Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whole Wheat Pasta with Carrot Mascarpone Sauce: Breaking all the rules

For 27 years I’ve been fighting it.

Just as I bristle every time my friend Ashley accuses me of being too narrow-minded about the men I date (and, more accurately, don’t date), I immediately become defensive when faced with the some what deserved accusation, “you’re a picky eater.”

In my mind, a picky eater is someone who won’t eat anything – who cringes at the sight of an egg, makes her mother strain out the onions from a sauce, will only eat meat that is charred black, and will spend an entire weekend at a camp away from home eating saltine crackers and energy bars because she doesn’t want to eat the food being served there.

I picture these images because that’s how I was for the first twenty years of my life – before I discovered how much I actually like to eat.

Since becoming more open-minded about the (edible) items I put in my mouth, I find myself increasingly bothered by the self-description that appears under the title of my blog. Does a “picky-palated princess” eat blood sausage, sweetbreads, tongue, raw oysters, foie gras, chicken liver, pork neck, octopus, and kangaroo?


A “picky-palated princess” eats white meat chicken, well-done salmon and salads with the dressing on the side.

Yet as much as I’ve grown from the days when I gagged at the sight of a mushroom and reprimanded my poor mother if so much as a flake of cheese was touching my chicken parmesan (she baked my breasts separately, sans mozzarella), I am still kind of a picky eater.

I like eating oatmeal for breakfast every morning – not muffins, not toast and certainly not something as mundane as cold cereal. Shudder. For lunch, I prefer sandwiches, soup and salads – mostly because that’s what sounds best to me at that hour of the day, but also because I really really like sandwiches, soup and big, over-the-top quinoa-based salads. And I wouldn’t dare make myself a dinner that didn’t involve some kind of green or at the very least a heap of some other heart healthy vegetable. (Heaps of fiberous veggies are a largely appetited gal's best friend.)

Given my preferences and notions about what constitutes “proper eating,” I was a little horrified when I realized that I needed to make this whole wheat pasta with carrot mascarpone sauce, a recipe I developed for the “Eating Rainbow” series on TasteSpotting, for lunch on Saturday.

“I can’t possibly eat pasta for lunch,” I thought.

I never eat pasta for lunch.

I’ve always considered pasta way too heavy for a mid-day meal – like the type of thing that would immediately throw me into a food coma and completely undermine my ability to accomplish even the simplest of tasks the rest of the afternoon. I’m stunned when I see other people ordering pasta at lunch, appalled by their brazen disregard for the rules of eating nature.

“Don’t they know that pasta is supposed to be eaten for dinner and dinner only?” I wonder. “Preferably with a glass of wine so the acidity can help temper the richness of the dish?”

Despite my stance that pasta should never be eaten before 6 pm (I’m calling it my “antipasti” for lunch rule), on this particular occasion I was more horrified by the thought of taking pictures of the aforementioned dish at night. So I made the pasta, took all the requisite photographs, and then, at approximately 2 pm on Saturday, I sat down at the table and ate every single bite.

The pasta was far better than I expected – sweet, savory, and sporting a texture that almost rivals macaroni and cheese. I loved the way the carrot mascarpone sauce wedged itself into the spirals of the rotini noodles, and couldn’t get over how well the toasted walnuts complimented the flavors.

After I’d cleaned my bowl, I kept waiting to crash – to fall face first into my keyboard as I attempted to write up the post about it. But I didn’t crash. I never crashed. And when it was time to eat dinner a few hours later, I broke another of my “proper dining rules.”

I ate the same thing I ate for lunch for dinner.

Even more startling, nothing bad happened as a result of my "impropriety." Because with this pasta, there’s no room for rules. It’s appropriate for any time of day – with or without a glass of wine to pair with it.


Ashley said...

HA. Everyone needs a little nudge every once in a while.

Esi said...

Isn't rule breaking fun? You're living on the edge and I like it!

bagnatic said...

oh that looks mighty good diana!

Monet said...

What a fun post...I can totally relate. I have my food boxes too. I don't eat pasta for lunch normally, but after seeing this post, I'm inspired to try! Thanks for sharing with me tonight. Visiting your blog brings a smile to my face, week after week. I hope you have a fabulous Wednesday!

Gastronomer said...

I proudly eat pasta, noodles, and the like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It's the only way to live. Carbo whore 4 life.

Diana said...

Ashley - That's what she said.

Esi - I'm eating pasta for lunch, balls in the middle of the afternoon... it's madness I tell you! Madness!

Amy - It was so good! Making it for dinner again tonight actually... perfect for St. Patrick's Day, don't ya think? ;)

Monet - Thank you so much for your kind words - they always bring a smile to MY face!

Cathy - Sigh. If only you lived closer so we could do more noodling together!