Tag Archives: italian

Kale Pesto Pasta

10 Apr

Hi guys. It’s April, which means I disappeared for over a month again. Sorry. If you’ve been reading long, though, you know I do that kind of thing from time to time. There’s not always a good reason. Things just happen. I’m in no way a professional blogger — I’ve never made a dime from Vegging Out, and I’m more than ok with that. In fact, you’ll notice on the top right that I’m totally ad-free now. I want this blog to be a personal space and an opportunity to share some recipes with my handful of wonderful readers.

So. Onto the good stuff: pasta.

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This dish was dinner Monday and Tuesday, and it is my new favorite pasta recipe. It combines fresh spring vegetables with whole-wheat pasta and mushrooms (basically our favorite food).

Kale Pesto Pasta with Seared Mushrooms

Kale Pesto

  • 1/2 a bunch of kale
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dried Italian herbs (optional – to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • Pasta

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or a heavy spritz of spray oil
  • Handful of greens from spring onions, chopped (or shallot would be great)
  • 1 pint mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thinly (I used cremini, but wild mushrooms would be great)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 16 oz pasta
  • 1/2 cup grated gouda, fontina or mozzarella, or 1/4 to 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino (optional for a vegan dish)
  • Pepper to taste
  • Steam kale using your preferred method. Meanwhile, put garlic and cashews in the food processor and pulse until combined and in very small pieces (though not a fine powder). Add kale leaves and the rest of the pesto ingredients and pulse until it becomes a paste, tasting along the way. Place in the fridge.

    Start the water for the pasta in a large pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions (or shallot) and cook, stirring often, until softened and starting to brown. Add the mushrooms, stirring well. Let them reduce and release their liquid, and then add a pinch of salt, stirring again. Now step away from the pan and let them sear. When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to directions/your preference.

    Check the mushrooms every three to five minutes. If they are sticking, add a little more oil. The goal is to brown them on both sides and draw out most of the moisture. Turn off the heat when they are done.

    When pasta is cooked, drain and them add to a large bowl. Toss with most of the cheese, if using, to distribute it evenly and get nice and melty. Now add half the pesto in small amounts at a time, stirring and tossing to coat. Add more as desired, though you will have some left over. Plate the pasta and top each serving with mushrooms, more cheese, and a sprinkle of fresh black pepper.

    Serves 4-6.

    We enjoyed our alongside an incredibly simple (read: just lettuce, parsley and dressing) salad.

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    The dressing was leftover vegan ranch. That stuff keeps a surprisingly long time and stays tasty.

    I hope the deliciousness of this recipe atones for my absence! Let me know how you all are doing, too. I have been way out of the loop.

    Gourmet at home

    24 Sep

    We are starting to establish some new routines in our casa, namely fancy dinners on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday morning. We’ve done brunch a few weekends in a row now (and I’ll post more about it tomorrow), but our finer-dining Saturdays are technically too new to call them regular. Instead, I’m putting it out to the universe to keep conditions clear for more gourmet dinners at home in the coming weekends.

    Our kick-off event was this past Saturday. I made Butternut Squash Ravioli from scratch for the first time, and it was a huge success!

    It was a bit time-consuming, but the process was a ton of fun, so I took photos for documentation. Here’s the recipe:

    Filling:

    • 1 medium butternut squash
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Optional: cheese or nutritional yeast to taste

    Pasta dough:

    • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon olive oil
    • 1/4 cup of water

    Topping:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
    • 8 fresh sage leaves

    Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut your butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Lightly oil the cut side and place both halves face down on a baking sheet (I recommend one with sides, in case of oozing). Bake for 30+ plus minutes, until tender. Mine got nicely browned on the cut sides, which I like. Set aside.

    While the squash is cooling, combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Now add the olive oil and the water. You can either mix and knead with your hands or using a stand mixer. My Kitchenaid is my only fancy kitchen appliance, and it’s perfect for making dough. I start out with the mixing attachment, and when it starts to come together cohesively, I switch to my dough hook. Mix/knead for about two minutes, then let it rest for five minutes. Then knead for five minutes more and rest for five. Repeat once more, for a total of 12 minutes of kneading and 10 of resting. Add more flour if it’s too sticky or more water if it’s too stiff.

    By now, your squash should be cool enough to handle. Just scrape the innards into a bowl and add salt and pepper and optional cheese or nutritional yeast to taste. Combine. It’ll take no time at all, as long as your squash is cooked thoroughly.

    Prepare a clean, flat surface (I used a cookie sheet) with flour to coat lightly. Flatten the dough into a rough disc and then use a rolling pin (or, you know, a Klean Kanteen bottle) to create a long, thin, roughly rectangular piece of dough. It may take a while — my manual dexterity isn’t great, so I bet I spent 15 just flattening the dough — but keep at it until it’s quite thin. Flip it over several times and add more flour as needed. Now cut it into more or less even ribbons. I made eight that were about 1.5″ wide, but the width will ultimately depend on how big your cutter is. Choose something to be your cutter — I used a Champagne flute, which is a little smaller than your standard ravioli pres, but I loved the shape. Delicately score half the ribbons with the shape just as a guide, but do not actually cut anything out.

    Use a small spoon to scoop squash mixture into the center of your shape. The exact amount will require a little trial and error, but overfilling isn’t a huge problem.

    Grab one of the unscored ribbons. Now, using your fingers or a pastry brush, lightly wet one side of the dough with plain water and place it, wet side down, on top of the filling. Start at one end, and use your fingers to make little ravioli pillows by pressing down around the filling on the outer edges and between each individual ravioli.

    Now use your cutter to cut them out. Arrange on a plate or baking sheet, but don’t let them touch.

    Aren’t they so cute and puffy?

    You probably aren’t supposed to, but I re-rolled the leftover dough and made a few more ravioli, for a total of 27.

    Since I only have one working burner, I had to make my topping in advance, but you can also do this part while the pasta is boiling. Anyway, to prepare the sage, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the whole sage leaves and fry for a couple of minutes, until they get crunchy. Place on a paper towel to cool.

    Now boil water in a large pot. Add the ravioli one at a time, stir the pot, and let cook. They will float to the top when they’re done, and it’ll take about five minutes max.

    Serve topped with a drizzle of olive oil and the crushed sage.

    Makes two servings for very hungry people.

    See? Labor intensive but completely worth it! We served it with sides of roasted zucchini (multi-season squash, hey!) and sauteed chard with garlic.

    Plus a bottle of pinot grigio. I also added a little more pepper and some crushed red pepper to my pasta. Here is my dinner all together:

    Yay! Like I said, it was a gourmet meal at home that was delicious, filling, and full of organic produce from my CSA box. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

    Piece de resistance . . . is futile

    4 Sep

    Friends, I interrupt my regularly scheduled post on what I ate over Labor Day weekend to bring you, instead, the greatest thing I’ve ever created in the kitchen. Excuse me, make that my tour de force, my magnum opus, my piece de resistance . . . is futile.

    Yep, it’s a pizza.

    But it’s not just a pizza. It’s a symphony featuring a homemade crust, homemade sauce, and a medley of veggies grown right here in the LA area.

    I’ve become totally obsessed with my sourdough starter (mentioned here originally). With the plethora of veggies — especially squash — quite literally spilling out of my fridge (and trying to take out a shelf with them), I thought a pizza topped with some of them would be tasty, so I did some investigating on a sourdough crust. I found this one and thought it seemed doable on my Monday off. The only alterations I made to the recipe were using white whole wheat flour instead of unbleached white, and I used about a tablespoon of oregano instead of the “pizza dough flavor.” While kneading it in my mixer, I had to add more liquid (a little over a half cup total) and then a little bit more flour (not exactly sure the amount — a couple of tablespoons maybe) to get the right consistency. It depends on your starter, though, so start with the base recipe and then add what you need to make it smooth and a little sticky.

    Then it rose for about three hours, though it was actually usable after about two. I should have taken a picture of it in the bowl, but I didn’t think of it at the time. It looked so happy and sweet. Then I spread it out onto a 12″x17″ cookie sheet with sides:

    It rose again for about an hour while I prepped the rest of the ingredients. I sliced and salted the small-ish zucchini and large-ish Japanese eggplant and then threw together the Roasted Tomato Sauce:

    I tweaked my original recipe by using a splash of balsamic vinegar in place of the wine, adding 2/3 a bunch of basil, and substituting two cherry peppers for the crushed red pepper.

    Then, when the sauce was done, I let it simmer while I baked the crust. At the same time, I roasted the zucchini and eggplant on another cookie sheet, but I didn’t photograph them. I sliced the mushrooms, and my husband grated the cheese. Then, the kitchen filled with an intoxicating smell, and after eight minutes, the crust was lightly browned and ready:

    So I topped it. I spread on the tomato sauce, layered on most of the cheese, evenly-ish distributed the zucchini and eggplant, covered everything in a thick blanket of mushrooms, sprinkled some finely chopped onion and garlic, and then finished with the rest of the cheese:

    Into the oven she went for eight more magical minutes until what emerged was a perfect synthesis of spices and veggies and taste sensations in the form of a thick-crust pizza:

    So then we sliced it:

    And ate it by candlelight, with a little petite syrah.

    “I’ll meet you any time you want / In our Italian restaurant”

    I was not exaggerating above. I’ve never made any dish that filled me with such an amazing sense of accomplishment or joy. X told me it is the best thing I’ve ever made, and I’m inclined to agree.

    There isn’t really an easy recipe to share for this meal, since it’s so all over the place and, with the homemade dough, quite time-consuming, but here’s the best I can do:

    • 1 recipe pizza dough (I used this one)
    • 1 recipe pizza sauce (I used this one)
    • Veggies for topping, prepared your favorite way (I included roasted zucchini and Japanese eggplant, fresh cremini mushrooms, garlic, and onion)
    • Shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack)

    Spread your pizza dough on a pizza pan or cookie sheet with sides. Pre-bake according to recipe instructions. Then layer on your toppings, starting with the sauce, then the cheese, then the veggies, and ending with a little more cheese. Bake according to the recipe, but the general rule is until everything is warm and the cheese is bubbly.

    Another thing to love about my pizza: it featured five goodies from my CSA box. The zucchini, Japanese eggplant, basil, cherry tomatoes, and onion were either in this week’s or last week’s order. So we’re talking a fresh, local, homemade, and delicious meal triumph that put my happily to bed Monday night and allowed me to awaken refreshed and ready to run (literally) at 6:15 this morning. That, my friends, is a triumph.

    What’s your favorite pizza topping? In addition to the above, I adore artichoke hearts and will probably include them the next time we make pizza, since this crust recipe is thick enough to stand up to heavy ingredients.

    Review: Garlic Rose ***

    11 Sep

    Back to that whole birthday thing. I ring it in every year with a lovely dinner out across the table from the man I love. Lucky me! This year, I decided to hit up the Garlic Rose. We’ve been here once before, when we were scrambling to fill out our passports to try to win a free pair of airline tickets from the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. We lost, but we enjoyed trying a slew of new places. Garlic Rose ended up being one of our favorite discoveries.

    It’s tucked in behind the way-overrated Cafe Ole and the delightful Brasserie in the heart of Brookside. Though the menu selections are not super-veggie-friendly, there is enough there for a dairy-eating meat-eschewer. Since it’s my birthday, I didn’t worry about health tonight (though, of course, I still wouldn’t eat anything fleshy). We started off with the bruschetta — pronounced broo-SKETT-uh, just so you know. That’s one of my Italian-speaking pet peeves, right up there with “paninis.”

    These are some of the best tomato bruschette I’ve had in town. The tomatoes are never mealy, and the garlic flavor is very well pronounced. Lucky boyfriend. My only complaint is that it should be a little less oily, but that far from ruined the flavor for me.

    Our food was ready very quickly, so it actually beat our bread, but I’m showing you the pane first since it typically follows the antipasto course.

    It’s a soft, fluffy, delicious bread that you can dip into an olive-oil-and-balsamic-vinegar mix or top with the roasted garlic — the garlic rose for which the restaurant is named. I prefer a little of both.

    I ordered the eggplant parmesan for my entree.

    The meal was huge — I mean, HUGE. I don’t know how many eggplants gave their lives for this dish, but I can say they went for a noble cause. The breading was divine, as was the tomato sauce. The cheese was a little heavy, but it was tasty.

    My taller half had his favorite, the insalata caprese:

    I sampled the mozzarella, which is some of the best I’ve had in town. I skipped the tomatoes. Someday I really will tell you about my tomato issues. Anyway, he loved it. It was gone from his plate so fast that I didn’t even realized he’d started on his cheese yet.

    Somehow, we left room for dessert.

    He had the tiramisu:

    and I tried the meatloaf covered in cheese — wait, no, it was actually chocolate bread pudding (which didn’t have raisins or any other dried fruit) topped with a creamy sauce:

    He won. Mine was good, but his was stellar. Biga makes my favorite tiramisu in town, but Garlic Rose has something to brag about, too.

    All in all, it was a lovely dinner. Our waitress, Victoria, and all the other staff were friendly, helpful, and accommodating. Garlic Rose is a great date place. If you’re ever there for lunch, I highly recommend the Artichoke Hearts and Goat Cheese Salad. It’s knock-your-socks-off scrumptious.

    Rating: ** for veggie options and **** for deliciousness. (See this post for scoring guide.)

    Garlic Rose lives at 3509 S. Peoria behind Abersons.

    And let me say that these pictures came from my new, purse-sized camera, a birthday gift from my love. Thank you so much, baby! Now I can snap away less obviously.