A Lighter Shade of Carbs

Today is the first day I can claim, without pause or false optimism, that spring is upon us.

For the first time – in Chicago – since maybe September 2013, all of the windows in the apartment are open and, despite wearing shorts and linen, things are still feeling toasty. Call it an Easter or late Passover miracle, but some IMGP4805creature (mythological or employed by the National Weather Service) decided that the Windy City deserved a considerably less windy, 76° change of pace. We all needed this.

Last week, for me, was spent in the sometimes sunny Philadelphia. There were mind-bogglingly beautiful days filled with the first sunburns of 2014 and my pasty bare legs’ first public exposure since last fall, followed by some of the blustery April days that are never quite warm enough for your leather jacket to suffice as your only layer.

So even if it’s going to thunderstorm all tomorrow night and even if Tuesday’s high won’t break 50, I’m still banishing my heaviest sweaters and wool skirts to the top of my closet and replacing them with shorts that may or may not still fit, ultra breezy rompers and a number of delicate Urban Outfitters wares that are pains in the ass to iron.

As we pack away the sweaters and the corduroys and the oversized flannel, it’s also necessary to do a kitchen refresh. We could probably subsist off of turkey chili and shepherd’s pie all year long and be unequivocally happy, but that would be monotonous. If we can’t have variety in our bus routes and our E! programming, at least we can create it in our refrigerators.

But when it comes to pasta, I’m a complete hypocrite.

This girl will pack away the heaviest of cream sauces and puffiest ravioli before, during and after bathing suit crop top season. Sure, I’ll eat spaghetti with nothing more than olive oil and minced garlic, but with adjusted expectations.

Slowly, I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be this way. Light can still be rich can still be delicious can still hit the spot (and be less laborious.)

And on the off chance that a “lighter” pasta dish doesn’t quite fill every last corner of your gut, well, buy two baguettes instead of one or make time for a fro-yo trip later on.

Arugula Cherry Tomato Pasta
Makes ~3-4 servings. Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

1 lb. box of your pasta of choice
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 small shallots, finely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered (I used one of the fun packs with multi-colored fruit for added visual appeal)
2 cups fresh arugula, roughly chopped 
Salt and pepper and parmesan cheese

IMGP4807

This is quite straightforward, but in case you’re as anal about timing each component of a recipe as I am, start cooking the pasta first since the sauce only takes a few minutes.

In a large pan over medium heat, bring the olive oil to a shimmer, adding the garlic and shallots. Sauté until just soft, but not browned. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes until softened, but not shapeless.

Combine the cooked and drained pasta with the sauce. Mix in the arugula a small bunch at a time, letting the leaves wilt. Season with salt & pepper; serve immediately with grated cheese on top.

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