Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hello World! (Lemony Spinach Pasta)

It's been a while. I've missed you. No really. For real.

Now that school is over, I have all kinds of time on my hands. I can read and cook and bake until my little heart is content. Too bad I've been rather lazy...and busy. Let's go with busy over lazy. I spent a weekend in Saugatuck for the Michigan Historic Preservation Network's Annual Conference and then a weekend in Quincy, Illinois for my cousin Austin's high school graduation. Then it was suddenly June and I stumbled onto a job.

Today though was a busy day. It was the day of the Queen's Tea hosted by Terry's mom and her best friend. Yes, they hosted a tea party. Lots of tasty finger foods to nibble and some tasty chai to drink. Then a gift exchange where I received a tin of kitchen-themed post-it notes. Then Terry's grandma gave me her tea towels and Carolyn and Emily's grandma gave me her cutting board. Such generosity.

Since I have all these great post-it's, I have to start using them. :) I do love me some post-it's. I'm going through the cookbooks that I have and marking the recipes I still want to try or those that need some extra comments that the author forgot about. I know I've written about how there should always be a 1:1 ratio of recipe to picture. However, there are some other rules I tend to follow for cookbooks. When I'm flipping through them, I have to make sure there are a certain number of recipes that I want to use. If I can get at least three recipes out of a book, then I'm pretty happy.

I'm running into a problem with Jamie Oliver. I LOVE his ideas behind the food, healthy, fresh, etc. And there are definitely a slew of recipes that I've marked that I want to try (15 to be exact.) But when I actually make the recipes, something goes wrong. The "Vanilla Cheesecake with a Raspberry Topping" could have been delicious. I love me some cheesecake. I think the problem with the recipe was the consistency of the cream cheese. It was too chilly and I was too impatient to wait for it to get to room temperature. I ended up with a lumpy cheesecake that tasted overwhelmingly of cream cheese. I'm still searching for a good cheesecake recipe.

Then I got a hankerin' for Indian food. "Chicken Korma" sounded safe. It said that it has a mild, creamy taste so it was a good one for kids to try. I have tried my fair share of Indian food, so I know that I do like a little bit of spice. I wanted to try this recipe because it seemed like it would be rather hard to screw up. But I did. I accidentally bought Korma curry sauce instead of curry paste. The result was a SUPER mild, diluted, non-delicious mess.

You might say, but Sarah, you shouldn't give up on Jamie just because you keep messing up the recipes. I know this is true, but it still puts me off the recipes. Sad face.

Next up is Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats. Chris brought it into the apartment and I flipped through it, to little avail. I like her idea of 30 minute meals. I mean, when I come home from school or work, I pretty much want to eat immediately. I don't really want to wait for more than 30 minutes. Anyways, Rachel Ray. NO PICTURES. There are a set of pictures in the centerfold. It's like the naked girl in a Playboy. Something to drool over and keep coming back to. (Not that I would know...the Playboy that is...weird) So along with what could potentially be an AWESOME cookbook if there were pictures attached to the recipes, there are a very large number of ingredients for what could be a really simple recipe. In some cases, the list of ingredients is equal to the amount of space the recipe instructions take up.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks blog

Then my newest cookbook and quite possibly one of my new favorites when I actually cook something out of it. It's "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" and I can't wait to try something. There are pictures of cows in it...and cowboys...and babies. All things that make me happy. The food is no-nonsense, practical, tasty things. She gets a little...something. I'm not sure how to describe it. For instance, in the caption for one of the images of her friend (I think) she says something like "sweet necklace." It just seemed out of place. I do enjoy the pictures of cowboy bums. I also learned the difference between chaps and chinks. I learned something new today.

So after all of that, you probably want a recipe right? For some lemony spinach pasta? Okay. Here it is.

Lemony Spinach (Kale) Pasta
found at The Sweets Life

For the dressing:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice from 2 lemons
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper to taste

For the pasta:
1 lb whole grain pasta
1 large bunch kale, rinsed and dried, stems removed

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. While water is coming to a boil, make the dressing.

Mince the garlic and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of salt before smashing garlic into a paste with a fork. Add the garlic paste to a small bowl. Mix in Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Chop kale into 1/2-inch ribbons. Place kale in a large bowl and toss with dressing, coating well. Drain pasta, allow to cool slightly, and toss with kale and dressing, coating well. Serve with sliced lemon and additional Parmesan.  

*I've never had kale before so I went with spinach. It was quite tasty. The last time I made a pasta dish with lemon, there was too much so I didn't use much this time. Mistake. Use the full two lemons worth. One lemon is 3-4 tablespoons of liquid. Similarly, use the recommended amount of olive oil. It's delightful when it's chilled and quite tasty as leftovers.*

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