Another snow storm kept most of D.C. home from work yesterday. It’s been an interesting transition, from extremely occasional rain in L.A. to watching winter set in with the first big storm of the year in Providence, knowing there would be snow on the ground until spring. I didn’t think much of how New Englanders shrug off snow until I moved south.
Stores closed early a few times in Providence, but I never had classes cancelled. The roads were cleared within 24 hours, leaving banks of soon-to-be-dirty snow next to the sidewalks. I once went to the airport a few days before Christmas in the middle of a huge storm, just hoping for an extremely delayed flight rather than a cancellation. The snow stopped 30 minutes before the scheduled departure and we left on time.
I don’t think we had a full inch of snow my first winter in D.C. I had my first snow day ever the next year. It was anticlimactic, like a rite of passage come too late. Snow days seemed mythical when I was little. I remember being so jealous when I heard that other kids living in real-life winter wonderlands got to spend days at home making snowmen and drinking hot chocolate. It sounded so glamorous, though I felt slightly better when I heard that they had to make up the class time.
Even with this year’s record-breaking season, the snow hasn’t stuck around for more than a few days at a time. But we’ve been calling snow days early and often. The snow will usually be light in the District but heavier in the suburbs, making the commute impossible for those who have to drive. At least once, it was totally melted by mid-afternoon. It felt a little silly to be home, but I’m not complaining. Yesterday was the second time we’ve had significant snow this year. It started overnight and didn’t stop until mid-afternoon. The email came around 7:30 a.m. to announce that the office would be closed and the 12-year-old in me did a cartwheel.
Though the fridge was looking bare, I resolved to make something with what we had on hand for lunch since I had no interest in slipping and sliding my way to the grocery store on icy sidewalks. A big bowl of pasta seemed like the right choice for sitting inside and watching the snow fall. Some kale makes anything sufficiently healthful. Getting up from the couch intermittently to tend the onions as they slowly caramelized was the perfect morning project. I rarely have the patience necessary to get the onions to yield all their savory-sweet secrets — rushing them along until the edges brown over a higher flame — but it’s so, so worth it. Finally, I knew fate was on my side when I saw the half cup of super-rich, homemade ricotta. It was the perfect snow day lunch.
- ½ pound short pasta, such as penne, fusilli, or cavatappi
- 2 medium-large yellow onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter
- About 3 cups (4 ounces) finely chopped kale (I used red Russian)
- ½ cup ricotta
- ¼-1/2 cups freshly-grated parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Heat butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, occasionally stirring and scrapping the bottom of the pan, until brown and caramelized. If the edges start to darken too fast, turn down the heat. This will take about 40 minutes and can be done in advance.
- When the onions are fully caramelized, add ¼ cup of water, kale, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt to the pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes to soften the kale.
- Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package instructions, checking in the last few minutes to avoid over cooking. Reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta.
- Toss pasta, ricotta, parmesan, a generous grind of black pepper, and half the reserved cooking water in the pan with the onions and kale. Add more cooking water as necessary to make a creamy sauce. Check seasoning and serve immediately.
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