Fake Fettuccine with Lemon Sauce and Spinach and Cherry Tomatoes

I’ve been trying to use up a giant container of meyer lemons that I bought at costco last week. I had timed the purchase wrong, forgetting that we had a bunch of evening events preventing cooking. So, when I HAVE been cooking, I am all lemon lemon LEMON!  There has been some lemon chicken, and some larb-ish thai chicken (with lemon), a lemon buerre blanc sauce over fish.

One of my resolutions this year has been to eat vegetarian at least one dinner a week (I have plenty of vegetarian lunches; dinner has been the hard change) so I thought this was the perfect opportunity. Though some rotisserie chicken meat or spicy sausage would have been spectacular in this, too.

A few weeks ago I bought an alternative to my favorite black bean pasta…mung bean fettuccine: a green and more textured flat noodle. And so when I saw these recipes yesterday, I knew I wanted to do something similar. Hubs doesn’t like food that is too rich, too creamy or too cheesy…so this was going to be all about the balance.

And I forgot to take pictures…like a doof. And it was beautiful!

Ingredients:

  • half package of mung bean fettuccine
  • juice of two meyer lemons (and the zest)
  • one tablespoon butter
  • salt/pepper
  • 1/2 cup of plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup of fresh grated parmesan
  • hefty pinch of red pepper flakes
  • teaspoon olive oil
  • large red shallot, sliced
  • cup of cherry tomatoes
  • packed cup of fresh spinach leaves

Prepare the fake fettuccine according to package. Add a good amount of salt and pepper to the water as the mung bean can be a bit bland without it.

In a large pan, heat the oil and add sliced shallots. We like our shallots a bit crispy. Cook yours to taste. Put the butter into the pan and, once melted, add the lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Mix this with the cooked onions. Add the tomatoes and let them warm and soften, stirring often. Grate the cheese over the mixture in the pan and mix. Take the pan off of the heat and add the yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Using tongs, gently put the fettuccine into the pan allowing some of the pasta water (a few drips per bunch) to join the sauce. Add the spinach and use the heat from the pasta to gently wilt the spinach. Divide into bowls and add more of the parmesan and red pepper flakes. Serve.

I devoured this. It was a powerhouse of lemon-y goodness tempered with the smoothness and tang of the yogurt and the saltiness of the cheese. Hubs was drinking the sauce once his pasta was gone. I highly recommend this.

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Bad ass kale and mushroom quiche

The next few recipes are going to be a bit out of order as I promised that I would get this recipe up today, even though it was queued for later this week.

Recently I’ve found that I have been searching for the veg portion of the meal before figuring out what the “rest of it” will look like. I pick the green veg and then the meat/base/accompanying vegetables. In this morning’s Goop (Yes, I read it. Shush, you!), she interviews an owner of a vegan restaurant in Philly and this quote really spoke to me:

Don’t think of veggies as afterthoughts and side dishes. Put extra effort into them and let them shine!

^^^ This. This is where my brain is these days. Focus on the veg, make them delicious and then add in some other awesomeness to help make it whole.

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When at the grocers yesterday (still filling the fridge up after a week away) I saw some gorgeous kale. I knew we needed to use up some of the eggs and feta in the fridge so a quiche was devised. I never really follow the proportions they insist upon in quiche recipes…so again I foraged off on my own. I also picked up some sliced, fresh mushrooms to lose a step. And as this was mostly a meal for our au pair and myself, I allowed it to be extra cheesy as hubs doesn’t do “cheesy” (his loss. right?!).

Ingredients:

  • Dinosaur kale (I used one and a half handfuls)
  • Two cups of sliced porcini mushrooms
  • Eight medium eggs
  • One vidalia onion
  • One medium shallot
  • One cup of feta
  • Half cup of cheddar
  • Half stick of butter, separated
  • Olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • Two roma tomatoes
  • Flax seed
  • Cooking spray
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Handful of basil
  • Parm, to finish

This comes together pretty quickly for as many ingredients as there are. And the above feeds three. This would be an excellent “side dish” if paired with something meaty. Or it could also take on epic status with the inclusion of some sun dried tomato chicken sausage.

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Preheat the oven to 375. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of butter chopped into fourths over medium heat in a sauté pan. I actually like a bit of a thinner pan for this type of cooking. My favorite sauté pan is also my cheapest. It browns the butter super quickly and heats the oil fast, as well.

Chop the vidalia into a medium small chop. A chunkier chop would work well here, too, if you want a bit more tooth in your onion. When the butter is starting to brown, add in the vidalia and have it sop up all of that buttery, browned deliciousness.

While that softens, start on the kale. I like dinosaur kale because it is so easy to remove the stalk by pulling on the greens in the opposite direction from the bottom of the stalk (obviously, rinse and pat dry the kale before you do this). When you have stripped all of your kale, roll it up like a chiffonade and cut it across the grain so that it is in thin strips.

ImageAs soon as the vidalia is getting a bit more translucent, add in the mushrooms, one more tablespoon of butter (quartered) and cook until all are tender and slightly browned. I also salt and pepper my mushrooms at this point. A splash of wine (any wine, really…last night we were drinking rosé) right about now does WONDERS to the complexity of the flavor, too.  Next time I make this, I am going to use a bit more wine than I did last night. 

I used the time the mushrooms were cooking to crack and beat my eggs. Most recipes would call for about four eggs in this. I used eight or nine (I lost track) medium sized eggs. As I wasn’t using any milk to “lift” the eggs, and it was going to be main and only dinner, I wanted to add a bit of heft. I whisked them until incorporated then beat in a bit more salt and pepper and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes and dumped in the two cheeses. 

ImageNow that the mushrooms were soft, I piled the kale on top of the mushrooms. I grabbed my madonlin and sliced thinly the shallot, sprinkling it on the kale. The kale will cook down now…but it will cook down a bit more quickly with another splash of wine. Incorporate the mushrooms, kale and onions once the kale’s green is brightening. Let that cook over low to medium heat until the kale is soft. 

Meanwhile, make the space on your mandolin a bit wider and slice your tomatoes into 1/6″ slices. Spray some cooking spray on the inside of your glass pan (I used a Pyrex casserole dish as I needed more than just a slice).  Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with ground flax seed and parmesan (to make a bit of a strach-less, healthy crust).

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Once the kale/mushroom combo seems well cooked, stir it again so that it is well mixed and then pour it into the pyrex dish. I had to move things around a bit because the mushrooms were heavy on one side and the kale on the other.

Pour the egg and cheese mixture on so that it evenly coats the veggies. And then layer the tomatoes across the top. Put it in the oven, uncovered for 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through.

The tomatoes on top give it some needed sweetness, the cheddar the bite, the pepper the heat and the feta some added salt…and they all work well with the savory-ness of the dish. If I did it again, I would then put some chopped parsley/ground flax and parm on the top to add a little crunch to the top and broil it for a few seconds at the end.

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Overstuffed Yellow Squash Boats and Sauteed Red Wine Kale

I went all veg last night. I don’t do this THAT often (though I know I should) because, without any starches, M and I often don’t get full without a protein. I combated no protein with a tiny bit of farro. And I think it was a success. I was satiated and enjoyed the meal. And the girls LOVED it.

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As I often do, I took what I had and interpretted another recipe to make it fit my fridge. Last night I made yellow squash boats stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese (topped with toasted pine nuts, balsamic glaze and a bit of sriracha). I also made kale sauteed with red wine and yellow onion.

Squash Boats

  • 1 large squash per person
  • package of frozen spinach
  • two cups of dried mushrooms, chopped finely
  • finely sliced shallot
  • red pepper flakes
  • thyme
  • salt/pepper
  • goat cheese (frozen)

Kale

  • 1 large bag of kale, washed, torn into 1 inch pieces and rid of tough stems
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • olive oil
  • salt/pepper
  • butter
  • 1 small lemon

I made the kale first as I wanted it to sit in its juices for as long as possible. After washing and trimming the kale to rid it of the stems, I tore any large leaves into small, bit size pieces. I put them into a bowl lined with a kitchen towel and let them drain while I chopped and cooked the yellow onion.

P actually helped with most of this portion of the meal. He loved “showering” and tearing the kale and stirring the onions cooked over medium heat. He has also started to have the dexterity to grind the salt and pepper over the food so I let him do that over the onions as they started to become translucent.

Once cooked, I piled in the kale and, over medium/high heat, wilted it until to became bright green. As there was so much kale in my saute pan, I had to turn the kale often and use a large pan lid to weigh down the leaves to keep them all in. As soon as the kale was bright green, I poured in the cup of red wine left over from a few nights previous and turned the heat to low and let all of that yumminess simmer. It was also at this time that I added 1 tablespoon of butter, cut into smaller pieces, and squirted it with the juice of a small lemon. This really added a depth to the flavor. Once this was all melded together, I poured the mixture and ALL of the juice into a large bowl to sit and absorb.

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I put some water into my electric kettle and let it boil while I dried out the pan with a paper towel. I chopped the dry mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces and rinsed them in my mesh colander  When the water was boiling, I put the mushrooms in the pan and poured the hot water over them, letting them absorb the moisture. Once they were well soaked, I put them back in the mesh colander and let them drain over the sink. This last part used no heat…just reduced the number of bowls I’d have to clean later 🙂

At this time I preheated the oven to 350. The spinach was next. I popped a box of frozen chopped spinach into the pan and, after pouring a bit of hot water from the kettle over it, let the spinach defrost, stirring often and breaking it apart slowly. Once heated, I poured the spinach and its juices over the mushrooms that were still in the sink in the mesh colander. Those sat and dripped while I prepared the squash.

ImageI trimmed the ends off of the squash and cut them in half. After removing with a spoon the seeded center and setting that portion aside, I sliced a thin portion off of the bottom so that they would sit flat.

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On the hulled squash boats I added salt and pepper, a sprinkling of dry thyme and a tiny bit of finely chopped red pepper flakes. The other flavors are so subtle on this dish that it definitely needed that zing…so don’t exclude the red pepper flakes. I then sprayed it with smart balance cooking spray…but this was mostly for convenience as it was right in front of me and my olive oil was across the room. Lazy, yo.

Back at the saute pan, I toasted a handful of pine nuts and set them aside. I put a teaspoon of olive oil in the pan, heated it up and tossed in the shallot and the squash innards, letting them cook over medium high heat. I pressed the remaining liquid out of the spinach and mushrooms and then added them to the mix. I had the goat cheese in the freezer to make even distribution into the filling easier. I crumbled about three tablespoons of goat cheese onto the filling and stirred it in. Add sriracha sauce to taste at this point. I don’t like my food too hot so I just did a tiny bit and then let the others heat their food up at the end as they wished.

On a silpat lined cookie sheet, I placed the empty boats and then overstuffed them with the filling.

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I squeezed a bit of balsamic glaze over the top and put them in the oven for 30-35 minutes, turning once during cooking to allow for even temperature in my horrible stove. Test for doneness with a sharp knife. When it goes into the skin of the squash easily, it is ready.

While the squash is cooking, I used 1/2 a cup of the Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro and 1 cup of chicken stock and simmered that on the stove, after bringing it to a boil, for 10 minutes. Once cooked to chewiness, I added back in the kale  mixture to heat for serving.

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Serve the kale with a slotted spoon and portion two squash boats per person. Top the squash boats with toasted pine nuts, a bit more of the goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and/or sriracha and you have yourself a delicious and incredibly healthy meal.

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