Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta

I call this “Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta”.

At the end of the day on Friday, I opened my fridge to see what I had to inspire me to prepare dinner. All week long I save little bits of leftover vegetables, sauce and stock – and lo and behold, put them together and dinner presents itself!

This week I had a container of mushrooms that needed to be sauteed. I had some white beans left over from a salad. I had extra garlic chopped. I had a handful of arugula. I had vegetable broth that needed to be used. And I had a cup of homemade marinara sauce. Not to mention that I try to have organic green peas (fresh or frozen) on hand at all times. In addition I had some fun tri- color pasta that I wanted to try.

There’s not really an exact recipe here- just let it flow.

In a large skillet, I lightly sauteed the garlic in EVOO, added the mushrooms with salt to taste. Let that go until the mushrooms were almost done. Next, I added the marinara sauce and some vegetable broth and the beans.

While that was simmering away I cooked the pasta until almost done and then added the peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Back to the sauce- I added the arugula and let it wilt. And a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.6ABF9778-95E7-4A46-A993-431CAABA1003

Pasta is cooked- so out comes my spider and I scoop the pasta into the skillet with the sauce.img_4046

I let the pasta and sauce cook for a minute or two, added more vegetable broth to taste and- DINNER WAS READY!!

The lesson here is that nothing really goes to waste. And when you cook with vegetables, mostly everything goes well together. So next time that you have a few stalks of broccoli left over, or a small handful of spinach or not enough tomato sauce to stand on it’s own- you can have a new (and thoroughly your own) dinner ready in just a few minutes.

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P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!!

The Goodness of a Bowl of Lentils in Pasta Form

I’m always on the lookout to try new ways to incorporate lentils in my diet. I LOVE lentils!

So, when I was grocery shopping last week you can imagine my delight when I came across a pasta made exclusively from 100% organic red lentils.

In thinking what to do with it, I decided to go with a saute of Swiss chard. I often add Swiss chard to lentil soup-  the flavors complement each other nicely.

Cooking this pasta was an experiment and I am very pleased with the results.And as a bonus, it’s a quick, easy meal to put together. Give it a try- I think you’ll be pleased as well.

Red Lentil Pasta with Wilted Chard

Ingredients:

½ pound (8 oz) red lentil pasta

3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 bunch of Swiss chard, woody stems discarded and leaves chopped

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 TBS pine nuts, toasted

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

In a large sauté pan, over low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two.

Add the Swiss chard, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and cook over medium heat until the Swiss chard is wilted. Remove the cover.

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Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water cook the red lentil pasta according to the package directions. Do not overcook.

Using a spider or sieve, add the pasta to the wilted chard.IMG_4046.JPG

Cook stirring for a minute or two until the flavors have blended. Add a little pasta water if necessary.

Serve, garnished with the pine nuts.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Pasta e Fagioli

As the weather gets cooler, I crave this soup. It takes less than an hour start to finish. Add a green salad, and some crusty Italian bread, and there’s dinner!

PASTA E FAGIOLI

INGREDIENTS:

Sauteing the vegetables
Sauteing the vegetables

3 TBS extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

1 large onion, diced

2 large carrots, diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 cup of crushed or diced tomatoes

2  15 oz cans of white beans, such as Great Northern. Do not drain

2 cups vegetable stock

1 ½ tsp salt

Fresh pepper to taste

1 cup of dried small pasta, such as Ditalini or broken spaghetti

METHOD:

In stockpot, sauté the onion, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic, and cook over low heat for about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and beans, sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the broth, salt and pepper.

Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions.

Ladle the pasta into soup bowls, top with the soup and enjoy!

Serves 4.

Hypopastemia

Sometime in the 1970’s, my father came across an article describing an Italian’s physical reaction to being deprived of pasta for more than two days. The syndrome was called “Hypopastemia”. It became the running by-word in our home when we missed our pasta for whatever reason and we were starting to get the “shakes”.

We ate some form of pasta 6 nights of the week – sometimes small pastina in soup, sometimes a tube shaped pasta with a meat sauce (aka gravy), sometimes spaghetti with clam sauce, but most often it was pasta with different vegetables. Saturday was reserved for steak and mashed potatoes, my grandparents concession to living in America.

So now after a long day at work the most comforting meal for me is a bowl of pasta with a lot of vegetables plus a large salad and sauteed beans.

Here is another quick recipe. I call this dish: Pasta Verdure (lush green vegetables).

PASTA VERDURE

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks

Zucchini Matchsticks
Zucchini Matchsticks

½ red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Small head of Kale or Swiss Chard, tough stems removed and coarsely chopped

1 cup of frozen peas

1 small bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO), divided

½ pound Penne Pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ tsp red pepper flakes

2 TBS balsamic vinegar

METHOD:

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan heat 2TBS of the EVOO.

Green Vegetables
Green Vegetables

Add the onion and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another 2 minutes.

Add the zucchini. Sauté over medium high heat, until the vegetables are wilted and just cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, BUT for the last 3 minutes of cooking time add the kale, peas and asparagus. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sautéed vegetables.

Heat over medium heat- adding some of the EVOO and some of the pasta water to loosen the vegetables and make a “sauce”. Add the red pepper flakes, cook for 1 minute.

Add the balsamic vinegar.

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 3-4

Pasta Estiva

PASTA ESTIVA

This dish is my version of a pasta that Chef Eric of Bistro Rollin often makes special for my husband and me. Bistro Rollin is a wonderful restaurant in Pelham owned by the great hosts, Barbara and Arthur Bratone- our favorite Friday night hang out!

You’ve all heard of Pasta Primavera- right? Meaning “springtime pasta”, because the vegetables used in that dish generally make their appearance in spring. I’ve named this dish Pasta Estiva , meaning “summertime pasta” because the vegetables here appear in summer (and through early fall) at your local farmers’ market.

INGREDIENTS:

2 medium zucchini, grated (to yield about 2 cups)

3 carrots, grated (to yield about 2 cups)Veggies for Pasta Estiva

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1 ear of corn, kernels removed

2 cloves garlic, minced

Handful of basil, shredded

½ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO), divided

½ pound Rigatoni Pasta

Salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan heat 2TBS of the EVOO.

Add the corn kernels and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another 2 minutes.

Add the zucchini, carrots and cherry tomatoes.

Sauté over medium high heat, until the vegetables are wilted and just cooked through. This should take about 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water.

Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the vegetables.

Heat over medium heat- adding some of the EVOO and some of the pasta water to loosen the vegetables and make a “sauce”.

Add the shredded basil and enjoy!

Serves 3-4

Seeing Pope Francis – September 25, 2015

Yesterday my sister, Angela, and I gamely headed with 80,000 others to Central Park to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.

Yikes you might say- but it was a testament to the goodness of the participants and the greatness of New York that the day went off without a hitch!

My sister, Angela, savoring the bread at Bar Boulud
My sister, Angela, savoring the bread at Bar Boulud

To prepare for the hours of standing, Angela and I had a wonderful lunch at Bar Boulud- food for our bodies while waiting for food for our souls.

Since I eat mainly vegan, I chose the gnocchi with oyster mushrooms, spinach and pine nuts…absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try my hand at this at home.

While we weren’t as fortunate as our mother and brother in seeing the Pope up close,  we were witness to the rainbow that appeared over us while waiting for the Pope-mobile!

See the rainbow?
See the rainbow?

A symbol of peace and fraternity- how appropriate for Pope Francis’ visit.

Pope Francis smiling at our mom as she blew him a kiss!
Pope Francis smiling at our mom as she blew him a kiss!
Waiting for the Pope Pasta
I call this: Waiting for the Pope Pasta