Tag Archives: Garlic

My Husband’s Favorite Pasta

It was my husband Rami who first introduced me to “Death by Garlic” Pasta a few years ago. That was before we were married, when he liked to impress me by cooking on date night at his place. (It worked.)

I remember those days fondly: Rami would cook in the kitchen of his bachelor pad, and we would spend Friday night eating garlicky penne, drinking a $5 bottle of wine and watching old movies. We ate this flavorful pasta dozens of times when we were dating. Even though it’s very garlicky, it is ideal for dates since it’s nearly impossible to screw up, no matter how distracted you are by your honey.

Now that Rami and I have our own home, Death by Garlic Pasta is a staple in our weeknight rotation of easy recipes. We’ve adapted the original recipe over the years for our maturing tastes–we use $15 wine instead of the real cheap stuff!– but our nostalgia for this dish remains the same. It will always be the comfort food of our courtship.

You must use fresh minced garlic in this recipe or it tastes pretty bland. The garlic I used is from Fruitful Hill Farm in Bastrop, Texas. It is the sweetest and strongest garlic I’ve ever tasted and the bulbs are huge. Don’t be intimidated by peeling and mincing a whole bulb of garlic, it will just take a few minutes and the taste is totally worth it. Here’s a great instructional video if you’re new to using fresh garlic:

Death by Garlic Pasta (Rami’s Favorite) (serves 6)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
16 cloves of garlic
one head of kale, radicchio or chard
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese, plus extra to garnish
16 oz. package penne or bowtie pasta

Peel and mince garlic. Chop parsley. Wash and dry whatever greens you choose to use and tear out any tough stems. Fill a large pot with 8-10 cups of water and bring it to a boil.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add minced garlic. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon so that garlic cooks evenly. Meanwhile, chop greens into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pan along with the salt and red pepper flakes. Stir the greens and cook for about five minutes. Once the pan begins to look dry, pour in the wine. Continue to cook the greens until they are completely wilted and the wine has mostly cooked off, about five more minutes. Turn the burner heat to low.

Boil the penne according to the package directions, ours took seven minutes. Drain the cooked pasta and transfer it to a large bowl. Stir into the pasta the cooked garlic and greens along with the grated cheese. Serve, garnishing each serving with additional grated cheese.

Creamy Kale Casserole

I developed this recipe last month in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Yes, you heard me right: Thanksgiving.

I know that Turkey Day is months away, but now is the perfect time to try out new holiday recipes without the pressure of extended family and a big turkey in your kitchen. Plus many of our fall favorite ingredients like kale, potatoes, mushrooms and carrots are also in season during Central Texas’ late spring months, making them cost effective and easy to find this time of year.

This recipe is my mostly-local, from-scratch answer to traditional green bean casserole.  This kale dish has the creamy-salty-crunchy qualities that make green bean casserole great, minus the gelatinous condensed soup, palm-oil soaked onions, and soggy canned beans that make it not so great.

I’m using curly kale here since it’s cheap and in season in Austin in the fall. However, I’ve made this dish successfully with baby spinach, fresh green beans, field peas and chard, too, by reducing the cooking time for the tender veggies and increasing it for the field peas. Experiment now with your family’s favorite ingredients so that you’ll have your own version perfected in time for Thanksgiving dinner!

Creamy Kale Casserole (serves 4-6 as a side dish)
4 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1/2 yellow or white onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 head curly kale, washed and chopped
2 tablespoons white wine, veggie stock or water
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large pan, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Once onions are tender, add the chopped kale to the skillet along with the wine. Cover and cook for 7 minutes, until kale is bright green and tender.

Meanwhile, use an electric mixer to cream together the remaining melted butter,  softened cream cheese, milk, salt and pepper.

Once kale is par-cooked, combine it with the cream cheese mixture in a 1.5 quart casserole dish.* Top with chopped pecans and bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes.

*To make this dish ahead of time, follow the recipe up to this point. Store the casserole dish, covered with plastic wrap, in the fridge for up to two days. Bring the creamed kale to room temperature and remove the plastic wrap before adding pecans and baking the dish as directed.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Soup with Escarole, White Beans and Sausage

When I saw that we were getting escarole from Tecolote Farms in our Local Box, I was excited for two reasons: (1) I have been craving sausage and escarole soup something fierce (2) I was already planning to visit Tecolote Farms on Saturday for a food swap. It seems silly when I write it down, but I felt like seeing the farmers who grew my Local Box escarole would be like seeing celebrities!!

Tecolote farmers Katie and Dave did not disappoint when I saw them last Saturday.  Their fields are about half an hour east of my house in Austin, flanked by live oak trees and dirt roads.

At the food swap, I managed to keep my celebrity-farmer-worship in check long enough to trade Farmer Katie some muffins for some Tecolote mustard greens. After the food swap Farmer Dave was kind enough to give us  swappers a tour of the farm.

Dave discussed some of the challenges of organic farming in Texas (draught, wind, heat, politics) and gave us some delicious, fresh-picked samples of the crops they’re growing at Tecolote this spring. Here he is, picking some peppery micro-greens for us to try.

As I had hoped, I got to see some of the Local Box escarole while it was still in the field! Dave didn’t seem to mind my paparazzi farm photos too much.

Visiting the farm in person really helped me appreciate how many hours of work local farmers spend providing food for us each week in the city. I left Tecolote Farms with a renewed sense of enthusiasm for locally sourced produce. And a renewed craving for that sausage and escarole soup.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I sourced the sausage in this recipe from Meyers’ Sausage in Elgin. Any sausage would work fine, but I am partial to either Meyers’ smoked sage or Richardson Farms‘ brats because their rich flavor complements the creamy beans and bitter greens in this hearty soup.

Escarole, Sausage and White Bean Soup (serves 4-6)
4 links sausage
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 spring onions
2 cloves garlic
1 head escarole
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
1-3/4 cups cooked white beans, such as cannellini (2, 14.5 ounce cans)
1 cup cooking liquid from the beans (or liquid from the can)
1 quart chicken broth

Cut off the tough bottom stem of the escarole, then wash the remaining leaves in cold water to get rid of any grit. Set the escarole leaves aside to dry. Slice spring onions and mince garlic; set aside.

Slice sausage into rounds and place in a heavy bottomed soup pot. Heat over medium, stirring occasionally. Once the fat from the sausage starts to render, add onions and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add Worcestershire sauce and a tablespoon of water to the pot as the sausage mixture continues to cook. Meanwhile, slice the escarole leaves into thin ribbons and mince the parsley. Add these to the pot along with the red pepper and stir. Continue sauteing greens until they lose half their volume, for about 5 minutes.

Once there’s enough room in the pot, add the cooked beans, 1 cup of bean liquid, and 1 quart of chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil, reduce heat to low, and allow soup to simmer for about 15 minutes before serving.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Spaghetti with Raw Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with raw tomato sauce

When I Googled “Raw Tomato Sauce” and came across Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s recipe for an easy, no-cook pasta sauce, I thought it might be too good to be true. I love her radio show, and the recipes posted on the website usually work well for me. Still, who would guess that raw tomatoes, a few herbs and a little olive oil could come together to create such a fresh, flavorful sauce for pasta? And in less time than it takes to heat up a jar of sauce on the stove? I didn’t, but I’m glad I gave her recipe a shot. It’s a weeknight winner, especially with fresh, early spring tomatoes from Gundermann Farms and green garlic from Texas Daily Harvest.

Tomatoes from Gundermann Farms

For my own version of this dish, I stuck to Lynne’s ingredient list pretty closely and altered the method to fit my busy schedule. Instead of basil, I tossed in a handful of the tops from my green garlic (shallot tops would have been nice, too). And to save time, instead of dicing the tomatoes by hand as she suggests, I gave them a rough chop and tossed the pieces along with all the other ingredients- even the garlic clove- in the food processor.  One minute of whirring later, voilà! Pico de pasta sauce.

To serve, I tossed the raw pasta sauce with two servings of just-cooked spaghetti and grated 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese over the top. The heat from the spaghetti warmed the sauce through and melted the cheese.

I’m not going to lie, the pasta sauce probably would have tasted better if I had basil on hand to use in addition to the green garlic tops. As it was, it was a quick and easy  dinner that dirtied just two prep dishes total. It’s hard to argue with that! I’ll probably add this recipe, or variations of it, to my regular weeknight rotation going into summer. As soon as I find a version that sticks, I’ll share it with you! Until then, here’s Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s recipe.

Spicy Arugula Spread

This is a recipe that almost wasn’t.  It came about last Sunday night while I was preparing beer bread and chai truffles for a food swap the next day.  I was really nervous about going to the swap, in part because I wasn’t sure whether my dishes would be fancy enough for all the foodies in attendance. This is a common fear for me. I call it Potluck Anxiety, and it tends to sneak up any time I take a large batch of treats to a social gathering. Potluck Anxiety is usually really annoying but in this instance I’m glad I had it, because otherwise I might have never made this spicy arugula spread.

Thanks to Potluck Anxiety, I was doubtful that my beer bread would be okay as a standalone dish at the swap. I thought, why not make an herb butter to gussy it up? I wasn’t working from a recipe, just from the vague idea that pesto and butter together would make a good herb butter.  So off I went. For the pesto, I improvised using whatever I could find in the fridge: some arugula, green onions, pecans, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

When I tasted the pesto I enjoyed it so much that I almost kept the whole batch for myself.  Luckily, Potluck Anxiety told me that bread alone wouldn’t cut it, and I pushed forward in the quest for herb butter. To my cup of arugula pesto, I added 4 tablespoons of salted butter.

No bueno. The butter did nothing but turn the pesto into an oily mess! I could have resolved this by adding more butter, but I had used the last of it for the beer bread. What to do?

As a measure of desperation, I threw some cream cheese into the processor with the buttered pesto. The flavor of the spread was definitely improved by the cream cheese, but I thought it was still too strong to pair with my mellow beer bread.  Not wanting to be wasteful, I put the finished cream cheese-butter-pesto mixture into a crock in the fridge and forgot about it.

The night of the swap, I was a mess. I had loaded my car and pulled out of the driveway by the time I remembered the arugula spread in the fridge. In the throes of Potluck Anxiety, I turned around to get it mostly because the little orange crock was so cute.  Boy, am I glad that I did!  While the spread was sitting in the fridge overnight it mellowed into a lovely, spreadable, spicy dip. Perfect for pairing with crackers or whole wheat beer bread.  By experimenting with the leftovers, my husband Rami discovered that this spread makes a great pasta sauce if you warm it up in the microwave.

This story has two happy endings. First, I ended up with a new potluck recipe that is easy to put together and a real crowd pleaser. Second, I met a wonderful group of friends at the food swap. There were all sorts of cooks at the party: some were fancy, some were not so fancy, and of them all were kind and accepting. I suspect I will probably have another case of Potluck Anxiety before the next time I see them; my fingers are crossed that I’ll get another winning recipe out of the deal!

Spicy Arugula Spread (makes about 1.5 cups)
4 cups arugula
4 peeled garlic cloves
1 bunch green onions, root tips and limp green tips removed
1/2 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt

Place arugula, garlic and green onions in a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Pulse until veggies have broken down into very small pieces.  Add remaining ingredients and pulse until completely combined. Mixture will be very soft from the heat of the food processor; store in an airtight container overnight to firm up the spread and allow the flavors to mellow. Enjoy in place of butter on breads, as a dip for crackers, or warm with pasta.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Mustard Green and Lentil Sprout Curry

I consider this dish a personal victory over two of my produce nemeses: mustard greens and lentil sprouts. I know that both of these vegetables are perfectly lovely and nutritious, but they gave me fits before I finally tamed them in this dish. Mustard greens and lentil sprouts are not inherently tricky to cook, I just didn’t grow up eating them and I didn’t have a clue about what do with them when I first got them in the Local Box.

However, the nutritional promise of these two ingredients has kept me trying to include them in our diet. Mustard greens have anti-inflammatory properties and tons of B vitamins– great for dealing with stress– and lentil sprouts have plenty of fiber. Over the past year of trial and error I’ve learned a few tricks for cooking these ingredients, and with tonight’s curry success, I feel confident sharing them. For mustard greens:

  • Wash mustard greens really well before and after chopping to get rid of any grit. We use a salad spinner.
  • Use recipes with bold flavors, like curries, to complement the strong flavor of the mustard greens.
  • Chop the leaves in fine pieces before cooking them.
  • Plan to cook mustard greens about twice as long as you would a milder winter green like spinach. This knocks out any toughness, even in the stems, and improves the final texture of the greens.

For lentil sprouts, I don’t have any preparation tips since most recipes call for the whole lentils in salad. Just wash ’em and go! I like sprout salads okay but my favorite way to eat lentil sprouts is to sneak them into spicy stews like this curry. They become very tender as they cook and fade into the background texture of the dish.

This particular curry came about after I experimented with several different recipes from around the internet: Jugalbandi’s Sprout Curry, Allrecipes’ Curried Mustard Greens, and Matthew Card’s Chickpea Dal.  The final dish is a hybrid of all these, and it comes together in just about half an hour in the kitchen. I originally planned to add a full can of chickpeas to this recipe and decided against it when I ran out of room in my pot.  However, they would have been a welcome addition (along with some extra liquid) if I had needed to stretch the recipe for  an unexpected dinner guest.

Mustard Green & Lentil Sprout Curry (serves 4)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1 bunch mustard green leaves, stems removed, chopped fine
1.5 cups lentil sprouts
15 oz. can stewed tomatoes
6 oz. can tomato paste
6 oz. water
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3/4 cup light coconut milk
Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

In a large, lidded skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chopped onions, minced garlic and diced jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients to the pot, except coconut milk and garnishes.  Stirring constantly, cook until liquid comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  At the end of cooking, stir in coconut milk.  Garnish curry with fresh cilantro or parsley and serve with rice, naan, or pita.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery and also appears on their blog, “Eating Out of the Local Box.”

Cheddar Kale Muffins

image courtesy Howard Walfish

These savory muffins call for a whole head of kale, plus protein-rich cheddar cheese, making them a healthy and filling option for breakfast on the go.  You’re going to have to take my word for it that these muffins look good. I made a batch of them for us to take on vacation to San Diego, and I was in such a hurry to pack them up that I forgot to take a picture!  They were great travel food; not too smelly on the plane, and a big step up from any of the airport snacks.

Cheddar Kale Muffins (yields 12 regular-sized muffins)
1 head kale, washed and dried
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/4 cup milk
5 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12-muffin pan with paper liners. Chop thick stalks off of kale and slice remaining leaves very finely. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, saute chopped kale in olive oil for about seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is very tender and starts to look a little dry.  Set cooked kale on paper towels to drain and melt the butter in the skillet.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together milk, melted butter, egg, minced garlic, and cooked kale until the egg is completely beaten. Add flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cheese.  Stir until just combined; do not over mix.

Fill twelve prepared muffin cups with batter– about 1/4 cup per muffin– and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. The finished muffins will be slightly browned and a toothpick inserted into a muffin should come out clean. Remove the pan from oven and allow muffins to cool completely before eating. The kale flavor in the muffins is very strong while the muffins are hot; it mellows as they cool, resulting in a great breakfast treat.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

This post is sponsored by Greenling Organic Delivery, and appears on their blog “Eating Out of the Local Box.”