The summer’s coming to a close. The deep, thick layer of humidity is slowly dissipating, threaded with small shards of crisp fall that desperately want to make their presence known. Everything feels slow for a short while longer. September is creeping in, eager to launch us back into fast-forward, amused by how nonchalant our brains have become underneath the orange rays.
It’s been a tumultuous week. Tragedy has found its way into our lives in sudden, very unanticipated ways. My priorities of weeks past, lists for the wedding, “vital” to-dos are all relative at this point. Most of what we think is important turns out not to be, anyway. We have our breath, we have our bodies, we have feet calloused from holding our weight as we walk. We are so lucky for these delicate things, for this delicate life. Our biggest “flaw” is having hearts too big to handle the delicateness of our bodies and the swiftness with which the world can take them. We’re all but a whisper in this timeline.
I can’t always say things out loud the same way as when I write them on paper. A hug can’t always heal the pain that lives beneath the skin. Food can’t fill a void of somebody who was taken away. But it’s a start. So here’s a recipe for you all—feed your bodies, because they are the most special thing you have. Feed your bodies because they’re impermanent and deserve respect. Feed your bodies so you can keep seeing this big world, because it’s perfect. And heartbreaking. But perfect.
Zoodles w/Mushrooms, Chicken, Tangy Lemon & Parmesan
-2 large zucchinis
-4-6 tablespoons of shredded parmesan
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 package of white mushrooms, sliced
-3/4lb boneless chicken breast & seasoning (paprika, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary)
-1 large ripe lemon, juice & zest
-1 tablespoon goat cheese (ideally, honey goat cheese)
Zoodles are a new venture for me. I decided to see what all the fuss was about with this “pasta alternative”. Let’s be real—there IS no alternative to pasta. Pasta is bae. But zoodles were a surprisingly satisfying “light” option, with more flavor than I expected and a similarly satisfying chew. Texture is everything.
Wash your zucchinis (keep the skins on) and use a peeler designed to julienne, resulting in long strands. Once you hit that soft, seed-filled part of the zucchini, stop pealing. I haven’t found a good use for the middle portions, but I imagine they would work well in soup.
Place the strands into a colander, sprinkle generously with salt, and allow to sit for 10 minutes to draw out moisture. Once this is done, squeeze bunches of zucchinis between paper towels. This will help avoid soggy zoodles.
While you’re waiting for the zoodles to sit in their salt soak, you can start your chicken and mushrooms. I was fortunate enough to recently obtain a fancy Cuisinart nonstick pan and I have to say it’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. Chicken cooks especially well because the juices don’t seep into the pan but instead rest on the surface, bathing the meat in a bath of flavor.
Non-stick or not, season your chicken well and cut it into small pieces, sautéing until cooked through. Splash the pan with a little lemon and water and cover it with a lid for at least 30 seconds to steam. Set aside.
If your mushrooms are not being done on a non-stick pan, add some canola oil and place over medium heat. Toss in the sliced mushrooms with a generous sprinkle of salt, and sauté until the mushrooms begin to shrink and brown. At the last moment, splash the pan with balsamic vinegar and toss to coat. Set aside.
Using the pan you cooked your chicken in, heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat for the zoodles. Add your garlic, cook for 30 seconds, and then add your zoodles. Sprinkle with a little more salt, and using a wooden spoon, sauté and toss the zoodles so that they are evenly covered with oil. Add the lemon juice and zest. They should only need about 4 minutes to cook and should taste “al dente”, or halfway between soft and crunchy. Once they’re done, add any chicken juice that’s gathered at the bottom of the plate and swirl in your goat cheese, stirring until it’s melted and creamy.
On a plate, pile your zoodles, mushrooms and chicken, covering the whole plate with the lemon sauce and sprinkling a generous amount of Parmesan on top. Feed your soul with tangy flavors. If that doesn’t work for you…follow up with a starchy, unhealthy plate of actual pasta. Life is short and you deserve it (you actually do).