Writing about what feeds me.
If you’re like me, you may have grown up thinking pasta is typically served with just cream or tomato-based sauces. I remember the typical Ragu and ground beef spaghetti mix my Mom would make for me as a kid (don’t get me wrong: I loved it!). In my later years I discovered the simplicity of pesto – buy a can of it and keep it handy for when you need a quick pasta fix to accompany some grilled chicken or other protein.
Nowadays I’m all about veggies and including as much of them as possible in everything I eat. Tonight, Arnel and I decided pasta was in order since we’d kind of stocked up on so much. We didn’t have any tomato paste or canned tomatoes which we would normally use to make a sauce from scratch. So, here’s what I conjured up with what I found in our kitchen…
– spaghettini (prepare according to package directions)
– 3 cloves (OR MORE!) garlic, chopped
– 1/2 to one whole medium onion, diced
– 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
– 1/2 New Mexico (?) or other mild pepper, diced
– approx. 2 medium tomatoes, diced or coarsely chopped
– 3 large crimini mushrooms, sliced
– approx. 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped, fresh basil
– one bunch of kale, stems removed and coarsely chopped
– 2 cups or more of spinach
– chili flakes, S&P (to taste)
– one large chicken breast (serves approx. 2)
– chicken salt (available in Australia haha!) or S&P
– cayenne (optional)
[Kale & Pasta]
– Boil water for pasta while washing and cutting vegetables
– Cook pasta according to package’s directions. With Spaghettini or any other thinner noodle, be careful of sticking (stir frequently especially in the beginning and/or add salt to water) and over-cooking. Some stoves, especially electric ones, have very high heating points, so you can check the pasta a few minutes prior to the directed time to make sure it doesn’t become mushy.
– Heat cooking oil (I used EVOO) in pan on med-high heat.
– Brown onions and garlic with chili flakes (to taste)
– Add peppers
– Stir in tomatoes and begin to season lightly with S&P
– Add mushrooms and then kale and spinach shortly afterwards
– Mix and season well, adding basil in just before turning off heat and removing pan from range
– Once kale mixture and pasta (drained and drizzled with olive oil to prevent sticking) are done,
in a separate pan, heat some olive oil
– Toss together pasta and kale/vegetable mixture in pan, adding a little fresh ground pepper as desired
– Serve steaming hot on a plate, topped with sliced chicken breast or go vegetarian and forgo the poultry altogether!
– Season chicken breast
– Prepare oil in pan on high heat
– Sear both sides (approx. 3 minutes each) in order to seal in the juices
– Cover pan between flipping; this traps the heat and allows the chicken to cook more thoroughly (while also keeping the fumes from going everywhere)
– Remove chicken breast from pan and allow it to sit on cutting board (during which time it will continue to cook) before slicing it.
– Slice as desired and toss directly into pasta or lay it on top
* The general “concept” of this preparation is so simple, you can almost throw anything together to make this kind of dish. To me, pasta can be enjoyed so many ways and this is just one of them . Experiment with whatever ingredients you already have on hand. However, one thing I like to generally keep in mind is COLOR – use lots of greens and reds and you’re pretty good. Your meal will also be more aesthetically pleasing to the eye as well!
* In my opinion, it wouldn’t hurt to (of course) add more chopped garlic. The same goes for the amount of spinach and basil you want to add. I can’t imagine a little more would significantly alter the taste too much.
* Cooking this mixture in white wine would be nice as well.
* Try adding some pine nuts and topping with a little fresh grated mozzarella for some added dimension in taste, perhaps?
* How would lemon zest/juice work with this dish?
* This isn’t a super chunky “sauce” as I had expected it to be, so it actually compliments the lightness of spaghettini (or capellini, if you prefer) quite well. I have a whole wheat spaghettini I would like to try next time.
Wanna see what we had for dessert?!? HAHA!