Tallarines con guasanas y carnitas

Don’t be afraid – it’s just pasta with fresh chickpeas and shredded pork. I threw in some calabacitas (a small, rounded zuke relative), too, just ‘cuz. I also found out that there is a Spanish word for pasta, and decided to use it instead of “spaghetti” to make my meal appear to be more cogent than fusion.

Imagine my delight at finding fresh chickpeas at Winco foods. I never shop there, but was helping a friend bargain-shop and I was actually really surprised at their variety of Latin produce and wealth of bulk bins (though I still think Cash & Carry has better meat deals, if you don’t mind buying in 10lb increments). Normally steamed and shelled directly into the mouth (like so much edamame), guasanas are an interesting Mexican vegetable. I don’t know of any other legumes consumed as a fresh vegetable in Latin America, come to think of it. The lanuginous pods bear one seed, though the occasional twin is present. I’d never seen them before, and brought home a bag of them to try.

I sautéed the shelled chickpeas with minced onion and garlic, some minced red chili and sliced calabacitas. I added generous pinches of fresh-ground cumin, achiote and Mexican oregano, salt and pepper. Then I shredded the leftover pork steaks from last week (I made this dinner last week, too, but am just getting to it), added a few unctuous spoonfuls of the tomato-caramelized onion gravy (similarly leftover) and simmered until the shreds of pork buckled under their own weight. I ladled the mixture over cooked spaghetti, and sprinkled on some crumbled cotija and torn cilantro. The spicy, silky carnitas married well with the nutty, lightly crunchy guasanas and the salty, dry cotija and verdant cilantro brightened the whole plate up nicely.

Serve with a spanky Pinot Noir and a hot date with a stationary bike.*

*I finally made a trip to the gym after more than a month, with a taped-up broken toe and a permission slip from the orthopedic surgeon. The bike is okay as long as I keep my foot straight, and so I kicked back and enjoyed a magazine while I did the exercise of the lazy. I will, however, feel the upper body strength-training tomorrow.