As the final weeks of the hot summer season come upon us, we begin to long for a new season, and for meals like an Italian bistro style pasta that contains both the taste of the present and also the essence of that which is to yet to come.
All of my heart longs to feel the coolness of the fall and to finally begin to experience these last, lingering weeks of this seemingly eternal hot summer.
I long to feel the breeze as it dips itself into lower temperatures in the evenings and comes up to wrap and whirl itself around me.
I long to see the sun drift away into the sky in order to bring beautiful, glimmering dusk in earlier and earlier; as the newness of a fresher, cooler season slowly makes its way in and offers some comfort and relief from the extreme, harsh heat that’s now in its final throws.
I so very much long for peace, for quiet, for a calm to set in and give me an opportunity to breathe a little, for the little odds and ends of life to resolve themselves and get neatly packed away for the time being, even if for just a while, and for an open space where my creativity can flow freely in its season once again.
Longing is the great, big, beautiful, sweet carrot dangling from a string on the end of our stick, which keeps us moving forward, moving towards that place, space, or experience that our imagination deems as a necessary landing point for us sometime in the future.
And while on one hand, longing makes the heart flutter and leap with joy at the possibility of things, it also can make the soul wail and cry with frustration as to what could be but isn’t quite yet, but possible will be; it’s the driving force that brings us to new places and fresh opportunities, therefore being the catalyst that brings us, ultimately, to richer experiences once we finally arrive in that place, or grasp that thing, or touch the essence of that which we longed for.
That delicious longing is there for me when I’m inspired by the mood of the season to create something with all the rich flavors it reminds me of—perhaps an exquisite pasta dish, the kind that you would blissfully enjoy by one of those stunning late-summer sunsets on the terrace of a romantic Italian Bistro.
There it is, that lovely longing contained in each and every one of us in varying degrees, at various times of our lives, and it pulls us forward and into those places and spaces where the experience will be richer because of it, and where we needed to ultimately land.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Bistro Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 6 ounces super thin asparagus, tough bottoms trimmed, and cut into small, bite-size pieces
• ½ lemon
• Olive oil
• 4 links spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 8 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
• ½ cup white wine
• 1 pound campari tomatoes, diced small
• Black pepper
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 8 ounces pasta of your choice, cooked according to package instructions (I used Montebello Organic Torchiette pasta, found at Whole Foods Market)
• 1 tablespoon chopped, flat-leaf parsley
• Shaved Parmesan, if desired
-Add water to a small sauce pan, and add in the juice of half a lemon, plus enough salt to make the water taste salty; bring to the simmer, add the asparagus pieces in, and blanch for 30 seconds or just until crisp-tender; drain and plunge into ice water, then drain and set aside.
-Place a large, heavy bottom pan or skillet over medium-high heat, and drizzle in a small amount of the oil, about 1-2 tablespoons; once hot, crumble in the spicy sausage, and cook for a few minutes until browned and cooked through; remove with a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towel; set aside for a moment.
-Into the same pan, now on medium-low or low heat, add in the tablespoon of butter; once melted, add in the sliced garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes, or just until aromatic and the slices soften and become golden-brown; add in the white wine, and allow it to sizzle up and slightly reduce, for about 1 minute, scraping up the those good brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
-Next add in the diced tomatoes, plus a couple of good pinches of salt and black pepper, and allow them to break down just a bit until they are slightly softened and juicy, about 4-5 minutes.
-Add to the tomatoes the asparagus and the spinach, and allow the spinach to wilt down, about 1 minute; add in the browned spicy sausage, stir to incorporate, and taste the sauce to see if more salt/pepper is needed; drizzle in a touch more olive oil to make the sauce glossy and rich, then add in your cooked pasta, and toss to combine with the sauce.
-Finish by sprinkling in the chopped parsley, and serve with a little parmesan, if desired.