SQUASH PASTA WITH YOGURT, PEAS AND CHILE // FACING THAT OPEN SPACE

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When I left home to travel last month, it felt like a perfect clean slate: I had just turned in my manuscript; my most longstanding regular freelance gig, with Etsy, had come to a close; and a fledgling romance had unraveled. It was kind of liberating. I had no loose ends, and no compelling reason to stay home. I needed to get the heck out of dodge. As I do every year.

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Montana has an irresistible power over me. Something in the combination of those rich, jagged mountains laced with snowfields and receding glaciers, in the completeness of its wilderness. The grizzly bears and the wolves and the moose make the place feel so much more wild, and it makes me feel so much more alive. I don’t know how else to say it except that going to Glacier feels like pilgrimage, and those mountains feel like church to me. I go there to worship. And be in awe. Every year I meet other folks there who come back, again and again, as I do, because it keeps calling us back. It makes me happy to know there are other people who are completely slayed, in the best possible way, by this magnificent wilderness.

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After I left Montana, and after a brief but awesome visit with Kelsey in Denver, I was on my own. My travels went from purposeful to drifting. There was a restlessness. I wanted to get lost in the west; to test the limits of my lack of homesickness.

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It’s hard to face that open space, Neil Young sings. And there it was. The open space of being in between things. There was no man to return to in San Francisco, there were no freelance gigs lined up, no great project to preoccupy my mind. I had spent so much of this year singularly focused on the making of a book, and that focus provided a great sense of purpose. What next? It’s an awkward moment. A pause. But we all arrive at those pauses. So I took a cautious look at that unease and that restlessness. And I knew it was time to make my way home.

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Looking at that open space, that unease, that limbo, somehow was enough. Hello. I see you. It made coming home a little sweeter. Reminded me that there were things that I was excited to return home to. Like my friends. And the magic of September in San Francisco. And all of our fresh produce. I really missed the produce. So here I am, navigating an undefined space in my life, moving towards the start of whatever is next, enjoying a season between two seasons.

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SQUASH PASTA WITH YOGURT, PEAS AND CHILE
adapted from Emily Brock by way of Jerusalem

The first week of my trip was spent meandering through the Pacific Northwest and documenting farms for my cookbook. I stopped in Olympia to visit with Emily of Board and Bread. We picked blueberries from the u-pick fields behind her home. She made me lunch. Honestly, there is nothing more kind or appreciated than getting to eat a home-cooked meal while traveling. And I loved her clever use of squash in place of pasta in this recipe from Jerusalem. At the end of the summer squash season, when you might still have a surplus of squash but are a little fatigued on its flavor, this is the perfect way to put a couple pounds of zucchini to good use.

2 cups yogurt
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1.5 – 2 pounds summer squash of choice
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 – 1 teaspoon chile flakes
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper

In a food processor, pulse the yogurt, 1/4 cup of olive oil, garlic, and 2/3 cup of the peas until combined. Set aside.

Using a julienne slicer for thin strands or a regular vegetable peeler for wider ribbons, slice the squash. It can be a little tricky. Work around the squash as you make your way towards the center of the vegetable. You may lose some of the squash in slicing. So it goes!

Warm two tablespoons of olive oil In a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the squash and saute until just soft, about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may have to cook the squash in two batches.

While the squash cooks, warm the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a small skillet. Add the pine nuts and chile flakes. Cook, stirring often, until the pine nuts are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

Add the yogurt sauce to a large mixing bowl. Toss the squash pasta carefully with the sauce. Add the remaining peas, fresh basil leaves, Feta, and the toasted pine nuts. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sea salt, according to taste, along with a generous sprinkle of cracked pepper. Give another careful toss. Best served immediately.

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by Kimberley

show hide 34 comments

Brian @ A Thought For Food - September 10, 2013 - 1:04 pm

In love… with the whole thing. Your travels look incredible. And that dish… well, it’s making me wonder if I should pick up some squash to make this tonight.

Dan from Platter Talk - September 10, 2013 - 1:11 pm

Liberation is a good thing, as evidenced by this terrific looking dish. Great post, photos, prose, and all.

Maggie at Eat Boutique - September 10, 2013 - 1:16 pm

Gorgeous, and I miss our shopping adventure. Hopefully another one soon. :)

Carrie - September 10, 2013 - 1:45 pm

What a fun surprise! I just saw this post via Pinterest and as I was scrolling to see the recipe, I thought “that looks a lot like Montana” and it is! I’ve been living in Kalispell for 5 years now (originally a S. Cal girl) and I LOVE it. So fun to see you love to visit and I’m glad to have found your blog. Praying for all the new opportunities that will be coming your way. Sometimes that “pause” is hard, but don’t miss out on the process that leads to new adventures. Looking forward to your book as well!

Sita - September 10, 2013 - 1:55 pm

This recipe looks so fresh – thanks for sharing :)And thanks for sharing your pictures of Montana too – they have brought a little peace and calm to my busy city life this evening.

Jess - September 10, 2013 - 2:42 pm

Love this post and beautiful photos of Glacier. Welcome back!

Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl - September 10, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Thanks for sharing your lovely adventure and this great recipe, it looks so beautiful and fresh!

heidi - September 10, 2013 - 3:20 pm

there’s no place like home. sometimes we have to leave to remember.

Yvette - September 10, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Your words help me to live my own open space. Thank you!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - September 10, 2013 - 3:55 pm

This is gorgeous! And so are your trip photos! So jealous….

Aubrey - September 10, 2013 - 4:12 pm

That pasta looks dreamy, of course, I’ll try anything Ottolenghi approved! Your travels are particularly inspiring. I have a newly acquired driver’s license and a first car, and I’m itching to take a road trip.

Kiran @ KiranTarun.com - September 10, 2013 - 8:37 pm

LOVE fresh squash pasta and all the flavors going on here. Yum!

ps: incredible travel images :)

marzia - September 10, 2013 - 11:19 pm

both the panoramas and the pasta…breathtaking!

thecitygourmand - September 11, 2013 - 4:11 am

Jaw droppingly good, on both counts

Samantha - September 11, 2013 - 6:21 am

Those scenery photos are lovely!

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan - September 11, 2013 - 8:59 am

How gorgeous! Montana is a forgotten gem, but so pretty.

Kat - September 11, 2013 - 9:14 am

Kimberley,
Very well said. I completely can commiserate with the not knowing..moving to a new place in Portland this month and trying figure out what freelance projects jam well with my day job..I really needed to read something like this. Thank you, and best of luck!

ileana - September 11, 2013 - 9:16 am

What spectacular photos. Welcome back home!

My boyfriend’s parents have been camping/hiking with him since he was a baby, and they took him to Montana several times when he was a kid. He keeps saying we should go… maybe sooner rather than later!

Jennifer - September 11, 2013 - 9:18 am

Oh how gorgeous! I live in the Pacific Northwest and am very in love with the mountains here, but wow — Montana is just so stunning. I think I’d like to make it a future getaway destination as well. Thanks for sharing the recipe — I am up to my knees in late summer squash so will try this out!

Nicole - September 11, 2013 - 9:18 am

I love your posts about Montana. I hope you’ve found new inspiration and wish you all good things to come.

Kathryn - September 11, 2013 - 9:33 am

Oh, this post resonates with me so much (and I could just stare at your pictures for hours). I love that space, totally gives you time to think.

ItalianGirlCooks - September 12, 2013 - 6:46 pm

Nice recipe…spectacular photos!

Misty - September 13, 2013 - 10:38 am

I stumbled across your blog a year ago while doing a google search for Polebridge and have been dropping in to view your recipes ever since. I am a Montana girl, born and bred, and could never, EVER, dream of leaving this beautiful state. I love every corner of it, from the plains to the peaks. But without a doubt, Glacier is my temple. Something about the mountains combined with all the blue glacier water make it my place to go to reconnect with life. I make the 4 hour trek several times a year and even during the busiest tourist times, I always manage to feel at peace while I am there. I try to explain the pull that Glacier has on my heart strings to friends and family but I don’t think they quite comprehend. So reading that it is like church to you just put a smile on my face. Thanks!!

amelia - September 13, 2013 - 3:00 pm

my god, I need to get to Montana!!

I recently re-listened to my favorite interview with poet and philosopher John O’Donohue (an episode of On Being with Krista Tippett) and latched on to this line:

“What amazes me about landscape, landscape recalls you into a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence where you can truly receive time.”

Point being, it sounds like this is kind of what Montana lets you do: *receive* time. When the vast majority of our days are spent in quite the opposite…

Anyway, congrats on everything! Can’t wait for the book.
xo

Elizabeth - September 16, 2013 - 8:30 pm

I made this tonight – it was wonderful. What a spectacular recipe! Thanks.

Louise - September 17, 2013 - 2:27 am

Loving the way you write about these in between times, and uncertainty. I’m finding it a great comfort. Thank you.

Stefani Greenwood - September 20, 2013 - 7:57 pm

oh k – i love reading your words. i look forward to your book and what is to come. xo

Ellen - September 26, 2013 - 3:26 pm

Hey,
I just stumbled upon your blog. This post especially drew me in, as the dish looks so wonderful. I also loved reading about your travels. As a fellow denizen of San Francisco with large amounts of wanderlust, I look forward to reading more!

kathryn paul - October 2, 2013 - 5:01 am

Hello Kimberly,
I am the old woman who was at your camps with her old husband. I think one of your pictures was of the pass you day hiked to from Sperry? I am glad you posted the picture because we didn’t quite make it to the pass and it is a good thing we didn’t try. As it was we hiked 12 miles after getting a late start and barely made it to Snyder Lakes. In another 5 minutes I would have just pitched the tent on the side of the trail, but we made it, exhausted. Beautiful website and pictures. I ran across the website of some amazing food photographers in Toronto. Gibsonsmith – worth looking at. Will be looking for the book.

Lauren - October 3, 2013 - 9:17 am

i’m not a huge fan of peas, but does anyone know if edamame would work a substitute? :)

Nanette - October 8, 2013 - 1:51 pm

Not only are your photos amazing, your writing is too! Can’t wait to try this :)

Kimberley - October 10, 2013 - 11:28 pm

Hi Lauren, I am pretty positive that edamame would work out dandily. :)

Annaliese - January 15, 2014 - 7:26 pm

just made this with butternut squash, almond milk yogurt (and no cheese) – subbed arugula for basil since they were out at the store. delicious! thank you (:

Samantha - March 17, 2014 - 10:52 pm

My husband and I made this tonight and it was epically yummy. We’re going to add this to our regular rotation.

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