Monday, February 23, 2009

Comfort Food (Sausage Pasta)

Although I'd been a copywriter for years, as recently as one year ago I could not have written a blog. Not that I didn't want to. I daydreamed, even fantasized, about it. My husband of 22+ years had moved out. Our children felt eviscerated and humiliated, our family was stunned, and our friends didn't know which way to turn. I had to hire a lawyer and got to hire a therapist.

I wanted to write -- even felt it would be cathartic -- but my thoughts were tainted. The topics that came to mind were either piteous or vitriolic or both. My fingertips on a keyboard would have been venomous. Satisfying in one way, perhaps, but not my style.

What I could do, of course, was cook. And luckily for me, the kids wanted me to cook. Despite earlier claims, they couldn't live by Chick Fil A alone (at least not more than once a day). Not surprisingly, they wanted comfort food.

"Comfort food" varies from person to person and family to family, of course. Neither meatloaf nor mac 'n' cheese nor lasagna makes the top 10, or even top 25, cut for my son or daughter. Nope. They want "sausage pasta." Although not imaginatively named, it's the one dish they regularly request. It's the one that they'll always choose -- knocking the beloved Chick Fil A out of the ring. Even when they have friends for sleepovers, where pepperoni pizza is de rigueur and "real" food disdained, "sausage pasta" is allowed. It transcends teen and pre-teen dining requirements.

My son recently had a school assignment requiring him to write about a food that evokes powerful memories for him. I was honored that he wrote about my "sausage pasta," which I'll serve again tonight. Here's the recipe he included in his essay:

Sausage Pasta

3 links sweet Italian sausage, grilled and sliced
3/4 pounds penne pasta
3 cups broccoli flowerettes
1 lemon, zested
1 can chicken broth
1/2 cup cream
red pepper flakes
sea salt and pepper

Cook penne pasta according to package directions. About one minute before pasta is done, add broccoli. Cook additional minute, then drain well and return to pot. Gently stir in cream and lemon zest. Stir in sliced sausage and broth as needed. Season to taste with oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and juice from zested lemon. Eat. Enjoy.

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