Sunday, February 24, 2013

Orzotto with Braised Kale and Butternut Squash

Found in the fridge: Green kale, garlic. Found on the washing machine: A butternut squash, shallots, also fabric softener but clearly that had been misplaced from its proper location. Found in the cupboard: Whole wheat orzo, cannellini beans.

Solution: Dinner now, laundry later.

This is one of those meals you can start cooking as soon as you have the first ingredients ready and prepare the rest as you go, which means it manages to pull off that obsession-worthy trifecta of being easy, healthy, and deeply delicious.

Olive oil
1 medium to large shallot, halved lengthwise and sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch green kale, sliced into thin ribbons
1 cup diced butternut squash
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1.5 cups flavorful chicken and/or veggie broth
1 rounded cup whole wheat orzo pasta
Salt and white pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot and saute for 1-2 minutes, until they soften slightly. Add the kale, in batches if the pan isn't big enough to hold it all at once before it starts to wilt, and toss well with the garlic and shallot. Saute, turning occasionally with tongs, until the kale wilts down quite a bit, drizzling with a little more olive oil if necessary.

When the kale has mostly wilted, add the butternut squash. Stir, sprinkling with salt, then add a slosh of broth and cover. Let simmer for 3-5 minutes, uncover, stir, add a slosh more broth, and repeat. Continue this for 15-20 minutes, turning the heat down to low about midway through. (Don't worry the kale mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan a bit now and then—the browning actually makes it taste even better). Add the beans, stir, and continue to cook over low heat for 3-5 more minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for the flavors to blend.

Meanwhile, bring 1 1/4 cups of broth to boil in a smallish pot. Add the orzo, stir, and cover. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for 9 minutes, or according to package directions. (If you double this recipe, you may want to use a bit less broth, or else uncover the pot to let the excess broth evaporate at the end.)

Stir the orzo into the kale and squash mixture and adjust salt to taste. Serve into bowls, and sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese and white pepper.

Serves 2-3.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Retasting Taste

Romanesco salad with pancetta, walnuts, golden raisins

Sweet potato gnocchi with house-made duck and fennel sausage, pear, winter greens

Grilled prosciutto and mushroom flatbread with shaved Parmesan, mache

Tart Tatin with whisky caramel, fennel anglaise, brown sugar gelato

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Smashed Potatoes

You heard me. Smashed. Because sometimes there's just not time to vent and then make dinner. Sometimes, you need to multitask.

Smallish purple, red, and/or yellow potatoes, brushed clean and punctured with a fork
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grated cheddar or pepper jack cheese
Chopped parsley

Boil potatoes until tender (a fork should insert easily). Drain and allow to cool slightly.

Smash each potato lightly with the flat side of a meat tenderizer or a mallet. If others ask what you're doing, say "WHAM!" loudly as you smash the next potato, and they will most likely back away slowly and leave you in peace to finish eloquently articulating how you feel about your day.

Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, then liberally with cheese and parsley.

Serve hot, eat hungrily in good company, and decide that your day turned out just fine.