Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dinner tonight: Garlic Lovers' Special

Tonight I'm preparing a simple dinner. Leftover pasta from last night and chili-garlic roasted broccoli. I must still be fighting that cold, because I sure am craving garlic. I wouldn't necessarily recommend these dishes together for most folks.

The pasta is one of my all-time favorites, an old standby I made up when I was living in Austin around the corner from the Wheatsville food co-op. Super simple, but delicious:

Whole wheat spaghetti with kale, garlic, white beans, walnuts, and herbs

  • whole wheat spaghetti
  • garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • lavender
  • herbes de provence
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 can white beans
  • handful of walnuts (more if omitting beans)
  • fresh parmesan cheese
  • (cheese is optional; you can also opt for either beans or nuts)


1. In a large pot, cook whole wheat spaghetti according to directions, with a good dose of salt, and drain well when finished.

2. In a very large nonstick skillet, saute a whole lot of coarsely chopped garlic (close to a head) in a very generous amount of olive oil, about half a cup or so (eyeball it), over medium flame. Crush in a generous amount of herbes de provence and lavender (some varieties of the herbes come with lavender, others don't).

3. When the garlic is getting soft and only starting to brown, add about half a bunch to a whole bunch of kale, washed and ripped into bite-sized pieces (with the tough stems removed), still a bit wet.

4. Add a can of white beans, well rinsed (to remove the metallic taste of the can), and walnuts, broken into coarse pieces.

5. Grind in a good dose of black pepper, and add some coarse sea salt to taste.

6. Heat for a few minutes and stir it up with a couple wooden spoons so it's all nicely tossed with the herbs and oil and garlic, and the beans are heated through.

7. Lower the flame to a flicker, and add the drained pasta in handfuls into the pan. Toss with the other ingredients over the low flame, adding more olive oil if needed, so the pasta is also dressed nicely.

8. This can be a nice simple vegan dish as-is, or for richer flavor, shave in a generous amount of fresh parmesan cheese to taste.


Chili-garlic Roasted Broccoli

The roasted broccoli was a real surprise when I first tried it. It's adapted (only slightly) from Rachael Ray, from her 30 Minute Meals show. It takes just minutes to do the preparation before putting it into the oven, and it yields amazingly rich flavor. The broccoli taste will help you remember why you once loved broccoli. And the spicy garlicyness of the sauce is a nice contrast to the usual. It makes an excellent side dish with a meat entree, or it's pretty satisfying on its own with fresh steamed quinoa with a little butter and tamari sauce (for a vegetarian meal).

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped (I actually use up to a whole head sometimes, because I REALLY love garlic)
  • 1 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (eg: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick Grill Mates). I just use hot Hungarian paprika, which is excellent, salt to taste, fresh-ground black pepper, and some red pepper flakes (these are hot & spicy; use to your tastes)
  • 1 large head broccoli, cut into thin, long spears (I use "baby broccoli" from Trader Joes and just trim the ends and halve the larger pieces.)

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place olive oil, garlic, chili powder and grill seasoning or paprika in the bottom of a large bowl.
  3. Add the broccoli spears.
  4. Toss to coat broccoli evenly. (I use my clean hands!)
  5. Transfer to a large nonstick baking sheet.
  6. Roast the broccoli until ends are crisp and brown and stalks are tender, 17 to 20 minutes.

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