One of the main reasons I ran the local marathon was to eat my beloved breakfast--steel-cut oats with Greek yogurt and almonds--before the race. It wasn't until a few days pre-race, though, I realized I'd be able to eat a home-cooked dinner as well. A blessing: I could eat exactly what I wanted without having to wade through a menu in an unfamiliar restaurant. And a curse: I had to cook dinner the night before the big event. I debated between my old standards, recipes that never fail to please my palate and fuel my fire. I ended up going with option #1, a family fave. My kids have been gobbling these 'balls up with so much gusto that I served it to them all on their first birthdays. (See Phoebe, below.) Now not only is it our unofficial b-day dinner, but my Boston-qualifying dinner!
Turkey-Pesto Meatballs (I double the Bon Appetit recipe.)
2 jars tomato sauce
1 pound ground turkey
1 1/2 cups homemade bread crumbs (I grind up crusts, too, despite what recipe says)
5 T. pesto (I use Contadina from refrigerator section of market)
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon salt
Pour one jar of sauce into large saucepan (I use a big Le Creuset one). Mix all other ingredients in bowl. With moist hands, form meatballs, golf-ball size or slightly smaller. Place in single layer in sauce, then pour other jar of sauce on top. Bring to a simmer, and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Serve over spaghetti with Parmesan cheese. (These 'balls freeze really well.)
This next recipe--Fusilli all'Amatriciana--holds a special place in my heart. It's renamed Love Pasta at our house because it is the first dish I ever prepared for my now-husband. When we started dating, he was living in Chicago and I was in San Francisco. I cooked this on the first night he ever visited me in the City by the Bay (he jokes I locked him in my apartment, which he dubbed, "Sal-catraz." Sally being a nickname for Sarah...now you see how my husband's humor works). It fueled a lot of, ahem, action. (Just not of the running kind.) Since then, however, I've eaten it before plenty of 10Ks and 13.1s. (This recipe is also from Bon Appetit. I've modified it slightly after making it countless times.)
5-6 slices bacon
1 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 28-oz. can Italian plum tomatoes
2 t. dried basil
In a large skillet, fry bacon. Once crispy, place cooked bacon on paper towels, and drain off about half the bacon fat. Add olive oil to skillet that bacon grease is in and add chopped onion. Saute until onions are soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add white wine, and stir 2 minutes. Add basil and tomatoes, along with juices from can, and bring to a simmer, breaking up tomatoes with back of wooden spoon. Let simmer until sauce thickens and reduces, about 30 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and about 1/8 t. of cayenne pepper. Serve over cooked fusilli (although I always use penne), and top with grated Parmesan.
What's your favorite night-before-race recipe?