Artists draw their inspiration from just about anywhere. Sitting under a tree at a park, the three-year-old rosy-cheeked girl digging in the sandbox may become a painter’s next subject. Or ordering a chai latte at the local Starbucks, the cashier’s call to the barista and her loud echo may become the melody in a musician’s newest song. Or tensely studying in the library just minutes before an exam, the stressed-out college student may turn into the sculptor’s next piece.
Cooking is no different. Chefs find inspiration in all of the same—and some unusual—places, just like artists. As for me, your typical home cook just playing around in the kitchen, I find some of my best inspirations come from restaurant menus.
I suppose that might be considered to be more mimicking and imitating than anything else, but reading the names of the offered dishes jolts my imagination into action. I’ve tried recreating a plate, if it was really that delicious, or I’ve made a twist off of what I was served.
That’s how this pasta dish first appeared on our table. My mom ordered the original at a restaurant downtown, but due to allergies and cheese preferences, it’s been modified to fit each family member’s taste. And with every adjustment, it just keeps getting better.
Pasta with Pears and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Goat cheese or gorgonzola are two other substitutes for the feta. All of these salty, savory cheese go really well with the sweet pears.
1 c. dry pasta
1 pear, thinly sliced
¼ c. sun-dried tomatoes, julienned or diced
1/3 c. diced ham
2 large handfuls of baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp milk
¼ c. crumbled feta
- Bring a medium pot of water to boiling, and cook pasta according to the package’s directions, omitting oil and salt. Drain.
- While water boils, chop the pear, ham, and tomatoes (if not already done).
- Lightly coat a pan with non-stick spray, and cook spinach over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until it wilts and turns a deep green. Add pears, tomatoes, and ham. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until everything is heated through.
- Add the pasta and milk to the pan. Stir in 2 tbsp of the feta, and cook until milk reduces a bit and cheese begins to melt. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate the pasta, and sprinkle each plate with the 1 tbsp of the feta. Serve hot.