And just like that, I have an empty nest. I mean, one day my daughter and her friends are splayed all over the couches and sleeping on the studio floor and the next day we’re saying good-bye to a college freshman and the house is empty. Wow, this is certainly a game changer.
Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted her to go away to school. She’s been ready for a long time now and has great new adventures ahead of her, but having a quiet house is a foreign concept after all these years.
I’m reaching back in my memory to think of things my husband and I used to do when we were newly married and had no child. I remember watching cooking shows on PBS and football games on Sundays, complete with game-day munchies. These days we don’t have cable or TV, so rooting for the Pats and eating our way through 7-layer dip is out.
What if I stretch way oh way back to when we were dating? My husband and I lived in two different states and only got together on weekends. We’d meet on Friday nights where one of our rituals was cooking a meal together and winding down from the week. While we’ve shared a house for 22 years now, it would be fun to go back and share the kitchen again, preparing a meal that’s quite different from our weeknight fare. And I have just the recipe to make: chorizo with homemade pasta.
Chorizo, if you haven’t tried it yet, is a spicy pork sausage that includes ground peppers and smoked paprika. It’s often a deep red color, and a favorite in Mexican, Spanish, and Portuguese cuisine. It can be found in larger grocery stores near the Italian sausage, or in smaller specialty shops. It’s well worth seeking out for its unique flavor, but hot Italian sausage can be used if you can’t find chorizo.
So, get ready to divvy up some tasks and work with your favorite partner to make this easy weekend meal.
Partner 1 (a.k.a. my hubby):
Slice 1 pound of chorizo into 1/4″ rounds or ovals. Sauté over medium heat just until they begin to brown. Yes, chorizo is a fatty sausage, as you can see, so the rounds will fry just a touch. I know I’m not going to eat this dish every day, and a little fried sausage is amazing in moderation.
Remove the sausage from the pan and discard all but a tablespoon of the fat.
Partner 2: (that’s me):
Hop on over to our fresh pasta blog and prepare the dough.
Add one medium onion, sliced, and sauté for another 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown on the edges. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 3 cloves minced garlic. Adding the garlic a little later than the onion, and with a touch of extra fat, helps keep it from burning and turning bitter.
Partner 2 in the meantime is letting her pasta dough rest and enjoying a glass of wine.
Pour in one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to avoid scorching. Cook for about 10 minutes.
By now your fresh pasta should be cut and ready to go. Remember, fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than dried, so have everything else ready. Dinner will be on the table in the next 10 minutes. I can’t wait!
Partner 1: Add 4 cups chicken stock and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika to the tomatoes, and stir well. Regular paprika will work fine; smoked paprika gives you added depth of flavor and richness.
Toss in the pasta, separating the strands as you go. Bring the dish back to a boil and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the pasta is nearly done. Test a strand every few minutes until the pasta is tender, but still has a touch of firmness to it.
Where is Partner 2? I believe she’s set the table and refilled her wine glass. Thanks for asking!
Add the chorizo back to the pan and cook for a few minutes to heat through and finish cooking the pasta. If you can resist sneaking a few spoonfuls of the sauce, you’re a better person than I am. It’s so flavorful it’s impossible to resist!
Serve the pasta hot in big bowls with plenty of sauce and some good crusty bread. Top with queso fresco or mild feta, and chunks of avocado.
You know, I rather liked this return to our past. I’m sure we’ll find ways to fill our time and our home with friends and family. If you’re in the neighborhood, we can even cook together – as long as I always get to be Partner 2.
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Have an idea for me to try now that I’m an empty-nester? Share your comment below, I’m game for new adventures!