I had this whole post written about marriage. About how easy it was before we were parents. So easy we high-fived ourselves. And about how hard it’s been since becoming parents. It was about how this Balsamic Pasta (with a salad on top) saved us. A recipe I recreated from a dish we ordered on a much needed date night a couple months ago. I deleted it. Because I got to the end and realized it wasn’t the pasta dish, though so good and quick. You need to make it. It was the ping pong table from Craigslist that saved us.
The one I told him to hold off on so I could finish the rest of the house. The one he bought anyways. The table we’ve been playing ping pong on night after night. Where we learned to shut off the rest of the world. Baby included. (Don’t worry she’s happily sleeping.) Close the door. And have fun. We laugh. I make crazy, uniformed hits across the table that sometimes hit and surprise us both.
The other day, he told me it was the best investment he’s ever made. He wasn’t talking about the ping pong table. He was talking about us.
Everything got hard when we became parents. 10,000 decisions all at once. Decisions we most often came to a different conclusion on. Decisions we made while very sleep deprived. Things felt heavy. So heavy we forgot to have fun, something we had plenty of prior to.
Someone asked me career advice a while back. I told them to play. To find a hobby and make stuff. Lots of stuff. Then see what sticks. I think marriage is a whole lot like that now, and probably then too. You have to play. And laugh. And have fun. And forget about the mortgage payment, the mid-night wake up call from the tiny person down the hall, and the red number going up and up and up next to your email app for just a second. Life gets heavy as you get older. There’s no fighting it. I’ve done the plenty of that and lost.
Play and have fun. Invest in what matters. Skip the fancy chair and buy a ping pong table or something. Just play. And make this 20 minute restaurant dinner too. Balsamic-hugged fettuccini noodles topped with a salad that wilts with a couple fork twists. It’s a good kind of wilt (coming from a sautéed spinach hater).
It’s pasta with a salad on top. A light yet creamy balsamic sauce hugs the noodles. The greens wilt, the tomatoes barely soften, and the cheese melts as the salad and pasta become one.
1/2 c. olive oil
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
squirt of honey
generous pinch of kosher salt
freshly cracked pepper, to taste
16 oz. whole wheat fetuccinni
2 large handfuls of spinach/spring mix
2 large handfuls of cherry tomatoes
1/2 c. heavy cream
feta or goat cheese
Make vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Whisk well until emulsified (oil and vinegar become one). Set aside. This can be made up to a couple days in advance and stored covered at room temperature.
Make pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Just before the water boils, heavily salt. Add noodles and cook according to the package.
Meanwhile, chiffonade (or thinly chop) greens. Half or quarter cherry tomatoes depending on their size. Set aside.
Strain pasta reserving a bit of the liquid in the pan (about 1/4 cup or so). I strain pasta in the pan, using a chefs knife to catch the pasta but let the water through.
If not already, add pasta back into the pan. Pour balsamic and heavy cream over the pasta. Salt to taste. Turn heat back on to medium high and gently stir noodles until the sauce hugs the pasta, about 2-3 minutes.
Plate. Top with greens, tomatoes, and feta (or goat cheese). Serve warm.