I didn’t feel like making anything extravagant tonight so I drove out to Whole Foods on a mission to buy cheese, basil and Banza pasta. All I knew is that I wanted to eat a cheesy pasta dish with vegetables. Did I end up buying only those three things? Hell no. It’s Whole Foods. I ended up grabbing granola bars, cashew milk, and fire starters. Making fires has mostly been going well at home, but the last couple days we were lacking the good luck and appeasement of the fire gods.
Now I know it might sound crazy but cooking calms me down. For me, it’s a de-stressor. But I haven’t always had the space, mentally and physically, to enjoy it fully. I can think of times I’ve cooked in the past. At university in Australia, cooking food I could just afford like cheap pasta with overly salted pre-made sauce while wedged in between people cooking bok choy or frozen chicken pot pies, wasn’t always fun. It was survival and sometimes we need to do that. Who hasn’t? Who still doesn’t? (This recipe is actually good for those kind of moments.) I’ll admit that Sunday mornings were enjoyable when I ate fried eggs and toast slathered with butter, gobbled down with a hot pot of English Breakfast tea. That includes those first few divine bites of a kebab when out late with friends after a few drinks or Friday night Chinese takeout after a stressful week. And I have wonderful food memories like making homemade granola served with whole milk yoghurt and berries, or eating a beef wellington I made from scratch once or a slice of homey lemon drizzle cake. But I didn’t have the time or, frankly, the energy to cook. My mind was on studying and issues of the heart. Plus, I wasn’t too good at nourishing the body, and when I say body I mean the vessel that includes the mind, heart, and soul. I was making my way into adulthood and was far away from my parents for the first time. They lived in Spain. I was struggling with my mental health and figuring out a relationship. I didn’t know what nourishment meant yet and I wasn’t in the right headspace to pay too much attention to food.
Later, in New York, I was mostly depressed and hurting. My jobs were unfulfilling, the city was so hard, and I was living paycheck to paycheck. I couldn’t spend much money going out and my kitchen was tiny. There were a lot of ups and downs. The best meals I shared were by far the dinners eaten with my roommate and friend Jonathan. He’d go to the farmers’ market in Union Square nearly every Saturday. He loved buying fresh fish at this popular stall that always had a long line. He often brought back flowers and displayed them on the large wooden slab table in a pretty crystal pitcher that doubled as a vase. One of his favorite dishes to prepare was a simple steak salad. Beautifully tender hanger steak simply seasoned with salt and pepper served on top of fresh market greens and slices of colorful heirloom tomatoes. Jonathan passed away suddenly in December 2017. One day soon I’ll write more about him. I have to.
Back to Santa Fe. I’m cooking a lot now. I’ve found new joy in it. My head is in a place to try this cooking thing out. I feel free. My mental health is stable. I want to learn what my body needs. I want to feed myself with the earth. My soul. There are a lot of things to try and things to experiment with. But tonight, it was pasta. I used one of my favorite recent discoveries: Banza pasta. It’s pasta made from chickpeas that has more protein (2x more!) than regular pasta. Way more fiber and carbs are lower, too, so it’s a win win. Ingredients also include tapioca flour, pea protein, and xanthan gum to bind it all together. I was skeptical at first if it would taste as good as regular pasta as I’ve been disappointed by many alternative, gluten-free pasta out there. But it was really good! I’m tempted to use this for all future pasta dishes moving forward.
Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!
2 boxes Banza elbow pasta 2 tbsp olive oil 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (and a little more for garnish) 3 tbsp butter 3 tbsp all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp ground black pepper 1 cup milk 1 cup light cream (or you can use 1 cup more milk instead if you prefer) 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated Salt and pepper, to taste
2 boxes Banza elbow pasta
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped (and a little more for garnish)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup light cream (or you can use 1 cup more milk instead if you prefer)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste