6 Miles! and Zucchini & Summer Squash Orecchiette with Sausage

Hancock from Navy PierThis weekend I had 6 miles on the docket for my Sunday run. Normally I hit the lakefront path for an out-and-back because it’s convenient and I don’t have to worry about traffic. As easy as that is, using the same path every day isn’t good because I start to depend too much on familiar landmarks to get me through the run. I know exactly where I am when I hit the harbor or the theater house and use those as crutches to power me through. If I’m going to continue with this racing thing – which I fully intend to do – I know I need to get outside my familiar surroundings because I won’t be able to rely on them when I’m on an unfamiliar course.

To that end, on Sunday I got up early and hopped on a bus down to Navy Pier. My intention was to run around the pier and run home on the lake path, stopping to take a few photos along the way (because what’s the point of having such a beautiful path to run on if you don’t take a photo now and then?). To my surprise, there were already people milling about the pier at 8:30 in the morning. Yes, some were runners like me, but most were tourist-lookin’ folk doing who knows what at that time of day because the shops and restaurants and such were not open yet. Luckily, it wasn’t terribly crowded and I didn’t have to dodge too many slow-walking pedestrians, but unluckily the easternmost part of the pier was closed due to a festival. I’d really wanted to get some photos of the city from that vantage point, so I was disappointed with that, but I did manage to cut through the garage and take the above photo from the north side. My city is so pretty.

Photos taken, I started on my way home. As I suspected it might, being so far away started to freak me out a little. I had to keep reminding myself that a) I didn’t have that much further to run than last Sunday’s out-and-back 5-miler; and b) I could always walk to Michigan Ave. and catch a bus home if I needed to. I knew that I had the physical wherewithal to do it, but mentally it seemed like a lot. Just seeing the words “Ohio St. Beach” on a sign rattled my nerves. But soon, Ohio St. became Oak St. I passed Castaways at North Ave. I hit the theater house and knew exactly where I was. I went over the bridge, passed the harbor, went around a few curves, and 1 hour and 7 minutes later I was home.

You see?, I told myself. You can totally do it. And because I know anxiety continues to sit at the edges of these runs, threatening to make me quit, I will make myself do it again.

Zucchini & Summer Squash Orecchiette with Sausage
Zucchini OrecchietteOnly one new recipe this week as I, apparently, only tried one new thing. I’ve been hitting the pasta pretty hard lately. I’ll go through phases where I rarely eat pasta and phases where I have it every night and this has been one where I’ve been making last week’s recipes on the regular. I decided to change things up on Sunday, however, and tried this recipe from Eating Well. It originally calls for shrimp, but I had some Amylu’s Italian Chicken Sausage in my refrigerator and decided to use that instead. Like any pasta recipe, it’s pretty simple and you can interchange any ingredients you like. Use a different type of squash – spaghetti squash would be great, or even butternut if you swapped the tomato sauce for just butter and olive oil and the basil for sage (I will have to try that – it sounds fantastic!) – or use a different vegetable entirely. To me, pasta is a blank canvas on which many different and delicious things can be painted.

I would like to mention that I’ve been using only DeLallo whole wheat pasta for a while now. A friend turned me on to it, saying that it was hardly different from white pasta and that you could even see the flour still on it. I made the switch to whole wheat pasta a while ago, but only recently tried DeLallo. I have to admit, he’s right. It’s hands down the best whole wheat pasta I’ve ever used. If you’re looking to make the switch to a healthier pasta but haven’t quite acquired the taste for whole wheat, I highly suggest you get some of this. I found mine at Whole Foods.

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 chicken sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 anchovy fillets (totally optional)
¾ cup whole wheat orecchiette
¼ cup summer squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
¼ cup zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon capers
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, lube up your skillet with about a teaspoon of olive oil and get a nice brown on your sausage. Add the zucchini and squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften. Throw in the garlic and anchovy fillets (if using) and cook until garlic is fragrant and the anchovies have started to melt away. Add the tomato sauce and about a tablespoon of the pasta cooking water to loosen things up. When the pasta is done, add it to the squash mixture with the capers and some salt and pepper to taste and cook a few minutes just to marry the flavors. Toss the final mix with the fresh basil and you’ve got a quick, easy, and fairly healthy dinner in front of you.

Makes 1 serving.

(Oh, I added the remainder of the fresh mozzarella I had previously bought. Feel free to sub in a cheese of your liking, or go cheeseless altogether.)

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