I’ve talked before on this blog about past issues with bugs and critters and snakes, but I’ve never really described the panic that sets in for me when I see a bug. It’s really kind of a phobia: I know they are smaller than me; I know, for the most part, that Midwestern bugs cannot hurt me, yet my heart rate spikes, and I feel like fleeing as far from the bug as possible. It takes a lot out of me to approach a bug and kill it. Ridiculous…I know. But this is one of the reasons I got married: Eric is awesome at killing bugs.
That’s why last night was a little bit of a Lizaster. Eric was out of town on a little business trip, so it was just me, a sleeping Owen…oh, and our Khazak house guest Saule on her first night here. Saule and I were sitting at the table, when suddenly, flying ants started dropping from the light above us at an alarming rate. I started killing them as fast as I could, and even dumped borax into the light fixture to try to “drown” the hordes of them inside. But they just kept coming.
Eventually, I wised up and started to look for where this swarm was coming from. As I investigated all of our window screens for holes, I saw it: from the upper trim in our living room, what looked like an entire colony of ants was pouring out. I panicked, and literally put my hands on my head and started muttering “ohmygosh, ohmygosh,” before realizing that I had to do something.
I ran down to our basement, and in some forgotten back corner, found wasp killer. Back upstairs, I pulled a chair up, got closer to the swarm of ants than I’d ever wish to be, took a deep breath, held it, and sprayed. Insta-massacre.
As I cleaned up the wasp-spray foam, feeling victorious, I noticed that more ants were crawling around our mantle. A closer look revealed a second horde. So I sprayed away again, beginning to feel slightly more confident in my chemical weapons of mass destruction. As I cleaned up this round of ants and spray, out of nowhere, a small piece of the wall gave way, and to my horror, tons more ants spilled out.
Out. Of. The. Wall.
That’s when I lost it.
I started kind of wheezing (all of this in front of a quiet but supportive Saule, who I’d just met earlier that day), and saying, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this.” But when I thought about the options I didn’t have, I took another deep breath and sprayed away. A third cleanup.
To salvage what peace of mind I had remaining, I duct-taped off the hole (knowing full well they could crawl out elsewhere if they so chose), turned off all the lights, and took a super long shower, because, as you can imagine, my entire body felt like crawling ants at this point.
This all started happening as I got ready for bed, so it was almost midnight by the time I crawled into bed, incredulous that all of that had just happened on like the one night Eric wasn’t here.
This morning, I got up, and immediately beelined for the sight of the attack, steeling myself for another round, but to my happy surprise, there were no hordes of ants. I’m guessing they’re just sleeping in, plotting their revenge after what I’m sure was a traumatic night for them too. And I will be gladly calling an exterminator once their office opens up at 8:00, because, if you recall, they were in our walls, and there is little more horrifying than that.
This entire account has nothing to do with pasta, and in fact, has probably ruined your appetite. Let’s just call this a little therapy session, in which I recount to you my horrifying experience, and you read about it, from afar, but sympathetically.
Now, would you like me to tell you about this pasta or are you done reading this blog forever? This pasta is a perfect summer dinner: low-maintenance, fresh tasting, and light. Fresh shelled peas are combined with green onions, sage, lemon juice and zest, all thrown together with pasta topped with breadcrumbs and a little Parmesan. Easy peasy, lemon-squeezy, as I used to say to my kindergarteners. And that’s literally what this dish is.
Here’s to summer: it’s fresh fare, its insect swarms, and everything in between.
(recipe adapted from Local Flavors by Deborah Madison )
Shelling peas is not that time consuming, friends. You could use frozen, but by all means, use fresh if you can! I adapted this recipe just slightly by using green onion instead of shallots, panko bread crumbs instead of homemade (because ain't nobody got time for that in summer), using white pepper instead of black, adding lemon juice and leaving out parsley. This is such a quick summer dinner - comes together in less than 30 minutes.
1/2 lb. uncooked pasta (shell pasta worked best for "trapping" the peas)
2 tbsp. butter
1/4 c. green onion, diced
3 tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped
1 pound pea pods*, shelled
(1 c. pasta cooking water, reserved)
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon (more or less to taste)
ground white pepper**
Panko breadcrumbs (app. 1 handful per serving) (Italian-seasoned are good too)
1 c. grated parmesan
*You could use frozen peas here (about 2 c.), but please use fresh if you can. It's not difficult at all to shell fresh pea pods.
**Black pepper is okay too, but if you have white pepper on hand, it's so much more delicate and goes better with the peas!
Shell your peas first and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil, add some sea salt, and cook your pasta. Drain and set aside, keeping warm.
Then, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the green onion and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the shelled peas, sage, and 1 c. of reserved pasta cooking water and stew over medium heat until peas are bright green and tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add lemon zest and juice, salt and white pepper to taste.
Mix in the drained pasta with the peas, and portion servings onto plates. Garnish each plate with bread crumbs and parmesan.