This weekend the weather abruptly shifted from steamy to crisp with occasional showers. It seemed like an obvious reminder that my summer was coming to an end. Normally I welcome the beginning of fall. It’s one of my favorite – if not my top favorite – seasons. I love picking Macintosh apples at the Orchard, the displays of fresh school supplies at Target (even at 26 the thought of a box of brand new, extra sharp crayons still holds some power over me), and the smell of burning piles of leaves. This year though the transition is a little harder to make. Our bi-polar weather the past three months in Boston has made it feel like we bypassed the season completely. On top of it, this fall brings a new challenge – this Thursday I start school, only for the first time I’m the instructor not the student. Yes, this week I officially begin teaching “Consumer Insight and Account Planning,” a course that is in essence an introduction to what I do for my day job. I’ve been preparing for months but none the less my stomach is a mix of butterflies and adrenaline.
I don’t want to say I eat my feelings, but my mood often does dictate what I’m craving. I decided I needed some comfort to combat the somber weather and my unsteady nerves. And when I need comfort food, it’s all about pasta. Luckily I had a great compliment to pasta, some sweet Italian sausage still hanging around from last month’s meat CSA share Pasta with sausage, grapes, an red wine seemed like a perfect match. I’ve become a bit obsessed with using grapes in savory dishes ever since making chicken with White Wine & Grapes. This recipe from Urban Italian and also featured online here was just what I needed. Halved seedless grapes marinade over night in a bath of dry red wine, sugar, and red wine vinegar. The next day the mixture is reduced by half and combined with sauteed Italian sausage, onions, sage and a little bit of cheese. Serve it over the pasta to help mop up any spare drop of the wine sauce. Like everything I’ve made out of Andrew Carmellini’s cookbook this dish ended up as heaven on a plate. The grapes echoed the wine’s flavor perfectly while adding a touch of freshness and a nice texture that popped with your mouth. The sweet, crisp flavor was the perfect partner to the rich meat and the earthy sage. I polished off every last bit and for a moment felt warm inside and completely oblivious to the downpour outside the window and my debut at the end of the week. I couldn’t recommend this recipe more highly. It’s incredibly versatile and would be equally delicious with some Italian-spiced vegetarian sausage or seitan and would also make a lovely topper for polenta or gnocchi instead of the pasta.
I may not have beat my nerves completely, but in an effort to avoid them I did get a lot of cooking prep done for the week and a little bit of cleaning. It’s amazing how procrastination in one area of your life can create so much productivity in another.
It’s not at all related to cooking, but what do you do when your nerves are getting the best of you?