Dear world, I’m sorry for my radio silence. It’s been an exciting and overwhelming few weeks over here, including an amazing, spiritual bread-making experience in North Carolina that I’m dying to tell you about. But I got caught in the Delta mess on my way home, then came back to a weekend of love that was showered upon me by the most incredible friends and family a girl could ever ask for, and it’s go time on prep for this wedding thing and for once I decided to cut myself some slack — no guilt this time — and take a break from blogging for a hot minute. In truth, I had this recipe for caprese pasta salad ready for you before I left for Asheville, intending to have the post up when I got to our Airbnb, but just didn’t get around to it. But this is one of my back-pocket recipes, so simple, so easy to make, and such a perfect way to celebrate a harvest of tomatoes, especially on a hot day, that I can’t wait any longer to share it with you. Continue reading →
I’m having another one of those weeks: spending lots of time at work thinking creatively and then expending all that energy before I get home. I have a terrible case of writer’s block. I’m also feeling more and more like my commute is one of the things that’s killing me: It generally takes an hour, door to door, but often much more when the MTA is having a bad day. Some of that time I spend reading the news on my New York Times app or a good book when I have one, a lot of that time I had spent through the winter knitting cute baby things for my cute baby nephew, but mostly, I’m standing, stuck in between people who are as miserable as I am, holding onto gross poles that are still warm from other people’s hands, as we inch through darkened tunnels and try our best not to breathe on each other or look at each other. By the time I get home, I just want to rinse myself of the day, of that time wasted expending the energy needed to stand yet doing absolutely nothing but staring ahead, and do — absolutely nothing. I’m exhausted. I’m parched. And I should probably spend more time doing writing exercises so this kind of thing doesn’t happen.
Let’s try it: train. plane. propane. proton. pluton. neutron. noodle. doodle — wait! What was that in there? Noodle? How about spaghetti? Wait! Instead of writing the other day I spent a stupid amount of time watching Beyonce’s brilliant Lemonade. Spaghetti with lemons? And basil? And shallots? And cream? And parm? Ooh! Bing, there it is. Yes, let’s talk about Spaghetti al Limone — one of the greatest, simplest one-pot suppers ever to grace this little corner of Astoria. Continue reading →
If you were to ask me what my number one, go-to, last-minute pasta dish is, I wouldn’t hesitate to say spaghetti aglio e olio. If you were to ask me what my number one, go-to, ridiculously-easy, don’t-feel-like-standing-in-front-of-the-stove pasta dish is, I would say this: Marcella Hazan’s four-ingredient tomato sauce. Continue reading →
So, for weeks I’ve had this whole long, eloquent post about how I’m injured, and not running, and generally feeling sorry for myself just sitting here on my computer. I haven’t been able to finish it because, well, UGH. I don’t need to put a sad-sack story online about how frustrated and pathetic I feel about not being able to just throw on some running shoes and head out the door, blow off some steam, release some energy. And it’s cold, and we just had a blizzard, so if there’s ever a time to be forced to take a break, it’s now, in the dead of winter. I think the other reason I was reticent is because this is comfort food, and few things require comfort as completely as an injury. And yet, when you’re forced to sit on your butt for however many weeks are required for tendons to heal, shoving tons of cheese down your gullet doesn’t seem like the smartest idea in the world. That said, it didn’t stop me from eating this, my favorite baked ziti, and it won’t stop me in the future as I re-learn that elusive “portion control” thing that people who don’t run marathons talk about. OK, fine, we talk about it too. But a giant bowl full of pasta was always justified when you knew you would just run it off. Now, maybe a little less. Everything in moderation, right? Continue reading →
We are now in the single-digit countdown for Marathon Sunday. My friends, teammates, and friend-strangers all over the world are settling into the zone called “the taper” — the Catch-22. Both dreaded and welcomed, it’s the time when we bring our mileage and our intensity down in order to rest and recuperate after months of depletion. It’s the time when we pull together our marathon outfits and plan our fingernail colors, go over our race strategies, and, of course, worry. Why does my ankle hurt? Why am I so tight? Can I really do this? Oh god am I getting fat?
But possibly the best part (which raises the “fat” question) is the carbo-load — a necessity to shore up the body’s glycogen stores to fuel the 26.2-mile haul. Granted (and I think I’ve said this before), I generally don’t need to do anything too out of the ordinary to make this happen. I’m a pasta fool. But after my longest, hardest effort two weeks ago, in the form of a 22-mile run up to the Little Red Lighthouse and back, I decided to shake it up a bit and go beyond my usual penne alla vodka, or spaghetti aglio e olio, or simple tomato and basil, and put in a bit of effort. I decided to make a true bolognese. Continue reading →
My parents live in a house on a big hill on the edge of the woods. Even the landscaped sections are wooded — meaning not only is it difficult to grow anything that won’t do well in shade or, in some instances, among shallow tree roots, or that every inch is fodder for roving herds of deer, no matter how “deer-resistant” a plant may be, but that weeds grow — everywhere. Tiny beginnings of new forest, trying to take back the ground and the air. Growing up, I spent countless afternoons with my mom, batting off mosquitoes and pulling buckets and buckets (and buckets) of weeds to carry up the hill and dump into the woods. Especially irritating, and smelly, were the wild onions that grew in the mulch alongside the driveway. They were plentiful and pesky — their roots didn’t lift easily, and I ended up tearing more than I pulled. I hated them. Until a few weeks ago. Continue reading →
The cherry blossoms are blooming in Central Park. The magnolias are bursting in front yards all over Astoria. Daffodils are everywhere, and so are the people. Spring has finally sprung in New York, and nothing says spring, especially after an active day outside shaking off the last of winter’s hijinks, like a crunchy, herby salad filled with chicken, tomatoes, feta, and pasta.
It’s the perfect segue: ingredients that are available all year round, ready to be consumed the first day of the year you truly really want to put effort into making a savory meal that tastes like a warm, sunny day. And because it’s a salad, you can throw as much of this, as little of that as you’d like and it will be amazing every single time. That’s sort of the way I learned this one. I was visiting my friend Erin in Boston, probably a good ten years ago, when she suggested we make this for dinner. It hails from a possibly ancient issue of Cooking Light magazine, but we never measured anything. A handful of basil and parsley, a bunch of scallions, a bag of lettuce. And, okay, fine, a little too much penne that one day. I think once it was cooked it barely fit in the pot. I swear, it wasn’t me — but of course it was so very me. She just knows me so well. Needless to say, I have been hooked since that day, and this salad is a staple in my warm weather dinner arsenal. Continue reading →
It’s 8:30pm. You had a long day at work / you just got back from a tough run / insert the reason you’re tired and haven’t already eaten and might cry if you don’t get something delicious in your belly soon. What do you? Do you order in and wait half an hour or more for delivery? Do you break open the little blue box of mac and cheese? No, of course not! You grab a few cloves of garlic and spend 15 easy minutes making rich, velvety spaghetti with garlic and olive oil.
If a long distance runner tells you part of the reason she runs isn’t so she can stuff her face with pasta, she’s lying to you. True, most of it is the challenge, the endorphins, the yearning to be better than you were yesterday. But for many of us, we run so we can eat. And when you’re training for a marathon, you’re hungry. All. the. time. It took me a while to be okay with eating a second lunch – which follows brunch, which follows a very long run, which follows breakfast. I swear, though, not everything I eat is a pastry or a muffin or a biscuit – I also eat fruit and salads and proteins and potatoes rich with vitamin C. These are the things I crave after a 20-mile run. But before? Give me bowls of pasta. Lemon. Garlic. Tomatoes. Peppers. Whatever. As long as it envelops that perfect pod of a simple carb, it’s what I want to fuel me through those grueling miles.
We all grow up eating the stuff, though for many kids, like yours truly, many moons ago, we want it with butter. Or cheese – from a little blue box. We were the pain-in-the-ass kids who only knew tomatoes if they were in the form of basically orange, tangy water with little o’s swimming around. But once we learned how beautiful that fruit was? Forget it. I watched my mom make a bolognese hundreds of times growing up, but never made a basic sauce until I was 20, kind of poor, and living with an Italian-American roommate in Paris. On our first night in our apartment together, she made her grandmother’s recipe: slow cooked, fresh tomatoes, with garlic, onion, and raisins, to cut the acidity and add sweetness. My life would never be the same.