My dad’s side of the family is German, and my mom’s side of the family is Irish. However, if I could choose any heritage strictly based upon food, it would most definitely be pasta-wielding, pizza-throwing Italians. This is not to say that my fellow Germans and Irishmen don’t possess worthy food traditions. I’ve always been partial to Lucky Charms and a bratwurst though not necessarily together. With Saint Patrick’s Day just behind us, I should be writing about corned beef and Guinness, but I shall save those delightful little morsels for after my trip to Ireland. I just booked a trip there to discover half of my food heritage and to search for me pot of gold. While that’s in the near future, today I would like to expound upon my deep infatuation for pasta.

The shape of Italy is a BOOT!

I’ve had a love affair with carbs for almost 26 years now or at least since I began eating solid foods. Remember that horrible fad diet that excluded all carbs, including pasta? Yeah, me neither. Talk about a heart-breaking world to live in. A world without pasta is no world for me. Pappardelle bolognese, fettucine alfredo, spaghetti carbonara and so on all ring like music to my ears. During an interview for an internship, I was asked, “If you could eat at any restaurant in the world, where would it be?” My response was “at an Italian grandmother’s house.” This was before I knew any of those fancy schmancy restaurants owned by former contestants of Top Chef or those other Food Network celebrity chefs, who may or may not actually be chefs. Yet, my answer would remain the same to this day. I’ve never been to Italy, and maybe it’s because somewhere deep down inside, I know there is a great possibility that I would never return home. I do look forward to the day when I unite with that beautiful boot country, and I can live out my fantasy of the real never-ending pasta bowl. Let’s face it—the best part about Eat, Pray, Love was the Eat portion. Why? Italy, of course, where the pasta flows like water. I really could have put the book down after that section and been completely satisfied.

This deliciously super-fast pasta recipe was modified from Cooking Light magazine. Don’t worry, I didn’t modify all the lightness out of it. It pairs sweet cherry tomatoes with peppery arugula and savory sausage with nutty cheese. For those of you not familiar with arugula, it is a salad green that has a slightly bitter taste. If you have trouble finding it in your local supermarket, you can easily substitute it with some baby spinach but not grown-up spinach. Actually you can use grown-up spinach; it’s just not as cute. This recipe is a quick fix, so you should have everything out and ready to go to make the process smoother—mise en place [MEEZ ahn plahs] if you will, which is a French term that refers to having all the ingredients necessary for a dish prepared and ready to cook. Last but not least, ENJOY!

SIDENOTE: Here’s an interesting tidbit about my favorite people, Italians. The first course of a traditional Italian meal is called “antipasta,” which sounds horrific to me. However, it literally means “before the meal” and includes cheeses, cured meats, olives, smoked fish and marinated vegetables but no pasta. This idea is comparative to our appetizers, the French’s hors d’oeuvres, and the Spanish’s tapas. Today, more and more restaurants are offering entire meals based on this “small plate” notion, or bite-sized portions to be shared amongst a group. Once I was telling my mom about going to one of these types of restaurants, and this is how it played out:

Me: I went to a tapas bar last night.

Mom: You went to a topless bar?

Me: No, tapas. It’s like a restaurant where they serve a lot of appetizer-sized dishes that you can share with your friends.

Mom: Oh, and people still wear their shirts, right?

This blog brought to you by—Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits (on vinyl), reading novels that I should’ve read in high school when I only read the Cliff’s Notes and “Our America with Lisa Ling,” which takes the boo out of taboo.

Turkey Sausage, Tomato and Arugula Fettuccine

1  (9-ounce) package refrigerated fettuccine

8  ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings

2  teaspoons  minced garlic

1  pint grape tomatoes

¼  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

2  cups arugula leaves or baby spinach

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2/3 cup cooking liquid.
  2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Break sausage into bite-sized pieces and add to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently to crumble. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and pepper; cover and cook 2 minutes. Mash tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to break them up. Cover pan; reduce heat to low, and cook 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Add pasta, reserved 2/3 cup cooking liquid, and arugula; toss well. Sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 4 servings

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