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Quick Spring Lunch: Fusilli with Scallions, Peas, and Goat Cheese

Actually, the title says it all. This makes a quick lunch, especially if you have the pasta already cooked. This is barely a recipe, and I didn’t really measure anything, so use your judgment as to the ratio of pasta to scallions, peas, and cheese.

What’s in it:

  • 8 – 12 oz pasta (fusilli), cooked (how much really depends on how hungry you are)
  • 2 – 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup peas (cooked along with the pasta)
  • chopped chives – about 1 Tbs (optional)
  • fresh goat cheese (at least 1/4 cup, more if you love goat cheese)

Brown scallions in butter and olive oil over medium high, let things get a bit crispy. Add in the cooked fusilli and peas. Stir. If you have them, add some fresh chives too. Serve in a deep plate (pasta bowl), topped with crumbles of fresh goat cheese. Toss a bit so the cheese can meld with the warm pasta. Bask in the Spring feeling (though you could make this dish all through summer and fall, it feels spring-like, and scallions are great in spring).

Summer Pesto Salad

This makes a nice dinner but also a good cold salad to take to potlucks, BBQs, and picnics.

For the pesto sauce:

  • A bunch of “cooking greens” – assorted leaves of kale, chard, etc.
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves (broken down into smaller pieces)
  • the green parts of 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup (about) grated Parmesan or Gran Padano
  • olive oil (good kind for salads, not for cooking)

Cut or tear the green leafy part off the stems (de-rib), and then into smaller pieces. Steam (or sauté quickly, if you prefer) the greens for about 5 minutes, until sightly limp. Chop up walnuts and garlic. Add greens, garlic, nuts, and scallions into food processor. Blend while adding olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth. Add in the grated cheese (unless using the pesto later), and mix together. Continue reading

Gold Zucchini Pasta

Here’s something to do with the zucchini/golden summer squash that should be piling up by now. You can throw  this together quickly – either a dish for two people or one person who likes leftovers (hello, lunch).

What you need:
1 medium golden zucchini, or it can be a regular green one too, shredded (by hand on your cheese grater or in a food processor if you have it)
About 1 cup dry fusili pasta (estimate)
About 1/2 tsp chopped rosemary (fresh)
1/2 cup or so of panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Manchego (more if you like)
1 Tbs olive oil

What to do: (Note: I did not measure when I made this, so this is all speculation based on memory.) Continue reading

Spring Fling: Cavatappi with Green Asparagus

After many months of winter squash, stored potatoes, and nothing green except kale and cabbage, I’m always particularly excited when the first spring produce appears at my farmer’s market (radishes! asparagus! scallions!). Since these portents of the new growing season also stick around into June, I don’t feel too bad for letting this entry sit around since early May. So even though it’s now almost summer, and we have the mugginess to prove it, here is a quick dinner to help you celebrate that first tender green asparagus. I’ve been making variations of this for a few weeks now.

Note: Cavatappi are a sort of corkscrew-looking pasta that look a bit like someone took a penne noodle, stretched and then twisted it. They hold all sorts of sauces well, and small lengths of asparagus can snuggle into their twists.

What’s involved: Continue reading

Quick Hit: Dip into Dressing a Cool Spring Dish

If you’ve ever found yourself with leftover pot luck contributions, like say, some goat cheese yogurt dip, you might consider this a useful idea: Take said dip and turn it into a dressing for your cool Spring salad in just one handy step (not counting prepping the veggies). Continue reading

Cabbage Two Ways (Hey, it’s not spring yet)

I made these two cabbage variations last month, when cabbage was the main green I had to work with. Now that we’re past the frozen February, I was hesitant to post about cabbage yet again, but then I noticed that pasta and cabbage dishes are having a little moment, apparently. First I saw this post by Kickpleat, featuring a comforting cabbage dish very similar to what I have been playing around with. And then the Kitchn posted this recipe for pizzoccheri – yes, that’s pasta, potatoes, and cabbage! – and I felt vindicated in my own attempts at this pairing. See, cabbage is a comfort food, especially when paired with pasta. Clearly, the Poles and Italians know this.

Cabbage the first: You’ll need a small head of green cabbage (or about 1/2 of a large one), shredded; one small onion, diced. Start those first on high heat in a hot pan with some canola oil. Let things brown a bit, say for five to seven minutes, stirring only occasionally, then add a generous splash of white wine (or dry vermouth), along with some sea salt and herb de Provence. Turn heat to low, cover the pan, and let the cabbage braise until it softens and becomes slightly sweet. Meanwhile, cook about 8 oz. of linguine, fettuccine, or spaghetti according to directions. Turn off heat, stir about 1/4 cup sour cream into the cabbage – just enough to help make a bit of sauce – then mix the drained pasta with a good amount of the cabbage in a bowl (you want to have some leftover cabbage for the second round). Serve with a fried egg on top, if you want.

Cabbage the second: Take about 1 cup of leftover braised sour-cream cabbage (see above); a scant 1 cup (dry) of small pasta shells; a 15 oz can chickpeas; some fresh parsley, chopped; and sriracha to taste. Cook the shells, rinse the chickpeas, and then mix cabbage and chickpeas and shells (still warm), toss in the chopped parsley and sriracha; salt to taste. Serve at room temperature or heat up a bit in a microwave for lunch at the office the next day.

Quick Hit: Orecchiette Olio

Olio: a happy mix of various items. In this case, sort of like a pasta potpourri, a miscellaneous medley of delicious items, combined into a harmonious whole. This one also works as a cold salad the next day for lunch.

  1. Cook the orecchiette pasta according to package directions. The small “ears” indentations work well to hold the peas, etc. but other small shapes like farfalle or elbows would also work here. I used about a cup (dry pasta, maybe 4 oz), but adjust as needed to feed more people.
  2. You can cook the peas right along with the pasta. About a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup should do well. If they’re fresh, wait to add them to the water until the pasta is nearly cooked. The frozen peas could join immediately or go in for the last 5 minutes or so. I’m still experimenting with that, so do whatever works best for you.
  3. While the pasta cooks, chop 2 -3 scallions (depending on size and how much you like them).
  4. Before draining the cooked pasta, reserve some of the pasta water for later.
  5. Toss the hot orecchiette and peas with the chopped scallions, about 15 oz of chickpeas, either canned (rinse those well first) or cooked from dried chickpeas (if you can plan ahead and have these on hand) and some crumbled feta cheese, about 1/4 cup. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water (start with 1 Tbs) to make a bit of a sauce. Add more if things seem too dry.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, or let cool to room temperature or serve slightly cold the next day.