Monday, September 5, 2011

Pasta with Zucchini, Lemon and Parmesan for a Relaxing Evening on my own...

Last night, I experienced something completely new - something that's never happened to me in my life - I was pulled over by a cop.  It was almost 1am, and we were on our way home from a late movie.  Crazy Stupid Love - LOVED it!! - not sure if Jamie shared my enthusiasm for how good it was, but he was sweet to see it with me.  Course, in exchange, I agreed to see Don't Be Afraid of the Dark with him next weekend...  :(

So anyway, we were on our way home and I was driving, minding my own business, going slightly under the speed limit at about 35 MPH, and I realized a cop was following me pretty closely, when after a minute or two, his lights started flashing.  My heart started to pound as I pulled over, I got hot and nervous, and was afraid I would start stuttering or saying stupid things.  I was hoping he was only pulling me over for something like a brake light being out.

He walked up to my car, shined his flashlight in my face, and informed me I'd been "weaving" and taking up two lanes.  Now here's the thing - I took a new route home from the theater back out to the main road, and the road was unfamiliar to me, curved and twisted all over the place, and it was dark out.  How else is one supposed to drive in the dark at 1am when they're not sure where the road is going to turn next?  I would think a little weaving on a road like that would be expected, but then Jamie told me that he's noticed I have a tendency to hug the left side of the lane I'm in, which may be what led the cop to say I was taking up two lanes (definitely an exaggeration).  So now I feel like I need to retrain myself where the center of the lane is, but it feels unnatural to drive any further to the right.

The whole experience with the cop didn't take more than two minutes as he checked my license and registration before sending me on my way with a warning, but it seemed to take forever.  I suppose he was just doing his job, but the dreaded feeling of getting in trouble lingered, and I went to bed with a stress headache.  Like the time in 1st or 2nd grade when I got in trouble at school and had to sit at the "no talking table" at lunch as punishment - when I got home, my mom asked me who I had sat with at lunch (she always asked that question, but that day it seemed that somehow...  she knew).  I told her I had sat with a boy I had a crush on and went on with whatever I was playing with.  But a few minutes later, guilt-ridden over my horrible lie, I went to find her in the laundry room and confessed the truth.  She hugged me, told me she was proud of me for telling her, and I didn't get punished.

It's the last day of the long weekend, and today, we're going to take a picnic lunch up to the mountains and enjoy the sun and beautiful weather.  We're going to have chicken salad lettuce wraps and some fruit, bread, cheese and crackers.  I wanted to take a bottle of wine, but we probably can't take that to a national park, so it's probably safer to enjoy that at home another time.  But before we head out, I wanted to leave you with this post and wonderful pasta recipe...  I had the rest of this post all typed out before I added my little rant at the beginning! :)

Friday night I had the condo to myself.  Jamie had a "guys night" at a friend's house for their annual fantasy football draft, so I was on my own.  The girls all went out for dinner, but I just spent a painful amount of money between the dentist and maintenance on my car (with still more to come - I can't believe my 100+ mile commute a day has put over 30,000 miles on my car in just over a year which means a lot of preventative maintenance...), so I'm feeling the pressure to save money where I can. 

A dinner on my own is usually something simple, although I still enjoy cooking for just me.  It's also a time when I can make a tasty vegetarian meal.  Don't get me wrong - I love meat!  We always have some kind of lean meat with dinner, but while Jamie prefers to not eat a meatless dinner, I really don't mind it at all.  Considering the fact that I subsisted on Cheerios with bananas or nectarines for dinner many-a-night in my single years, I got quite used to meatless meals.

So my choice tonight was whole wheat pasta with crisp zucchini noodles, seasoned deliciously but simply with Parmesan, lemon and fresh basil, and some sliced tomatoes on the side.  I love how the julienned zucchini mimics the spaghetti noodles but adds a nice textural crunch to the dish.  This technique of julienned zucchini is something I've become a little bit obsessed with this summer! :)  And I realize I tend to add sliced tomatoes to lots of dishes I make, but they're just so good.

I love that line from the song they play in the opening credits of Father of the Bride - "Just serve me tomatoes and mashed potatoes...  give me the simple life."

Pasta with Zucchini, Lemon and Parmesan
  • 2/3 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup pasta water
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • lemon zest of 1/2 lemon
  • lemon juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • salt and pepper
Cook the spaghetti in salted, boiling water according to the instructions on the box.

While the pasta is cooking, use a julienne peeler to create thin, noodle-like strips of the zucchini.  Set aside.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water.  Place the noodles in a large bowl, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese, and add the pasta water and olive oil.  Toss until the cheese has melted and created a sauce on the noodles.

Add the zucchini, basil, lemon zest and lemon juice and toss to combine.  Sprinkle generously with freshly cracked coarse pepper.  Season with salt, being sure not to over-salt the dish, since the cheese is salty.  Toss to combine and adjust seasoning if needed. 

Serve with the sliced tomatoes.  Makes 4-5 servings.