I've been running for over 10 years now, and continue to start nearly every morning with it. It got me through the stresses of college (and helped to work off some of those late night eating sessions), provided moments of solace in trying times, and has given me the opportunity to explore an unfamiliar and intimidating city. There's something oddly comforting in knowing that, in a city as big as New York, I can always count on seeing the same faces at 6 am doing a loop in the Park.
A large number of my friends are runners as well. One in particular, J, has been my long run buddy for a few years now. Where I generally like shorter, faster races, J prefers the steady, longer runs. So I always feed off her for inspiration and to ensure my butt is out of bed and on the road early Saturday mornings. Last year I deserted her for the NYC Half since I had a wedding to go to. This year, it's my turn to suffer it out alone as she has an important family function. So, this pasta dish is my way of pouting about having to toe the line alone. No healthiness here - just good ol' carbo loading.
Onto this yummy, yummy plate of pasta goodness. Right when I saw Rachel making this I knew I had to try it myself. She deemed this a "lasagna-bowl," or an easy way of making a fairly complicated dish in minimal time. I mean everyone loves the whole cheese-pasta-sauce combo going on in lasagna, so recreating it in a 30-minute time frame just seemed genius. And let me tell you - it is. The meat sauce has an awesome flavor from the pancetta, beef broth and wine, and the cheese sauce has just enough flavor to combat any kind of dairy craving without being ridiculously heavy. The only variations I made from her recipe were to use all ground beef instead of the beef, pork, veal mix (if only FreshDirect would let me buy in smaller quantities...) and I used Conchiglie pasta instead of Campanelle. Conchiglie was just what I had on hand, but I thought it was awesome in this dish - the sauce really stuck to it and the big bites made it seem just that much more decadent.
Trust me - this dish is worth the 13.1 miles! Good-luck to anyone running tomorrow (in a race or not)!