We awoke yesterday to 40 degree temps, cold rain on the mesa and snow in the mountains… One day left to “fall,” but winter had given us a draft of the final memo. Herb pots were rapidly ushered into the south dining room window and house plants, happy outdoors since June (well, sometimes), returned to their spots on top of the cabinets and hanging in the mudroom. Pansies, stoic and strong (“I can do this!”) stayed outside on the table and the geraniums in big planters just took their chances.

Dogs nosed around in the wet, then raised their heads to lead a pose with their drifting noses back and forth: “And I came out here, why?” New dog ran right back inside and hit my bed. (He’s still learning; I don’t like dogs in my bed. Next to; in front of, yes. In, emphatically: NO.)

It was also the first day of our daughter’s life in real seminary at Princeton after a preliminary, but exquisitely difficult, summer Greek course. We were anxious to hear about things like “New Testament Exegesis,” which sounds perhaps just as complicated as it is. Interpretation from the original language is how she puts it. Having no Greek or Hebrew, we’ll have to rely on what she tells us. I often read the Bible in multiple translations (all English, with occasional Spanish) at once because it helps me to think about understanding things a bit better; I’ll leave the rest to her! Occasionally, over the years of academia away from home, she will ask, “What’s for dinner?” just as if she were still here. I had no time this call for an explanation of a new pasta dish I had made, but I have it here for you!

It’s almost the end of September Staples around here, but I was just using up the rest of the frozen chicken thighs from Hutson’s Tortellini Soup. Of course, if you buy most meats in huge packages and divvy them up yourself, you’ll save a bit of cash. Same thing with these thighs; I buy them in large quantities and package them in freezer bags of four or six. The day I made this pasta, I had no time to shop at all and simply walked into the kitchen grabbing what vegetables were available that I thought might hit it off with the unthawing thighs. I almost always have squash of several types for risotto or quick omelets, so I grabbed some of those and began to think.

Before I knew it, I had a pot of water boiling for pasta, knowing that if I had the time limit of the water coming to a boil and the pasta cooking, we would eat in a half an hour. As we had a dvd of an old movie to watch, time was of the essence. About once every other week or so, we set up dinner on trays and watch a movie. Too relaxing!

Chicken and pasta or fish and pasta is so light, but also quite filling and, naturally, very good for you. Here’s the recipe from the most recent experiment. We adored the Pecorino Romano on board; what a great flavor at a fraction of the price of parmesan these days. I scraped it with the potato peeler for large gratings and good, pronounced and intense flavor. Here’s how:

First the veg, then the meat… I didn’t want the meat chewy.

Chicken Squash Pasta in White Wine Sauce
Serves 3-4

¾ # spaghetti or linguine
Salt and pepper
1 T + 1t olive oil
¼ t red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 med onion, coarsely chopped
1 ea med zucchini and yellow squash, sliced
1/2 # asparagus, cut into 1 ” pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 sliced boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
½ c white wine
½ lemon, juiced
2 t butter, optional

1/2 c cherry tomatoes

4T Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring 8-10 qt pot of water to boil, salted, peppered and oiled with 1 tsp. olive oil. Cook pasta as directed on package ‘til al dente. (Pasta continues to cook in colander.)

In large sauté skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat for 1 minute. Add onion and squashes. Cook until softened and add garlic and salted and peppered sliced chicken thighs. When thighs are whitened around edges, add wine, lemon juice and butter. Cook, stirring gently, until chicken is barely done. Add tomatoes and barely stir. Turn off heat.

Add pasta to bowls and top with chicken, vegetables and sauce. Grate romano on top and serve while quite hot. I also topped the pasta with a teense of leftover marinara and fresh basil I had leftover from Eggplant Parmesan hoagies. Si place (do as you like.) Refrigerate leftovers and reheat at half-power in microwave. Reheats well!

Wine: We used a lovely off-dry Riesling to offset the heat of the red pepper.

Dessert: Oatmeal Raisin cookies

Who do you know that loves pasta?

Sing a new song,

Alyce