Sometimes, I truly miss the whimsy and vibrant colors of childhood. I miss cozy stories, playing pretend, doing silly voices and playing dress-up; I miss making a fort in the back yard, and being tucked in at night with story-time and a kiss; I miss “snow-days” with no school in the winter, and silly cartoons entertaining me on Saturday mornings while I stuff myself with sugary cereal; I miss actually enjoying the heat of summer because I spend all the days of my summer vacation swimming in the lake. Come to think of it, I miss summer vacation. I’m realizing there’s a lot I miss about being a kid, much more than I could really ever know, probably; but I want to remember, at least every now and then, what the simpler and more care-free times felt like, and sprinkle my adult days with the sweet essence my youth.
Do you remember playing with your food? I do. I remember coming up with some zany concoctions, mixing this ingredient and that, creating what I considered to be the tastiest, most colorful yum-yums I could think of. Were they all that delicious? I’ll answer with a resounding “no”, but I had a blast playing, nonetheless. Inspiration came from various sources, perhaps from a character in a book that I observed happily nibbling on something that looked like it tasted unique, or even from something that could be considered strange like green eggs and ham from Dr. Seuss’s book―I couldn’t help but wonder what a dish like that tasted like! The imagination of my childhood is something I feel the need to reflect on often, as an adult. Sometimes I’m floored just by how complicated things seem to get in our adult years, how many responsibilities and “have-to-dos” make up each and every day, that I try to consciously bring back some of the silly joy and wonderment I recall experiencing as a kid; and why not? I think it’s what actually keeps my life balanced and light!
Colorfully vibrant exuberance and whimsy shouldn’t be left suspended in time at the age of 10, never to be experienced after that. Stories still need to be read, silly voices still need to be expressed and heard, and forts still need to be built; cartoons still need to be watched while eating sugary cereal, and story-time still needs to be had along with a kiss before getting tucked in. Perhaps even a snow-day is a good thing every now and again, too. All I know is that I don’t want to leave behind all the joy and simplicity of childhood just because I’m far from being a child when it comes to my years; I still want an element of make-believe to inspire me, for my imagination to guide me, and my heart to remember that it isn’t all about toiling all of my days. I want to continue to wonder how green eggs and ham actually tastes, and how it feels to play with my food, making angel hair and mini meatballs with a green sauce, just because I can. Only now, it tastes good.
Think Dr. Seuss would approve?
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Angel Hair and Mini Meatballs with Savory, Herb-Walnut Pesto Sauce
Print this recipe
(Serves about 4)
1 pound lean ground beef (85/15 fat ratio)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
¾ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided use
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (about one small French roll processed in food processor)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided use
1 egg, whisked
2 tablespoons milk (or half and half)
2 tablespoons canola oil, for frying meatballs
8 ounces Angel Hair pasta (about half of a 1 pound package)
Herb-Walnut Pesto (recipe below)
Drizzles of olive oil, for garnish
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped, for garnish
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
¼ cup shaved Parmesan (or grated, if you prefer), for garnish
-Prepare the meatballs by adding the ground beef to a large bowl along with the chopped parsley, the garlic, the Italian seasoning, the ¾ teaspoon of salt, the pepper, the breadcrumbs, the 1 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese, the whisked egg and the milk; using your hands, gently combine the meat mixture until well incorporated, being careful not to overwork; make the mini meatballs by rolling out tiny amounts of the meat mixture between your palms to create meatballs about the size of a cherry or gumball; place the meatballs onto a large plate or platter to hold until you’re ready to fry them.
-To fry the meatballs, place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and add the 2 tablespoons of canola oil; once the oil is hot, work in batches frying/searing the meatballs in the hot oil, moving the pan gently to create even browning of the meatballs and to help them maintain their round shape; fry them for about 4 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked through; remove the cooked meatballs onto a clean plate and hold warm while you finish cooking the remainder of them; once all are cooked, keep them warm while you prepare the remaining components of the dish.
-Prepare the Herb-Walnut pesto (recipe below), and set aside.
-Cook the Angel Hair pasta according to package instructions, and keep warm.
-To finish the dish, add the Herb-Walnut Pesto to a large non-stick pan/pot set over medium-low heat, and warm it gently just until pesto is heated through; turn off the heat and add the cooked, warm Angel Hair pasta into the pesto, and toss gently with tongs to combine and coat well; next, add the meatballs in, and gently toss with tongs to incorporate them (at this point, give a little taste to check if a little more salt is necessary, and add a pinch, if so); to serve, add equal portions of the warm pasta with meatballs to a bowl or plate, and drizzle each portion generously with olive oil to moisten and enrich; garnish with a sprinkle of the chopped walnuts and the chopped parsley, and about 2 tablespoons of the ¼ cup of shaved (or grated) Parmesan cheese, and serve.
Herb-Walnut Pesto ingredients: (yields about 2 cups)
4 ounces fresh basil leaves
1 cup, packed, flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup, heaping, walnuts
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon, plus a pinch, salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil
-Add all ingredients through the black pepper to the bowl of a food processor, and process until it becomes a smooth, thick consistency; scrape down the sides of the processor; next, with the processor running, begin slowly drizzling in the olive oil, and continue processing for a few moments until smooth and completely combined and well emulsified; set aside in a clean bowl until ready to use.