05 May 2016

Pasta with Chicken and Spring Vegetables - and Why I'll Never Be a Minimalist


Pasta with Chicken and Spring Vegetables / www.delightfulrepast.com

I've been reading a lot about minimalism and decluttering in recent years. I admire minimalists, but I know I'll never be a real one. Though I like to keep my possessions down to MY minimum, I'll never get them pared down to the point where I can actually count them. 

Having grown up with a mother who, shall we say, kept a huge inventory, I was always determined to not get carried away. Since a very dear maternal aunt, unchecked by a husband as my mother was, really had a problem, I figure a predisposition to hoarding is in my genes, so I am ever vigilant.

When my adult life began, I knew instinctively that having a small house, small garage and no storage sheds or off-premise storage units would help keep a lid on things. And I've followed the one-in-one-out rule for decades, so my limited storage space is never outgrown.

In a post at the beginning of 2015 I wrote about tackling a specific issue (no, I'm not going to tell you here, you'll just have to read it!). It took nearly the entire year, but the gradual process not only solved the problem but actually seems to have cured the root cause.

Lately I've been feeling the need to get rid of more things, not to make space for new things, but just to enjoy the space. Please understand that I do not mean this as a criticism of people who are enjoying their stuff. I'm not one of those people who feels superior about whatever it is I'm up to at any given time.

Here's something (actually, 20 "somethings") that's going out in this latest purge. Snack sets. They were given to me by the aforementioned dear aunt many years ago. 

Vintage Snack Set / www.delightfulrepast.com
Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, Pattern Number 1305, Ball & Ribbed Design
Snack Plate and Cup Set aka Snack Sip and Smoke Set

Can you see that slot where the handle of the little spoon is resting? That was actually made to hold a cigarette! That little section of the snack plate is, yes, a built-in ashtray! (I googled "glass snack set with built-in ashtray" and found a seller on Etsy calling them "Snack Sip and Smoke Sets.") My aunt couldn't recall what year she bought these, just that they were from the heyday of smoking during the 40s and 50s. She never smoked (and, consequently, lived to nearly 95) but was fascinated by that feature.

When I used them for tea parties, I got the brilliant idea of using that slot for the tiny spoons I use for tea. These snack sets are really lovely for bridal and baby showers because the cup can be used for punch, coffee or tea, and the plate is large enough to hold some serious snacks.

But I no longer do events like that in my home. I will make food or bake and decorate a cake for such occasions held at a friend's house, but I don't foresee ever again having more than a dozen people over. So these, lovely as they are, can go. It's time. I still have plenty of china for my afternoon teas and dinners.

Why will I never be a minimalist? I'm in the business of food, and that involves a lot of equipment. But I'll be cutting back. Really. I will. In the meantime, finally, here's ...

The Recipe


Springtime Pasta / www.delightfulrepast.com

Springtime Pasta

Farfalle with Chicken and Spring Vegetables


(Serves 4)

8 ounces farfalle (bow-tie pasta), cooked according to package directions
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
3/4 pound thin asparagus, cut into 1½-inch pieces
1/2 pound young sugar snap or Chinese pea pods
1 large red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream (I use Organic Valley)
1 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, more for garnish
1/2 cup freshly grated (not shredded) Parmesan


1 Forty-five minutes before serving time, start heating 4 quarts water with a tablespoon of salt for cooking pasta. Prepare ingredients. 

2 Five minutes before adding pasta to the boiling water, start sauce. In 12-inch skillet which has a lid, heat olive oil. Pat dry the chicken pieces and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add to hot oil and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

3 Add minced shallot and continue cooking for a minute or two. Add wine and deglaze pan. Add asparagus (except tips), pea pods, red bell pepper and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium heat until vegetables are nearly crisp-tender, about 2 or 3 minutes. 

4 Uncover and stir in asparagus tips, cream and dill. Simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan; taste and adjust seasoning (it's important to stir in the Parmesan before adding more salt). Pour over hot, drained pasta. Mix well, divide onto four warm plates, and garnish with more dill and Parmesan. 


(Recipe first posted 09 May 2013. I was making it this week and thought I'd see if I couldn't take a better photo of it than I did three years ago. Not sure that I did! New one at top of post, old one just above the recipe.

65 comments:

Angie Schneider said...

I just bought another loaf tin though I already have 4...well, this one is different, it has a lid attached (I have two, 21cm, and 28cm with lids) and it's 32cm designed for sandwich. Sighs....not exactly something I NEED, but I just want it because it looks kinda cute and I am sure I will use it in future.
Your spring pasta looks fresh and delicious, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

I hear you, Angie. We cooks "need" a lot of stuff! ... sigh

handmade by amalia said...

Looks like the perfect lunch.
I declutter from time to time, but stuff just keeps coming back in...
Amalia
xo

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Superb article! Not sure that 5 cleavers applies to the non-food part, but I give you those up front (sorry, but pasta and most veggies are on my verboten list). Is there such a thing as an ethereal or non-corporeal minimalist? Well, there is now, as I’ve just made it up on account of I don’t qualify in the material vein. Alas, hoarder here. Not really about possessions with me but rather contingencies (rationale: “…some day I’ll need this”). But I greatly admire material minimalism in others – YOU! I do think, however, there is one more item you could get rid of but I won’t mention his name. Come to think of it, you’d better hang onto him, as he was the original minimalist. Yes, I remember him coming to the pool with a knapsack and a flute. Capt. Kwai Chang Caine or Captain Grasshopper, we used to call him…

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Amalia. And, yes, stuff just keeps coming back in! :D

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sully. You always seem to like it when I "stretch out" a bit in a post. And, yes, I'll hang onto my Grasshopper! :-)

Jeanie said...

This looks delicious and just the kind of thing that's a light pasta, better suited to warmer days and spring than the cold of winter! And I do love your not-a-minimalist take on life. I'm that way, too -- and I could border on the excessive (and often do) but try, now and then, to purge out. As you mentioned in your post link, I, too, have magazine issues. Now I try to in-and-out what arrives and am going through the old ones, clipping things I'll probably never make but at least the pile is smaller!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jeanie, thank you! I felt like this was "true confessions" time, hard to tell; but your comment makes me glad I did it.

Daniela said...

Actually, at this time we still have to dine, my pasta is boiling while I'm here ( I've prepared the arugula pesto before ), and your recipe makes my mouth water ... !
Thank you for posting always so inspiring dishes and recipes, my wonderful friend, I so love to come and visit you here !

Hope you're having a lovely day, I wish you most wonderful days to come, sending love to you, with much thankfulness ... and Happy Mother's Day weekend ahead, Dearest Jean !

Thinking of you

Dany

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Dany! I must try making my pesto with arugula one day -- thanks for giving me the idea! Wishing you a wonderful weekend too.

Marilyn Lesniak said...

I love this post! I am one to "fill" my space but not overload it. The space must be organized. Enter my son, his wife, and Miss J who is 7 and they all have lived with us since they married. Mrs A is a saver who was raised by a saver. She still has every toy and piece of clothing she ever owned. MIss J is severely spoiled by both her grandmas and could open a toy store and clothing store with her posessions. The kids lived on their own for a year while in school so they also have a completely furnished home and kitchen in boxes in my basement. Of course the boxes have been rifled through a million times these last 10 years. Now for the fun part. I was recently assured they had saved enough to buy a home and are waiting for my son to get a nonseasonal job. The home they want is 500 square feet! They want a farm so they can live minimally and green. I asked them to start downsizing now for the event and they LAUGHED! Great recipe! Have a great Mothers Day and thank you for sharing at #ThursdayFavoriteThings!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Oh, Marilyn, you made my day! I love it when people choose a smaller home and try to live simply. But, as you told them, they need to start downsizing NOW! They won't want to have boxes stacked in their limited space. And please don't let them leave them with YOU "for a while" or "just until"! :D

Pamela S said...

This pasta dish looks wonderful and a lighter version of what I make. I agree about the things we keep in our homes. I have a few shelves of specialty baking pans and another closet full of necessary things...no junk, just what I use even if only once a year.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Pamela! Yes, there are some items that are only needed once a year, but they are still needed.

Marisa Franca @ Allourway said...

Unfortunately I become attached to my stuff -- especially the kitchen stuff. I can get rid of clothes,furniture, etc. but kitchen items and cookbooks I really have a difficult time with. I don't know if the minimalist style is mine -- half the stuff I have I could purge but I don't know where it should go?? You've given me lots to think about. Great recipe, by the way ;-)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Marisa, yes, I know what you mean about the kitchen stuff! :D Where should the things you purge go? A friend suggested I sell the things on Ebay, but I can't be bothered. Yes, I could use the money, but I don't want to work for it in that way. I just today hauled three boxes to a lovely little charity shop in town that carries especially nice things. Thy were most appreciative of the donation. But I can hardly call myself a minimalist!

Marilyn Lesniak said...

Happy Mothers Day! Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe at the #RecipeSharingParty! I hope to see you next week. Pinned and Yummed. Please visit #OverTheMoon on Sunday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings for more sharing fun! Don't forget to Comment your link #'s so I can be sure to visit and you get a chance to be featured!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Marilyn! Have a wonderful weekend.

Brooks said...

Goodness, the Spring Salad looks and sounds so fresh and lovely. Mrs. W will adore this dish! I got a chuckle at 'huge inventory'. Yup, we in the food business tend to have lots of things, but in my house I'm the husband who goes around checking, and I'm just as content to donate or fill a dumpster with discards as I am frosting a cake. A fun read, Jean!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ohhh, Brooks! :D I'm picturing it now, running out to the dumpster between cakes! Thanks so much.

Lorrie said...

I'm glad your project to get rid of magazines went so well. I like to keep things not minimal, but not overly much either. (ooh, the grammar there!) I haven't begun any great purge, but try to take things to the thrift store (or dumpster) fairly frequently. The pasta dish looks yummy.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Lorrie. Grammarly or not, I like the way you put that -- "not minimal, but not overly much either." Sort of describes me, too. Or maybe, spare but not sparse?

Richard Sheppard said...

I'm with you on the minimalist movement. I read about and keep my stuff to a minimum but feel I've already reached a balance that I can live with. And then there's cooking, of course! Got have what we need to have, to make what we want for dinner. I love a good spring pasta-n-veg. I've always used pesto and parm. for mine but this sounds like a great variation!

BTW, I use my NTYs web subscription to book mark your recipes along with those from the NYT's. Nice to have them all in one place!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you! And I'm proud to have my recipes keeping company with your New York Times recipes!

Stephanie said...

Hi sweet Jean! How are you, lovely lady?

Your pasta looks oh-so-tasty and perfect for spring and summer. Have a delightful weekend! Hugs!

JulieInHerCottaheByTheSea said...

Being fairly new to your witty blog filled with delicious recipes, I HAD to click the link to find out about your 2015 project. I read ALL the comments and was happy to know my food magazine collection is comparatively small at 4-5 bankers boxes. I plan to cull my favorite recipes and toss the rest. After all, these recipes aren't online, and they contain some of my all-time favorites. I believe we will be the last generation of magazine hoarders as the younger generations are so used to everything being disposable and because most magazines are online now. Ditto for books. I have other things I am in the process of preparing mentally and emotionally to part with. If I'm not using the items, it's like I'm paying rent on space that's filled with "stuff". Blogs are my downfall so I am downsizing from approximately 200 food and decor blogs(!!!) and letting myself have 5 of each. Period. I liked reading that people felt liberated after their elimination of stuff. My new cottage is too tiny for excess of anything. The recipe is very similar to one I make and love.

JulieInHerCottageByTheSea said...

P.S. I clicked the bread links and other links; two hours later, I finally made my way back here. So many yummy recipes!

Lea Ann (Cooking on the Ranch) said...

Those snack set plates are very cool! And love the cigarette holder. I can just picture a party in the 50's or 60's and them in use. We downsized a couple of years ago and it felt good to get rid of a basement full of things that weren't being used. It seems if you have the space you fill it up. But I must say, I don't think your little snack plates would have been part of the purge. I love things like that. I also love Spring pasta dishes. Looks delicious Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Stephanie, thank you! I'm so behind on my blog visiting this week, but I'll get over to your lovely blog soon. It always makes me feel like I've had a visit with you!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Lea Ann. And, yes, it was hard to give up those snack sets! But the ladies at the charity shop were thrilled to get them (and so impressed that we'd actually washed them before bringing them in!). When I picture a party in the 50s with them, with the built-in ashtrays being used, it just gags me! :D

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Julie, thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the blog and left such delightful comments. I hope mine will be one of the 5 food blogs you allow yourself! It's easy to follow and keep up with because I only post once a week.

Bernideen said...

Jean:
You are an amazing cook and baker! This recipe is so pretty and I know the flavors blended together - just right! Thanks for sharing and linking!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Bernideen! I just wish I could've visited your tea room before you retired, but I'm looking forward to seeing what all you get up to in your new personal basement tea room!

kitty@ Kitty's Kozy Kitchen said...

What a cute post, Jean. I have some of those snack sets, but didn't know the history!! We do love our kitchen toys, though, don't we? Your spring pasta dish sounds like a delightful meal. Thanks for the recipe, as always.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Kitty. Yes, we certainly do love our kitchen toys! :D

Cocoa and Lavender said...

Jean, I try - really try - to subscribe to the one-in-one-out philosophy, but sometimes I just can't help myself when somebody gives me something beautiful. The biggest danger zones are silver, crystal, and linens. There will be quite the estate sale when my time comes!

Love the pasta salad recipe - perfect for this time of year!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Oh David, yes, those danger zones! LOL at "quite the estate sale when my time comes!" When my mother died, my sister and I just quietly hauled away truckloads to a charity shop. We would have made a fortune if we'd sold the things we donated, but my father could not have endured the process.

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Jean, your pasta looks wonderful! I love pasta dishes. Unfortunately my hubby prefers meat and potatoes. I can eat only so many potatoes and then I start cooking pasta and rice. I like using the pasta bows too although I can't find them in the grocery store lately.
As we are planning a move in the not too distant future, I am in the process of purging. I have a lot of stuff including many pieces of china and glassware. I will be picky because I love it all. Thanks for sharing your post and have a lovely weekend.

Blessings,
Sandi

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sandi! I'm so glad that my husband likes pasta dishes. I grew up with a meat-and-potatoes-man father, so I know how trying they can be! :D

Tony Grant said...

The photograph of your, pasta with chicken and spring vegetables, is a whole kaleidoscope of green, white and red. There is nothing minimalist in the number of ingredients obviously. However, eating pasta is something I do a lot as a runner. It gives me energy. I run miles all around Wimbledon , The Common and other local parks which keeps me slender and fat free. So , for me, a meal like your pasta leads to a s weight minimalism. Phew!!! I got there in the end.Ha! Ha! ( I did try!!)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tony! My husband gets loads of exercise and stays slender and fat free, too! And he probably eats at least twice as much as I do. It's maddening!

JulieInHerCottageByTheSea said...

Yes, Jean, of course I will be keeping your food blog in my Top Five. How could I not?! Some blogs stand so much taller than the rest, and yours is one. Have a great weekend!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Aaw, Julie, thank you so much! You've made my day (week!). You have a wonderful weekend, too!

Sandi@ Rose Chintz Cottage said...

Jean, I will be featuring your post at No Place Like Home on Monday. Enjoy your weekend.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sandi, thank you so much! I look forward to it!

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Jean! Good for you for recognizing your own "tendencies" to collect things and coming up with a solution that works perfectly for you. I agree that I'm really not much of a minimalist and far prefer to strive toward simple living. That's why I came up with the term "rightsizing" to help make it a more personalized journey. But none of it happens without self awareness. And OMG! I can't believe they made "snack plates" with a slot for your cigarette. As a "reformed smoker myself" I can applaud the practically and shudder and cluelessness I used to have while smoking. Good for you for realizing it was time to let them go! ~Kathy

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Kathy! I'm really enjoying your blog, and I like your term "rightsizing." There are so many people who aren't enjoying life as much as they could because they are bogged down by their stuff, so those of you in this field are doing important work.

Marilyn Lesniak said...

Congratulations! Your post was my feature pick from my Commenters at #ThursdayFavoriteThings this week. Visit me on Wednesday evening and to see your feature! I invite you to leave more links to be shared and commented upon.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Marilyn! "See" you soon!

Art and Sand said...

I will never be a minimalist either, but I am weeding out the things that I never use. I am slowly, but surely giving them to friends who I know will love them.

Thanks for sharing with SYC.

Lavender and Lime (http://tandysinclair.com) said...

haha, I can just imagine those long cigarette holders perching on the edge of the snack set while some bejeweled and gloved woman took a bite of a canape! I much prefer your use of the slot :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Isn't that a wonderful feeling, Art and Sand? And what our friends don't need or want can be sold or donated and out of our hair!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tandy! I know! Wouldn't it be like eating out of an ashtray?

Swathi Iyer said...

Love that plate another good prop, everything now I see is a prop today may be my food blogger syndrome. By the way your pasta looks delicious and filling my kids will love it, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning and tweeting.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Swathi! And, I know what you mean about props!

April J Harris said...

I'm fascinated by those Snack, Sip and Smoke sets! They really are very 40's or 50's - and I love how you put a spoon in them instead. I understand the desire to declutter, I get it too and have regular purges but like you, Jean, I will never be a minimalist! Your recipe sounds really delicious - very fresh and perfect for spring. Thank you so much for being a part of our Hearth and Soul Hop. Sharing this post on our Hearth and Soul Facebook page :-)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

April, thank *you*! Your sharing is so appreciated! I think there must be a lot of us out there who might like to keep it simple but will never be minimalists.

The Charm of Home said...

I love spring pasta! Thanks for joining Home Sweet Home!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, TCOH!

Debra Clark said...

Love your salad - all those bright flavors, looks just delicious! Wanted to pop by and let you know I"ll be sharing your recipe this week as a feature so make sure to pop on by! And on another note....we recently toured the Space Center when we were in Houston where they had ash tray on the back of all the chairs that view the Control Room - when I read your comment about the spoon resting place it brought me right back there! Glad you found a repurpose for that, haha! Anyway, have a great week, off to do more sharing! :D

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Debra, thank you so much! Too funny about the Control Room -- they used to go all out to make smoking soooooo convenient!

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Oh I adore your luncheon trays and the recipe looks oh so yummy. Thank you so much for linking up to Thoughts of Home on Thursday. You make our gathering a happier place.I left my comment here as I already have an entire set of Wusthof knives and wanted to make sure your generous giveaway went to someone who doesn't have any. :)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Laura, thank you so much. And how kind and thoughtful of you to take care not to enter the giveaway for something you already have!

Jill said...

This looks like a great recipe. I love spring vegetables and farfalle pasta. I may have to try.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jill. I hope you will! I just made something yesterday with the *mini* farfalle -- too cute!

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