Can I say it’s winter yet?
Because I am saying that.
But wait. I shouldn’t. Mainly because it was close to 70 degrees [or something] the last few days. Have you ever seen Mean Girls? I know you have. Don’t lie. LiLo was at her PRIME. Anyway… remember Karen? Who swore that her… certain body part… could predict the weather? I’m totally picking up what Karen’s throwing down. Sort of. I mean, not that body part, but my body… in general. I haaaaaaate to be hot. I could add about 56,000 more “a’s” in that word just to distinctly convey my true feelings on the subject. I really love to be hot if I’m laying on the beach or right near a pool, but otherwise, I will become you worst enemy. So, as I was making dinner Monday night… in my workout clothes… because sometimes showering is overrated… I was getting HOT. I could just feel it. I rushed over to the thermostat to see that it was 74 degrees in our house. 74! This is huge and super hot for me considering I am adamant that the air conditioning stays at a crisp 67 degrees in summer, and that the heat doesn’t come on until I’m in two layers of pants and fourteen shirts. Seriously.
I am just such a JOY to live with. I know.
Needless to say, it’s been too hot for me to sleep the last few days. I’m such a nutcase that I can distinguish the comfort level between two degrees of temperature. I’ve tossed and turned. I’ve ripped layers of sheets off of myself because I must be covered up or else all the scary monsters will get me. I’ve become cold again around 3AM and flipped out because I have no covers. I’ve woken tired and restless and hot and cold.
And after all that, I just have to say that maybe it isn’t winter yet, but this pasta tastes like winter. Because I said so.
I didn’t even like pasta growing up. I dreaded Thursday nights because my mom made spaghetti or angel hair or penne with tomato sauce every.single.week, leaving me in the dust to either eat cereal, plain buttered noodles, or wallow up in my room blasting TLC’s Creep and organizing 310 Lip Smacker’s lip glosses. Some nights I chose the buttered noodle route, because I really love my bowl of parmesan cheese with a sprinkling of noodles. But most nights it was me, my boom box, and my mind trying to figure out what the Red Light Special was. I’m still not sure I know.
I’ve done a lot of crazy stuff in the kitchen this week: combining fruit with pasta, potatoes with cupcakes, and cookies with fish. Yes, I’m serious. No, I’m not even joking. But before you think I’m totally weird (which I am, whatever), you must try some of these almost-caramelized pears with noodles and parmesan and other things that are vegetables but I like to pretend aren’t really vegetables. K?
Yield: serves 2-4
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 anjou pear, thinly sliced
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
12-15 brussels sprouts, stems removed and sliced
10-12 sage leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used pomegranate vinegar)
1/2 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. Add shallots, garlic, squash, brussels sprouts, sage and pear, top with salt and pepper, then stir to coat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then cover and cook for another 5 minutes. While veggies are cooking, boil water and prepare pasta according to directions.
Turn heat under veggies down to low, then add balsamic and stir. Drain pasta and add directly to skillet, tossing multiple times to coat. Add in parmesan cheese, taste, and season more if desired. Cover and let sit over low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the flavors can mesh. Serve with additional parmesan cheese for topping.