Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Solstice: Long Days, Quick Meals

As we creep our way towards Summer Solstice here in the far North, the days are growing increasingly long, with about 21 hours of visible light. It's been weeks since I woke up in the night and saw true darkness through the slats of the blinds. The setting sun gradually lowers over the course of hours, like a skipping stone skimming across mountain tops ; nothing like the straight sink of sunsets near the equator. The time stamp on the above photo was 10:46 pm.

This time of year seems to simultaneously energize and tire me. I've heard that the lack of true darkness sets our hypothalmuses off kilter, and reduces the amount of deep, restful sleep we get. Plus, so much daylight brings all kinds of social and recreational opportunities, and increases my work output in a way that winter's sleepy quiet does not.

Ironically, with such endless days, I have found myself short on time. Too much activity, too much to do. It's not uncommon for me to feel less like a human being this time of year, and more like a human doing. So when dinner time rolls around I'm more interested in quick and easy throw-together meals than elaborate feasts. What's fast, fresh, and can be served from one pot? Here's the answer I came up with this week...Enjoy it, and Happy Solstice! I'm off to go do stuff...

Beans and Greens Fusilli
with Sausage and Garlic Coins

serves 3 to 4

This comes together super fast, so make sure you have the ingredients ready and in place by the time you start sauteing the garlic. I used Italian chicken sausage for this, reducing the fat by about half.

8 ounces fusilli or penne pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into coins
3/4 lb. italian sausage (sliced if using links)
pinch of chili flakes
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine
1 - 15 ounce can great northern or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
5 ounces pre-washed baby arugula or spinach
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
2 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese

1. Open the wine and pour yourself a glass. Ahhh... day is done.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring until browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove sausage from skillet, drain if necessary, and set aside.

4. In the same large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat, and add garlic coins. Cook, stirring, just until they begin to color. Watch carefully as the garlic will become bitter if it gets too brown. As soon as you start to see the edges of the garlic turning gold, immediately add chicken stock and white wine. Add chili flakes and simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/3.

5. Add sausage and beans to pan and cook stirring, 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Add greens and cook, stirring until they begin to wilt. Add pasta and fresh tomatoes, season generously with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dish it up and sprinkle with cheese.

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails