Just right.

I had no business making dinner. It had been a weekend of total gastronomic excess, starting with a breakfast of Duck Eggs Benedict, followed by a veritable cookathon of lasagna, roasted delicata squash, carrot-cauliflower soup and zucchini bread. There was a lot of produce that needed to be gotten through, and instead of consuming it, I just cooked all of it, all at once. Besides having a fridge full of food, I had just come back from my latest Underground Food Academy class- Cheesemaking Plus. We had spent the afternoon making ricotta and shaking cream to make butter, then ended it all by sinking pieces of baguette into a bubbling pot of expertly-crafted fondue.

More food should have been the last thing on my mind.
But there was something about the momentum of all the food-based activity that I couldn’t quit, and something about all the richness of the waiting leftovers I just couldn’t bear to tuck into. I wanted fresh and I wanted green and I think a part of me just didn’t want the weekend to end.

The only thing in my fridge that hadn’t been roasted, buttered or braised was a bunch of rainbow chard quietly awaiting its fate in the crisper. I like the ritual of chard. Of bathing the oversized leaves and stacking them in front of me. Of taking the time to see their astounding color veined through the greenery. Of separating the stalk from the greens in two deft slices and assigning them into different piles. The two parts cook at really different rates, and if you don’t treat it right, you’ll end up with super over-cooked greens or stalks that are more than a little toothy.

About halfway through prepping the chard, I realized I was going to have far too much food again, and the idea adding more leftovers to the obscene cache of food in my fridge was too much. So I called over a friend.

I boiled water for pasta, heated some oil in a pan to start some shallots softening. When they were edging towards brown, the slivered stalks go in. Also a good time for the pasta to start cooking. Once the stalks have softened enough. Chopped greens go to the pan (with a tablespoon of butter) and get covered and steam their way to doneness. Salt, stir in cooked pasta, add a little parm. Eat.

After a weekend of running around, of meeting people and prepping for an Academy class, of meals charged with expectation and interactions fraught with anticipation, there was something about sitting down to a simple meal comprised of all of 5 ingredients that felt like a whole lot of right. I hadn’t planned to cook, to have anyone over, to entertain, but I’m glad I did, that I gave into my impulses. Because once in awhile, shrugging off impulse-control can leave you feeling really, really satisfied.

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