I haven’t been doing a ton of creative cooking for the last week or so. Realizing there are about two weeks left until your at-home, self-catered wedding will do that. (By the way, when I say self-catered, I don’t mean me, personally. It’s family-catered, really. But I have spent hours shopping for groceries and supplies, and last night I folded 140+ empanadas by hand.)
Back to everyday cooking (or, meals that don’t require eight pounds of pork)… After a fairly laid back Saturday afternoon, I finally felt like cooking. Or, at least, I was motivated by the fact that I had fennel, asparagus, and spinach in the fridge eagerly waiting to be used. Nick was out for the evening, so I was on my own. I resisted my initial instinct to order eggrolls or mozzarella sticks by reminding myself of the day’s earlier events: swimsuit shopping and wedding dress fitting. (Dress fitting was fine; swimsuit shopping was not traumatic, but didn’t exactly send my self-esteem sky-rocketing either.)
As I’ve mentioned, vegetables and pasta are a typical go-to meal for me, but I upped it tonight by grilling the vegetables before mixing them with the pasta. (Also, the veggies are headlined in the title because they made up the majority of the meal; I only cooked a handful of pasta for myself.) After the whole wheat penne started cooking, I lightly oiled my grill pan and heated it on medium-high heat, and grilled about 8 asparagus spears and one fennel bulb, cut vertically into eighths, keeping the core intact. Drizzled some oil and seasoned the vegetables with salt and pepper.
(Oh, I don’t have any pictures of the fennel cooking… turns out fennel is not very photogenic.) I turned the vegetables every 3 minutes or so, until they looked cooked. I know this is kind of vague… I am so bad at describing what asparagus “look” like they’re done. Just stab them with a fork until the tenderness is to your liking. The fennel is easier- it starts to get golden and a tiny bit translucent. I cut the asparagus spears into two inch pieces and trimmed the core off the fennel wedges.
Once the pasta was cooked, I drained it in a colander, then returned to the pot with the asparagus and fennel, plus a little olive oil. Then I stirred in a few handfuls of spinach until it wilted and squeezed lemon juice over it. Seasoned with a bit more salt and pepper, and topped with a little grated Parmesan. I think goat cheese would be amazing with this, but again, I’m gonna be on a beach in Mexico in a couple weeks, so a sprinkling of Parmesan seemed like a better idea, and was still quite tasty.