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Jeff Nathan Clears His Freezer and Makes a Goat Cheese Fusilli

fusilli with goat cheese, red peppers and basil

This time of year is a bit of a mixed blessing for a foodie like me. It's great to begin planning all the meals I'll be serving to family, friends and customers over the next few weeks, but it's a little daunting, too. After all, we've been on a holiday spree for the last couple of months!

This past August, while I was being a glutton in France, my fridge bit the dust. I came home to find what was once a well stocked, fairly organized chilled pantry now just an empty shell awaiting the curb. Rosh Hashanah was first on the feasting calendar. And this was a chance at a fresh start for the upcoming New Year. I was intrigued with the possibilities of it all... should I replace everything that was in there?, would I miss, or even need every last ingredient?, if I hadn't eaten those watermelon rind pickles by now, shouldn't I be glad they were gone?

But at the same time I was grateful that my spare freezer hadn't been the one to break, as it was jam packed with meats, chicken, fish, sauces, soups and stocks and several varieties of ravioli for my food consulting business.

And that's when it began... the knowledge that I had enough! I had enough to feed a small army for a few weeks, all those yomtovs included! After all, what if that freezer was the one to break, or if there was a power outage. And yes, there was a power outage, thanks to Super-storm Sandy.

But in the weeks prior to the loss of power I made it my mission to cook only from what I already had at home. Supplementing my menus with only fresh produce and dairy, everything I made came from the Nathan Household! Despite the lack of shopping, I found I was inspired as well as creative!

And now I'm a little too well fed. It's just after Thanksgiving and we've eaten our way through yet another holiday. I've got one more shelf cleared, but I'm feeling the effects of food overload. I've got a little time before I start making resolutions about weight loss and going to the gym. So for now I've begun adjusting my menus.

I'll slow down on having a meat, fish or chicken dish on the table every night and focus a little more on eating dishes made with grains, beans, vegetables. And since I'm not quite dieting yet, just looking for variety, I'll enjoy some dairy meals, too. A little more from the earth, a little less on being such a carnivore! It might take me into 2013 until I can hit the defrost button, but I'm excited to create some new dishes! Just tonight I created an Native American Indian dish with pumpkin, chickpeas and kale. And yes, I used the pumpkin that has adorned my front porch since Sukkos!

With it being Chanukah I am making lots of latkes. But instead of deep fried foods, I'll drizzle some of my finer boutique oils onto my dishes as a finishing touch. I'll offer hearty soups, chopped salads and indulgent pastas. And come January, when we all appreciate the quiet time before Purim baskets and Passover, I'll be that much closer to starting a real diet with real exercise!

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Fusilli with Red Pepper, Goat Cheese and Basil which is just perfect for a dairy day of Chanukah.