Things have been sad this week. A close loss that’s left many feeling a constant aching numbness.
It never feels completely real - and leaves us all feeling slightly less invincible and secure of our place in life. I’ve been through a few of these by now, and I’m familiar with the unique numbness that only a death can cause a family, their friends, and their friends friends. The hurt and pain that seems to expand as wide and long as an ocean, tremendous and gaping, filled with grief and sadness.
My place in life, to be sure, is the mother hen. Always doting, always trying to offer comfort, whether needed or not, always acting out in hopes of a smile or even the slightest upturn of a frown. I have an unquenchable need to be needed, which can be a downfall at the best of times. I yearn to make others feel at ease, to usher away the bad thoughts and tears. Death is a hardship I am left defenseless against. It makes no mind of life plans or kindness paid. It’s ugly and mean and howls irrationally in the face of logic and love. It changes every single thing, in a mere blink.
Without being able to help or provide any lasting comfort, I’m finding myself increasingly lost. In moments of scattered thoughts, I turn to my kitchen, the only other thing that makes sense in a world of uncertain timing and premature endings. I’ve spent much time toiling in there this week, trying to make sense of life, to wrap my head around the why’s and the how’s. Of course, there will never be an answer - but it feels right to be surrounded by the beautiful ingredients, sun streaming through my dusty kitchen windows, everything placed on the counter with purpose and meaning. My kitchen is my joy. My truest happy place.
Life is far too short. Love hard and long, linger a while in the moments of happiness (and sadness), forgive quickly and find your joy, wherever it may rest.
Lemon-Yogurt Linguine with Arugula, Sugar Peas and Roasted Hazelnuts
A pasta made for my fellow lemon-lovers. Tangy, bright and tart balanced with peppery arugula, sweet sugar peas and a deep, toasty crunch from the roasted hazelnuts.
If I may, try to find some locally-grown arugula - it’s flavour is incomparable to that found at the super market.
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
zest from 2 lemons
1 1/2 tsp good quality Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1/2lb linguine (I used whole wheat)
1/2 cup starchy pasta water
2 big handfuls arugula
1/3 cup hulled sugar peas
1/3 cup Roasted Hazelnuts (recipe to follow), crushed
Fresh Ground Pepper
For the Sauce:
In a bowl, whisk the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice + zest, Dijon, salt and a few grinds of pepper together. Set aside.
For the Pasta:
Cook the pasta to Al Dente according to package instructions. Before straining, reserve 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water. Strain and return to large pot.
Add 1/2 the pasta water to the yogurt sauce and whisk well. Pour into the pasta pot and toss well until the pasta is coated. Add the arugula, peas to the pot. Taste for seasoning, add more salt and pepper if needed. If the pasta is dry, add more of the starch water to loosen it.
Divide the pasta among plates and garnish with the crushed hazelnuts and a drizzle of good quality olive oil.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Move nuts to a kitchen towel or paper bag and cover (or seal) for 5 minutes. Rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins (don’t worry about skins that don’t come off) and cool completely.