I wasn’t fond of collard greens so when I saw a big bunch of them in my CSA box, I thought I’d incorporate them in a pasta dish. I started with the recipe in the newsletter and modified it a bit. First of all, I added more garlic. My motto is that if you add enough fresh garlic to any greens, they will taste better. So here are the ingredients:
12 large collard green leaves (stemmed & ripped-up)
1 red onion (chopped)
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
half of a fresh cayenne pepper (chopped finely)
ground black pepper (optional)
pasta of your choice (I used whole wheat rotini noodles)
parmesan cheese (optional, omit if vegan)
Sauté the onion and garlic in a little olive oil in a deep skillet. When the onion has just turned tender and translucent (in about 5 minutes), add the collard greens and cayenne pepper to the skillet. Add a little water to the pan and simmer until the greens are tender (about 10 minutes), stirring frequently. Add fresh ground black pepper, if you wish. Cook the pasta in a separate pot. When the pasta is done, you can serve it on plates and add the collard greens mixture on the top, as I did, or blend it with the noodles before serving. If you eat cheese, sprinkle shaved or shredded parmesan on the dish. Serves 2-4 people.
For someone who had never liked collard greens, this dish was a tasty revelation! I also loved the extra zest the cayenne pepper provided.
I picked some basil leaves today to use in a Pasta Pomodoro. This is a staple food for me because I always have the ingredients on hand: spaghetti or angel-hair pasta, basil, tomatoes, garlic and extra-virgin olive oil. I sauté the garlic in oil, then I stir in chopped-up fresh tomatoes & basil just to warm them up. Once the pasta is cooked I toss it with the fresh sauce or I pour the sauce on top. Optional: add salt & pepper, to taste; and parmesan cheese.
Basil is easy to grow, though it is a little finicky. It grows well either in the ground or in a planter. It likes a good amount of sun and does not like to be over-watered. It is best to let it dry out before watering the soil completely. But don’t wet the leaves if you can help it! If the leaves are wet too much or it sits in water, it can get a fungus (spots on the leaves), especially if you live in a humid place like I do. You can pick the leaves as you need them. Ideally you should use the leaves fresh. You can also dry the leaves, or freeze for later use.
This recipe has a KICK to it if you use the suggested red pepper (the hot kind). If you prefer a more mellow version just omit the hot pepper or substitute it with sweet pepper. To make the pasta, use a Peeler or Food Processor to julienne the squash, or use a Spiralizer. Makes 4 servings.
2 medium or large Yellow Squash
Bunch of Broccoli (see picture)
4 to 6 cloves Garlic (depending on how assertive or shy you are about garlic)
Red Pepper (fresh or crushed flakes)
Black Pepper (optional) & Salt (optional)
Prep: Cut Broccoli into bite-size pieces, dice 4 to 6 Garlic cloves, Julienne or Spiralizer Yellow Squash, cut Tomatoes into thin slices then cut those into halves, mince Red Pepper if using fresh.
Sauté Broccoli & Garlic in a little oil until Broccoli is al dente (still crunchy).
Mix Squash “noodles” into Broccoli/Garlic and continue sautéing for approx. 10 minutes, or to desired consistency. If using minced Red Pepper add it along with the Squash.
Mix in Tomatoes & take off heat.
Add Salt and/or Black Pepper, if desired. If using crushed DRIED Red Pepper, add it now.
This is the conclusion of the Zoodles/Squoodles Pasta War I reported about yesterday. Notice that I listed Zoodles first, before Squoodles. This was intentional. If you look online you will see that Zoodles usually get top billing. I’m not sure why but I decided to follow this standard, just in case there is a good reason for it.
To make this dish, I julienned the zucchini and squash with my new “Heart Peeler.” Every gizmo has a gimmick! This gadget came in a nifty package with pictures of all the amazing things it can do. Of course it has its own Facebook page and website for fans to further worship at the altar of the peeler. To its credit, it did do what it was supposed to do. My zoodles/squoodles came out great. For raw food fans, the noodles can be eaten uncooked, which I will try the next time. This time, I sautéed the noodles with a little oil, before topping them with a home-made pesto sauce. Since the noodles have a high water content, they did get a little mushy when I sautéed them but they tasted delish.
Pesto is very easy to make. Just mix together in a food processor or blender: 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup pine nuts and 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. To this add fresh pepper and salt if you want. This is what is generally considered a “traditional” recipe. The purists eat pesto raw. I prefer to mince the garlic and sauté it lightly in oil first, then I toss chopped fresh basil from my garden into the sauce pan. It’s a little gentler on the stomach (and breath) if the garlic’s cooked a little. In this dish, I sprinkled the pine nuts on the top rather than mincing them into the sauce; and I shredded parmesan cheese along the perimeter of the plate to make it pretty. For those that don’t eat dairy, just omit the cheese. So, do I like the zucchini & squash noodles as much as conventional wheat noodles? Sure do.
Zucchini is battling traditional wheat pasta in a NOODLE HOLY WAR. Have you noticed that everywhere you look someone is talking about “spiraling” zucchini to make a pasta dish? I went online to look up recipes and discovered zucchini noodles even have a name: zoodles! And noodles made out of squash are… squoodles! Is it me or does this seem a little undignified?! I’m old school. I like the romance of sitting down to an Italian dinner, with an Italian wine, a hot heaping helping of pasta with pesto or primavera or pomodoro sauce… the waiter coming over with a chunk of parmesan to dice over the dish and the big pepper grinder under his arm… Now rewind this scenario and when the waiter comes over you order a plate of zoodles & squoodles. Seriously?!
And then this “spiralizer” thing? Does it cut the noodles like curly fries? I’m not sure I want curly noodles. There’s an entire business built around this… all kinds of spiralizers on sale now. When did this start happening? Where was I? Do we really need to spiralize noodles? When you go to a restaurant would you order your noodles spiralized, or if you are more of a purist would you say, “I’ll have my noodles straight up?” Sorry but I am not ready to join the church of spiralizing yet.
I do like to eat healthy so when I saw this guy giving a demonstration of how to julienne a zucchini at an outdoor festival, I bought the little gismo he was selling. Now I was ready to dip my toe into this new religion of zoodles & squoodles. I julienned one zucchini and one squash with the new gadget. As you can see in the picture they looked great. I was very proud. Then I sautéed the noodles with a little oil, before topping them with a home-made pesto sauce. I will admit that the final dish tasted delicious. I hope my Italian friends don’t get mad at me. Please don’t hurt me! (Stay tuned for my pesto recipe & finished dish photo in my next post).