It officially feels like fall now. Don’t get me wrong, all of the gourds lining the stoops in my neighborhood and the fall breads and Thanksgiving sides filling my Instagram feed have definitely helped, but something was missing. Over the past couple of weeks, though, the leaves around here have begun to cover the sidewalks in red, orange, yellow, and brown. And the weather now consistently has a little chill to it (rather than dreading the brutal cold that is coming way too soon, I’m choosing to enjoy the beauty of the current conditions while they last). Oh, and let’s not forget that, for the past five years, fall for me has centered on marathons. I didn’t run or even begin to train for one this year, but a little over a week ago I did participate in the festivities for one of my favorite days of the year – Marathon Sunday in New York.
The New York City Marathon is one of the most inspirational events I’ve ever been a part of. You see runners of all shapes, sizes, ages, and levels of ability out there pounding the pavement to reach an incredible goal. For some, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime achievement to cross that finish line. For others, it’s a certain time or performance goal. Regardless of the goal, that 26.2 miles is an emotionally and physically draining journey that never gets easy, no matter how many times you take it on. Huge congrats to everyone who ran a marathon this fall! As a spectator, you can’t help but get excited for these people chasing a dream, and sometimes it will motivate you to chase down your own dream, whether that be a marathon or not. As a runner, the crowd support is unbelievably energizing and is sometimes the only factor that keeps you from sitting down and crying. Everybody wins.
While the marathon itself is an incredible event for runners and spectators alike, I realized on Marathon Sunday that I prefer to be one of the runners. There are several reasons to hate running marathons, including the pain and the time commitment. I only need one reason to love it, though, and that is what will motivate me to run another one – training with friends. For me, running is a social sport. The friends are what keep me accountable and make me want to show up and put in the work. There’s something about the long process and the grueling hours of training that helps to build amazing friendships. So, after last Sunday I decided to enter the lottery for the 2019 NYC Marathon. Maybe I’ll get in, maybe I won’t. I’m excited to see what happens either way.
Thinking about training for another marathon got me thinking about another of my favorite things – eating…a lot. While technically not considered “carbo loading”, which requires 2-3 days of eating high carbohydrate meals and isn’t achieved in just one dinner, during training I used the weekly long runs as an excuse to eat a big quantity of pasta the night before. Due to my sensitive digestive system, I found a pasta that worked for me and ate the same thing every single week. I used to order my pasta from a nearby restaurant for delivery, but then I moved to Brooklyn and started studying nutrition, so I recreated it my way. To make this dish a little healthier, I added tomatoes and used chicken sausage instead of beef or pork, but it definitely fills the void of my weekly Gottino’s take-out. It’s also really easy to make. Bonus!
Note: I couldn’t find broccoli rabe at my store the last time I made this, so I used baby broccoli instead and it was also delicious.
Orecchiette with Sausage & Broccoli Rabe
Serving Nutrition: 382 calories, 15.4 g protein, 13.7 g fat, 4.1 g fiber, 49 g carbohydrates
1 12oz package orecchiette
2 links pre-cooked sweet or hot Italian chicken sausage, casing removed & meat finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz broccoli rabe, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1. Boil pasta according to package instructions until al dente, then drain and reserve about a cup of the pasta water.
2. In large skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and onions and sauté until onions begin to soften.
3. Add garlic and continue to cook about a minute.
4. Add thick stalks of broccoli rabe and cook about 3 minutes, then add tomatoes and thin stalks of broccoli rabe and cook until tomatoes soften.
5. Add sausage, remaining olive oil, and parmesan and thoroughly mix.
6. Slowly stir in pasta, adding pasta water a little bit at a time as needed to loosen up sauce and allow thorough mixing.
7. Mix in red pepper flakes and add salt & pepper to taste.