3.03.2009

UTTERLY UNSEASONAL


Northern born and bred, six years in the South has turned me into a full blown weather-wuss. Yes, I know it’s only the first week of March, but I cannot wait until warmth and spring—real spring not the kind that visits for a long weekend then heads to the beach when things get rough. During Pennsylvania’s long, dreary winters, the prospect of a possible snowstorm (and the sudden solace of stuck-at-home-ness) kept me anticipatory enough to achieve satisfaction. But, with nary a snowstorm in my Chattanooga history, Southern winter is reminiscent of the Oscars: lots of huff-and-puff, little payoff.

I was quite happy then, last evening, to find a means to pull a bit of sunny shine into early-March: homemade pesto and heirloom tomatoes. The pesto I had made and frozen in ¼ cup pesto-pucks. The heirloom tomatoes, I’d canned. It seemed like something I should have realized mid-November, for what is better than pesto and heirlooms? But, by the grace of the gastronomic gods, I didn’t realized the pairing until I absolutely needed them: low-thirties, the teasings of a cold, and nearly a month until April showers and what follows.

As Chris and I eat a quick lunch at home at least four workdays a week, things get tedious. Tacos: ground beef, chorizo and eggs, shredded chicken mole’. Soup, soup, and more soup. Paninis, my en vogue name for less-than-glamorous deli meat and cheese pressed in toasted bread. But this little glimmer of summer cheered my morning with expectation and my afternoon with sunny contentment. Three lunches in under 30 minutes and a little culinary “save the date,” sunnier days to come.
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Simple, Unseasonal Pesto Lunch Pasta
(In true-to-summer form, you can even eat it cold.)

1 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
1 T olive oil
1 lb. chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 pint tomatoes, drained and diced if necessary
5 oz. frozen spinach, drained
¾ cup pesto

· Boil spaghetti to al dente as directed on package. Set aside.
· To a large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil, then, after oil has a minute to warm, chicken.
· Salt and pepper chicken, though not too heavily. You can taste and adjust seasonings later.
· When chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan, reduce heat to medium-low, and add mushrooms.
· After five minutes, add tomatoes and spinach.
· Sauté an additional five minutes then add pesto, chicken, and pasta.
· Toss and turn everything into a lovely amalgam.
· Taste and adjust seasonings.
· Stow away for bright lunches on wintry afternoons.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Nice!

tut-tut said...

There's nothing like Alchemy Spice Cinnamon . . .