pear & pecorino pasta

so it’s been awhile.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

how’ve you been?

when i wrote my last post, i truly had no idea that it would be almost six months before i posted another one. and wouldn’t you know it – my last recipe was for veggie pasta, and this one is for fresh pasta with fruit.

a lot has happened in the last six months. i took a trip to wine country with my husband, and had more wine and cheese in a week than ever before – and that’s really saying something.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

i photographed some really beautiful restaurants for eater

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

central wharf company

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

row 34

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

steel & rye

ward 8

ward 8

…and also got the chance to take some chef portraits.

steve peljovich

steve peljovich

garrett harker, skip bennett, & jeremy sewall

garrett harker, skip bennett, & jeremy sewall

steve "nookie" postal

steve “nookie” postal

i spent thanksgiving up in maine, and enjoyed a leisurely christmas at home for the first time.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

the cookbook that i styled is finally getting shipped.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

lobster mac & cheese bites from “stuffed” by dan whalen

and i landed a very exciting new position with oyster.com, taking photographs and writing reviews of hotels all around new england. i should start traveling for them in a few weeks.

and in the in-betweens, i really have been cooking. and taking photographs. and writing. i participated in national novel writing month for the first time in ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pastanovember,and successfully wrote 50,000 words of a new, original novel in 30 days. and maybe eventually, i’ll even finish it and try to get the thing published.

but i’ve also been a bit low. trying to find paid, full-time work in a creative field is exhausting, and discouraging, and draining. you put so much into your work, and it’s so easy to get taken advantage of. people want you to work for free, to give your photographs or writing or editing away like it’s not worth anything. they can’t do it themselves, but they don’t think it’s valuable enough to pay you to do it.

i’m not crazy. i know that most people aren’t 100% happy with their jobs, that most aren’t following their dreams or doing something they love every day. but i’ve worked the random jobs, the unappreciated jobs, the minimum wage jobs. i’ve bussed tables and made coffee and worked at malls on black friday and christmas eve. i’ve been an intern. i’ve worked for nothing – sometimes i’ve even ended up losing money after my jobs. i went to college and when that didn’t get me what i wanted, i went to graduate school. and when that didn’t get me what i wanted, i started taking photography classes. and it was tough. and it seemed like the job i wanted might not really exist. but somehow i have continued to dream that i could do something wonderful, something that sparked my passion, something that let me express myself and make beautiful things and inspire people.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

i don’t know if i’m ever truly going to do that. i’m not even sure that i know what that looks like, for me. but in a few weeks i’ll be getting paid to not only take photographs of beautiful restaurants and talented chefs, but also photograph new hotels and landscapes. and for the first time, i’ll get paid to write. and i think that that’s pretty wonderful.

but food is also wonderful. and this blog has always reminded me, even when i don’t write as regularly as i’d like, that a well-crafted, addictive, can’t-wait-to-cook-that recipe can soothe and calm and lift spirits. and while the posts might not go up every day (or even every month), i don’t want to stop blogging. i don’t want to stop cooking. i don’t want to stop loving food for the delicious pleasure that it can bring.

and in my opinion, this recipe does that.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

i received a pasta machine for my birthday, and after i swallowed my pride and gave it a shot, i realized that it really isn’t at all hard to make homemade, hand-crafted pasta. i haven’t made it into the big leagues and tried making tortellini or anything too fancy yet, but there’s something about making fresh pasta at home that’s really inspiring. ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pastathere’s so much you can do with it, and it gives you such a sense of pride, of accomplishment. it’s pretty cool to serve handmade pasta, with handmade sauce, and know that your effort went into everything on the plate.

if you want to take the plunge, you don’t need a machine to do it – but it definitely makes the process less intimidating (especially if, like me, you don’t have an experienced italian grandmother to teach you how to do it). i love the book making artisan pasta for recipes and techniques, and this recipe for basic egg pasta is a no-brainer.

but if you don’t feel like making fresh pasta (it does make a bit of a mess, and don’t wear black like i did or you will walk around with flour on your tummy until someone points it out to you), just use whatever you like. i won’t tell.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

this recipe was inspired by the pears that kept showing up in my winter fruit share, week after week, from the fantastic crew at SomethingGud. i like the flavor of pears but rarely enjoy eating them raw, and i wanted a savory dish that would bring out their sweety, spicy flavor.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

pear & pecorino pasta

2 ripe pears ( i used bosc, use what you love)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
a pinch each of salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
1 ounce pecorino romano cheese, in a single piece, plus shavings for garnish
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 cup arugula, roughly chopped
enough pasta for two people (i refuse to tell you how much pasta to eat. that’s your journey and i won’t interfere…but i made about two cups of fresh pasta for two people.)

preheat your oven to 425 degrees. quarter and core your pears, and place on a baking ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pastasheet or ovensafe dish. in an small bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and rosemary. brush over the pears, and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until soft and golden brown. allow to cool.

in a saucepan, combine wine, butter, salt and pepper. bring to a simmer and allow to reduce, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes. add cheese, rosemary, and red pepper flakes, continuing to stir until cheese is melting and sauce is beginning to thicken. if the cheese has melted completely you can leave it in – otherwise, remove it and discard.

once the pears are cool enough to touch, carefully remove the peels. dice the pears and add them to your sauce. (if you’d prefer a smooth sauce, you can puree the pears before adding them.) turn heat to low, cooking for five more minutes. at this point, taste and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper. you can add more wine (or your favorite stock) if you find the sauce too thick, or more butter if you’d like it to be thicker.

cook your pasta according to recipe or package instructions. fresh pasta only takes a few minutes to cook – i cook mine for about 2 minutes – so don’t start the pasta until you’re ready to eat. strain the pasta and toss with the sauce, adding the arugula. separate into serving dishes or individual bowls and garnish with shaved pecorino.

ginger-snapped.com | pear & pecorino pasta

citrus & chicken

it’s been an overwhelming few months.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

getting through the end of winter and welcoming spring with open arms. beginning a photography class and trying to boost my resume, fantasizing about working with food and drinks and words and photographs and social media and all those lovely things all day, every day. trying to come to terms with ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta saladthe death of my long-ill grandmother and a bombing in my city, all in the same week. running a half marathon in dc a week and a half after the marathon bombers were apprehended, and being overwhelmed by support and love and refusing to give in to fear.

i haven’t known what to say here. too much has happened, and it feels like i’ve been struggling to keep my head above water. but as well as not writing, i haven’t been cooking either. and i miss both. these things keep me grounded, keep me together. they remind me of who i really am, what i want. and these things that i often take for granted, getting lost in a beautiful novel or letting my words spill out into the universe or playing with old ingredients to create something new – i need them. even if my dream job doesn’t exist, even if i end up doing something completely unrelated to food or visual media or writing – i need to keep doing this.

this blog is a selfish thing, really. sometimes it keeps me sane. it reminds me to take joy in small victories, to continue writing and taking pictures and staying in touch with other food-loving people in my life. it makes me happy, even when it’s not easy.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

so does this recipe, actually. except that unlike my blog entries, this recipe takes about twenty minutes to prepare.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

the story of this dish is a little strange. i’m taking a photography class at the new england school of photography with a delightful photographer named keitaro yoshioka, and it’s absolutely wonderful. and after classes on the basics, on light, portraits, sports, families, and landscapes, we finally got to my bread and butter (pun only partially intended) – still life photography.

naturally, after playing with some other objects, i just had to start shooting food. wanting to play more withginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad natural light, as well as use studio lighting and some other techniques we’d learned in class, i chose several vivid citrus fruits, cut them into various shapes, and spent a delightful afternoon playing around with my camera.

of course, i was left with some images that i really loved…and a large tupperware bursting with fresh-cut citrus, just waiting to be used in some bright, tart, addictive dish.

what else could i do but start cooking?

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

the great thing about cold pasta salads like this is that you can adapt them to whatever you have on hand. try adding capers, or bell peppers, or a little red onion. leave out the feta or switch it up for another cheese that you like. use greek yogurt with lemon juice instead of the vinaigrette if you’re pressed for time or want it to be creamier or simply aren’t in the mood to dice up a shallot. and if you don’t happen to have a refrigerator full of cut-up fruit, you can use whatever you like. try all lemon, add some more lime, or focus more on the grapefruit. it’s completely up to you – think of this recipe as more of a rough guideline.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta saladcitrus chicken & pasta salad with honey-citrus vinaigrette

1 1/2 lbs chicken breast or chicken tenders, shredded
12 ounces pasta, cooked al dente
1 large tomato, diced
6-8 basil leaves, finely diced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, as needed to taste

vinaigrette
(this recipe makes more than you’ll need for the pasta salad – use the rest on greens, veggies, or as a marinade for fish or poultry!)

1 medium shallot, finely diced
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

in a large bowl, combine shredded chicken (this is my preferred method of preparing the shredded chicken), cooled pasta, tomato, basil, feta cheese, and red pepper flakes. in a mason jar or reusable container, combine shallot, honey, olive oil, white wine vinegar, orange juice, grapefruit juice, lime juice, salt, and pepper. toss as much dressing as you like in with the chicken and pasta mixture, then add extra salt and pepper as needed. you can serve this warm and eat it immediately, or chill it until you’re ready – it’s yummy either way.

ginger-snapped | citrus & chicken pasta salad

an unhealthy alternative

there are some gorgeous summer days when all you can think about are fresh things – juicy watermelon dripping down your chin, a cold glass of fresh brewed lemony iced tea, sweet tomatoes with basil and fresh mozzarella drizzled in olive oil. spring and summer are so wonderful because fresh produce is everywhere, grilling is a daily event, and you can almost taste the sunshine as you’re eating.

today was just not one of those days.

today, i was sick of eating tofu. today, i drank my v8 juice and ate my low-calorie breakfast and went for a long walk with the dog. today, i was feeling good about my veggie-filled lunch and my small helping of potato salad. but then, i just wasn’t feeling it. i needed something unhealthy, something filled with empty calories, something salty and bad for me.

i needed something fried

what’s a girl to do? i’ve been on a diet for 10 weeks, and have lost as many pounds. i just decided to go vegetarian for the summer to stay healthy, and i’ve been working out whenever my injured knee will allow. but today, i gave in to my cravings.

if you’re going to eat something bad for you, you might as well go all the way. i decided that it was a fried ravioli kind of day, and busted out the hot oil and breadcrumbs. if you’re on a healthy kick and feeling good about it, you should probably stop reading. but if you’re feeling rebellious and cranky, by all means, follow the recipe below.

this is not an entry filled with fresh ingredients and bright colors – this is fried pasta with marinara sauce, and i refuse to apologize for it. Continue reading

tofu and veggie pasta salad

so far (3 days in), the whole vegetarian thing hasn’t been so bad. sure, i went out with some friends last night and was about to order a burger before i remembered that i wasn’t eating red meat, but i ended up getting a veggie quesadilla instead and didn’t feel too deprived.

however, the pathetic tofu mash in my refrigerator really had me down today. in my excitement yesterday over crafting my first tofu burger, i mashed up the entire block of tofu, following the recipe and then ultimately hating it. i’ve been irritated all morning – what am i supposed to do with all of this tofu? i’ve been browsing vegetarian recipes and blogs, scouring cookbooks, but nothing jumped out at me. and googling “tofu mash” isn’t particularly helpful.

finally, i decided to do what i do best – just start cooking and see what happens. the result was a lovely sauteed tofu and fresh veggie pasta salad, which was refreshing, light, and delicious on this gorgeous summer day. sauteing the tofu gave it a much better texture, and combining it with the crisp veggies and cold pasta made for a really satisfying meal.

Continue reading