off if given the opportunity are the first to show up for you.

Geography has a way of letting you know which of your friends are willing to put in the work, or which friendships devolve into the passive catch-up game on Facebook. I read your status update and blog post, hence I know what’s going on in your life. The kind of friendships you scroll through but never exist in a more profound way. Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve found comfort from people whom I least expected. New friends and old who’ve been through what I’m going through or they’re good at navigating sorrow. They don’t try to “fix me”, rather they just listen. The say, what can I do? They ask, how can I help? Sometimes they don’t say anything at all but they pick me up at my apartment and walk around Santa Monica and let me talk about everything but my sadness because my sadness has been the only thing I’ve been thinking about. Or they invite me to their home, cook me dinner and give me a list of things I need in the event of a zombie invasion. I laugh on the car ride home and think the world is filled with good, beautiful people and happiness is something worth fighting for. I wake to hope because reading this makes me feel like I’m not crazy.

So I’m doing this most annoying thing ever–I’m writing a winded blog post about what I’m not going to talk about. I’m in an odd place and every time I’ve attempted to blog I struggle with not wanting to talk about what I’m going through and finding something else to say. I’m finding a way to talk around this that’s honest because I only want to publish something on this space because it means something to me. I’m not here for the filler. I’m not beholden to anyone but myself. I don’t care what people think of me. While this vague and very nebulous sadness weighs heavy (and will be resolved, offline), I’m also surprised at the rate in which I’ve been able to produce new work. Amidst all this stuff, I’ve been writing non-stop. I’m working on a mixed-media story collection tentatively titled, Women in Salt, and these are stories about women in and out of peril, in various states of disquiet and unrest. I’ve living off savings at the moment and I’ve been spending money in commissioning custom illustrations and photography for the pieces I’ve written–all in an effort to add a visual layer. I also want to include short commissioned films throughout (10-15 seconds) so you feel these characters as if they’re matryoshka dolls–the varying media forms reveal layers within the story.

I published this short piece on Medium today, and who knows if anyone’s reading these stories or if anyone cares. Yet there’s one truth that is a certainty to which I need to hold on–this work is giving me joy amidst a disquiet I can’t logically explain. While my consulting proposals sit in inboxes this work gets me up in the morning. This work makes me want to care for the person in disquiet.

So there you have it. What I’ll talk about (everything but the elephant in the room), what I won’t talk about (this sadness and my journey through it), this new project, and lunch thrown in for good measure. I never said this was going to be neat and tidy. But it’ll be honest.

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
2 tbsp of the reserved olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
4 sage leaves
1 tsp salt/1 tsp pepper
1 15oz can pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cups crushed red tomatoes
4 cups of chicken stock
Salt/pepper to taste
1 lb gluten free pasta
1 lb ground sirloin
1 cup pecorino romano cheese

DIRECTIONS
I was inspired to make this dish based on a soup I made last year, which was surprisingly delicious. It may sound bizarre to mix pumpkin and tomato, but I assure you that the combo yields such a superb depth of flavor. Just make sure you use pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie mix–they’re often shelved alongside one another during the holiday season so be careful as you don’t want your pasta to taste like pie…well, unless you’re into that sort of thing.

In a large pot, add the sundried tomatoes, reserve oil, garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, and sage leaves and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add the pumpkin, tomatoes, chicken stock and stir until completely combined. Let it simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Blend the mixture with an immersion blender or in a standard blender. Allow the sauce to simmer on low, and if you need to thin out the mixture, add chicken stock.

In a large pot with salted water cook your pasta to al dente based on the package directions. I chose a gluten-free rigatoni, however, you can use any kind of pasta (linguine, fettucini, penne, etc). While the pasta is cooking, fry up the sirloin in a large skillet on medium/high heat. Over the years, I’ve learned a sage lesson about browning meat–don’t mess with it. Add the meat to the hot pan, break up a little with a wooden spoon and let cook for 4-5 minutes before you break down the meat so it cooks completely. If you keep futzing with your beef, you’ll overwork it and it’ll get mealy.

When the meat is done, ladle in the sauce, drain and add the pasta. Add salt, pepper, and pecorino cheese and serve immediately!

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pasta recipes

pasta milano: savory, simple + delicious

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Believe me when I say that this is one of the days where I don’t want to leave the house. Right now I’m content with streaming episodes of The Twilight Zone and preparing my lunch for the week. The benefit of an Odyssean work commute and an office park where one has to drive to the nearest Starbucks, is the need to bring your own lunch. This necessity prevents me from ordering a daily slew of garbage. This necessity makes it imperative that I potter about the kitchen on Sundays, filling plastic containers with fresh food, salads and a little sweet.

On deck this week is a little pasta milano. I have to say that out of all the cookbooks I’ve purchased while in Australia, hers has proven to be a star. There’s no real flash in this book, rather, Janelle Bloom offers a steady stream of meals that are simple to make and satisfy the palate. From fried chicken to protein-packed salads and quick fixes (free-form Bolognese pie and Turkish pockets stuffed with spinach and feta), I’m excited to cook my way through the book and share my finds with you.

So this week you’ll find me munching on pasta, sipping on my green smoothies, and savoring homemade cookies.

INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Janelle Bloom’s Fast Fresh & Fabulous, with significant modifications*
500g (1 lb, 4 links) chorizo
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken (or beef) stock
400g (1lb) pasta
1/4 cup mascarpone
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
50g pecorino romano cheese (1/2 cup), grated

*Cook’s Notes: The recipe called for an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream, which I eliminated. I also dialed up the shallots and chili flakes and used homemade tomato sauce I had on hand. I also used chorizo sausage instead of Italian sweet sausage.

DIRECTIONS
Using a sharp knife, remove the sausages from their casings. Roughly chop the sausage meat and set aside.

Heat oil in a large frying pan (or a cast-iron skillet) over medium heat. Add the shallots, with a touch of salt, and allow them to cook until lightly golden (3-5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to high, and add the sausage meat to the pan, cooking the meat for 4-5 minutes, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring, for one minute.

Stir in the tomato sauce and stock. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly. While the meat is cooking, cook pasta until al dente. Drain and return to the saucepan.

Combine the mascarpone and parsley and stir into the meat sauce. Add the pasta and pecorino cheese to the meat sauce and stir over heat until well combined. Season with salt, pepper and serve.

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pasta recipes savory recipes

on the comeback tour: pasta with chorizo

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In economics and finance, arbitrage /ˈɑrbɨtrɑːʒ/ is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.

This morning I woke wondering what my life would have been had I remained in banking. Would I have secured a very elegant apartment with walls festooned with the right paintings? Would I have my gabardine suits tailored, and would my only priority be how much money I made? Would I be married and as thin as I was all those years back — a wisp of a thing, so thin that people whispered, had begun to worry. Had wondered why I spent my days drinking without a plate in sight. Would I break my father’s heart because the one thing he asked me to do — don’t ever let me see you drunk — is the one thing I would continually do?

Would I be the sort of person who is what she goes after?

Years ago, I remember standing on the edge of Park Avenue watching two buildings tumble to the ground. I’d long since left corporate finance, and I thought about what my life would have been had I push through a set of revolving doors, swiped my card, adjusting my skirt and shot up forty-two floors from the ground. Had I remained at Morgan Stanley, would have I been the woman I am now, privileged to type these words from the comfort of a home that took so long to build. A home missing one cat, but slowly, slowly, ready for something more.

Seeing my father this weekend reminded me of the life that I need to be living. This year I made a tremendous leap of faith — I walked away from being uncomfortably comfortable — in search of something other. A life of my own making and design. A life where I can book a trip to Fiji while spending the days prior with projections, marketing plans, and organizational roadmaps. Sixteen years of slouching through my days, doing what everyone before had done, but better, and now there’s all this uncertainty. There’s all this quiet.

My father reminded me that sorrow and uncertainty are the things that one needs to live through. I need to wake up, create a routine, write, build, break, love, hurt, dream, cry, leap, fly, shoulder, utter.

I’m crawling my way out of the dark, and here is the light: silver, gleaming and white. This is me, trying to architect balance. Trying to find something between the collision of two worlds.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit, slightly modified
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small shallots, chopped
3/4 lb. fresh Mexican chorizo or hot Italian sausage, casings removed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
12 oz small dried pasta
Kosher salt, cracked pepper to taste
Finely grated pecorino romano cheese + lemon zest for serving

DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo; cook, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes.

Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook, stirring, until paste darkens, about 1 minute. Add broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 15–20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce. Cook, stirring and adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes.

Serve pasta topped with parsley, if using, pecorino romano, and lemon zest. Salt + pepper, to taste.

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pasta recipes savory recipes

seeking comfort from arugula pesto

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When you’re under the weather {I’ve always wondered about this term and its origin. Could someone possibly be over the weather? I digress}, the only thing that’s not cumbersome is simple comfort food. For the past two days I’ve succumbed to the infectious plague that has become New York, and I’ve taken to my apartment, sustaining on green juices, tea and fresh pasta — in between chugs of DayQuil, naturally. Because, quite frankly, the idea of cooking anything complicated is inconceivable.

So I invite you to serve up this peppery version of the basil classic, and hope that I’ll be soaring over the weather come this weekend.

INGREDIENTS
8 oz fresh pasta (I oped for a tagliatelle, but you can use fettucini, linguine, etc)
3 oz washed + dried arugula leaves
1 large clove garlic
2 tbsp pecorino romano cheese
1 1/2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
1-2 tsp of the reserve pasta water

DIRECTIONS
Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Your pasta water should be briny, much like the ocean, but don’t overdue it as fresh pasta absorbs more salt than dried. I tend to put 1-2 tsp of salt into my water. While the water is coming to a boil, blitz the arugula, garlic, cheese, toasted pine nuts, salt and pepper until it’s a thick, chunky paste and then stream in the olive oil until satiny-smooth. Scrape out the pesto and add to a large serving bowl.

Once the water has come to a boil, add in the pasta and cook to al dente, 2 minutes. Reserve 2 tsp of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to your pesto and mix to combine. Add in the pasta water to thicken the sauce.

This dish serves two, so dig in or reserve for lunch the next day!

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pasta recipes savory recipes

table for one: squash + kale salad, sausage and fried sage pasta

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To be Silent; to be alone. All the being and the doing, expansive, glitter, vocal, evaporated; and one shrunk, with a sense of solemnity, to being oneself, a wedge-shaped core of darkness, something invisible to others. Although she continued to knit, and sat upright, it was thus that she felt herself; and this self having shed its attachments was free for the strangest adventures. When life sank down for a moment, the range of experience seemed limitless.To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf

I like being alone. I crave the quiet, the still and the noiseless, and while people who think they know me find themselves shocked by this, I can only say this: you don’t really know me. As an itinerant teenager in Long Island, who skirted the edges of things, who never quite fit in, I spent evenings and weekends taking buses to other parts of the North Shore. There was never really an itinerary, it was just something to do. It was a temporary escape to feel my body in motion and to be quiet and calm while frenzy surrounded me. I memorized bus routes and collected change. Walked through expansive malls that stood under a halo of fluorescent lights and kicked leaves by creeks and watched small boats cleave through the water from a harbor. Always I arrived home in the gloaming, when the evening closed in on us and the sky was an actinic blue. Back then our neighbors blasted Led Zeppelin and burned leaves in garbage cans. All I wanted to do was sit in the middle of the street, alone, witness to the passersby shivering in anoraks, watching flames lick metal.

It’s strange to think that I live in a culture that sometimes demonizes the art of being alone. Many equate alone to loneliness. Others take pity on the single-serving dinner and the chair left bare. However, sometimes, there’s nothing I need more.

After two weeks of intensive meetings, plane travel and days of talking, smiling, talking and more talking, I cancelled my Thanksgiving plans because there was nothing that made me cry out more than having to endure another day of talking. I wanted to give my vocal cords a break. I wanted a clear mind to think. A body to rest. So I can’t even tell you how much I’m enjoying my Thanksgiving, which has amounted to a spin class, a movie and batches of cookies and stalks of kale.

Whether your’re surrounded by your beloveds or spending some time in solitude, I wish you clarity and much, much light.

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INGREDIENTS
For the salad
8oz Tuscan (or Lacinato) kale, chopped into thin ribbons
16oz butternut squash, peeled and chopped into fat cubes
1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
1/3 cup dried cherries
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
Optional: 2oz soft goat cheese, crumbled

For the pasta
16oz whole wheat fettucini (or linguine)
8oz ground sweet sausage
1 tbsp chopped sage leaves
4oz Tuscan (or Lacinato) kale, chopped into thin ribbons
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4oz truffle-infused cheese (you can also use goat cheese or thick chunks of parmesan — either would work well)
up to 1/4 cup reserve pasta water

DIRECTIONS
For the salad: Pre-heat the oven to 400F. On a cookie sheet lined with tin foil or parchment paper, spread out the squash and drizzle 2 tbsp of olive oil on top. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure that all the squash cubes are coated, slick and glossy. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender and slightly char. Set side to cool.

Cut along the vein on each kale leaf, discarded the vein when you’re done. Your left with leaflets of kale. Bunch all of them and fold them over and cut small ribbons with a sharp knife. Add the leaves to a bowl. Brief parenthetical: some folks can’t stand raw kale, however, I love it and find that it’s a crisp juxtaposition to the squash and cherries. If you’re the sort that wants a little massaging, add olive oil to your palms and massage each leaf with a little sea salt. This will break down the fibers and deliver a slightly wilted, less bitter green.

In a small skillet, toast your pistachios until their aromatic and slightly browned (2-3 minutes). Set nuts aside. Cut your slightly-cooled squash into mini-cubes, and in a large bowl toss the squash, kale, toasted nuts and cherries. Drizzle the remaining olive oil and add cheese if you prefer. Add salt/pepper, if necessary.

For the pasta: In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Nigella Lawson once said that pasta water should resemble the Mediterranean and I believe her. Once your water boils, add your noodles and stir a bit ensuring that none of them sticks to one another. Back in the day someone tried to sell me on the olive oil trick in water. It didn’t work, and all I ended up doing was wasting expensive oil. If you don’t want your noodles to stick, stir them to separate.

Drizzle 1 tbsp of oil In a large saucepan and add your sausage and sage. Stir until the sausage is brown, slightly charred and set aside. Drain your pasta, however, keep a little reserve water just in case your dish is a bit dry. Add your pasta to the cooked sausage and stir so the noodles are coated and slick. Add in the cheese and stir to combine.

Cut along the vein on each kale leaf, discarded the vein when you’re done. Your left with leaflets of kale. Bunch all of them and fold them over and cut small ribbons with a sharp knife. Add the leaves to the bottom of a large bowl.

Tumble in the pasta, sausage and cheese mixture and stir to combine. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and reserve water, if necessary. Season with salt, pepper. Serve hot!

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