Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What's On My Plate! // Sweet & Savory Kale Pasta

This is one of those recipes where I just felt the ingredients come together. It's not super complicated, but sometimes it's just a synthesis of simple ingredients that makes the flavor of a dish wildly delicious. I literally wanted more of this dish as I was eating it. Yet I was left perfectly satisfied with one serving; something I learned the importance of reading Peter Kaminsky's Culinary Intelligence. He knows how to explain the importance of flavor. I remember feeling as if I could taste the foods he described while reading about them (warning: don't read his book while hungry, or without time to go to the store).

The sweetness of this dish comes from a new product my mom got me recently. She loves bringing me new ingredients for my kitchen that she finds in the random treasure troves of shops she enjoys. This is from one of her (and many others) favorite stores: Trader Joe's. She found the Pomegranate Vinegar for this recipe there around the holiday season, so you may have to wait until next year to pick it up. I'm hoping they carry it regularly because it has really great flavor. Plus I'm going to need to eat this dish more than just what will last me through the winter!

The savoryness (or umami as many a foodie would call it) of this dish obviously comes from the earthy kale and baby bellas, but also from the red pepper flakes. I added just enough to give it warmth, not making it spicy but leaving you with a warm mouth feel at the end of each bite. Another savory element that rounded out the sweet of the vinegar and tang of the pasta sauce was the cheese. I'm still trying to remember what kind it was - another treat from my mom's last visit and as soon as I remember I'll update the post. But it was a mild hard cheese and I'm going to take a guess that it was an Irish white cheddar.

This dish is also delicious if you're a meat eater. Just add some lightly floured and seasoned baked or pan cooked chicken breast cut in strips.

Two days after I first made this dish, I had it leftover for lunch and was pleasantly surprised that out little one ate it and loved it. Pasta would normally go over well with kids but it hasn't around here until this dish - kale, mushrooms and all. It's a winner!

1 small bunch of kale
1 cup baby bella mushrooms
Red Pepper Flakes
2 Tbsp Trader Joe's Pomegranate Vinegar
1 jar Muir Glen Organic Italian Herb Pasta Sauce
Cooked whole wheat pasta
Irish white cheddar cheese for grating

How I made it::
1. Dice mushrooms and chop kale with hard stem removed.
2. Heat EVOO in pan. Add Kale and cook until lightly wilted. Add mushrooms, salt/pepper and red pepper flakes.
3. Cook until kale is well wilted yet has a light crunch to it still. You don't want to kill all the nutrients and flavor but you want to cut down that bitterness.
4. Add vinegar and heat a few minutes more to let it marinate.
5. Add pasta sauce and warm until heated through.
6. Serve pasta sauce over whole wheat spaghetti or other style noodle and top with grated cheese.  Enjoy! 

PS: Peter Kaminsky, if you ever read this recipe, I'd gladly welcome your critique of it. While I've read many foodie books CI is one of those that inspired me to change the way I do things in my kitchen, not only in terms of health but also by remembering the importance of seasoning (and through introducing some new items to my larder). Thank you for contributing to my growth as a smarter and braver cook. 

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