There is a ritual in NW Indiana. It may not be limited to this area but it is definitely something I took notice of 19 years ago when I moved to the area. I am not sure if I would consider it a good practice or something I look forward to but I know it is going to happen.
It happens with a frenzied energy and it almost makes people have tunnel vision. They can only see one thing….one goal…one purpose….getting to the grocery store before the first big snowstorm.
Now this may sound a little dramatic but we live in the infamous snowbelt. Every year we get socked with the a monster known as lake effect snow. Our snowflakes don’t delicately waft out of the sky making us feel like we are in a winter wonderland. Our snowflakes whip out of the sky and slap us in the face with wind and ice. They are rotten snowflakes….and they mean business. (I think I hear them laughing.)
Part of their job is to make our roads completely unsafe for cars and trucks and make us feel like we will never be able to leave our home again. It almost gives you a paranoia which is what sets off our community to do some power shopping in case we get snowed in for days.
The funny thing is that this happens EVERY year. The stores know it. The workers know it. The customers know it. We know it will be crowded. We know that your favorite bread will be off the shelf. If you want milk, you better hope you have a neighbor with a cow because people will hoard that too!
We stock up on everything for that rare occasion that the roads stay bad for days and the delivery trucks can’t make it back in the area. We need to make sure that every craving is satisfied so we don’t get cabin fever. We need to be prepared. We need to plan ahead.
You can tell a lot by peeking at the carts of your fellow shopper. The mommys have a lot of snacks, beverages and maybe a game or two. The bachelors have beer, nuts and frozen pizzas. The seniors have ice cream (because senior citizens like ice cream), oatmeal and fruit.
I buy some really random things….a lot of veggies (because that makes me look like I make good choices), toilet paper (um, that doesn’t need explaining) and probably an extra bag of chips. My problem with this year’s first storm shopping trip is that I didn’t really plan out my meals….I just bought random ingredients with no particular recipe in mind.
It’ll be fine….the storm will be over….I can find something to eat…..right?
So, on Saturday the storm hit just like it was predicted. It was icy, windy and the snow was coming down quickly. At times, it was kind of beautiful but we had moments where I just hoped that our power would not succumb to the ice on the power lines.
I wasn’t too distraught with the thought of staying in until I looked in the fridge. What the hell was I thinking? I’ve got guacamole…nope that isn’t dinner. Ooooo, cheese…no…I want something warm. Hmmmm, can I make some sort of pasta? Yep, that is the winner!!!
My goal was to make something different and obviously use what I already had in the house. I had about 1 cup of roasted Brussels sprouts and 1 ½ cups of roasted cauliflower leftover from our dinner the other night. (Here is the link for the cauliflower recipe and the Brussels sprouts recipe that I originally used.) Could that be mixed with pasta? You bet it can.
I sautéed up an onion and added rosemary, thyme, red pepper and garlic. I added a little anchovy paste for a little saltiness and deglazed the pan with white wine. The cauliflower and Brussels sprouts were mixed it to warm them up (remember they were already roasted.)
The pasta choice was easy….what did I have in the pantry…bucatini (it is like a thick spaghetti with a hole in it). Perfect. (Pretty much any pasta that has a clinging property would be great.)
Incorporated the noodles in the pan with some pasta cooking water and the next thing I knew I had dinner.
It just wasn’t dinner, it was the perfect snowstorm dinner. There was an earthiness to it that warmed my soul. It had a nice roasted, charred flavor….it was the essence of comfort food during the snowstorm.
I think within the two days of snow, we received a little under a foot and were able to go out the next day. I can’t say that my pasta dish will make me look forward to our long winter but I do appreciate how moments like this pull out the creativity in a home cook….and I still have some chips I get to eat!!!
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp each ground rosemary, thyme and red pepper. (If you don’t like heat, omit the pepper)
- 1 tsp of anchovy paste (it doesn’t taste fishy, it is a nice salty component)
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 cup roasted Brussels Sprouts
- 1 1/2 cup roasted cauliflower
- 6-8 ounces bucatini
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
- olive oil
- Cook pasta per package instructions. You want it a little underdone because you will finish it in the pan. So if your package says 9-11 minutes, go for the 9 or taste the pasta to make sure it still has some chew on it.
- Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking liquid. (You aren’t going to use all of it.)
- In a large skillet, sauce the chopped onion in 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Cook them until they are soft.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Add the herbs and the anchovy paste. Cook another minute. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.
- Add the veggies and cook until they are heated up. (About 2 more minutes.)
- Add the pasta, broth and parmesan cheese. Increase heat and mix the pasta about so it gets coated. If it doesn’t seem saucy enough or if the pasta is not cooking all the way slowly introduce some of the pasta water.
- Taste the pasta to make sure it is done to your liking.
- Serve by itself (or with a simple piece of meat…I seared a pork chop for ours.)