Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
When I cook for my family, I do my best to set the mood. I always feel like I am more able to listen to the little things that the food is trying to tell me when I surround myself with good music. No music connects me more readily and directly to the food that I am preparing than Italian music paired with Italian cuisine. The music and the food speaks to me in a way that excites every inch of my body, down to the tiniest atom in my little toe. I can’t help but dance through the kitchen as I mince the garlic or drop the pasta. It becomes a celebration instead of a simple meal, made on a week night, to fill the bellies of my hungry savages.
This is one of our favorite “go to” recipes. It can be played up with prosciutto or pancetta substituting Asiago for the parmesan, or you can go with what you have on hand and create a delectable feast for your hungry brood. You could add chicken breasts dredged through a combination of panko bread crumbs, oregano, basil, thyme and parmesan. Whatever you choose try spicing things up tonight and really get into preparing the meal from your heart. Turn up a Pandora playlist that highlights some of your favorite tunes. Might I suggest creating a new station including “Mambo Italiano” by Rosemary Clooney or for a more authentic feel “Italian Traditional Radio”. Whichever you choose, center yourself for a moment, take a deep breath and feel the love that is expressed while creating this simple, beautiful tribute of love for you and yours.
This past weekend I learned a fun tip that I thought I would share. It isn’t as “life changing” as when I learned to peel garlic by first smashing it with the flat edge of a large knife, but I think this is a tip that I will employ anytime I have fresh asparagus to prepare. It is a time saver that will help you get this dish on the table in a flash.
Leave the rubber bands in place on your bunch of asparagus. Pull three or four stalks out of the bottom rubber band and snap the ends off individually, allowing them to break where the woody ends meet the tender flesh.
After you have an idea of the average length of where the woody parts end, chop the entire bunch to this length.
Leave the rubber bands in place and continue chopping into 1 inch sections for this recipe. Once chopped place in a salad spinner full of ice-cold water. Allow the asparagus to soak while you continue chopping the other vegetables. Drain the water and spin dry.