Spring is (finally) springing here in Boston, and though the farmers’ markets won’t be open yet awhile, I’m feeling the need to bring a little spring into my kitchen.
We’ve been eating hearty soups all winter, and while I love them, I’m mixing in a few lighter recipes these days. I’m on my annual asparagus kick, and last week I whipped up our favorite pasta salad.
I’m not a fan of most pasta salads – cold, slimy things full of suspect ingredients. But this particular one is warm, light and fresh. It involves several of my favorite things: juicy tomatoes, creamy goat cheese, peppery arugula. It’s quick and easy. And it makes me think of my friend Happy.
His real name isn’t Happy, of course – it’s Craig. He’s a tall Californian ex-hippie who’s lived in Texas for many years. Back when he used to blog, “Happy the man” was his blog moniker, and it stuck. His granddaughters, and lots of his friends, still call him Happy.
One spring when we lived in Abilene, J and I spent a weekend in Austin (during South by Southwest) for a college friend’s wedding. Happy and his wife, Laura, were our hosts – treating us to fish tacos at Wahoo’s and taking us to a couple of fabulous concerts. But we spent one rainy afternoon just hanging out at their house. Happy whipped up this dish, and we ate it from white ceramic bowls, curled up on their sectional leather couch with our shoes off. I felt so warm and taken care of and – well – happy.
Every time I make this for dinner, I remember that afternoon, and a little of that glow comes back. (Plus it’s delicious.)
This is more of a guideline than a recipe, but here goes:
- Boil a pot of salted water and cook pasta (we like fusilli or bow tie) according to package directions.
- Slice a handful of cherry or cocktail tomatoes; saute briefly in olive oil if you like.
- Toss pasta with tomatoes, 2-3 cups arugula, and a small log of goat cheese, crumbled.
- Garnish with a few grinds of black pepper. If you have some fresh basil to toss in, so much the better.
- Eat warm, in your favorite bowl. Enjoy!
What are your favorite springtime dishes?