Serving for One / Herbaceous Spring Zucchini Noodles With Walnuts, Lemon + Goat Cheese
The recipe at the end of this post serves one.
At the end of the day, that’s all any of us can truly serve—regardless of whether we’re on our own, in a relationship or have a family. It’s where we must come back to in order to become our highest selves. “To thine own self be true” is a mantra to live by, but it can be easier said than done.
Moving through this life, each new chapter, every new evolution, brings its own set of issues. Progress brings collateral damage, reveals what is still unresolved and at times, makes me question how far I’ve really come. Until I push through it, and break through to another level, realize new heights of strength, power and confidence—and meet a whole new kind of resistance.
Being alone can be hard. But even at this very early stage, it’s already being revealed to me that dating can be harder. Somehow, I’m 33 and have never really dated in the traditional sense. All my relationships have started suddenly and intensely, coming on like a virus, overtaking me before I even knew what hit me. At this age, after all the chaos and insanity, I’m suddenly 14 years old again, learning for perhaps the first time what it’s like when the guy doesn’t call. When you can’t tell whether or not he’s actually interested. When you have to play it cool to the point of complete aggravation. When you have to read between every little line and run every interaction past five different girlfriends to try and interpret it all.
Is this what normal people do?
I’m used to codependent attractions to addicts and narcissists, mostly; to that bloodrush of starry-eyed love and lust; to that all-consuming desire, to being all they see, to worshipping and being adored—with all of it quickly turning to that deadliest of dances, re-enacting our childhood traumas upon each other, with the all-consuming love transforming into equal measures of all-consuming hatred and rage; starry-eyed wonderment turning to star-crossed confusion, to bitterness and pain, and all of that perpetuating in endless iterations of a personal hell of our own making. I hate you, don’t leave me, over and over until somebody finally snaps, or gets healthy.
How do you go from all that to getting-to-know-you talk over a cup of coffee? How do you pretend to be normal, to just chat over drinks as if you haven’t been slowly clawing your way out of purgatory, gasping for air, stumbling through life like the walking dead? How do you blend in with the other humans?
It can be done, it turns out. But you have to do the work every day. If you can learn to show up for yourself, you can build up a confidence you never knew you had. You must learn to love yourself, to be your own best friend—to date yourself, essentially, by practicing self-care; developing an inner monologue that is gentle and kind; spending hours going inward, getting to know yourself as if you had just met yourself for the first time. By doing this, you can develop the strength and courage, the bliss and the bounty, that it takes to be able to show up for someone else; to be ready to give and receive love freely.
Me, I get up between 3 and 4 a.m. every day and throw myself outside. I go to the roof of my apartment building, where everything is quiet, where there is only me and my guides and what passes for nature. There is the blissful stillness of the sleeping city; the quiet dark; the trickle of the water on Lake Union, as yet undisturbed by man. This is the best part of my day. This is when the answers truly come. This is how I get to know who I really am; what I really want; where I'm really going. I meditate. I ask for insight and answers. And I find that I already know, and I already have what I need—I just need a little help remembering sometimes.
With all of these practices in place, it turns out that you actually can forget about all the pain and the trauma of the past for a while. It turns out that you can become a normal person on a normal date, without even having to try.
Of course, you have to find someone you can actually talk to first. And even when you do, the trick is what comes afterwards. When they don’t call, how does it make you feel? When they do, is it even worse? It’s hard to realize that after all the work, all the growth, all the healing and evolution, those old patterns can creep right back in without you even realizing it. Placing your self-worth on that return text. Evaluating the success or failure of your day on whether or not you’re going to see them again. Obsessing, swooning, preparing to wipe the calendar clean of all of your meticulously scheduled plans in one fell swoop with one word from them.
And then, just as quickly, swinging completely the other way. Repelled by the mere fact of their attraction. Reviewing every word in your head for warning signs. Searching frantically for faults. Afraid everything will spin out of control if you let someone in; frightened to be vulnerable in any sense of the word. Ready to run, cancel, delete, retreat inward.
Time to reset, again. Get back to the essence, again. Find something positive, constructive, that you can really drop into. Center within yourself, again. Go back to the roof and talk to the guides. Pick yourself back up and put your head back on straight.
The universe sent me this message a while ago, and sometimes I just have to be reminded:
Freedom is letting go.
That means not only letting go of control over someone else’s actions, but also the white-knuckled grip on planning out every hour, every day, every week. Just letting yourself have a day to wander around with no agenda.
And, in this case, to throw the meal plan out the window and just grab whatever early-spring vegetables caught my eye and eased my troubles at my regular Pike Place produce stop.
We’ll make this one up as we go.
It’s always amazing to me when not planning turns out to be the very best plan of all. This recipe is perfect evidence of that—so follow it loosely, use it as a template, and swap out whatever herbs and vegetables your soul is telling you you need.
You always know best.
Herbaceous Spring Zucchini Noodles w/ Walnuts, Lemon + Goat Cheese
1 zucchini, spiralized or sliced with a mandoline into thin “noodles”
½ bundle asparagus, woody ends snapped off
1 large or 2 small tomatoes, sliced into ½” half-moons
2 stalks spring garlic, whole thing sliced thinly
1 small or ½ large lemon, zested and cut in half
Small handful basil, leaves chopped or thinly sliced
3-5 stalks thyme, leaves stripped
½ - 1 Tbsp capers (to your preference; I love them, so I put 1 Tbsp)
Handful of walnuts, lightly toasted
2-3 oz creamy goat cheese
1-2 Tbsp EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of water to a boil while you spiralize your zucchini and prep the rest of your ingredients. When it boils, blanch the asparagus for 30 seconds to a minute and drain. Heat ½ - 1 Tbsp olive oil (depending on the size of your zucchini; mine was quite large, so I used close to 1 Tbsp) in a large saute pan or pot over medium-high; throw in the zucchini and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, until lightly golden and just when liquid begins to release. Remove from the heat and set aside.
I like to use as few pans as possible, so I put the zucchini in a bowl and put the same pot back on the burner and added another ½ - ¾ Tbsp olive oil. Add whatever amount of oil you need to lightly coat the bottom of your pan. Once hot, throw in the white and light green parts of the spring garlic and most of the herbs (reserving a little for sprinkling on top) and stir until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and saute for a few minutes, allowing liquid to release. Throw in the capers, half the lemon zest and some salt and pepper and stir for another 30 seconds or so. Then add the asparagus and the zucchini noodles to the pan (including any liquid) and saute for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, just to heat everything up and combine the flavors.
Remove from heat and pour everything into a bowl, including the liquid that has collected. Add about half of the goat cheese and give it a stir. Top with the remaining lemon zest, herbs and cheese and add the walnuts. The goat cheese, vegetable liquid and herbs will create a delicious broth that gets yummier as you eat and is delightful when slurped as you reach the bottom of your bowl. Enjoy!