I think I qualify as a busy musician again, which is an interesting place to be after taking a couple years “off.” After casually committing to a couple ensembles at PLU that were scheduled for the same night, I am now occupied three nights a week, rehearsing! Two of the groups are PLU groups and the third is run by a PLU professor, the Washington Wind Symphony. Each are unique in their own way, as one is a wind symphony, one is a concert band mostly stacked with ed majors on their second instruments, and the third is a steel pan ensemble. Yup, steel pan. We all know that Will and I have enjoyed experiences in Middle Eastern music ensembles in the past, and at PLU the only “world” ensemble offered is steel pan. So I’ve joined them. We had our first rehearsal on Tuesday and I’m happy to report that I have good rhythm and the ability to get the groove. The bad news? I am horrible with any kind of drum stick and hitting things. But that’s okay, because it gives me an opportunity to grow and learn, which I have not been doing enough of since graduating with my masters over two years ago (eeeek).
So while I’m grateful to be playing with all these groups, it’s definitely weird to be feeling like a music student again because I’m in rehearsal multiple times a week. I think it doesn’t help that I also am around music students all the time and they seem to be taking to me like flies to poo – does that qualify me as cool? They seem to appreciate my snarky sense of humor as well as my apparent knowledge of music and the world beyond…aka, grown-up life. They ask me about pieces to perform, grad school, and general college questions. It’s odd to be on the other side of things and a bit of an adjustment from being the student with all the big ideas and hopes for life, to being the person supporting and almost mentoring those same types. I just hope no one takes me too seriously because let’s be real: I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Okay, so food! Peas! Pesto! Pasta! Do you like any or all of those things? Then you’ll like this super-simple, straightforward recipe. It won’t be the most outstanding thing you ever eat, but it will certainly be a good meal with excellent leftovers to lunch. We even ate it cold while on the road to go camping, which maybe isn’t recommended, but works in a pinch. I really can’t underscore how easy this recipe really is. My only regret was not making the whole thing myself, but instead partnering with Will to get it on the table. Independence in the kitchen: still a wandering thought for me. I urge you to give this a shot, as it’s the perfect “better than pasta and marinara but still only takes 15 minutes and isn’t a frozen dinner” kind of meal.
Cooking Notes: We did not want to buy a bottle of white wine for just 1 tsp-worth in this recipe, knowing we were going out of town. Instead, we subbed in a wheat beer! Great decision – highly encouraged. We also used fresh pre-pacakaged English peas from Trader Joe’s instead of frozen sweet peas, as the recipe called for.
Pea Pesto Pasta (adapted from Foodness Gracious; serves 4)
2 tsp diced shallot
1/2 tsp + 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
A douse (approx. 1 tsp) of wheat beer (or white wine…your preference)
1 1/2 cups sweet peas
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp butter
Parmesan, for topping
Linguine, 4 servings worth
Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the diced shallot, cooking for 1 minute. Add the beer or wine, stirring for another minute. Turn the heat to low and add the peas, thyme, butter, S&P, letting the pan melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, transfer the mixture to a food processor and add the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil, blending until a smooth pesto has formed.
Boil a large pot of water and cook the pasta according to pasta directions. Place 1/4 cup of the puree in a small pan and add 6 tbsp of the hot pasta water, whisking until smooth. Drain the pasta when ready and add to the puree, stirring well to coat the pasta.* Serve with fresh grated Parmesan enjoy!
*Leftover pesto and pasta can be combined and refrigerated. Add a little olive oil to loosen the pesto back up when reheating and serve with fresh Parmesan.