Linguine with Spinach and Golden Parmesan Breadcrumbs

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2nd plated Linguini with spinach

Swiss chard and kale have become so popular that we sometimes forget our earlier love –spinach–that nutrient powerhouse packed with flavor.  In this ultra easy dish we sautéed spinach and garlic, added linguine, and sprinkled breadcrumbs flecked with Parmesan cheese and parsley on top.  We then placed the pasta under the broiler for less than a minute. The result? A whole new taste dimension to an old family favorite.

Mis en place linguini spinachMise en place.

Breadcrumb mixture linguini and spinachWe make the breadcrumb topping first and set it aside.

Spinach with garlic in skillit linguiniAfter the spinach wilts, the garlic slivers are added back to the skillet.

Linguine with Spinach and Parmesan Breadcrumbs

4 to 6 servings

Breadcrumb Topping
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain breadcrumbs
3 teaspoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Spinach Pasta
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced into slivers
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
15 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 pound linguine
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt.

Combine the breadcrumb topping ingredients in a small bowl and set it aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Heat ½ cup of olive oil over low heat until shimmering. Add the garlic slivers and cook until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the slivers with a slotted spoon and set aside (the garlic will be added to the spinach later). Add the red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the spinach and cook until limp, using tongs to mix it thoroughly with the oil. Remove from the heat.

Turn the oven on to broil.

Return the reserved garlic back into the skillet with the spinach. Pour in the reserved pasta water and mix well. Turn the stove on to medium heat. Add the cooked linguine and pour ½ cup of Parmesan cheese over the hot pasta before mixing both into the spinach. Add 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Using tongs, mix the cheese well into the pasta and spinach.

Transfer the pasta to an ovenproof serving dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Place in the oven and broil until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 30 seconds to a minute, watching closely so they don’t burn. Serve hot.

1st plated linguine with spinah

 

Creamy Avocado Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts

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1st plated avocado pasta

If you like avocados, we think you will love this easy to prepare summer pasta. It is our healthy version of creamy pasta but without the cream and butter! And it takes less than a half hour to prepare.  This rich and satisfying dish has lots of fresh basil with a hint of lemon and garlic. Avocados are so abundant right now and with all their amazing health benefits we are always happy to serve this dish to our family and friends.

ingredients avocado pastaMise en place.

Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 8.29.00 PMWe cut the avocado into cubes. This makes it easier to blend.

avocado sauce spread on pastaThe consistency of the blended avocado is smooth and creamy.

Creamy Avocado Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts
Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound thin spaghetti
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade-style
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 medium ripe avocados, halved, peeled, seeded and cut into 2-inch cubes
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and shake the pan occasionally, until they begin to brown and give off a nutty aroma, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, add the lemon juice, olive oil, basil, garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Process or blend until well incorporated. Add the avocado and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy. If the avocado sticks to the bottom of the blender, just loosen it with a wooden spoon and blend again.

Place the avocado mixture in a large serving bowl. Add the hot pasta and mix thoroughly to combine. Add some of the reserved pasta water, as desired, and mix well again.

Sprinkle with pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

2nd plated avocado pasta crop

Fusilli with Capers, Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Kale

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Kale pastaFor any of us, a green combined with pasta is one of our favorite go-to easy dinner recipes. There is nothing like a bite of garlicky, slightly spicy, and earthy sautéed greens, combined with the comfort of al dente pasta, to make the whole family happy. Inspired by recipes that looked delicious, but included anchovies as an ingredient, we wanted to create a dish that our vegetarians (and vegans) would love. The answer—we make a quasi-caponata out of capers, garlic, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, which gives this dish that umami flavor that the anchovies would have imparted. And the result––out of this world!

Mise en place Kale pastaMise en place––such a simple dish.

Kale pasta caponataBrown the garlic and capers before adding the olives and sun-dried tomatoes.

kale pasta ingred w:kaleStir in the kale and cook just until it wilts.

kale pasta in panAdd the cooked pasta right to the skillet.

Fusilli with Capers, Olives, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Kale
4 to 6 servings

Kosher salt
3 tablespoons finely chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tablespoons capers, drained
4 cups chopped kale, stems removed
1 pound fusilli pasta (or similar pasta, such as rotini or gemelli)
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt.

Mix the sundried tomatoes with the olives, and using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the mix into a rough paste. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high-heat and when shimmering add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and the capers. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the sun-dried tomato and olive paste to the skillet, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the kale and cook until it wilts, 2 to 3 minutes, and set aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and drain the pasta in a colander.

Return the skillet to the heat and add the pasta. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (if desired). Serve hot.

kale pasta closeup

Orecchiette with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

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Brussels Spouts Pasta

Growing up, we Pollans didn’t consider Brussels sprouts edible. We figured something that smelly must taste even worse. This was one vegetable we tried to avoid eating at all costs. However, all that changed as adults—when we were introduced to an easy and scrumptious new way of preparing them—roasting! We add olive oil, salt and pepper, and pop them in the oven. It’s that easy to make, and we love the taste. In fact, our kids and husbands can’t seem to get enough of them too, which thrills us because Brussels sprouts are chock-full of nutrients—so they are incredibly healthy. We decided to take advantage of this “love” of a healthy vegetable and use it in another dish. We added them to pasta—a favorite in all of our homes. We sliced the Brussels sprouts very thinly, and then sautéed them in a pan with herbs, spices, and shallots, and added them to orecchiette pasta (you can substitute another pasta shape for the orecchiette). We then topped the dish with Parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

brussels

What’s so great about roasted Brussels sprouts is their sweet and nutty flavor. By cooking the shaved sprouts in a skillet on top of the stove, and then letting them sit a couple of minutes before stirring, they caramelize. This gives them that sweet flavor that tastes so good.

Garlic in pan

Be sure to stir the shallots and garlic frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn.

Brussels in pan

Orecchiette with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Parmesan, and Pine Nuts

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tablespoons pine nuts
Kosher salt
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and very thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and shake the pan occasionally until they begin to brown and give off a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and the pasta. Cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the parsley, red pepper flakes, continue stirring, and cook for one minute more.

Add the Brussels sprouts, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften—about 3 minutes. Spread the vegetables in the pan and press down to flatten with the back of a wooden spoon. Let them brown for 1 to 2 minutes and then stir and repeat. Reduce the heat to low, add the butter, and mix well. Stir in the cooked pasta. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the pasta water, or as desired, to moisten the sauce.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts, and serve hot.

Brussels pasta 2

 

 

Bucatini with Sautéed Chard and Vegetarian Sausage

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Right now, for us, chard is the new kale. Don’t get us wrong—we still LOVE kale—but we’ve been craving chard and ogling beautiful photos featuring chard for the last couple of months. Swiss, red or rainbow, we don’t care. It has such a zesty, slightly salty flavor, which makes it an ideal ingredient for pastas, casseroles, frittatas––the list could go on and on…. Popular in Mediterranean cooking, it’s exceptionally good for you—it’s considered one of the most nutritious vegetables there is. So we’ve been on a mission to come up with some scrumptious chard recipes.

bucatini1This one, a pasta dish, is super easy to make and so full of flavor…And it can be modified for lots of tastes and diets––you can easily make it vegan, gluten free, whole wheat, and low fat with simple substitutions. We like to make it vegetarian because it’s one of those vegetarian dishes that have a lot of appeal to meat eaters—they don’t feel like they’re missing anything in terms of flavor or texture. It’s perfect for your Meatless Monday meal.

We do like pasta—a lot. We know a lot of people who won’t eat it. We think the key for us is that we make pasta recipes that have tons of vegetables or other ingredients so that we really are satisfied with the portion of pasta that we are meant to eat (no—it’s not a one pound box for two people.)

We happen to love this dish with an artisanal veggie sausage a friend introduced us to—she’s a tried and true meat eater and she loves it! But you can also use any kind of cooked Italian meat or poultry sausage that you like in this recipe and there are a lot of organic ones to choose from these days. You just need to cook your sausages through, then cut them into rounds and brown.

bucatini2We doubled the amount of chard we would normally use for this recipe. We just found that it cooked down so much in the sautéing process that there wasn’t enough green for our liking. We used both Swiss and rainbow chard—we can’t tell you if they taste much different but we love the combination of colors. Look at this raw rainbow chard––it looks like a painting.

bucatini3When sautéing the chard we begin with the chopped ribs and tender stems—even before we put in the garlic–-our kids don’t like them too crunchy. Then we add the garlic and hot pepper flakes and finally the chard leaves. When you put so much leafy vegetable in the skillet it really is quite bountiful at first––you almost can’t imagine that it will ever cook down. We put a large lid on top at the beginning to help the wilting process, but you still have to stir frequently so that it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn.

After the chard has wilted you add the sausage back in to get it good and hot.

bucatini4It’s so beautiful and tasty–-you really could take this sauté right here, skip the pasta, and serve it in countless ways––on a bed of polenta, quinoa, or lentils, or chop it a little finer and use it in a frittata. All delicious alternatives. But for us, this pasta dish really hits the spot.

Bucatini with Sautéed Chard and Vegetarian Sausage

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 pre-cooked Italian vegetarian sausages (we like Field Roast), cut into 1/3 to 1/2-inch round slices (you can also use any kind of cooked Italian meat or poultry sausages)
Kosher salt
1 pound bucatini (or spaghetti)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large bunches chard (Swiss, red, rainbow or a combination) leaves cut into 1 inch wide strips, ribs and tender stems roughly chopped (discard the thicker part of the stems)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
3 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage in one layer; cook undisturbed until browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip and cook on the other side for an additional 2 to 4 minutes. Set the sausage aside in a dish or bowl.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the directions on the package. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta in a colander.

Meanwhile, wipe down the skillet with paper towels, set it over medium heat, and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering add the chard stems and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, and cook for 1 minute. Add the chard and sauté, stirring until wilted, 7 to 9 minutes (you can cover the skillet with a large lid but continue to stir.) Once wilted, add in the browned sausage, and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet with 3 tablespoons of the reserved pasta water and cook, stirring, until the pasta is coated, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining parsley, and Parmesan cheese (if desired). Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve hot.

bucatini5