"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer"
This is the first time in my life where August has rolled by and I'm not school supply shopping at Staples, spending hundreds of dollars for a special edition textbook that will be outdated within a year, or planning some amazing trip to celebrate the last echoes of summer. September is just approaching just like any other month - I still go to work Saturdays and Sundays, I’ve finally gotten used to the get home late, sleep in later routine, and unfortunately, Taco Bell and fast food is still a steadfast tradition on the nights when I get home at 11:30PM with nothing to eat in the fridge. I guess this is what it’s like to finally, “officially”, grow up.
While normally I would be looking forward to being reunited with old friends and talking about how productive our summers were, being a postgrad means that your co-workers have now become your inner circle that you confide in on a day to day basis. Working in a restaurant inevitably means that the topic of conversation, much to my content, is about food.
With September rolling around, that topic has been focused on the impending change in menu. Melons are slowly growing out of season, and the smell of strawberries at the weekly farmers markets are growing ever so fainter and less sweet as the weeks pass by. It’s exciting, knowing that the vibrant, explosive hues of scarlet, blue, green, and purple are set to be replaced by the oranges of small pumpkins and the reds of countless apples. When you’re a kid you look forward to September because you get to go back to school, but as an adult you suddenly transform into this bizarre person who instead looks forward to what new vegetables you can buy next week.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become a snob (read: asshole) now when it comes to buying food. When I first moved out on my own at eighteen, discount grocery outlets were my number one go to place for mass produced apples that came in five pound bags, nestled in my cart alongside boxes of frozen chicken nuggets, jars of peanut butter and jelly, and cinnamon toast crunch. That shopping cart has been slightly upgraded to duck breast, almond butter, and raspberry jam, but more importantly once you’ve begun shopping at farmers market to get your apples and other produce, you become addicted. It seems like the grown up thing to do, and is what separates someone just starting out on his own and a person who seems to have his life relatively together.
So I traded in the gray Hurley backpack I’ve had for the past for years, and am instead replacing it with a reusable grocery bag to take with me to the local farmers market. I didn’t do a big college, Eurotrip this summer like seemingly every other college student, or finish an internship at a Fortune 500 company that included an all expenses, paid trip to Orlando Florida to go to Disneyworld. I am, however, throwing my own kind of end of summer celebration with some pappardelle, with the last ears of summer corn, and green zucchini. Coated in a sauce that’s based off of bacon fat (beach body weather is slowly leaving, after all), and topped with crispy breadcrumbs, but then glorified with a poached egg propped precariously on top, yolk about to break, like some sort of pinata. Growing up isn’t so bad after all.
Pappardelle with Summer Vegetables & Pangrattato
2 GENEROUS SERVINGS
for the pangrattato
2 tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 clove of minced garlic
½ cup of panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of minced parsley
2 tablespoons parmesan
6 strips of bacon, sliced into lardons
6 ounces pappardelle
1 zucchini, sliced into ribbons
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off the cob
½ leek, thinly sliced
1 cup of sugar snap peas, julienned
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup of reserved pasta water
for the poached eggs
I really enjoy poaching eggs via this method, but by all means feel free to make eggs the way you’re most comfortable with. Bring a pot of water to a simmer (around 180-190 degrees).
Crack each egg into a fine mesh strainer and swirl it around to get rid of any watery whites that would have later become wispy when poached. Gently lower the eggs into the water, and let poach for 3-4 minutes, swirling the water occasionally. Rest on paper towels to dry.
for the pangrattato
Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the garlic and pepper flakes. When they begin to sizzle, add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Continue toasting on medium heat until golden brown and crispy. Toss in the parsley and parmesan cheese.
Add the sliced bacon to a large, cold saute pan over medium heat. Let it cook slowly to render out as much fat as possible. Once the bacon is crisp, remove it with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat to high.
Meanwhile, boil the pappardelle in heavily seasoned water until just shy of al dente. Save 1 cup of the cooking water before draining.
When the bacon fat starts to smoke, add the zucchini, corn, leeks, and snap peas. Season with salt and saute until the vegetables are tender. Add the cooked pasta, along with two tablespoons of butter, and the bacon. Stir vigorously while adding pasta water until a sauce forms around the pasta.
Mound the pasta onto two serving dishes, and top with the poached egg and sprinkle with the pangrattato.