Since my fear of refined carbohydrates started when I learned how to cook, my attempts to satisfy my boyfriend’s recent requests for starchy dinners have failed. He nearly lost all hope that my carbohydrate-cooking repertoire would be nothing but quinoa, oatmeal, and cookies. I have served him undercooked, overcooked, too cheesy, and tasteless pasta. Until the back of an al dente spinach fettuccine package inspired the little Italy inside of me.

It was a relaxing Saturday evening and my recent unemployed two-hour fitness escapades had left my stomach itching for a carbohydrate indulgence.

The recipe looked super simple, light, and full of flavor so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and decided this was going to be the night I kicked cooking pasta in the butt!

The sauce was the simple part. I swiftly simmered 2 tbsp of shallots, 4 ripe diced tomatoes, shrimp, 4 minced garlic cloves, ½ cup fresh chopped basil, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper in 1/3 cup simmering olive oil. The dish seemed to be coming together nicely. As I waited for the pasta water to start boiling, however, I cringed at the thought of deciphering the package instructions on how long to cook the spinach al dente pasta. The package read, “Cook for about three minutes or until soft to the bite with a light crunch. DO NOT OVERCOOK.” Maybe it is just me, but that phrase seemed quite contradictory. And yes, “do not overcook” was in all capitals. Talk about pressure!  Luckily, I had tasted al dente pasta before so it clicked and sure enough the dish came out perfectly! I sprinkled 1/3 cup parmesan cheese on top which added a hint of creamy goodness.

When I heard my boyfriend’s signature, “Mmmmm” I couldn’t help but beam a little.


-Emily Freeman

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