Pasta with Spinach and Red Onions

 

This pasta was beautiful. I know, I made it, and this is not very modest of me, but it really was beautiful. The spinach was a lovely green touch, the red onions were warm and rich, and I added a little dried cranberries and crushed pecans for extra flavor. When I made it, it was a little dry, but this is easily fixed by adding a little stock to the vegetables as you cook them, or a little of the water you cooked the pasta in.

I’ve been a little vague on the measurements for the pasta and spinach because this really depends on you, and how much you want to use. I usually use a handful of pasta for two people. In this case, I used two small fettuccine nests, which made a medium-sized portion for one person. I also used a small bunch of baby spinach. With spinach, remember it really cooks down to about a third (at least!) of its size, so make allowances for that.This recipe is for one serving of pasta — enough for one person.

You need:

  1. 1 small fettuccine nests, or enough pasta for one person
  2. 1 small bunch baby spinach, washed and drained
  3. 2 tbsp crushed pecans or walnuts
  4. 2 tbsp dried sweetened cranberries or raisins
  5. Salt and white pepper to taste (you can use black pepper)
  6. Olive oil for cooking
  7. Romano or parmesan cheese (or any other hard cheese you like to eat over pasta)

How to:

  1. Put six cups of water (or enough to cook the pasta) in a saucepan. Add 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp salt and bring to boil. When it boils, add the pasta. Cool until al dente–cooked through, but when you eat it, it should still be very, very slightly hard, not mushy.
  2. Cut the onions into very thin slices.
  3. Put 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan (more if your pan is not non-stick). When it is hot, add the onions, Stir and let it cook, stirring occasionally.
  4. Give the spinach a very rough chop (just once or twice).
  5. When the onions are cooked (but before the caramelize), add the spinach. The onions should still be a bit crunchy. Stir the spinach in. Add 1 tsp salt and stir again.
  6. Drain the pasta and arrange on a plate.
  7. When the spinach is just wilted, add the cranberries, pecans, and white pepper. Stir gently. If it is too dry, add a little stock or pasta cooking water and stir gently. If you added too much, let it cook off before you take it off the heat.
  8. Turn off the heat. Arrange the vegetables over the pasta.
  9. Grate romano or parmesan cheese over the top.

 

 

 

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Storing greens and herbs

Here’s what I’ve found to be the best way. Do not wash the greens. Wrap them in a damp (not wet) paper towel and store in a nylon mesh bag, or a pillowcase, in the hydrator drawer of the fridge. They last at least a week, and cilantro, which I put in my fridge and forget about, has lasted about three in fairly decent  condition. Fresh herbs can also be stored the same way. Alternatively, you can do what I did with the fresh oregano I got from my CSA this week. I didn’t know when I would use it next, so I washed it, patted it dry, and put it in a mesh bag. Then I hung the mesh bag outside, where the sun and heat and wind will dry it. Or you could dry it in your oven, but that’s a waste of energy. You can also microwave it on a paper towel, I think, though I have never tried that.

Pretty Green Stir-fry

Our CSA this week contained more or less what I had said it would – tatsoi, little purple-green lettuce, garlic chives, spring onions, fresh oregano, and pak choi. Lots of greens. We did do a stir-fry, in the end, just because it was so tempting – all those greens! So we used all the ingredients listed above, except the lettuce. Here’s how:

You need: 1 bunch tatsoi, 2 bunches pak choi, 3-4 green onions, 1 red onion, 5-7 garlic chives, 2 tbsp soy sauce, black pepper, 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, 1 tbsp sesame oil (or not).

How to:

1. Wash all the greens (everything but the peanuts and red onion) well, and cut it into strips.

2. Cut the red onion into thin slices.

3. Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a wok.

4. Add the red onions and bulb parts of the green onions, and stir-fry until done to your satisfaction (about 2-3 minutes usually works for me)

5. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peanuts coarsely.

6. Add the peanuts to the onion and stir. Add the rest of the vegetables immediately.

7. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and black pepper.

8. Stir quickly. As soon as the leaves begin to wilt, turn off the heat.

Serve hot over rice. You could also use peanut sauce in lieu of the soy sauce/sesame oil.

Saag Paneer

Preparation: 20 Minutes
Boiling: 15 Minutes
Cooking: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 55 Minutes

Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh spinach, or 2 packets frozen, chopped
4 oz. paneer, cubed
½ cup milk
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ghee
to taste salt
2 tbsp. oil

Preparation:

1. Clean the spinach and shred it roughly.
2. Fill a big stockpot with water and place the spinach in it. Add 1/2 tsp salt if desired and set to boil.
3. When the water comes to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for 1 or 2 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat and drain the spinach into a colander. Run cold water over it to cool it.
5. In a food processor, blend the spinach into a smooth puree.
6. Heat the oil. Add cumin, cayenne pepper, and ground coriander. Stir quickly and add the spinach. Stir well.
7. Add the milk and stir in. The spinach will turn light green, and then dark again. If it is very thick, add a little more milk.
8. Cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
9. Add the paneer and cover again. Let cook for 10 minutes on low heat.

Serves 4

Vegetable Riot Pasta Sauce

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: about 40-45 minutes

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that had lots of vegetables (and thereby reduce the amount of pasta eaten as well). This turned out very, very well, and we were pleased with it.

You need: 1 yellow squash, diced; 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped; 2 cups tomatoes, diced; 1 bunch any greens you like, finely chopped; 1-2 bell peppers, diced; 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (or parsley, whichever you prefer); 2-3 bay leaves; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 2 tbsp minced garlic; and to taste: dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, black pepper, red chili flakes or dried red chilies, salt. Yes, I know I add too many herbs, but they taste so good.

How to: I used dried herbs, BTW, but you could use fresh if you have them.

Heat some olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the dried red chilies if you are using them, and the bay leaves.

Add the squash, cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add rosemary and thyme.

Add red peppers, cook 5 minutes, etc. etc.

Add onions, stir, cook for 5 minutes.

Add greens, stir, cover and let it cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add red wine vinegar, stir well, and let it cook uncovered until the vinegar has cooked away. Add garlic.

Stir again, add tomatoes. Stir, cover, let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add remaining herbs and salt. Cover and let it cook till done.

Uncover and let the water cook out, if you like. Add the cilantro just before you take it off the heat, stir, and ladle it over the pasta of your choice. (We had spinach fettuccine).

Kohl rabi and Collard greens (knol-khol saag)

Preparation time: 20-30 minutes Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

We’re running low on the produce, and I had some wilting greens and rapidly softening kohlrabi in the fridge that had to be cooked. Plus we were getting a bit tired of the usual heavy spices, and I thought it was time to mix things up a bit. So this isn’t spiced with the usual red chili powder-cumin-curry leaves stuff – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t spicy!!! It turned out really good. For people in India, I don’t know if this is particularly helpful, but collard greens are called haak in Kashmir, I believe. I haven’t been able to figure out if they have a distinct Hindi name.

If you want the “Indian” taste, go for masala greens.

You need: 1 bunch collard greens (or kale, or chard, but perhaps not a wilty green like spinach); 3-4 small kohlrabi; 1/4 cup finely chopped onion; 1 cup finely chopped tomato; garlic, salt, pepper, and mustard powder to taste. I used about 1/2 tsp mustard powder and 2-3 tbsp pepper, but those levels are entirely up to you.

How to: wash and drain the collard greens and then chop them into thin slices about 2″ long. Peel and dice the kohlrabi and set to boil in salted water. When they are almost done (fairly soft and don’t taste raw), heat some oil and add the onion and sautée. It can burn pretty quick, so keep an eye on it. Add the tomatoes and garlic and let it cook for a few minutes.

Check the kohlrabi and if it’s done, turn off the heat and drain the vegetables.

Turn the heat to medium and keep stirring. Add the greens. Stir and cover. Occasionally open the pan and stir the veggies. Give it 5-7 minutes, until the greens are cooked (they will reduce). Add the kohlrabi, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir well, but gently. Cover and let it cook for a few more minutes.

We ate it over brown rice, but bread or chappatis would do as well. If you like, you could add a lot of water and eat it as soup. Or stew, whichever.

Yesterday rice mixup

rice-casserole.jpg

Sometimes you have rice left over. Sometimes there’s just three vegetables in the fridge, and none of them the same kind. What do you do? Rice mixup!

I tried this for dinner today, and it was pretty damn good. I love red chard.

You need: 1 cup cooked brown rice; 1 bunch red chard; 1 big onion; 1 red bell pepper; 2 small yellow squashes; oil; 1 bay leaf; and to taste: salt, crushed red pepper (chili flakes), oregano, thyme, rosemary.

How to: chop the vegetables. Heat oil, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add the squash and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add everything else and stir well. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and mix the rice in with the vegetables.

Masala greens

Here’s something I do like. Greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens, whatever) Indian-style.

You need: a bunch of greens (wash well!); one tomato, diced; one onion, finely chopped; mustard seeds, cumin, cayenne pepper (red chili powder – this is not the same as the stuff you get here to flavor chili with) to taste; salt to taste; 1/4 tsp turmeric.

Heat some oil, add the mustard and cumin, let it sputter, add the onions, let them fry a bit. Add the tomatoes and other spices. Add the greens and stir well. Cover and let cook till the greens are done.