Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Week in the Life of My Stomach

Often, when I tell people that I cook at school, they ask me what I make. I never know what to say. I make a little of this and a little of that. It varies with the busyness of my schedule and my mood, and I rarely use a recipe. This post is my attempt to answer that question, so for all those who’ve ever wondered what I eat, here’s a dinner menu for a week as typical as any.

On Friday, I made whole wheat angel hair with lots of asparagus, pesto, and a sprinkle of crushed hazelnuts. Hazelnuts may sound like an odd addition, but a year or so ago, I had an amazing pasta dish with crushed hazelnuts at Boulud Sud in New York. The nutty taste was the perfect complement to the pasta, pesto, and short rib ragu, and ever since that dinner, I’ve been adding hazelnuts to my own pasta dishes.

On Saturday night, I went to the Bellini Grill downtown with a few of friends. Despite having pasta the night before, I couldn’t resist and ordered the Fusillli con Salmone. I was impressed by the uniqueness of the dish – it’s not something I’ve seen at other Italian restaurants in the city – and enjoyed the combination of fresh salmon, pasta, and the aurora brandy sauce, which was much like a vodka sauce. Although the restaurant was rather cramped, I enjoyed the food and would put the Bellini Grill near the top of my Philadelphia Italian list.
Then on Sunday, it was back to cooking, and happily, I had some ingredients that I had gotten at the Clark Park Farmers’ Market the day before. I enjoyed corn on the cob, a toss salad, and a tuna melt. Instead of mixing tuna with the traditional mayonnaise, I opted for balsamic vinegar with a drizzle of olive oil. Topped with tomato and gruyere cheese and swerved on limpa bread – a sweet Swedish rye flavored with anise and orange peel – it made a delicious sandwich.

On Monday, I took the easy way out and defrosted leftovers that I had in the freezer. Ratatouille and sausage pot pie is one of my all-time favorite meals, and while it’s more time consuming than I would take on at school, I almost always make it with my mom when I go home. I love all the vegetables in the ratatouille and the cornmeal biscuits are delicious enough to eat on their own.

I actually decided to use a recipe – although loosely – on Tuesday and made Spinach and Spaghetti Squash Casserole from Daily Unadventures in Cooking. (Click here for the recipe.) In this case, I dare say that my procrastination technique of food blog perusing was put to very good use. The recipe is quite easy, healthy, and so delicious, and with the tomato sauce, onion, and gruyere cheese, it’s packed with flavor. It’s also up to the challenge of satisfying the meanest of cravings for lasagna, and for all the starch lovers out there who aren’t the biggest fan of vegetables, it is much heartier than the typical vegetable dish.

On Wednesday, my menu plan changed at the last minute when I picked up some fresh corn at the farmer’s market. I sautéed the corn – cut off the cob – with mushrooms, a tomato, and tuna fish; mixed in some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and rosemary; and served it on top of fresh spinach. It wasn’t the prettiest looking meal, but it was super easy and tasted pretty good. I didn’t bother to photograph my Thursday dinner as it’s a meal that’s quite familiar to most. I had pizza at a 6pm meeting and basically left it at that. The vegetable monster in me did feel the need to eat a bit of salad when I got home, but that wasn’t really worthy of a photo either. And there it is: a week of dinners in my life as a college student – some cooking, a little eating out, some reliance on reheating in the microwave, and a night of pizza. In the coming week, I probably won’t have any of the same meals, but at the end of class each day, I know I’ll be looking forward to enjoying dinner with friends. Wherever your dinners take you, I wish you the same.

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