Whole wheat linguine with chard, tomatoes, and chickpeas

November 1, 2009 at 11:53 pm (Beans, Beans and greens, Cook's Illustrated, Dark leafy greens, Italian, My brain, Pasta, Starches, unrated)

This recipe is based on the Cook’s Illustrated beans and greens recipe.  I used to make it with collards or kale, but since I can’t get those greens here I made it with swiss chard and added tomatoes, which blend nicely with the acidity of the chard.  Normally I add kalamata olives but I didn’t have any so I added a few spoonsfuls of capers instead.  I didn’t have any white beans so subbed in chickpeas.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, 5 cloves sliced thin lengthwise, 3 cloves minced (1 Tbs.)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 medium red onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
1/2-2/3 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
20 ounces chard, stems halved lengthwise and sliced thinly and leaves sliced into ribbons
3/4 cups vegetable broth
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped (or 3 Tbs. capers)
10-12 ounces whole wheat spaghetti or linguine
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup)
ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oil and sliced garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring and turning frequently, until light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  2. Add onion and chard stems to pan; cook until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add half of chard to pan; using tongs, toss occasionally, until starting to wilt, about 2 minutes. Add remaining chard, broth, tomatoes, and salt; cover (pan will be very full); increase heat to high and bring to strong simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered, tossing once, until chard is completely wilted. Stir in beans and olives or capers.
  4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in dutch oven or 5-6 quart pan over high heat. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is just shy of al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot. Add the greens mixture to pasta, set over medium-high heat, and toss to combine. Cook until pasta absorbs most of liquid, about 2 minutes. Season with black pepper to taste.  Serve immediately, passing garlic chips and parmesan separately.

Note: By draining the pasta before its al dente, and finishing cooking in the brothy sauce, the pasta absorbs the flavors of the sauce and release its residual starch, which helps to thicken the sauce slightly.

Derek really loved this dish, even without the olives.  I thought it was reasonably flavorful, but I’m never as excited about beans and greens as he is.

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Tofu, bok choy, and caramelized shallots

November 1, 2009 at 6:53 pm (Chinese, Cruciferous rich, Dark leafy greens, Derek's faves, My brain, Tofu, unrated)

This is a quick Chinese-inspired dish I whipped up for lunch today.

  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.) [optional]
  • 1/2 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pound medium firm tofu
  • 1 pound bok choy
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger , minced (about 1 tablespoon) [optional]
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, sugar, minced garlic cloves, and chili flakes.  Slice the tofu into long rectangles (about .75” x .75” x 2”).
  2. In a 12-inch non-stick skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil until a drop of water sizzles.  Add the tofu in a single layer.  Do not move the tofu once you’ve placed it down.
  3. While the tofu cooks, wash and cut up your bok choy.  Break the bok choy into individual leaves, and remove the green part from the white stems.  Chop the stems into bite-sized pieces, halving vertically any particular fat stems.  When the stems are all chopped, throw them into the pan, filling up any spaces not taken by the tofu, and letting the rest of the pieces rest on top of the tofu.
  4. When the tofu has browned on the first side, toss everything making sure that each tofu piece ends up on an unbrowned side.  While the second side browns, slice the bok choy leaves into fat ribbons, and slice the shallots into 1/4 inch pieces.  Add the shallots to the pan.  Toss again, getting a third side of each tofu rectangle down this time.
  5. When the third side of tofu is browned, throw in the bok choy leaves and the soy sauce mixture.  Stir fry for about 1 minute, until the leaves are wilted.  Eat immediately.

You could serve this over rice or another grain, but we just ate it plain.  It’s salty, but not over the top salty.  The bok choy stems and shallots get nicely caramelized, and the tofu ends up crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.  It’s a satisfying dish.

If you use the ginger, add it about 30 seconds before the soy sauce mixture.

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Whole wheat penne with pan-fried brussels sprouts and rosemary

November 1, 2009 at 6:36 pm (Cruciferous rich, Fall recipes, My brain, Pasta, Quick weeknight recipe, Starches, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

We recently returned from 10 days in NYC, and were scrambling to figure out what to do for dinner given our uncharacteristically empty fridge and unusually busy schedule.  (When you disappear for 10 days there’s a lot to do once you get back!)  I left work too late to make it to the Asian and bio stores, so tofu was out, and the Turkish store was already closed.  My only option was the local, standard grocery store, where I almost never buy produce.  The Brussels sprouts looked reasonably fresh, and both Derek and I love brussels sprouts, so I decided on a simple dinner of pasta with brussels sprouts.  I also bought a few tart apples for snacking on.

When I got home I tried to figure out  what I could add to bump up the protein content of the meal, and make the pasta dish a little more interesting.  I remembered that I had a box of falafel mix in the pantry.  Falafel and brussels sprouts didn’t seem like too odd of a combination, so I mixed the falafel mix with water and fried it up as falafel patties in a little oil on the stovetop.  I removed them from the pan and then used the same pan for the sprouts.  I quartered the brussels sprouts and cooked them over medium heat in my large 12-inch skillet, until browned.  When they were almost done I decided to jazz the dish up a bit more, and added one diced granny smith apple, and a heaping spoonful of minced rosemary (from the plant on my windowsill).  When the sprouts were cooked through I tossed in some whole wheat penne, and crumbled in a few of the falafel patties.  The texture of the falafel crumbles reminded me a little of bread crumbs, but they were more flavorful.  The sweet/tart apple contrasted nicely with the heavier flavors of the falafel and brussels sprouts, and the rosemary added a nice “fall” flavor.  The dish ended up being tasty, if a little odd.  It was also a bit dry, so we ended up drizzling it with a little olive oil at the table.  I wish the dish had had more of a sauce, but I never know how to make a non-red sauce like you get at an Italian restaurant, without using 1/4 cup of olive oil per person.

Update Dec 2012:

We just got back from a long weekend in Paris, and faced with a near-empty fridge I threw together another pasta with whole wheat penne, brussels sprouts, and rosemary.  But this time instead of apples and falafel crumbs I added red onions, lemon zest, and crumbs leftover from our “bar nuts.”  Derek really liked the dish and asked me to write up what I did.

I put some water on to boil, then added 1 Tbs. of unsalted butter to my 12-inch nonstick skillet.  While I waited for the butter to melt I trimmed and halved my brussels sprouts.  (I cut the really big ones into thirds.)  When the butter was melted I added the brussels sprouts I had cut, placing them face down in the skillet.  I turned the heat down to 7 (out of 9) and kept cutting more sprouts.   As I got toward the end of my 500g bag of sprouts I began to run out of room, so I cut the sprouts smaller (into quarters or sixths) and just placed them on top of the other sprouts.  When I started to smell caramelization I flipped the sprouts, and indeed the bottoms were starting to get almost black in spots.  I turned the heat down to medium.  I chopped up about a tablespoon of rosemary and sprinkled it on the sprouts along with lots of aleppo pepper and some black pepper.  I sliced a medium red onion into thin rings, and added it to the pan.  But there didn’t seem to be enough free butter left for the onion to saute, so I added a half a tablespoon of olive oil directly to the onion slices.   Once the onion started to soften I turned the heat down even further, to 1, because I was afraid the sprouts would overcook.

At this point the water was boiling so I salted the pasta water and added 9.25 ounces of whole wheat pasta to the pot.  To the skillet I added a few cloves of crushed garlic, the zest from one lemon, the juice from half a lemon, and some salty, rosemary crumbs leftover from some bar nuts I made last week.  The crumbs contained a number of sunflower seeds, some rosemary, some nut skins, warm spices, and salt.  I put in a few spoonfuls of the pasta cooking water and then the penne once it was cooked.  I dished out the pasta and Derek grated a French sheep’s milk cheese on top (about 1/3 ounce per serving).  The ratio of sprouts to pasta was pretty good, and even though there wasn’t really a sauce to speak of the dish was quite flavorful.  It made about four small servings or two restaurant-sized servings.

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