Have any of you been following this New Adult controversy in publishing? Basically, some self-published authors developed this new category of books dealing with main characters aged 18-25-ish. They aren’t teenagers, but they aren’t totally grownups either. Instead of first kisses, they’re navigating first real jobs, student loans, “real” relationships. The publishing industry poo-poo-d for several weeks that it wasn’t a real thing, that it was romance lite, or YA with sex, etc. Then those self-published authors became best-sellers and agents and editors started scrambling to sign New Adult writers. Ha HA!
This is a really elaborate lead-up explaining why I wasn’t particularly expecting to love this book. I was initially as skeptical as anyone. But I so, so did love it. Picture Perfect, by Alessandra Thomas, is the epitome of what New Adult should be. It’s sweet, sexy, and most of all, completely real.
It’s the story of Cat, a fashion design major and model who gains 60 pounds recovering from a nasty accident. Suddenly, people look at her differently. Her boyfriend blows her off, most of her friends have moved on while she was recuperating, and her beloved clothes don’t fit anymore. I doubt there is a girl alive who can’t identify with Cat’s self-consciousness; her constant fear that she isn’t good or pretty enough. She wants those cheese sticks, but are people judging her? Diet Coke instead, please.
Then she meets Nate, who turns out to be dealing with issues of his own. Before that gets thorny, though, they have a marvelous honeymoon period. One of the things they most love to do is try new foods together. Nat’s biggest claim to fame in the kitchen is a masterful pesto sauce. This one would make him proud.
The really nice thing about a good pesto recipe is that it’s totally customizable. Not enough basil? Sub spinach. Too broke for pine nuts? Walnuts. Vegan? Trade the parm for nutritional yeast and the cream for coconut milk. This is the kind of recipe every college student should have in their repertoire.
2 (packed) cups basil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 c toasted pine nuts
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 c grated Parmesan
1/4 c EVOO
1/2 c cream
8 oz pasta (I like a fusilli, so the pesto really sticks in the ridges.)
This recipe is so preposterously simple, it barely has directions.
Boil pasta according to package directions. Put pesto ingredients in food processor. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine pesto and pasta. Say “picture perfect pesto pasta” five times fast. There, now you’ve earned some wine to go along with it!
Serves 2-4, depending how hungry you are.