I made this dish tonight in honor of Father’s Day and my dad and it brought me down a bittersweet memory lane. I didn’t start cooking until I was 19. And to be honest, it was mainly only because the guys I started dating could cook and, if or nothing else, I didn’t want to be the girl in the relationship who couldn’t. So I started to learn. This shocked my dad because growing up, I had no interest in cooking. At all. Despite his and my grandmother’s love for cooking and their combination of Polish, Czech, Ukrainian cooking cuisine knowledge, me, being the dumb kid that I was, had no interest in learning.
But as I started to cook more and more, I wanted to impress my dad. I wanted to show him that I could actually cook because until then it was just jokes about how I would burn rice in the microwave. Yes, the Asian burned the shit out of rice in a microwave once in one of my apartments soooo badly that my boyfriend at the time stepped in my house (hours after the fact) and immediately left dying laughing because it reeked so bad and because his “Asian” girlfriend couldn’t cook rice. Yup. That’s how well I cooked.
After that I was determined to cook well and so I started to learn. But my dad, knowing my track record, didn’t believe me. So I planned a dinner that I was going to cook for him. A pasta dish that was one I knew I liked because it was the only one I’d eat at work (Embarrassing confession: I worked at the Olive Garden as a waitress for a few years in my late teens/early 20s). It was the first full meal that I cooked for my dad. I was pretty proud of it at the time, and even though I hadn’t let the sauce cook off the wine and my pasta was overcooked, when I asked him how he liked it, his response was a head nod and an “It’s good… just one small piece of advice, next time I’d cut the chicken up smaller.”
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a next time. He passed away suddenly in September of that year. The Chicken Giordino was the only meal I ever made him. I was only 20 at the time so I didn’t think much about it then, but as Dan and I are now cooking from scratch and making things that I know he would have loved to learn from us how to make, I miss him more and more and regret not cooking with him and learning from him. But I also realize that it’s the ‘thing’ he’s passed along to me. Since his death, my mom and brother and I have all grown and changed in ways that would have shocked him but also would have made him proud. My mom got back on a motorcycle, onto a boat, and has come out of her shell; my brother began to take his health seriously, lost over 80 lbs, and finally moved away from our tiny town in NH; and I stopped dating horribly wrong men for me, found a man my dad would have been proud to call a son, and I’ve made cooking as much a part of my life as it was his. His death has passed along all these things to us. And although I know we’d all give anything to have him here with us now, I think we all know that he’s the reason we’re all in the happy places we are now, too.
So tonight on Father’s Day, I made a variation of that meal, the only meal, I ever made my dad. And this time, almost 10 year later with much more cooking experience under my belt, I wasn’t the new cook clutching a recipe, reading every line over and over, and uncertain of how it would turn out. Instead, I made my own pasta and created a variation of the dish with the ingredients we had in the house, adjusting flavors as I went.
Which resulted in a wonderfully, summery, veggie pasta dish with a light citrus wine sauce and homemade farfalle. We didn’t have any chicken, but if we had, I now know the right size to cut chicken to as I now cook with a confidence and passion that is from my dad, because even though he’s not here physically, he’s still here with me in the kitchen.
- Fresh farfalle pasta or 1/2 lb of packaged pasta
- 2 small zucchinis - halved and sliced
- 2 small yellow squash - halved and sliced
- 1 shallot minced
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 6 mini sweet bell peppers, sliced
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1/4 cup of chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup of dry white wine
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 teaspoon of dried fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon of milk (can be omitted to be vegan)
- 1-2 teaspoons of corn starch
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in saucepan with rosemary, oregano, and garlic powder. Whisk and cook for 1 minute. In a separate bowl, mix wine, water, chicken stock, lemon juice, milk and corn starch. Whisk together so corn starch is completely dissolved then add to butter and whisk well. Bring to a boil and cook until alcohol is cooked off, and add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and set aside.
- Put a pot of well salted water on to boil.
- In a saute pan on medium, heat olive oil and add garlic and shallot. Cook for a couple of minutes then add peppers, zucchinis, and squash and saute until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.
- When water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, then mix with sauteed veggies. Pour in sauce and mix well.
- Serve and enjoy!