Vacationing at home... do you do it? Do you love it, or get totally bored? It's one of my favorite things, only just discovering it last year when my company closed down the week between Christmas and New Year's. There is something so soothing about taking a few days off work to just do your thing -- make brunch, take a nap, read a book, go on a long walk, do something cool in your city, then sleep in your own bed at home. This is also a cheap way to vacation if hypothetically you find yourself married to a grad student on spring break without a spring break budget!
Speaking of budgets, I always want this place to be one of honesty... where you see more than crisp, in-focus photos (ok, I know they aren't always in focus), well-tested and interesting recipes, and the plates without the cracks and chips. Truthfully, there are more days without inspiration than days full of it. There have only been a handful of grocery store trips in the past 6 months where I haven't either cried or ruined my day with bitterness over the perfectly doable dollar amount in my grocery budget. I'm so quick to set my eyes on what I can't have rather than embracing and thanking the Provider for the countless ways he always provides. The crying, the bitterness... I am growing in maturity over here, and hopefully in holiness, but most days it just feels messy.
Several weeks ago, in planning a couple of vacation-at-home days, I emailed a heritage-breed poultry farm in Princeton, NJ to ask if they welcomed visitors. Turns out, they don't really because free-range, heritage, organic, or not... poultry farms are not glamorous places. But, because I was so nosey they said I could come and they would show me around! I'm always pleasantly surprised by the amount of times people will say yes if you just ask, even if it takes twice.
Griggstown Farm has been family-owned for over 40 years, and back in the day they sold pheasants to James Beard's restaurants in New York! (!!!). We were walking on holy ground, me, Chase and these pheasants. Today, they still raise pastured heritage birds and sell them to local restauranteurs and local folks like us. For anyone in the area, they have a farm store just 5 minutes from downtown Princeton where you can purchase all kinds of interesting things like poussin (young chicken), quail eggs, duck, chicken sausage, pheasant as well as amazing prepared sweet and savory pies, honey, jams and plenty more.
So, all this to say... the folks at Griggstown sent us home with more meat than I know what to do with (honestly... pheasant?!) in exchange for some photos. A welcome reminder that there is always plenty in our want, confidence in our doubt, and of course, feast in our fallow.
Lemony linguini :: slow roasted tomatoes, spinach, chicken sausage
Serves 4. This pasta is such a stunner, and it all comes together in less than 30 minutes making it the perfect weeknight dinner party meal. Invite your friends over! So easy, especially if you slow roast your tomatoes ahead of time (they keep so well in a jar in the fridge, similar to sun-dried tomatoes).
What you'll need:
4 chicken sausages (mine were from Griggstown, but my local grocery store always has nice looking chicken sausages, too)
1 lb cherry tomatoes
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 large handfuls of raw spinach
1 box linguini noodles (digging Jovial's einkorn noodles if you can find them!)
For the sauce:
1 shallot, sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T butter, divided
1 T flour
1/3 cup half and half
1/4-1/3 cup reserved pasta water
1 lemon, zested and juiced
To slow roast your tomatoes, slice each cherry tomato in half long ways. Toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil, crushed red pepper and a hearty pinch of salt. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and roast at 325 for 45-50 minutes, until the tomatoes are throughly browned and wilted. Pop one on your mouth, they are intensely tomato-y and delicious!
Heat a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Brown whole sausages on all sides with a bit of oil to prevent sticking. Once brown, put a lid on your skillet and let them finish cooking through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove sausages from pan; wait to slice them up just before serving.
Start boiling water for your noodles now so they are ready on time.
In the same pan as before, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add sliced shallots. Work to scrape up all glaze on the bottom of the skillet. You want all that goodness in the sauce! Once the shallot is nearly caramelized (about 10 minutes), add garlic and melt the second T of butter into the pan. Whisk in 1 T of flour and cook just a minute to make a simple roux. Pour in half and half, and whisk to combine. Squeeze in lemon juice and zest. The sauce will thicken up considerably. Dilute with pasta water, adding only the amount you need to loosen things up.
Right as you drain the pasta, toss in the raw spinach into your strainer so the steam gently wilts the leaves. Add pasta into your sauce pan with slow roasted tomatoes, toss to combine.
Divide between plates and top with sliced chicken sausage. Slurp it up!