I hate to call it a ‘rut’. That sounds so negative. Maybe ‘habit’ would be a better word.
I like my routines. When I discover a new CD, I put it in the car and listen to it for six months straight, until I discover a newer CD. Great for the driver, maybe not so much for the passengers who are forced to listen to their mother's choice of music in six-month intervals.
The same thing happens to me at lunchtime. I become infatuated with a certain recipe and make it over and over again. If it’s only me at lunch, I can eat – for example – black bean and smoked cheese quesadillas every day for a month and it doesn’t matter.
Except my family has been seeing a bowl of black bean mixture in my fridge every day for the last month. Getting ever smaller and smaller, then disappearing, only to appear freshly made again the next day. And they have started to comment on my lack of originality.
I consider myself a pretty creative person, and being branded as unoriginal hurts. So when I made this pasta for lunch, I was hoping to expand my horizons.
How good was it? It was good enough to enter the rotation for lunch options. It was good enough to temporarily knock my black beans to the back of the cupboard.
It was good enough to supplant the quesadillas. At least for a while.
Do you think my family will notice if I’m still making this for lunch a month from now?
Penne Rigate with Mixed Greens and Pine Nuts
(adapted from epicurious.com)
2 1/2 cups uncooked penne rigate
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves chopped garlic
5 cups loosely-packed arugula
5 cups loosely-packed spinach
2 sun-dried tomatoes (in oil), drained and chopped
1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, chopped (feel free to substitute another kind)
salt, to taste
1/3 cup grated Pecorino-Romano
Cook penne in boiling salted water in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot until al dente or according to package directions, then drain in a colander.
Combine butter, oil, and pine nuts in cleaned and dried pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until nuts are pale golden, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Stir in greens and cook, stirring, until they wilt, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes, and stir over heat for 1 minute. Add penne and salt, if required, and toss to coat. Stir in cheese and serve immediately with additional cheese on the side.