Confessions of the Anonymous Dinner-Slave

Oh that’s not true. Well, the title is not completely true. I have been overwhelmed and feeling like all working people (moms and dads and grandmas and everyone) who serve a family dinner nearly every night should get some kind of merit badge. It’s tough. And as I’ve written in here before, it’s not just the making and the serving. No, it’s the thinking about it, what used to be called “meal planning.” It’s the psychic energy extended to the whole idea of what to cook for dinner. Then there’s the shopping, and the actually lugging of groceries into the house. Then you have to put all that food away, and somehow it seems like it was much easier to put it in the cart and even organize it onto the conveyer belt at the checkout than to put it all away in the right cupboard or fridge shelf.

It’s not that my family hasn’t been having dinner (or that I haven’t been cooking it). I haven’t been writing on the blog because having a new job is just so taxing, so many transitions to make, and things to get used to, and on and on. Sure, we’ve had more dinners out than I care to admit, and our neighbors have had us over much more often than they’ve been to our house. It has seemed that it took every ounce of my creativity and energy to get the meal on the table; there wasn’t much let to spend on reflection and creative writing.

But tonight I made an old stand-by. I have grade reports to write (pages and pages about how my students are doing in my classes), so I needed something easy and quick. I call this dish pasta with broccoli rabe and sausage; that’s pretty much it.

You have to start off boiling a big pot of water for the broccoli rabe. Get that going first. In the meantime, wash up the broccoli rabe and cut it into one to two inch pieces. Get the water going for the pasta too. I believe it’s supposed orecchiette, so that’s what I use, little ear-shaped pasta.

After the big pot of water is boiling, blanch the broccoli rabe for about 3-4 minutes. You can tell when it’s done because you’ll begin to smell the greens. Take them out and into a colander, shock them with some cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the green color.
Slice up some Italian or Italian-like sausage. I used D’Artagnan Mediterranean chicken sausage tonight. It wasn’t as heavy as the Aidells chicken sausage, so it made the dish lighter. Sauté the sausage slices in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil if you’re using a chicken sausage. Let them cook through.

Once the water in the other pot is boiling you’ll be ready to cook the pasta. It will take about 11 minutes for orecchiette.

Put about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil in the empty big pot that cooked the broccoli rabe. Toss in a peeled garlic clove, and turn on the heat so that the olive oil warms and is infused with the garlic. Throw in the cooked broccoli rabe, and let it sauté for a couple of minutes. I add salt, pepper, and a dash or two of hot red pepper flakes.

When the pasta is done, drain it, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Combine the pasta with the broccoli rabe, the sausage, and some freshly grate romano cheese. Serve and be thankful that you get to sit down.