I am learning that you can never predict your moments–your moments of such beauty or fragility or joy that make you pause, sometimes with your jaw dropped open. You never know when sentiment is suddenly going to overtake you just because your brother is helping you make dinner or because the trees are so red they overwhelm you or because you realize just how much you love the people you are with. You never know when your prayers will be reduced to perhaps a single word of thanks because it is all you can manage in such sudden overwhelming and unexpected holiness.
You can do a little to speed it along sometimes. You can take yourself out of your home or your office and into the woods. You can dim the lights and light the candles and turn the television off. You can listen to music, the songs that get you every time. There are a couple of them for me. Dave Matthew’s Band’s The Maker. And recently, like today in the car, Mumford and Son’s Holland Road.
But I still believe
Though there’s cracks you’ll see
When I’m on my knees I still believe
And when I hit the ground
Neither lost nor found
If you’ll believe in me I’ll still believe
Life has been kind of rough for us lately. Not in a particular way, like we need someone to pity us for anything. Just in a kind of trudging along when there is not any particularly good news (but not any particularly bad news either). Some things recently have been particularly stressful. Some things–family time, weekends–have been particularly good. But in general, there has just been this sense of roughness about it all, like we just need to make it through the year and then we can breathe some fresh air in 2014.
And it’s in those times when those moments catch you, when you suddenly have tears in your eyes in the car because everything strikes you at once.
This pasta dish made me happy. Purely joyfully happy as I ate it on the couch last night. Gerrit had to work late and I sat on the couch watching TV and eating this pasta out of a bowl. And when I was done, I went straight to skillet with my fork and ate some more. And if that doesn’t mark a good pasta dish, and something to be joyful about when things feel generally rough, I don’t know what does.
I added a couple of things to this recipe that I thought it needed: garlic, white wine, Parmesan cheese; which, in my opinion, were great improvements. This dish is rich without feeling heavy–comfort in a bowl. Also–not sure what to do with the rest of your mascarpone cheese? Try these danishes–one of my favorite breakfast treats.
- 1 lb. small shaped pasta (shells, orechiette, etc.)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 lb. turkey or chicken sausage, casing removed
- 1 medium sized shallot, peeled and diced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente. Drain the pasta, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water (or make the sauce while the pasta cooks and ladle out a cup of water as you need it).
- While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and shallot and cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through (about 5-10 minutes), using a spoon or spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces as it cooks and to stir it together with the shallot.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute, stirring. Then add the beans and oregano and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the white wine and use a spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated. Then add about 1/2 cup of the pasta water (more if your sauce seems like it needs it) and mascarpone and cook, stirring until it becomes a sauce. Add and pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add the pasta and the Parmesan, and stir until all the pasta is coated in the sauce. Serve immediately.
adapted from Giada di Laurentiis