Monday, April 4, 2011

Lemon Kale and Portobella Pasta

So apparently Stevo wants to start contributing to the blog. And his desired form of contribution is having me cook a new recipe every week, which he will then proceed to rate on his own contrived scale, and then I have to post the results, good or bad. So here we go  :-)

I follow a bunch of cooking blogs and one of my long-time favorites is Annie's Eats. I'm on a huge lemon/citrus kick right now (I always get like this when the warmer weather comes), so when she posted a recipe for a lemon pasta my ears (eyes?) perked up. I bookmarked it, and then right before my grocery run today, I decided to give it a try. But, as much as I love Annie and all her culinary superiority, I just honestly couldn't picture putting her recipe down in front of Steve and not have it result in an " we have a frozen pizza in there?". He is very much a meat-and-potatoes-red-sauce-Italian-beer kind of guy and I knew it was going to be kind of a risky recipe. So I made a couple of changes and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

Steve gave this a score of 87, which according to him is excellent, especially for a first try. It got 18/20 for presentation, 16/20 for cost and healthiness, 17/20 for stress factor, and 35/40 for taste. I argued that this was a ridiculously easy recipe to make and should have gotten 20/20 for stress factor, but oh well. He said he's looking forward to this again and to add it to the regular rotation, so that's really all I care about. He had also enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine before scoring this so I'm not sure how accurate it is.

Disclaimer- I am not a food photographer by any means. Obviously. If anyone has any tips on how to photograph food better, please share.

Lemon Kale and Portobella Pasta (adapted from Annie's Eats)

Makes 4 servings

For the dressing:
2 cloves minced garlic
½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
¼-½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the pasta:
1 lb. whole grain pasta (we used mostaccioli, you could also use penne or a spaghetti pasta)
1 large bunch kale (black/lacinato kale preferred), rinsed and dried, stems removed
12 oz portobella mushrooms, sliced
Lemon slices, for garnish
Additional Parmesan, for serving

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.  Meanwhile, make the dressing. Sprinkle the minced garlic with ¼ teaspoon of the kosher salt and smash the garlic into a paste with a fork or the side of a chef’s knife.  Transfer the garlic paste to a small bowl.  Add in the Parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Whisk together until well combined.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions.  

Chop the kale into ½-inch ribbons. Saute the kale and the mushrooms in a pan over medium heat, and then lower heat, cover and stir occasionally until the kale is tender.

Add the kale and mushrooms to a large bowl and toss with the dressing to coat well.  When the pasta is finished, drain well and let cool a minute or two.  Toss the pasta with the kale and dressing until well coated.  Serve with sliced lemon and additional Parmesan as desired.

Serve with sliced french bread, toasted and topped with sliced tomato, basil, and kosher salt.  A light white wine would be a good accompaniment - we had pinot grigio but a sauvignon blanc would be good too.

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