Meatless Monday – Crostini with Fava Beans and Lemon Ricotta

2

20150424_194421

Working with fresh fava beans is a labor of love, so this makes a perfect dish for someone you love, like your Mother! What a wonderful Mother’s Day breakfast, brunch  or appetizer for that special lady in your life! I love this combination of  crusty toasted ciabatta topped with a creamy ricotta flavored with lemon and parmesan and then piled high with fresh fava beans, spring onions, lemon zest, basil and mint.  Mmmm….It’s pretty too, especially adorned with a sprig of purple basil from my garden!

20150424_190747

Fava beans must be removed from their large outer pod and then skinned, a two step process which is time consuming but well worth it, for the resulting beans are tender and delicious – and only available for a few weeks every year.  If you don’t want to spend the time or you can’t find fava beans, you can substitute fresh or frozen edamame, lima beans or peas.

20150424_180007

Fava Beans are not only delicious, they are nutrient dense, which means they provide a lot of nutrients for a relatively small number of calories. Fava beans, also called broad beans, are very high in protein and dietary fiber and loaded with beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, important phytonutrients and minerals, including iron which is harder to come by for those on a vegetarian diet.

20150424_195217

TIPS:  In figuring out how many Fava beans to buy, keep in mind that one cup of fava beans turns into about a half cup once they are shelled.  A large bunch of pods (1 pound) will yield only about a cup of shelled beans depending on size.  The smaller beans are sweeter and more tender than the larger ones and cooking times vary but only by a minute or two.

20150424_194412

CROSTINI WITH FAVA BEANS, SPRING ONIONS AND LEMON RICOTTA

1 large bunch(1 lb) fava beans(or 1 cup shelled edamame, peas or lima beans)
1 spring onion or 2 scallions (white part only)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 slices ciabatta or sourdough bread (or about a dozen baguette slices)

Ricotta Mixture:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 Tbsn lemon juice (reserve lemon zest)
1/2 teaspoon salt

20150424_180944

  • Remove fava beans from their outer pod by cutting or bending the tip and ‘unzipping’ them by pulling the side string off.

20150424_182829

  • The shells also need to be removed.  Either slice and peel them off and then boil the beans for 1-2 minutes (depending on their size) or  boil in their shells for 3-4 minutes and then remove the shells by cutting or squeezing them out.  Either way, it’s a two step process. Very young fava beans may not need to be shelled and can be eaten raw or par boiled for 30 seconds.

20150424_191317

  • Run cold water over cooked beans to stop the cooking process and set aside.

20150424_175758

  • Combine all Ricotta ingredients and set aside to let the flavors develop.

20150424_191812

  • Thinly slice the spring onion and slice mint and basil into ribbons (also known as chifonnade)

20150424_192540

  • Combine fava beans, onion, mint, basil, lemon zest and olive oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

20150424_193639

  • Broil bread slices in a single layer for several minutes on each side until golden brown.

20150424_194017

  • Top each slice of bread with ricotta mixture and then top with a spoonful of fava beans.

20150424_195208

  • Serve whole or cut in half at room temperature (and kiss your Mom).

Crostini with Fava Beans & Lemon Ricotta

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150424_194412

1 large bunch fava beans(or 1 cup shelled edamame, peas or lima beans)
1 spring onion or 2 scallions (white part only)
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 slices ciabatta or sourdough bread (or about a dozen baguette slices)

Ricotta Mixture:
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
2 Tbsn lemon juice (reserve lemon zest)
1/2 teaspoon salt

  • Remove fava beans from their outer pod by cutting or bending the tip and ‘unzipping’ them by pulling the side string off.  The shells also need to be removed.  Either slice and peel them off and then boil the beans for 1-2 minutes (depending on their size) or  boil fin their shells for 3-4 minutes and then remove their shells by cutting or squeezing them out.  Either way, it’s a two step process. Run cold water over cooked beans to stop the cooking process and set aside.
  • Combine all Ricotta ingredients and set aside to let the flavors develop.
  • Thinly slice the spring onion and slice mint and basil into ribbons (also known as chifonnade)
  • Combine fava beans, onion, mint, basil, lemon zest and olive oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Broil bread slices in a single layer for several minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Top each slice of bread with ricotta mixture and then top with a spoonful of fava beans.
  • Serve at room temperature (and kiss your Mom).

Meatless Monday – Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach & Morel Mushrooms

3

20150422_191600

50 Shades of…. Spring.  Israeli Couscous, sometimes called pearl couscous (especially in the U.S.) or even Maftoul (aka Palestinian couscous), is the perfect backdrop for this lovely dish featuring spring’s finest;  asparagus, baby spinach, morel mushrooms and sweet peas topped with lemon zest and fresh herbs.  This is another easy and delicious dinner you can get on the table in about 20 minutes.  It’s so pretty it doesn’t look like a nutritional powerhouse but it happens to be loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber.  All of the vegetables are low in fat and calories but high in food value, and all four are surprising sources of protein.  Morels are also a great source of Iron and Vitamin D. For another boost of nutrients use whole wheat couscous.

20150422_183648
So what is couscous anyway?  I’ve been wanting to make this dish for a while and I even tried to get away with making it during Passover with the claim that Israeli couscous should be kosher for Passover, until I was advised by my son, Eric, that couscous is actually a pasta product made with wheat.  I never gave it much thought but I suppose I always thought it was it’s own grain, like quinoa or bulgur.  Whoops!  Pearled couscous is larger than traditional couscous and round and smooth like a small pearl. It has a wonderful chewy consistency and makes a delicious and attractive base that showcases whatever you toss it with.  If you are unable to find pearled couscous, orzo, which is a rice shaped pasta product, would be a good substitute.  This spring dish is mostly shades of green (perhaps not quite 50) except for the splash of color given by the lemon zest.  Other good and coorful vegetable choices would be strips of sauteed red bell pepper or carrots.
TIPS: If you want to make this more filling, add a sprinkle of feta cheese or drained and rinsed garbanzo beans.
20150422_191706
ISRAELI COUSCOUS WITH ASPARAGUS, SPINACH AND MOREL MUSHROOMS
8 oz couscous
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup morel mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, slivered
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest from one lemon
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ Cup feta (optional)
20150422_185439
  • Cook couscous in 1 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil covered until al dente (8-10 minutes).  While couscous is cooking trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Slice larger morel mushrooms in halves or quarters but leave smaller mushrooms whole. Chop parsely and chop or slice garlic into slivers.

20150422_190008

  • In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute mushrooms and garlic 2-3 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.

20150422_190400p

  • Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes. Pour vegetable broth around the asparagus and reduce a few minutes.

20150422_190721

  • Add peas and the morels.  Simmer 4- 5 minutes. Asparagus should be cooked but still bright green and slightly al dente.

20150422_190902

  • Fold spinach in until just wilted.

20150422_191150

  • Stir couscous into vegetable mix.

20150422_191252

  • To serve top with lemon zest and parsley.  Sprinkle with feta if desired.

Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Spinach and Morel Mushrooms

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150422_191600

8 oz Couscous
1 bunch asparagus
1 cup morel mushrooms (or other wild mushrooms)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cups baby spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, slivered
⅓ cup olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley
Zest from one lemon
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (if needed)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ Cup feta (optional)
  • Cook couscous in 1 1/3 cup water and 1 Tablespoon olive oil covered until al dente (8-10 minutes).  While couscous is cooking trim asparagus and cut into 2 inch pieces.  Slice larger morel mushrooms in halves or quarters but leave smaller mushrooms whole.
  • In a large saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil and saute mushrooms and garlic 2-3 minutes then remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add asparagus to the pan and saute a few minutes
  • Pour vegetable broth around the asparagus, add peas and the morels back in.  Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Fold spinach in until just wilted.
  • Stir couscous into vegetable mix.
  • To serve top with lemon zest and parsley.

Wheatless Wednesday – Pacific Cod with Lemon, Wine and Olives

2

20150419_145531

When I think about Mediterranean food, I picture of bowls of briny, herbed olives, tomatoes and marinated vegetables with fresh mozzarella and fruity red wine served outside in a warm but shady spot in the garden.  A fantasy?  Perhaps, but not if you are in Southern Italy – or pretending to be… We have all heard about the heart healthy benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, but what is it?

 The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece,Southern Italy and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.  ( Wikipedia )

Wait, that sounds alot like what I eat (minus the meat).  I guess I’m on the Mediterranean Diet!  Now to just go back to Italy…

20150417_184135

This delicious recipe, which I adapted from from Real Simple, is Mediterranean in flavor and ingredients.  A light, white fish like cod, halibut or seabass is drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with olives, lemon zest and red pepper flakes then roasted in white wine. I used both castelvetrano and kalamata olives. I love their color combination but they both have different flavors to offer.  Castelvetrano olives originate in Sicily and they  are sweet and buttery while Kalamatas, from Southern Greece, are rich and meaty.   The resulting dish is simple but flavorful and takes less than 30 minutes, start to finish.  Roasted Pacific Cod can be served with a salad for a light entree or over a bed of couscous or rice for a heartier meal. Don’t forget to spoon some of the yummy wine sauce over the top!

20150417_210108

TIPS: When choosing fish from the market, make sure it’s considered a healthy and sustainable source.  The easiest way to do so is to go to the Seafood Watch website and enter the name of the fish you are considering.  You will get an instant response, Best Choice, Good Alternative or Avoid.  They also offer a handy Phone App so you can type it in while you are in line at the seafood counter.  For example, Seafood Watch tells me that Pacific Cod which is live caught in the U.S. is considered  Best Choice, whereas, Pacific Cod from Japan and Russia and some of  Atlantic Cod is rated Avoid due to poor or unknown health of cod populations  or questionable fishing practices.  Seafood Watch is a great tool and I highly recommend it.  I use it all the time.

Non olive lovers can omit the olives or substitute marinated red peppers, slivered marinated artichokes, or even capers, especially the large ones.

20150417_211056

ROASTED PACIFIC COD WITH LEMON, WINE AND OLIVES
2 lbs Pacific cod (or other white fish like halibut, rockfish or seabass)
1 Tbsn olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup green Castelvetrano olives (pitted and sliced in half)
1/2 cup black kalamata olives (pitted)
1 Tbsn lemon zest (from one lemon)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
20150417_183835
  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Rinse and dry fish and place the fish in a single layer in a roasting pan.

20150417_185404

  • Add enough wine to reach halfway up the sides of the fish. Scatter the olives and lemon zest on top of the fish. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, pepper and the red pepper.

20150417_205418

  • Roast until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (longer depending on thickness of fish).

20150417_210741

  • Sprinkle with the parsley and divide the fish among individual plates and spoon the olives and wine sauce over the top.

Pacific Cod with Lemon, Wine and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150419_145531

2 lbs Pacific cod (or other white fish like halibut, rockfish or seabass)
1 Tbsn olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup green Castelvetrano olives (pitted)
1/2 cup black kalamata olives (pitted)
1 Tbsn lemon zest (from one lemon)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.  Slice olives in half and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry fish and place the fish in a single layer in a roasting pan.
  • Add enough wine to reach halfway up the sides of the fish. Scatter the olives and lemon zest on top of the fish. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, pepper and the red pepper.
  • Roast until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (longer depending on thickness of fish).
  • Sprinkle with the parsley.
  • Divide the fish among individual plates and spoon the olives and wine sauce over the top.

Meatless Monday – Pan Seared Artichokes with Blackened Garlic

6

20150418_161538

Mmmm… finger lickin’ good! I have made artichokes many times but never pan seared and I probably won’t go back.  These are seriously good!  My Mom used to serve platters of steamed artichokes that we dipped in mayo.  I remember leaving piles and piles of spent artichoke leaves lined with teeth marks on my plate   I still love them cooked that way, simple and homey, but as a food blogger I like to try new things and this one is a keeper!  Searing the artichoke wedges instead of steaming them, intensifies their flavor.  And if you haven’t tried burnt blackened garlic cloves, you’re missing out.  When they are cooked at a higher heat or for a longer period of time, they lose their pungent, sharp quality and become sweet and caramelly so you can safely (and eagerly) eat them whole without getting garlicky dragon breath.   After searing the artichokes, I added lemon zest, salt and pepper and let them steam in sherry and water while they reduce into a sauce. Delish and less than 20 minutes!  Recipe adapted from a Cook Fresh, Spring 2015 recipe for Pan Seared Artichokes with Sherry Vinegar and Thyme.

20150417_183438

The globe artichoke is a variety of a species of thistle which has been cultivated as a food. The part that we eat is actually a flower bud that hasn’t bloomed yet.  Once the flowers bloom, they are quite striking with their vivid purple blossoms but they are no longer good to eat.

Arthichokes are low in calories and fat, and a rich source of dietary fiber and anti-oxidants. B vitamins, and a great source of  Vitamin K (good for bone health) and a whole host of minerals including Potassium, Copper and Iron (all necessary for heart and blood health).  If you want to make this a meal, serve the artichokes over a simple pasta tossed with butter or olive oil or on top of a leafy green salad with tomatoes and olives.

TIPS: I thought these pan seared artichokes were good just on their own and I loved the blackened garlic too,  however, if you can’t imagine eating artichokes without a creamy dip, try making an Aioli with some of the blackened garlic, mayo or yogurt, lemon and salt and pepper.  A sprinkle of parmesan could be good too!

20150418_164407

PAN SEARED ARTICHOKES WITH BLACKENED GARLIC

2 large artichokes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsn lemon juice – to prevent browning (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme, chopped

AIOLI DIPPING SAUCE  (Optional)

1 cup mayo (or half plain yogurt/ half mayo)
8 blackened garlic halves
1 Tbsn grated lemon zest
2 Tbsn fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black  pepper
1/2 tsp salt

20150417_191338

 

  • Trim artichoke stems to about 1/2 inch and remove the top inch by cutting straight across. Remove tough lower leaves. Using kitchen shears (or a knife) cut sharp points off each artichoke leaf (optional)

20150417_191416

  • Cut artichoke in half vertically.

20150417_190150

  • Cut each half in half and remove choke (the hairy center and purple inner leaves)

20150417_191901

  • Cut in half again.  You should have 8 wedges for each artichoke.  You can place the wedges in water with lemon juice to keep them from browning until you are ready (optional)

20150417_192104

  •  Drain artichokes and toss with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon).

20150417_193324

  • Combine sherry with 1/3 cup water and set aside. Peel and slice garlic in half.  Roughly chop fresh herbs.

20150417_193408

 

  • Heat remaining oil in a heavy skillet on medium high and place artichoke wedges in a single layer one cut side down and sprinkle with garlic.  Cook until browned, 3 to five minutes.

20150417_193831

  • Turn each wedge to brown the other cute side, another 3 minutes or so.

20150417_194212

  • Turn wedges onto their curved side.  Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest.  Reduce heat to low, add the sherry mixture, cover and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the artichockes are tender, about 5 minutes.  If they don’t seem quite done, leave covered until ready to serve.

20150418_161348

  • Sprinkle with fresh  herbs. Serve hot or at room temperature with lots of napkins. If using  Aioli, combine all ingredients  until smooth and serve on the side.

Pan Seared Artichoke with Blackened Garlic

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20150418_161538

2 large artichokes
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup sherry
6-8 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsn lemon juice – to prevent browning (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme, chopped

AIOLI DIPPING SAUCE  (Optional)

1 cup mayo (or half plain yogurt/ half mayo)
8 blackened garlic halves (mashed or pureed)
1 Tbsn grated lemon zest
2 Tbsn fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon black  pepper
1/2 tsp salt

  • Trim artichoke stems to about 1/2 inch and remove the top inch by cutting straight across. Remove tough lower leaves.
  • Using kitchen shears (or a knife) cut sharp points off each artichoke leaf (optional)
  • Cut artichoke in half vertically.
  • Cut each half in half and remove choke (the hairy center and purple inner leaves)
  • Cut in half again.  You should have 8 wedges for each artichoke.  You can place the wedges in water with lemon juice to keep them from browning until you are ready (optional)
  •  Drain artichokes and toss with a drizzle of olive oil (about 1 Tablespoon).
  • Combine sherry with 1/3 cup water and set aside
  • Heat remaining oil in a heavy skillet on medium high and place artichoke wedges in a single layer one cut side down and sprinkle with garlic.  Cook until browned, 3 to five minutes.
  • Turn each wedge to brown the other cute side, another 3 minutes or so.
  • Turn wedges onto their curved side.  Season with salt and pepper and lemon zest.  Reduce heat to low, add the sherry mixture, cover and simmer until the liquid has reduced and the artichockes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Leave covered until ready to serve.
  • Sprinkle with fresh  herbs. Serve hot or at room temperature with lots of napkins.
  • If using  Aioli, combine all ingredients  until smooth and serve on the side.

Meatless Monday – Penne Pasta with Asparagus & Kale

0

20150310_195733

Thinking green for tomorrow?  Asparagus is in season, so it must be spring!  Hey it’s a spring vegetable and I’ve always considered asparagus a harbinger of spring even though I know spring doesn’t officially begin until the 2oth.  My Dad used to pile us kids into the car on sunny spring Saturday mornings, and head out to the countryside, armed with sharp knives and plastic bread bags (which ‘back in the day’ were used for everything including snow shoe coverings) to ‘hunt’ for wild asparagus.  Of course, now I know that some of the fields were really abandoned asparagus farms that were turned into open space after big business moved in, which was why asparagus were so abundant and easy for little kids to find.  Sometimes we would feel inclined to sample a particularly tender young spear right on the spot.  My brothers and sisters and I loved the hunter-gatherer experience and would return home flush with our victory spoils.  Then my Mom would make a huge pile of steamed asparagus for dinner.  Yum!   Just for fun I found a photo of asparagus growing in the wild compliments of Wild Asparagus Growing.  Brings back memories.

asparagus

This pasta dish is so delicious and it’s simplicity is refreshing in that it has minimal ingredients and you can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less.  That already makes it a big winner in my book… however, we can also talk about how good it is for you too.  You already know that Kale is a nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins and minerals.  But did you know that kale has more health benefitting phytochemicals than an other leafy green veggie?  Yeah, there’s a reason so many people are riding the kale train.

20150310_183145

Asparagus is no slouch itself.  Here are five things you may not know about asparagus:

  1. It’s loaded with nutrients: Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
  2. It is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals.
  3. Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, according to preliminary research, may help slow the aging process.
  4. Another anti-aging property of this delicious spring veggie is that it may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to help prevent cognitive impairment. In a study from Tufts University, older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 performed better on a test of response speed and mental flexibility. (If you’re 50-plus, be sure you’re getting enough B12: your ability to absorb it decreases with age.)
  5. One more benefit of asparagus: It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body’s tissues) and those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.

So there you have it.  Simple, delicious and will make you live longer and healthier, younger and smarter.  What a combo!  Eat up!

20150310_195959

PENNE PASTA WITH ASPARAGUS AND KALE

3/4 lb penne pasta (preferably whole grain)
1 small bunch kale
1 bunch asparagus
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsn butter
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup scallions or spring onions, chopped
zest from one lemon
1 Tbsn fresh thyme
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded or flaked

20150310_185650

  • Cook pasta according to directions.  Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining. Wash and prepare vegetables.

20150310_183336

  • Stack kale leaves and slice them sideways into julienne strips.  If your kale has a prominent center rib, remove it first. Discard the stems.

20150310_194012

  • Saute the kale and garlic in the butter and oil for several minutes.

20150310_194149

  • Cut the asparagus into 2 inch pieces and add to kale. Saute for about 5 minutes. Kale should be soft and asparagus softened but still slightly al dente.

20150310_195156

  • Turn off heat and add lemon zest, spring onions and thyme and stir

20150310_195733

  • Add pasta and parmesan, if using, and toss to combine, adding pasta water to desired consistency.

20150310_195712

  • To serve, top with more parmesan, if desired.

20150310_195959

Penne Pasta with Asparagus and Kale

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150310_195733

3/4  lb penne pasta (preferably whole grain)
1 small bunch kale
1 bunch asparagus
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsn butter
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 cup scallions or spring onions, chopped
zest from one lemon
1 Tbsn fresh thyme
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded or flaked

  • Cook pasta according to directions.  Scoop out and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water before draining.
  • Stack kale leaves and slice them sideways into julienne strips.  If your kale has a prominent center rib, remove it first. Discard the stems.
  • Saute the kale in the butter and oil for several minutes.
  • Cut the asparagus into 2 inch pieces and add to kale. Saute for about 5 minutes. Kale should be soft and asparagus softened but still slightly al dente.
  • Turn off heat and add lemon zest, spring onions and thyme and stir
  • Add pasta and parmesan, toss to combine, adding pasta water to desired consistency.
  • Top with more parmesan, if desired.

Meatless Monday -Pasta with Fried Lemons, Kale & Chili Flakes

4

Pasta with Fried Lemon13

Fried Lemon?  Yes, you read correctly.  Even the lowly potato is turned from wallflower into the life of the party when fried in oil, so just imagine what frying can do to a crowd pleaser like the lemon! I have a Meyer Lemon tree outside my kitchen door which is exploding with lemons.  Most lemon trees have two crops a year, a summer crop and a winter crop which, surprisingly is the larger of the two. The winter crop is right now so lemons should be plentiful and inexpensive.   My freak of nature tree, however, has lemons all year around and right now it is so heavily laden with fruit that branches are bending under the weight.  Just take a look at this bounty! I can’t even get the whole tree in the photo.  It might be time to make some more Limoncello

Pasta with Fried Lemon15

It has become a job (a fun one) to figure out how to use all my lemons, and not just sending every visitor home with bags full. So when I see a new way to use lemons, I get excited, especially when the lemon is treated as an actual fruit and not just a flavoring.  In fact, lemons are so good for us, we would all do well to include more of them in our diets.  A Care2 Article lists 16 health benefits of eating lemons and how they are good for our bodies, beyond the big dose of Vitamin C they provide.  Even though lemons are acidic in taste, they are one of the most alkaline-forming foods in our bodies which helps restore our pH balance.  Lemons also stimulate  our livers and cleanses our bowels, to name only a few benefits of the wonderful lemon.  I have seen a couple of recipes lately for fried lemon and after researching the various techniques, I decided to try the method in which thinly sliced lemon wheels are dredged in flour and fried in oil until golden brown and crispy.  I was not disappointed.  Fried lemons are delicious, a perfect combination of crispy,  salty, chewy and tart.  They make a great garnish and will elevate even a simple dish into something more elegant.  I decided to revamp a favorite but simple recipe that I have done in the past, Garlicky Kale Pasta with Lemon and Parmesan, using the same ingredients but a different technique.  This time I fried the lemons into crispy little wheels and sauteed julienned Dino Kale in butter, olive oil, garlic and chili flakes.  Tossed together with spaghetti, delicious!

Pasta with Fried Lemon7

TIPS:  If you are not a devout believer in kale, spinach would make a great substitute, just reduce the cooking time or the spinach will get too soft.  Meyer lemons are sweeter and less acidic than the typical grocery store lemon, usually the Eureka lemon.  It also has a thinner skin and the pith is not so pronounced or bitter, making it perfectly suitable for eating whole, however, Eureka lemons can be used as well.  Some recipes suggested blanching the slices first in boiling water and adding a pinch of sugar to the flour before frying to reduce the bitterness, so that is worth a try if you are not using Meyer lemons.  Otherwise, add whatever fresh herbs you have available.  You can’t go wrong.

Pasta with Fried Lemon12

PASTA WITH FRIED LEMONS, KALE AND CHILI FLAKES

3-4 lemons (preferably Meyer Lemon)
1/2 pound spaghetti (or other pasta shape)
2 Tbsn extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 Tbsn unsalted butter (or use more oil)
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsn fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
¾ tsp chile flakes, more to taste
1 bunch dino kale or spinach
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Pasta with Fried Lemon7

  • Prepare fried lemon (1 or 2 lemons)  according to directions below and set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions, drain, reserving a half cup of cooking liquid.

Pasta with Fried Lemon4

  • While the pasta is cooking, finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside.

Pasta with Fried Lemon5

  • Cut the center rib from the kale (if using) and slice the kale into 1/2 inch strips about 4 inches long.

Pasta with Fried Lemon3

  • Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chile flakes, thyme and lemon zest (reserving some for garnish) and cook until fragrant.

Pasta with Fried Lemon2

  • Add kale and saute about five minutes, or until softened.

Pasta with Fried Lemon1

  • Toss in pasta and reserved pasta water.  If you like it extra lemony, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with the carmelized lemons and parmesan cheese, if using and garnish with additional lemon zest.

Pasta with Fried Lemon9

FRIED LEMONS

1-2 lemons (preferably Meyer Lemon)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup oil (olive, coconut or avocado)

Pasta with Fried Lemon10

  • Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or pie pan and set aside.
  • Slice unpeeled lemon into paper-thin slices and remove any seeds.
  • Heat olive oil in a brimmed skillet on the stove on medium-high until hot.

Pasta with Fried Lemon8

  • Dredge each lemon slice in the flour mixture, shake off any excess and place in the oil.

Pasta with Fried Lemon11

  • Cook for approximately 1 minute on each side until browned.  Remove from heat and let cool on a paper towel. They will crisp as they cool.

Pasta with Fried Lemon7

  •  Serve as a garnish or stir them into pasta or salad

Pasta with Fried Lemon, Kale and Chili Flakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Pasta with Fried Lemon13

3-4 lemons (preferably Meyer Lemon)
1/2 pound spaghetti (or other pasta shape)
2 Tbsn extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
2 Tbsn unsalted butter (or use more oil)
5-6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsn fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
¾ tsp chile flakes, more to taste
1 bunch dino kale or spinach
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Prepare fried lemon (1 or 2 lemons)  according to directions below and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions, drain, reserving a half cup of cooking liquid.
  • While the pasta is cooking, finely zest 2 of the lemons and set aside.
  • Cut the center rib from the kale (if using) and slice the kale into 1/2 inch strips about 4 inches long.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chile flakes, thyme and lemon zest (reserving some for garnish) and cook until fragrant.
  • Add kale and sautee about five minutes, or until softened.
  • Toss in pasta and reserved pasta water.  If you like it extra lemony, add a squeeze of lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the carmelized lemons and parmesan cheese, if using.
  • Garnish with additional lemon zest.

FRIED LEMONS

1-2 lemons (preferably Meyer Lemon)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup oil (olive, coconut or avocado)

  • Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl or pie pan and set aside.
  • Slice unpeeled lemon into paper-thin slices.
  • Heat olive oil in a brimmed skillet on the stove on medium-high until hot.
  • Dredge each lemon slice in the flour mixture, shake off any excess and place in the oil.
  • Cook for approximately 1 minute on each side until browned.  Remove from heat and let cool on a paper towel. They will crisp as they cool.
  • Serve as a garnish or stir them into pasta or salad