One of the things I’ve noticed about solo parenting* is that, no matter how long the stretch, I always have almost, but not quite enough, fortitude to get me through. So that, whether it’s been five days or (as this time) forty, I reach a point, usually in the last 24-48 hours, where I think, “Yes! I’m almost done!” and then immediately think, “But I’m not done yet—there are still X (meals/cleanups/bathtimes/whatever) left to go.” And then think, “I can’t do it. I just can’t.” And then do it anyway, because what else are you gonna do?
I realize I’m probably beating a dead horse with this theme, but when one reaches this point, pretty much the only way to make life a little easier on yourself is on the food front. You can’t really skip any of the daily tasks you’re required to do as a parent—but you can produce something simple, tasty, and nutritious for dinner (that, hopefully, both you and your kid(s) will enjoy) without expending too much of your ever-dwindling mental energy. This is one of the things I turn to when I reach such a state.
* The state of mind described here is why I don’t refer to what I have to do intermittently as ‘single parenting’: because I’ve done enough solo parenting to be pretty certain that parenting on your own all the time is a whole different ballgame.
Creamy pasta tricolore
I forget where I first came across this dish (Jamie Oliver? a newspaper?); the original ‘recipe’ was scribbled on a piece of scrap paper that I used until I knew it so well that I didn’t bother looking at it anymore. All amounts are approximate; use your judgment as to how much of everything you want in the mix.
2 containers grape or cherry tomatoes**
1 clove garlic
1 large package/2 bunches spinach
1 package (1lb/500g) short pasta of your choice
1 log fresh goat cheese
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Grated pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano cheese, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Put pasta water on to heat. Wash and halve tomatoes. Wash and slice spinach. Mince garlic.
In a large frying pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil on medium. Add the garlic and sauté briefly, then add the spinach. (You may need to add to the pan in batches.) Cover the spinach so it can wilt. Check every couple of minutes and stir to ensure that it is wilting evenly. When it has wilted consistently, season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Leave on a low heat, uncovered, to allow some of the liquid from the wilting to evaporate.
When the water boils, salt generously and cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.
Drain the pasta in a colander and then return to the hot pan. Drizzle with some olive oil to keep from sticking, and then add the goat cheese, cutting it into chunks as you go. Add the tomatoes and spinach and stir to combine. Continue stirring until the goat cheese has melted, adding a few splashes of pasta water if desired to create a consistent coating for the pasta. Season with pepper, grated cheese, and lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.
Serves 4, probably with some leftovers--this is pretty filling.
** This is very good with fresh tomatoes that cook a little in the heat of the pasta, but it’s even better if you oven roast the tomatoes beforehand.