Looking at the calendar, it's hard to believe that Matt's been in my life since 2007. We met in February of that year at work, became colleagues and then friends, and slowly (and secretly) started dating that summer. There were so many opportunities for us to miss one another had we made different choices leading up to that meeting. But, thankfully, none of them matter because today he's my partner, and I wouldn't have it any other way!
All that's happened in those short 7 years could fill a book: highs and lows, good times and not so great times, and so much teaching and learning. I can honestly say that Matt has brought out the best in me and continues to challenge me and open my eyes to new things every day. What more could a person ask for in a partner?
Recently, we had a conversation about some of those changes, like things we once disliked but now love thanks to the other person. Maybe it was a previous negative experience, a bad review from someone else, or simple ignorance; whatever it was, we were not fans of this stuff.
For him, the list includes The Office, flannel shirts, running, golf, and even his own birthday. I've been converted on a few things, too, like swimming, Entourage, country music, and gardening. But, as you might've guessed, the discussion turned to edible things, the real "meat" of the conversation. (Yep, I went there.) It was hard to imagine that some of our most favorite foods weren't even on our radar a few years ago!
Matt was always a beef and pork kind of guy and didn't care much for fish; now he can't get enough salmon. He also thought he couldn't stand mushrooms and goat cheese; both have are now two of his any way, any time foods. And dessert? Pff, please. That guy never really cared for dessert until he met yours truly. It would appear the pendulum has swung the other way because Matt now claims he craves something sweet after every meal. You're welcome, dear husband.
Me? My taste buds have experienced a bit of a transformation, too. Like getting over certain textures to discover the awesome flavors of strawberries and raspberries (I know). Or pungent yet delicious foods like cabbage and asparagus. My love for burgers has intensified, and my tolerance for spicy foods continues to grow, tiny bit by tiny bit. I even discovered the joy of protein powder and smoothies thanks to Matt.
Without realizing it, I created this dish two days after that conversation, which turned out to be the perfect example of how we've influenced each other's palettes -- pasta with goat cheese, chicken, and asparagus!
Juicy chicken is sauteed with snappy asparagus and then tossed with warm pasta and tangy goat cheese. The cheese melts immediately on contact and creates the creamiest sauce!
Before Matt, I never would've considered using radiatorre, but he's opened my eyes to the cutest and curliest pasta shape of them all. All those spirals and ridges are magnets for sauce. I'll give it to him -- the man knows his pasta.
And he wouldn't have imagined how sometimes-bland chicken could be dressed up, flavored with the right spices and ingredients, and turned into a dish he wanted seconds of.
This dinner was a huge hit yet, if you talked to us, you'd have sworn we ate totally different things. He couldn't stop raving about the goat cheese ("I'll eat anything with goat cheese"), and I kept attempting the wandering fork trick to steal some of his asparagus -- so good and crisp!
He stopped me at first but eventually gave in. After all, we've been told not to bite the hand that feeds you. I'd like to amend that: don't bite the hand that gave you goat cheese and nobody gets hurt. Here's to
Pasta with Asparagus, Chicken & Goat Cheese
-makes 4 servings
8 ounces small pasta (I used radiatorre)
Ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2/3 pound asparagus, woody stems removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) cooked chicken, cubed
3 ounces goat cheese, softened
Bring a large saucepan with salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, but be sure to reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water.
Add oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. (This will keep asparagus crisp; if you prefer it softer, cook for 3 to 4 more minutes.) Add chicken and cook until warmed through. Add pasta and toss to combine.
Remove pan from heat and dot top with goat cheese. Add reserved pasta water and stir to combine, until cheese has melted and sauce has coated all ingredients. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately and enjoy!