Mixing spiritual and culinary nourishment might seem like an odd pairing to some. But it all comes naturally to Father Leo Patalinghug. He's a priest of the archdiocese of Baltimore, and the author of multiple cookbooks. His latest is called "Spicing Up Married Life," where advice about strengthening your marriage sits side by side with recipes for romantic meals.
He tells NPR's Celeste Headlee on Tell Me More that it's important for couples to set aside time for themselves — and food is the best way to do it."Often times, the meal can recreate a memory," he says. And as an added bonus, he adds "Couples — If you're eating, one has to shut-up and listen because they're too busy chewing the food."
And while preparing meals for the holidays can be a hectic rush, Father Leo advises married couples that the food is just a means to the end. "It's a coming together and celebrating each others life and the gift that they bring because they're just here in the world."
Of course, not everyone is as handy in the kitchen as Father Leo, but he has some advice for that too — "If the food stinks at the end of it all, call carry-out. You can still celebrate each other."
Bacon and Butternut Squash Brandy Creamy Penne Pasta
1/2 lb penne pasta, cooked al dente
4 strips thick-cut bacon, cut into thin strips
1 cup butternut squash, diced into 1/8" cubes
1 small white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 cup brandy
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
2 tsp Parmesan cheese, shaved or grated
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely minced
Boil pasta per instructions. When pasta is cooked al dente (translated: "to the tooth," describing the preferred texture of pasta, which is not mushy and slightly chewy), drain water completely, then add a light drizzle of olive oil. Toss pasta together, and set aside. Cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium-high heat, until fatty parts of the bacon become crispy. Remove bacon and drain oil, leaving about 2 teaspoons of bacon grease in the pan. In the
same pan, saute the butternut squash, unions, and garlic until squash becomes soft and onions become translucent, about 2 - 3 minutes. Add brandy and either flambe or cook away from an exposed flame for 2 - 3 minutes. Add butter and flour, and mix together, until sauce thickens. Add Chicken stock, and stir together. Return the bacon and pasta to the pan, and cook until sauce thickens. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and fresh minced parsley to finish the dish.