Last weekend, I took a fairly impromptu trip to Miami.
It’s a place I had been meaning to visit, and there’s just something about February that makes me want a break. I love the winter, but a nice warm weekend is a treat a girl needs.
So I left work a little early on a Friday, trained up to Baltimore, and hopped on a quick little flight to the F-L-L. Dave, a friend I’ve known since our debate club days at different high schools, picked me up from the airport, and brought me straight to Little Havana.
It wasn’t long before I found myself booking flights back to Miami. In fact, it wasn’t more than a few hours after I landed in Florida.
We went to a great little hostel on Miami Beach named the Broken Shaker — an old hotel with a laid back, twinkle light-entranced pool and outdoor hangout area. The cocktails were perfect. The bartender even gave us one for free, which didn’t happen very often to the two guys that were showing me around town. Anyway, around 3 AM, I found myself just basking in the cool seventy degree Miami breeze. There was a little bit of salsa dancing on a street corner, and just being able to wear my neon yellow shorts put me in a mood that I almost didn’t recognize on myself.
And right about then, I decided. Yes, Dave, I’ll be back here for your birthday. Four weeks away? No problem.
I pulled up the Kayak app on my iPhone and booked the flights right then and there.
It wasn’t entirely an “Oh my god I drunkenly booked a vacation” moment the next morning, because I was only a gin-and-ginger or three in, and I remembered making the decision very clearly. But I did wake up laughing, and checked my email to find that the timestamp actually read 3:48 AM.
I really don’t have a problem with going back to Miami. I actually can’t wait. I even left my heels there, knowing that I could just retrieve them in a month.
Roasted butternut squash, penne, and pistachio pesto, adapted from the Sprouted Kitchen
One large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil
Paprika to taste
8 oz. penne pasta
(About) 3 cups chopped spinach
1-2 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of one lime
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
1 serrano chile, with seeds according to how spicy you like them
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup basil and spinach (I used a mix of both)
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and boil water in a large saucepan. Season the water with salt.
On a large rimmed baking sheet (maybe two), drizzle olive oil over the butternut squash, and toss with paprika, salt, and nutmeg. Using a pastry brush, coat each piece to make sure everything gets a little bit of seasoning. Bake for about 30 minutes until the edges are brown (or black – I like them a little charred).
Cook your pasta. Al dente is good.
In a food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest and juice, pulsing a few times. Then, add the serrano, pistachios, herbs, and cheese. Drizzle olive oil through the oil dropper as the processor is chopping, and grind in salt and pepper as necessary.
In your large saucepan, combine your pesto, some of the pasta water, and spinach. When entirely mixed, add in your pasta.
Serve with fresh parmesan cheese. Hold on to winter, but just enough to enjoy this seasonal dish, because spring will be here before we know it.