Though this ripened tomato pasta dish is easy, it still feels special, and it’s easy to adapt with what you have on hand.
Just the Food Stuff:
This recipe is one of those loose recipes born of resourcefulness, born of what I had in my pantry and freezer. It’s a way of taking a flavorful ingredients (chorizo) and stretching it. It’s way of wasting less by utilizing produce past its prime (ripened tomatoes). It’s a way of adding big bursts of flavor with a pantry staple (sun-dried tomatoes). Though this ripened tomato pasta dish is easy, it can still feel special, and during these times of uncertainty, we all need more ways to find something special, or at least something hedging on “normal.”
Plus, This Recipe is Easily Gluten-Free:
With grocery stores struggling to keep their shelves stocked, lots of the gluten-free pastas have remained. I happen to like these varieties even when I have all the options. They offer a way to include different nutrient groups in a meal. In the case of this dish, featuring Barilla’s red-lentil rotini (this post is not sponsored by them), you’re adding legumes to your diet under the guise of comforting carbs. Win win!
Just the Personal Stuff:
Living alone has taught me a lot about myself. Living alone during COVID-19 has taught me A LOT about myself. At the beginning of the year, I was filling my dining room table with food, filling my home with life, and filling my proverbial cup with connection. When social distancing stripped those options away, I found myself left with what Pema Chödrön calls “hot loneliness.”
“So even if the hot loneliness is there, and for 1.6 seconds we sit with that restlessness when yesterday we couldn’t sit for even one, that’s the journey of the warrior.” – Pema Chödrön
At the beginning of social distancing, I wasn’t ready to sit with the “hot loneliness” yet, didn’t want to be in the same room as hot loneliness. I turned to entertainment and endless phone scrolling, often at the same time. I would get sucked into negative feedback loops on Facebook. Hours just disappeared. I ate, but I didn’t taste my food.
None of it helped.
It made me feel more disconnected, so I slowly started finding ways to shift. I focused on taking care of myself in ways I never have – not just physically but mentally and emotionally too. I started volunteering to assemble face masks for health workers. Even though I mostly sat by myself while working, the act of service felt reviving and connecting.
I started taking really long walks and observing the smallest shifts in my environment – the spread of green blossoms across a tree, the bloom of lilacs, the lushness surrounding the little foot path in the stretch of woods, a koi pond I never knew existed.
I started writing stream-of-consciousness pages as part of the practice of The Artist’s Way. I reached out to an aunt and a cousin I’ve long wanted to know better. I worked on speaking up and protecting my heart. More and more, I could sit in the solitude of my current existence. More and more I could find solace in what was becoming a lukewarm loneliness.
I found myself eating at the table, wanting to be more conscious of what I was eating, wanting the quiet. I created a ritual of gratitude to say before each meal because I am one of the lucky ones in this. I have a home, food, heat, shelter and my health, and I want to remember that everything I have is a gift. I set the table, lit a candle, picked flowers daily. I found something special in the void. I made simple pastas with big flavors, and I tasted my food. Creativity blossomed from resourcefulness.
I set on the path of 2020 with the goals of disconnecting to connect, of having less to have more. As the saying goes, be very careful what you ask for. Fittingly, the universe delivered these challenges tenfold, but I’m grateful it did (to be very clear – I’m not grateful for the destruction and loss caused on a global scale by this pandemic, just grateful for my opportunity. No two journeys are alike through this crisis).
Though I still long to fill my table with friends, to dine under twinkling lights and share a bottle of wine together, I am learning to sit with loneliness in a new way, and I’m grateful to have arrived here.
Just The Julep Stuff:
Truth be told, I am cheating a bit because I am never really alone. I always have my trusty sidekick, so even if I’m eating by myself, it’s still sort of a table for two…
Ripened Tomato Pasta with Chorizo
- 1 ¼ cups uncooked red lentil rotini
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 4 oz chorizo sausage (1 link)
- 4-6 tomatoes-on-the-vine coarsely chopped
- 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil coarsely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Cook and drain the pasta, as directed on the package.
- Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook the garlic in oil for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add the chorizo link; cook, breaking up with a spoon or metal spatula, until browned and cooked through, 5–7 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are soft and the sauce is slightly thickened.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes. Season with the Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute more, then serve the sauce over the pasta.
- Garnish with grated parmesan cheese & enjoy!