Is it okay to be 20 years old (coming up on 21 in just a few short months) and homesick? And just for the record: I tried my hardest, dug deeeeeeep into my innermost thoughts, to think of another stimulating, interesting topic for this post because I wanted to write about something uplifting and happy and exciting, yet nothing felt natural.
Because, aside from my top 3 schedule-fillers - class, homework, and my occasional social life (which consists mostly of movie nights with my roommates) - not much else has crept into my constantly occupied mind.
After three years of living away from home, I imagined these freshman-like feelings would've dissolved by now, replaced by feelings of comfort and contentment. As the I-miss-home feelings continue to subtly, gently wrap themselves around my heart and mind, I've accepted them. And as of Sunday, when I spent the morning feverishly rushing through a pile of assignments to open up time in the afternoon/evening for this recipe, I embraced my homesickness.
Embraced? Why would I embrace such a feeling when all I can see between now and my relaxing summer at home is 9 straight weeks of packed school? I let that question sit for a minute...
And then I answered it as best I could: I'm embracing this slightly uncomfortable, inconvenient feeling because I've discovered its significance, which simply speaks truth to the fact that my family (ranked just beneath my faith on my list of life priorities) makes up a chocolate-chunk-in-a-chocolate-chip-cookie-size chunk of my identity. When I'm away, that chunk feels faded. Picture the connection quality between a remote control car and its remote when 200 miles separate the two.
Or maybe a more universal analogy could be: Mom, Dad, you guys are "the peanut butter to my jelly". My family is the peanut butter to my life.
Why wouldn't I embrace that peanut butter?! I love it. I love them. I'm not the typical college student or 20-year-old girl who lives for socializing and and fashion-izing and maybe drinking a bit too much. I'd much rather - and yes, I mean this whole-heartedly - spend my Saturday night lounging on the patio as Dad grills us some tofu and fresh veggies, followed by more relaxing and maybe a little baking and definitely some binging on our new favorite The Great British Bakeoff.
PS peanut butter tastes 23476302 times better when enjoyed at home. Just saying.
I chopped the veggies and cooked the pasta and whipped up the sauce for this dish and, every step of the way, I couldn't suppress thoughts like oh, what I would give to share this moment with my family. Only they would feel as excited about the farmers-market-fresh carrot greens in the avocado sauce (except they wouldn't want the red onion, right Mom and Dad?) and the eye-catching rainbow chard in the pasta (Dad's new favorite green vegetable). Only they would assist in the creativity of setting up props for photos. Only they would "ooohh" and "aaahhhh" and "oh YUMMM" with me as I binge-watch episodes of The Great British Bakeoff.
One might imagine I'd be balling my eyes out by now, reminiscing on the comforts of home while facing the hard fact that home won't be officially part of my picture until mid-June. Don't worry - I'm not balling. I'm smiling (to myself, or my computer, in public and it probably looks kind of weird..). I'm thankful for my family and the timeless relationship tying us all together.
Just 9 more weeks (8.5 to be exact, but who's counting?) and I'll share life + my new favorite pasta dish in person with two of my favorite people :)
Makes 4 servings
1 box Banza chickpea pasta shells*
1 cup chopped carrots (save the green leafy tops!)
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped greens (I used rainbow chard and highly recommend)
2 medium avocados
1/2 cup chopped carrot greens**
4-5 cloves garlic
1/4 cup chopped red onion
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup pasta water
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the pasta shells; cook according to package directions and strain. Rinse lightly with cool water to prevent sticking.
- Heat a medium pan over low heat and coat with 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil. Toss in the carrots and bell pepper, and cook until soft and lightly charred. Add the greens and cook until soft and bright green. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a blender, add avocado, carrot greens, garlic, red onion, lemon juice, pasta water and salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and pour into a separate dish.
- To a plate, add pasta shells, sauteed veggies, and lemon avocado sauce. Top with extra carrot greens, salt and pepper, and your favorite additions.
- Store leftovers in airtight containers for up to 4-5 days.
*If you're wondering what in the world Banza chickpea pasta is, you can click the link above. It's a my go-to pasta any day of the week - almost double the protein of tradition whole grain pasta and all-around heartier texture and flavor. I highly recommend seeking this out at your local grocery store!
**You can also sub any other green herb: cilantro, parsley, basil, etc., but this is a fantabulous opportunity to make use of those carrot top greens!