A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Dec 12, 2012
09:00 AM
Local Flavor

The Gift of Cooking

The Gift of Cooking

My kids are counting down the days until Christmas. In fact my daughter sent me into a state of panic yesterday by announcing that there were twelve days until Christmas. What?! I went to the calendar and counted off the days left. It's still only the beginning of December, right? One...two...three...four...[heart skips beat]...thirteen days until Christmas?!

I am not one to leave things to the last minute, but somehow while October never ended, November completely eluded me.

I have two gifts purchased, and that's it. I'm thinking about all the things I should be doing that I'm not—buying gifts, stringing lights (lest my children think I'm a boring mom), and sending cards. But in truth, all I want to do is be in my cozy house and cook. Soups and breads for my family, cookies for my neighbors and a gingerbread house for my kids to decorate.

Though I still have to select gifts, and write cards, I can make one thing easier on myself—cooking dinners for my family. After a visit to RP's Pasta last week on a food tour, I came home with a package of  fresh linguini—so fresh it literally went from the machine into a bag, and then into my hands. RP's Pasta is so good and tasty that you barely need to dress it up. I sauteed a bit of winter kale, some squash and chicken sausage, with a simple olive oil and garlic sauce. Toss in the al dente noodles and voilà, a super-easy and delicious supper that will give me lots of energy for the other important tasks on my list—like baking cookies.

RECIPE: Fresh Pasta w/ Squash, Kale and Sausage

2 chicken sausages (Try Applegate chicken-apple sausage), sliced and browned in oil
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot sliced and chopped
1 cup roasted diced winter squash
1/2 cup blanched kale
2 tbsp butter
1 large clove garlic
1/4 cup white wine
olive oil and parmesan to finish
1/21 lb fresh pasta

Set a large pot of water on to boil.

Sauté shallots in olive oil until just beginning to brown, add in roasted squash and blanched kale and sautee another two minutes.
Melt butter in pan and add chopped garlic, stirring for a minute.
Put pasta in boiling water.
Pour in wine and stir, and add in a touch of pasta water or stock as necessary to keep mixture from burning.
Add herbs, pre-browned chicken sausage slices, and salt to taste.
Mix in al dente pasta (you may not use the whole pound—I didn't because I like a heavier sauce to pasta ratio)
Drizzle on more olive oil and freshly grated parmesan.

Enjoy immediately.

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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