I've spent the past few days in the mountains. My mother has just completed her final summit to become a 46er, which means hiking all 46 mountains in the Adirondacks over 4,000 feet. It's a serious badge of honor amongst hikers. She's been at it for a few years now, logging miles of trail and generally becoming even more of a badass, epic all-around person. To mark the occasion, my sisters and I joined my parents for the last few hikes. After a very grueling 14 hour hike on Friday, we got to the trail bright and early on Saturday for the final ascent.
We climbed a long, steady two mile stretch of boulder-strewn trail to get to Lake Arnold. From there, it's a steep, narrow path up for two more hours to the top of Mt. Colden. We broke out a flask of bourbon and a thermos of orange juice to celebrate. There were some tears and some peanut M&Ms and general frivolity.
Very long hikes -- while thrilling and adventuresome -- take everything you've got. Your legs are scraped and scratched, your muscles ache and tremble, and you have to clutch the railing to make it up and down stairs.
Your appetite wanes on long hikes. You feel a gentle throb of hunger every half an hour or so, prompting you to scarf a handful of granola and press on. We eat things like: celery and almond butter, grapes, trail mix, and sandwiches of iceberg lettuce and peanut butter on rice cakes. It's fuel and not much more.
At night, you're too tired to think creatively. My mother baked spinach quiche the week before the trip, so we eat that. Some salad. Water. You really just sit at the table, willing your eyes not to close before you can eat enough to go to bed.
But once you finish, your hunger returns with a vengeance. I craved the things I couldn't carry with me: creamy Australian yogurt with a ribbon of lemon curd, crispy roast chicken sprinkled with sea salt, guacamole bright with lime juice and cilantro.
For nights like these -- hungry but exhausted ones -- save your energy and make this pasta. It's summery and light, but quick to make and fulfills a need for something substantial, warm, and nourishing.
Hope that you all are adventuring somewhere beautiful and wild this summer too!
RED PESTO PASTA WITH FRESH CORN
Adapted from De Cecco
1 pound dried linguine or other thin pasta
4 ripe plum tomatoes
15 basil leaves
1 tablespoon parsley leaves
6 celery leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup sliced (or whole) almonds
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ears fresh corn
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, following the instructions on the package. Plunge into an ice bath, drain, and let cool.
Bring another pot of water to boil. Drop the tomatoes in for about 1 minute, until their skins split. Transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once cool, peel the skins and remove the seeds.
In a food processor or blender, combine the peeled tomatoes, almonds, basil, celery leaves, parsley, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Process until smooth.
Shuck the corn and slice the kernels off of the cob. In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the sauce and the raw corn. Serve topped with chopped parsley or grated Parmesan.