herbed arugula pesto chicken with pasta


“The violence of this erasure needs to be exposed. While “do what you love” sounds harmless and precious, it is ultimately self-focused to the point of narcissism. Jobs’ formulation of “do what you love” is the depressing antithesis to Henry David Thoreau’s utopian vision of labor for all. In “Life Without Principle,” Thoreau wrote,

… it would be good economy for a town to pay its laborers so well that they would not feel that they were working for low ends, as for a livelihood merely, but for scientific, even moral ends. Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it. “-Miya Tokumitsu, “In the Name of Love”

I’ve been thinking about this notion of doing what you love lately, in light of a comment my friend made when I expressed frustration over not defining concretely what it is I want to do with my life. I was adamant about this sort of work being the thing that lights skies, something so pure that it borders on an idyll, and she relayed that maybe I wasn’t meant to know you, that maybe this journey I’m on is the work. On the subway ride home I gave thought to when I’ve been happiest, and my joy comes from an odd mixture of pursuits. I love being challenged by marketing to consumers, creating organizational models and workflows, and sometimes I even revel (if you can believe it) in the telenovela-esque drama that accompanies execution of the above. Yet, I also love the intimacy of being alone, of writing and baking and not feeling as if I have to make a job out of doing both. I guess what I mean to say is that I like the juxtaposition of challenge and work and the freedom of non-work, and more importantly, my ability to control how much time I can devote to the two. For me, turning my creative side into something that drives monetary gain feels wrong, somehow taints the art for me, reduces it to something rote whereas it can be something that does not define itself (and its success) solely on the terms of how much money can be derived from it.

For a time I believed that I should only pursue that which I love, however, when I gave this a bit of thought I realized that, akin to the argument Tokumitsu makes, that ideology is an exercise in flights of fancy. It also doesn’t truly suit me. I have real, pragmatic financial obligations, which can’t be tossed aside for hopping on planes and jetting around the world for months at a time, but I don’t mind having to work really hard to be able to take off weeks at a time to travel to the places I only dreamed of, to take yoga classes during the day and spend more time with the people I love because I have time. To me, that’s the great gift in all of this, time.

Perhaps this is a winded way of saying that what I love is balance, is having all of my creative and intellectual children playing nice in the sandbox, as it were.

Come Sundays, I prepare my lunch for the week, for I work three days in an office, one day at home, and the rest of the time is devoted to the creative play that fuels me for the next week. I’m thoughtful in what I make and how I pack my lunches, and while my commute is long and sometimes challenging, and the frenzy of office life can be subsuming, I don’t feel the anger and bitterness that once consumed me, because I finally feel as if I have control over my time.

1 lb pasta
1 lb chicken strips, sliced into one-inch cubes
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp Maldon sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese
Arugula pesto (recipe)

In a large bowl, add 1 tbsp olive oil, chicken, rosemary, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat, cover with plastic wrap, and leave for 20 minutes, at room temperature. Make the arugula pesto, and set it aside.

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Add pasta, stir and cook until al dente (1-2 minutes below the cooking time as labeled on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, add the herbed chicken, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a large, hot cast iron skillet. Don’t stir too much, but cook until all sides are brown, 6-8 minutes. Add the pesto to the chicken to coat.

Drain the pasta, add it to the chicken and stir to combine. Add cheese and serve hot!


2 thoughts on “herbed arugula pesto chicken with pasta

  1. One of my favorite dishes is chicken pesto pasta. My mom makes her pesto with fresh basil and herbs from the garden, it truly makes the meal. I like your arugula pesto variation.


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