I'm on vacation right now. No classrooms or textbooks, no homework, and for eleven whole days, no desk job... It's startling how much calmer and more relaxed I become when scholastic pressure is removed from the equation. I'm practically a different person. My boyfriend loves it (and tells me so quite often).
There are less than a week's worth of boxes left to X off on my calendar before the one that announces, "School Starts". Monday is the day that I load up my backpack once again and begin yet another three month stint of lectures and labs and paper writing. My emotions are a mixture of dismay and excitement. It's back to the grind now, but the good news is that after this quarter I'll have all of the credits I need to graduate! Yay, excitement! Oh, but I'll only be receiving my AA degree. That bachelor's is still a considerable distance away. Sigh.... dismay...
Meanwhile, though, I'm basking in the enormous expanses of time that I have while still on vacay. I've been to the movies, read most of a novel, gone out with friends, slept in, worked in the garden, started knitting warm things for winter... It's been a much needed break after 4 straight quarters of full-time academia. There were moments (weeks?) when my level of sanity was highly questionable during this past year.
Excuse me while I take a minute to fully experience the inner-tranquility that I currently feel. Serenity and I have only six short days left to spend together before I regain my lunacy once more. Ahhhhh.....
Another fantastic benefit of vacation is the amount of time it allows me to spend in the kitchen. I've been cooking every night for the last week. No leftovers for us. I've got a fridge overflowing with food, and I'm on a mission to prepare it.
One of the recipes that I want to share here is my version of pasta primavera. I'd surprisingly never made this dish before (I'm a pasta with marinara kind of girl) but wanted to change things up. I did a little internet research and discovered that pasta primavera is actually all about the veggies. Primavera means "spring" in both Spanish and Italian, implying that spring vegetables are the standard for this dish. Given the current season and all, I went with a nice mix of late summer veggies, adding cannellini beans (my new obsession) for protein, and was very satisfied with the results. I hope you enjoy.
Pasta Primaveraserves 2-4
8 oz. gluten-free* angel hair pasta (I like DeBoles brand)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/3 C.)
1 medium zucchini (yellow or green), cut into 1/2" thick half-circles
1 medium pepper (bell or other sweet pepper, any color), cut into 1/4" thick strips
3 cloves garlic
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (depending on your heat tolerance)
1 green onion, chopped
1 heaping cup cooked cannellini beans
salt to taste
1 C. milk (whole is best)
1 T. butter
1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 small handfull basil leaves, chopped finely, for garnish
*Wheat pasta can be substituted
Cook the pasta according to package directions. If using rice pasta, make sure to thoroughly rinse the noodles with cold water after cooking.
Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium in a large skillet with tall sides. Add the onion and cook until beginning to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add the pepper strips and saute, stirring periodically, several minutes.
Add the zucchini, garlic, cayenne, green onion and cooked beans. Season with salt, partially cover pan, and allow to cook until the zucchini and peppers are tender, but not mushy.
Add the butter and milk to the pan and stir well. Once the butter has melted and the milk gotten hot, stir in the Parmesan and lower the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Dump the pasta into the pan with the sauce and veggies and, using two large spoons, toss the pasta and vegetables together. Continue to cook and toss periodically until the pasta is heated through.
Portion onto plates, sprinkle with extra Parmesan and garnish with fresh basil. Serve and enjoy!