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Fourth Date Cooking

Posted Sep 13 2012 10:56pm

I have a personal rule about cooking for men: no cooking before the fourth date. And the first meal shared needs to be simple. Pasta is preferable.

Usually by the second time someone meets me they get some level of understanding that I’m a foodie. Usually because of my previous jobs, or interests, or friends interests, or because I flat out say “food is kind of my thing.” While I love to cook, especially for other people, cooking for a guy too early in the courtship process can open up a can of worms that is unnecessary and avoidable.

It’s a well established fact that I aspire to be Martha Stewart. But that doesn’t mean that I’m regularly whipping together a four course meal complete with a large chunk of roast meat. That’s a one time deal called Thanksgiving. I also deal with any stressor in my life by baking, but that does not include a three layer cake with fresh buttercream.  My meals are simple, usually involve copious amounts of vegetables, and are more of a short order cook than anything seen in Gourmet.

But in my last long relationship I set the bar for myself to high. The first meal was too impressive. I made macaroni and cheese from scratch and with at least four different types of cheese. I would spend $25 on two pieces of fish. I reduced balsamic vinegar into a thick syrup to drizzle over skirt steak and roasted tomatoes.

And then I realized that all of these wonderful domesticated skills were making me miserable. I didn’t want to feel forced to provide meals because I was the better cook, as supposedly liked doing so. I hated the internalized obligation to cook and the thought of “if I want to eat something other than take out I’d better come up with a plan for dinner.” I started to resent the fact that my boyfriend at the time didn’t see any joy in food, it was just food. And while the meals were delicious and appreciated, we would never share in this experience together.

But now the bar is lowered, significantly. It isn’t uncommon for me to have a 12 hour day, returning home well after 7pm and wanting to shove the first thing I see into my mouth. Gourmet meals are few and far between. While I might have a kitchen full of pots and pans and tools, they are typically only used for special occasions. So when any new man enters my life, he will get pasta with vegetables. Or eggs. Or a bowl of cereal.

Fourth Date Pasta

by Alex London-Gross

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Keywords: entree salad side gluten-free pasta delicata squash green beans

6032529

 

Ingredients

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375F.

Wash the squash, pepper, and beans. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces (resembling half moons), and cut those pieces into thirds. Remove the seeds and stem from the pepper and cut into strips about 1/3 inch wide. Remove any stems from the green beans and cut into inch long pieces. Place all of the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with one tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Roast for approximately 40 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender. Allow to cool.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and allow to cool. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon onto the pasta and season with salt and pepper. Chop the parsley and spinach into pieces and add to the pasta. Mix well. Add the cooled vegetables and mix to combine.

Add lots and lots of Parmesan cheese to taste.

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Because it’s going to take more commitment than an “‘I’ll see you around” to rouse any sort of culinary magic out of me these days. However, this pasta salad did work a little magic and sealed the deal. So maybe this is the pre- engagement chicken . Or maybe after going out with a guy four times (or more) it’s normal to confirm that yes, this was in fact a date. I wouldn’t know.

In other news, Hannah is the NatureBox giveaway winner! Her favorite snack is pples dipped in real peanut butter! Yum! If you didn’t win but want to give NatureBox a try, the promo code MANGO is good for 25% off a one month subscription. Happy snacking for everyone.

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