This is the dish that sold me on the need to can tomatoes every summer. We tried canning them for the first time last summer, and I thought when we did it that it represented a colossal waste of time on a Sunday afternoon. But this dish highlights the sweetness of home-canned tomatoes, a sweetness that you can't buy. The kale was the best part of this. It had a tender, mild quality to it I've never tasted before except in perfectly cooked spinach. Maybe because it was home grown, maybe because it was simmered in the tomatoes and the sausage. Maybe it was just the butter, but I wish there had been leftovers.
3 cloves crushed and chopped garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes
4 cups thinly sliced kale
4 cups home canned tomatoes
1 pound cooked sweet Italian sausage, either crumbled or sliced
2 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
1 pound penne or other pasta
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Begin with the sauce. In a large sauté pan or skillet, heat the oil, the butter, and the chopped garlic together. When the garlic starts to sizzle a little, add in the pepper flakes. Give it maybe 15 seconds to warm up and flavor the oil, and then add in the kale. Salt the kale a little to break it down, and once it looks a little cooked add in the tomatoes and sausage. Bring it to a boil, then turn it down to a simmer for a while. Taste it for salt and pepper and be sure the kale cooks down and the tomatoes disintegrate. As it simmers some of the excess liquid should evaporate so the sauce won't be too soupy.
Preheat the oven to 400.
Cook the pasta according to package directions, being sure to salt the water until it tastes good. After draining the pasta, stir it into the sauce. (I hope you used a REALLY big skillet!) Add in the shredded cheese and mix together. Pour the whole thing into a 9"x13" baking pan. Top with the parmesan cheese and put the whole thing in the oven until it looks a little browned and any cheese in it has melted, only about 15 minutes for me because it was all still hot from the stove and didn't require much time in the oven. If it had been refrigerated first maybe I would have cooked it at 350 for a half hour to forty-five minutes. Take it out and serve it hot.
My son begs me for this every time we pass the seafood counter. It's quick, and provided you like clams, it's also delicious.
I try to make this the same day I buy the clams. Depending on who I buy clams from and how they wrap them up, sometimes I think they get too warm or asphyxiate, so now I bring them home right away, open the packaging, and put them on ice. The pan you cook these in must have a tight fitting lid or you run the risk of torturing your clams instead of just cooking them.
If my directions make this sound a little laborious, rest assured this is fast. It just takes a while to write about. :)
1 pound dried linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup sake or white wine
2 pounds fresh clams rinsed and strained
salt and pepper
optional: grated parmesan cheese
Heat a big pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. If you aren't sure how much salt to add, just taste the water to see if it tastes good.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, heat a 14" sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic, and when the garlic starts to sizzle, add in the tomatoes and salt them right away. (I think three large tomatoes would be perfect, but I try to use up whatever I have on hand since I'm collecting tomatoes from the garden every day right now and I don't want them to go bad. It only makes the sauce drier or juicier.)
Let them cook long enough that they start to break down, and then add the sake. Bring it back up to a boil, and then grab your strainer of clams. If any of the clams haven't closed when you rinsed them off, this means they are already dead, so throw them out. Pour the rest into your pan, cover it immediately, and turn the heat up to high. (Don't do that if the sauce looks a little dry, but I always crank up the heat and hope for a quick death.) Give it a few minutes, and then you can start checking to see if all of your clams have opened. When they are wide open they are done. If any of the clams don't open after all the others have, throw them out. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. At this point the sauce is done, and you can turn the heat down to the lowest setting.
When your salted pasta water has come to a boil, add the linguine and cook it until it's almost done. Strain it and add it to your sauce to finish cooking and absorb some of the liquid from the sauce. Top it with a healthy sprinkle of chopped parsley and grated parmesan if you like. On a recent cooking show binge I discovered that Italian seafood pasta is never EVER combined with cheese, but... I like cheese and I am far from Italy. The Italians will never know.
Every time I make this someone asks me for the recipe. It comes from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook, the careful product of ten years of overthought and over-testing. Reading the collection in one sitting isn't recommended. Every single recipe starts with a complaint that goes something like this: "Restaurant [insert food] is frequently bland, greasy, and flavorless. Homemade versions are worse. The outside is burnt, and the inside is a mushy disaster. We set out to develop a version that would be perfect in every way to all tastes and be ready in under thirty minutes..."
However, every single recipe I've tried from them has been good. Maybe even great, as long as you don't care about authenticity. They definitely got it right this time. The pasta isn't too garlicky, it stays green, and the day it is made it is so good it's hard to share it. It's still great the next day, but not as good cold out of the refrigerator, so let it warm up. I doubled the recipe in the picture above, and it made A LOT of pasta salad.
There are a million possible variations: add olives, substitute sun dried tomatoes, fold in baby spinach leaves. Just don't mess with the sauce.
2 garlic cloves
1 pound bow tie pasta or penne
1/4 cup olive oil plus a little more to toss with the pasta
3 cups packed basil leaves (about 4 ounces)
1 cup packed baby spinach (shocker, I know- that's why it stays green)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, plus more to toss into the salad if you like
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons mayonnaise (mayo? really? but it's good)
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1. Heat up a large pot of boiling water. Salt it until it tastes pleasantly salty. Drop the garlic cloves in for one minute, and then take them out with a slotted spoon and set them aside. Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir it, and cook it until, according to the editors, it is "just past al dente." RESERVE 1/4 CUP OF THE COOKING WATER. Drain the pasta, toss it in a bowl with a little olive oil so it does't stick together, and then spread it out on a baking sheet to cool for at least thirty minutes.
2. Throw the garlic cloves into a running processor, and check to be sure you have no big clumps of garlic left. Add the basil, spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and pepper to taste. Blend it until it's smooth. Add the Parmesan and mayonnaise and process it until it's well mixed. Pour it into a big serving bowl.
Toss the pasta with the pesto, and add some of the reserved pasta water a little at a time until the sauce perfectly coats the pasta. Add in the tomatoes and any extra pine nuts you would like to.
This is a lesson in chaos. Try to enjoy it. It will be worth it, and even if after all your efforts you are left with nothing but a dusty kitchen, you can still avert tragedy with a box of dried spaghetti.
This is too much fun to exclude your children from, and you will be surprised when the result it not only edible, but wonderful. I did this with my son when he was only two. I put a sheet down on the floor of the family room and let him have at it. Against all odds my son provided us with dinner. I was amazed.
My hope is that some day I will be able to give my children some flour and eggs, walk away, and come back to the miracle of fresh pasta, but I think we're still a few years away from that.
There is a way to do this by hand, but I don't have the right rolling pin or even the space to do it that way, so I use a squeaky pasta machine that is at least forty years old. You can buy a used one on Amazon from $22. I think it's worth it. If you want to try it by hand, pick up a copy of The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan, another worthy investment.
One egg will make enough pasta for 3-4 people, two eggs for 5-6 people. We used about five eggs since we planned on making extra to freeze. It didn't look like much, but it was very filling.
Unfortunately, all this pasta was boiled to a mushy death by a helpful spouse. We ate it anyway and we'll do this again soon. Next time I make this I'll post pictures of the end result.
Everything I've been eating has been meaty, heavy, and custardy. I'm ready for a break. This is simple and light and probably the only things you need to make sure you have for this are the beets, the pasta, and the parmesan. All the other ingredients you will already have on hand or you can alter.
1 pound Pasta
1 bunch of beets or 2 bunches of baby beets with greens
toasted walnuts, pine nuts, or almonds
a few cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
grated Parmesan cheese
1. If the beets are small, boil them in water until they are fork-tender. If they're large beets, wrap them tightly in foil and bake them in a 400 degree oven until they are tender. Let them cool, peel them, slice them, and dress them in balsamic vinegar.
2. Wash the beet greens well, slice them, and sauté them in a pan with olive oil, sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and set aside.
3. Cook the pasta in salted hot water according to the package directions and strain.
4. Toss together the pasta, greens, beets, and nuts. Sprinkle generously with parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
Last night I decided to make some mushroom pasta. I threw it together as an afterthought because I was baking a casserole I wasn't too sure about. We started with the mushrooms and no one touched the casserole- not because there was anything wrong with it, but because the mushroom pasta was so good. The kids loved this one, and they had it again for breakfast by request. (!!?)
I started with a big bag of mixed mushrooms from Monterey Market. Any mix is fine, or even just a big Costco container of brown mushrooms would be great, but the mix made it a little more exciting. The exact amount probably doesn't matter much either, just remember that mushrooms really cook down.
1 pound bow tie pasta
12 cups of mushrooms, (or a big bag, or whatever you have) thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic smashed and sliced
a generous pinch of dried thyme
reserved bacon fat or olive oil
1/2-3/4 cup wine
1/2 cup cream
salt to taste
1/2-1 cup grated parmesan
Put a big pot of water on to boil. Have all of the ingredients for the mushroom sauce prepped before you add any pasta to the water. Add salt until it tastes pleasantly salty. When it starts to boil, add the dried pasta. While that is boiling, heat up the bacon fat or olive oil in a really big pan. Add the garlic and the thyme and sauté briefly. Add the mushrooms and a sprinkling of salt. Mushrooms always seem to absorb every drop of fat or oil, so when this happens or when the mushrooms have started to shrink a little, add the wine. It has to be enough that the mushrooms won't burn. (Of course you could lower the heat, but dinner time is usually a huge rush around here.) Once the wine has mostly boiled off, add the cream. When the pasta is just slightly underdone, drain it and add it immediately to the mushroom sauce. It will finish cooking and absorb the flavors of the sauce. When it all looks done (your enormous pile of mushrooms should have cooked down considerably and nothing tastes raw), stir in as much parmesan as you like. If you are short on that, add more salt.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!