Mar 25, 2014

Rigatoni with Garlicky White Beans

So here we are several days into spring and I'm still cooking and craving winter foods. And why is that, you may very well ask? Because Mother Nature has decided to ignore the astronomical calendar and instead snow is predicted tonight. That's right, snow. At the end of March.

But instead of whining (or, at least to distract me from it), I've gotten back into the kitchen and revisited a delicious pasta and beans dish I adapted from Smitten Kitchen two months ago but never posted. This was the perfect occasion to remake it, perfect the pictures and write it up! This recipe is hearty and infinitely adaptable. You can use virtually any kind of pasta and any kind of bean. It's a great change of pace from tomato sauces and, even though it's vegan, it's definitely stick-to-your-ribs food. You can serve it with garlic-rosemary oil (instructions below), as we did the first night, but it's also delicious as is, reheated (or not) for leftovers. You can also swirl in a spoonful of pesto, homemade or from a jar. If you are eating peppers, I recommend a dash of red pepper flakes. And if you do want some meat, cook up an Italian sausage (sweet or spicy depending on your mood), chop it up and mix it in with the pasta. Leftovers also make a phenomenal soup. Bon appetit!

Pasta with Garlicky White Beans
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

In a food processor, chop together onion, carrots, celery, 5 cloves garlic, parsley and pepper. (Be careful -- it goes quickly from chopped to pureed.). In a heavy pot over medium heat, heat 1/4 cup olive oil. Add chopped vegetables and sprinkle with salt. Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so they color but don't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot. Add tomato paste, stir, and cook 1 minute. Add water or vegetable broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Simmer 5 minutes.

Add beans and 2 other cups water or vegetable broth. Simmer 15 minutes.

While beans cook, boil water and cook rigatoni according to package directions. Drain well, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Once beans are cooked and tasty, take out 1 cup and add it, along with 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid, into food processor (no need to clean it in between uses!). Puree, then stir back into beans along with rigatoni. Mix well.

While waiting for everything to come together, remove rosemary leaves from stalk and crush remaining 3 cloves garlic. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, heat final 1/4 cup olive oil. Add garlic and rosemary and cook just until starting to color, 2 minutes. Pour hot oil over rigatoni in bowls. Enjoy!


Mar 21, 2014

Pickled Daikon Radish with Onions

Like many Jewish New Yorkers, I grew up eating pickles. I only liked the sour ones and I would refuse any half-sour or (G-d forbid) raw cucumbers. As I put it, I only liked them when they were all grown up! And the only pickles I liked were pickled cucumbers. While my parents got excited about gourmet blends including dill tomatoes, I scoffed and picked out the pickled cucumbers (or "real pickles" as I haughtily called them).

Well, tastes change over time and now I eat cucumbers at all stages of their lives. I also got introduced to other pickled vegetables, first at Korean restaurants and then, as I explored Body Ecology Diet's recommendations of cultured vegetables. I discovered that lots of vegetables were delicious pickled -- greens, carrots and even beets. (I still think pickled tomatoes are a waste of good tomatoes, though.) And, as my tastes became more refined, I found that I liked a little kick in my pickles, be it from garlic, ginger or, as in this recipe, onions.

So when I stumbled across a recipe in Nourishing Traditions for pickled daikon radish, I was intrigued. Radishes often have a bite all their own (although daikon is much more mild). And, while I had never made pickles myself, this way I could control everything that went into them. And we all know how much I enjoy doing that! I ended up adapting this from a recipe from Vegetarian Times. The original called for jalapenos but, since I'm avoiding peppers, I used onions instead for my "kick". These are sweet and fairly mild -- a great addition to a salad or sandwich or, as I did for lunch today, served alongside some fish and fresh tomatoes. Bon appetit!

Pickled Daikon Radish with Onions
Place daikon, carrots, onions and sea salt in a large bowl. Toss well and let sit 1 hour to draw out excess moisture. Drain well, then transfer to jar(s), packing down well. In a small saucepan over high heat, bring vinegar and lucuma to a boil. Whisk until lucuma is completely dissolved (it has a tendency to clump so whisk or stir to dissolve). Pour liquid over vegetable mixture in jar(s). Refrigerate at least 3 hours. You can store these in the refrigerator for quite a while. Enjoy!