Arugula Pesto Pasta

I don’t have much to say about this recipe except that we eat it constantly, it’s super easy to make, and I thought for sure I’d posted it here already, but a quick search revealed otherwise.

Other fun things my search revealed: the top search term for people finding this website is “chicks”. And the top post is naturally … “Chicks” So now I know a foolproof way to drive people to your site – ambiguous titles that are sexually suggestive in nature. Score.

Things are looking on the up and up here in the land of dreams. The weather has finally turned, my first Fleet Week aka Blue Angel spectacular is next weekend, and I’ve checked out a lot of fun new places recently. I realized I’m just about hitting the year mark of living here (craaay-zy) which is right when a place starts to feel more like home and less like an extended vacation. I’m shooting for both.

Arugula Pesto Pasta

Ingredients
1 box whole wheat linguine
4 huge handfuls arugula
6 tbs. pesto (alternatively you can make your own)
2 tbs. large capers, drained
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
Shaved romano cheese (optional)

Instructions
Could. Not. Be. Easier.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain, then pour into a large bowl. Mix pesto with pasta to taste. We use an awesome local brand (which unfortunately has cheese) but you can make your own if you’re crafty like that.

Next, mix in arugula, capers and tomatoes. Top with cheese if desired.

Growing up, we always had a side salad with our pasta. This is like pasta and a salad all in one!

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Late Summer Heirloom Salad

It hit 83 degrees in San Francisco today. Last week there was a heat advisory. True story.

Tahoe. We went to escape the cold and it was 60 degrees and windy for the only weekend this summer. Still beautiful though.

All I can say is this semi-heat wave is more than welcome given our overly chilly summer. If I have to read one more blog post about how “it was so hot, I just wanted a fresh salad” or “I couldn’t even think about turning on the oven” or “so I had some fresh watermelon” while huddling in my hoodie eating Asian comfort food … I’ll have to move to San Diego or something.

Last week during the heat advisory we were reminded why we don’t like it getting too hot around here – there’s no air conditioning. No where. Not in the mansions on top of Pacific Heights, not in the Full House house, and certainly not in my tiny apartment on Filbert St. Because you only need air conditioning about 4 days out of every year, and the night last week was one of them.

It was the kind of night you sleep with a cold washcloth on your head and the window wide open, but the air is too heavy and hot to be of any help. It was pretty fun as a novelty. I took advantage of the heavy heat, two overly ripe heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market, and leftover cooked couscous to make a delicious late summer salad. Well late for you all. My summer’s only just beginning.

Late Summer Heirloom Salad

Serves: 1 hungry, hot person for dinner

Ingredients:
2 large heirloom tomatoes
1 cup cooked couscous
2 tablespoons large capers
2 heaping handfuls arugula lettuce
1 part apple cider vinegar (could sub red wine vinegar)
2 parts olive oil
1 half fresh lemon juice
Cracked S&P to taste

Instructions:
Mix tomatoes through arugula in a large, and I mean large, bowl. Mix vinegar and oil, and dress the salad. Squeeze half a lemon over, and sprinkle salt and pepper. Enjoy with a cold beer or ice tea.

Macrobiotic Fried Noodles

Ever since reading The Kind Diet, I’ve been getting more interested in macrobiotics. This recipe is born of an hour of google searching macrobiotic blogs and recipes and finally settling on a hodgepodge of everything that appealed to me. Because that’s what I do in my free time – google search macrobiotic.

The most curious thing about the macrobiotic diet is that everyone claims they lose weight on it (notables include Gwyneth Paltrow and Ms. Silverstone) yet the main staple is grains, pretty much the opposite viewpoint of South Beach lovers everywhere. I get that they’re whole grains, but when you’re eating a plate full of fried noodles, it just doesn’t seem like diet food, does it? That’s the BEST part.

If you haven’t cooked your own Udon noodles before, they look exactly like dried pasta you’re used to, but you find them in the Asian aisle of your grocery store. Udon noodles are either partly or completely made from rice flour, which gives them a sweeter, nuttier taste.

Macrobiotic Fried Noodles

Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 package dried Udon noodles
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large head bok choy, cut into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, peeled, cut into very thin slices
sesame oil
soy sauce

Instructions:
Cook noodles according to package instructions until just al dente (7-8 minutes). Drain thoroughly. Meanwhile, heat about 1 tbs. sesame oil in a large wok. Add garlic and cook for a minute. Add onion slices and cook until almost translucent, about 4 minutes. If needed, add a little water to keep from sticking. Season with black pepper while cooking.

Add mushrooms and carrots and a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil each. Cook until mushrooms are just tender, about 4 more minutes. Add drained pasta on top of the vegetable mixture along with another 1-2 tbs. soy sauce. Do NOT mix. Top with chopped bok choy and cover the wok. Cook covered for 2-3 minutes until bok choy is still crisp, but not bitter.

To finish, mix together and season to taste with more soy sauce and pepper, if needed.

**Edited to add: The first time I made this, I had some fresh scallions on hand, so I tossed them in at the same time as the noodles/bok choy. Definitely adds extra flavor and a summery touch!

Ode to My Girls (Beach Time Shrimp)

I’m really lucky.

Every year I get to go to Florida with all of my best girl friends from college for a weekend of tanning, crazy dancing, and general gluttany.

I know how special this is and how few people get to see their close friends with this kind of regularity. It’s especially valuable time to me since I haven’t lived in the same city as any of them in the over four years since college (mental math, yes I’m getting old).

The literal cherry on top is that all of these girls appreciate great food right along with me and we get the run of a huge kitchen + patio grill to come up with “family” dinners every night. And doesn’t food taste the best after a day in the sun and water, when you’ve washed the sand out of your hair, and you’re all cleaned up, sipping a cocktail in a sundress as the sun goes down? Hint of lime chips certainly do.

This recipe is a favorite summertime staple from our hosts. The recipe uses frozen bags of shrimp so it’s easy to have it ready quickly for a big group (another plus because our group is BIG and hungry). It also cooks in the oven (quickly) so you can save your grill for appetizers (kielbasa) or slabs of fish (I told you our group gets hungry). Finally, I’ve recreated this dish at home and G really liked it so you have proof that this tastes just as good when you’re not at the beach with your girl friends. Well, maybe almost as good.

Ashley Family Garlic Pepper Shrimp

There are no finished pictures because, well, they didn’t last that long. These are peel and eat shrimp so you serve them with the shells still on and with plenty of white, carby bread to soak up the drool-worthy juices.

Ingredients:

Bag of frozen shrimp with the shells/tails still on (defrosted)
Butter
Garlic (canned)
Worcester sauce
Lots of cracked black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay your shrimp out on the baking sheet in one layer. Sprinkle the canned garlic generously over the shrimp.

(Note: I know I said never to use canned garlic. Without exception. But unless you’re willing to chop up all of this garlic yourself, I think vacays call for a little relaxation from the rules, don’t you?)

Distribute thick pats of butter over the shrimp as shown in the above picture. Pour worcester sauce generously over the shrimp (this plus the butter and shrimp juices will make the sauce you want to sop up later). Generously coat the shrimp in cracked black pepper.

So far I’ve used the word “generously” three times in these directions. This is purposeful. Be generous. Especially with the pepper.

Bake until shrimp is pink and opaque (about 7-10 minutes).

Serve with side salad, red wine, and best friends.

Curry Sweet Potato Fries

When I see curry fries on the menu, I order them. I hope you do the same.

The best are from Marvin in DC – don’t be fooled by their website. That place is way more “lounge” than “restaurant,” but they sure pump out some crazy good curry fries. 15 Romolo in North Beach takes second place for my favorite curry fries, and was the inspiration for this recipe.

To avoid deep fried white potatoes, and the cocktails I would surely need to compliment them, I experimented with the typical sweet potato oven fries, Indian spices, and a glorious amount of olive oil. These would be great as a side snack with a spicy black bean burger at your summer bbq, or you can serve them on their own with fun, creamy dipping sauces.

Curry Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:
1 large sweet potato
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (about 8 tbs.)
2 heaping teaspoons Curry Power
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
Generous shake of Garlic Salt
Cracked Black Pepper

Instructions:
I’m always hesitant to provide amounts for spices in my recipes since it really IS all about taste preference, but suffice to say, you probably can NOT over season these. Don’t go light on the curry powder – you will regret it. I used black pepper for my spice, but I think a few pinches of garam masala would go a long way too.

Cut up your sweet potato into fry form. I saw a fantastic “la technique” episode with Bourdain the other day where his sou chef made homemade french fries and was impressed at how he cut them so precisely. I think I came pretty close to replicating this time.

Heat your oil in a shallow pan on medium high heat for 1 minute. Add all curry powder and heat until fragrant (another two minutes). Toss fries with heated curry oil and all remaining spices. Bake at 375 degrees until crispy (about 30 minutes).

These are iphone photos. My camera is MIA. Not a good excuse, but at least somewhat of a reason why all blogging has ceased. I think they came out pretty gorgeous anyway!

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

I loved reading your guesses for which were the lies and which were the truths. The best is that my mom didn’t know the answer either, but that’s because I’m so tricky!

The answer is: #6. My favorite meal I’ve ever had was ham and cheese on a roll.

Food Network has this new show, “The best thing I ever ate” that follows the channel’s stars around the world to see all their favorite meals. The commercials specify it’s not what you eat every day, it’s not the most outrageous thing you ever ate, it is, by the stars own definition of “best,” the best thing you ever ate.

That’s what got me thinking. When traveling in Asturias, in Northern Spain, I hiked up a snowy mountain with my professor and class in the drizzling, cold rain – up to a farmhouse where my professor’s friend waited with prosciutto cured from the farm’s pigs, chunky, spreadable blue cheese made on site with milk from its cows, and crunchy yet soft baguettes. This simple sandwich is without a doubt, “the best thing I ever ate.”

Instead of passing on the award, I’d love to hear your stories of the best thing you ever ate. If you want to email pictures, I’ll run it as a guest post (lceatslentils@gmail.com) or just leave your story in the comments.

I’ll leave you with my favorite thing I’m eating right now. Marinara pizza topped with fat, briny capers and fresh, crunchy arugula. I had it for the first time at Tony’s, my go-to SF pizza spot. Tony’s Web site claims he’s won numerous awards for his sauce, and I believe it. It’s incredibly authentic and sweet without being too sweet. Combine that with cooked capers and peppery arugula and you’ve got a winning combination.

Make it yourself with TJ’s whole wheat dough, Muir Glenn organic tomato sauce, canned capers, and local arugula, which should just be appearing in your farmer’s market. Let your pizza broil on high for a minute or two at the end to get that wood-fired look. Top with arugula.

So let’s hear it! What’s the best thing you ever ate?

Back from Hiatus aka Springtime Pasta Primavera

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. How long? I forgot my password to WordPress long. True story. I had to try it three times; good thing WordPress doesn’t lock you out.

Somehow, I have no problem remembering how to log into CBS Sportsline to check my doomed bracket. How doomed? Better than the girl in my office who went to Gonzaga, better than the President’s, but still Lousiville and Kansas in the final four doomed. Wow, that Louisville pick was harder to admit than I expected.

But, as I’m an eternal optimist, let’s look on the bright side!

Kenzie, from A Healthy Purpose, (and also from my hometown), gave me the Creative Writer award! Thank you, Kenzie! You reminded me why I spend time away from my kindle, HBO, the gym, happy hour, and my boyfriend (in no particular order) to blog. Because it’s creative. And fun spending time with you all. (Awards at the end. I’d love to say “After the jump” but let’s face it, my blog structure isn’t quite up to that yet.)

Also on the bright side, I have a springtime favorite of a recipe to share with you. I’ve made this same recipe with dozens of variations so apologies if the instructions are less than exact. It looks intimidating when you see all the ingredients, but really, it’s very simple on the seasoning (garlic + lemon) and can be made with anything that looks good at your farmer’s market this spring. Just don’t leave out the arugula and the cherry tomatoes – they make it.

Springtime Pasta Primavera

Serves 2 very hungry people

Ingredients:

1/2 box whole wheat linguine
Dried oregano
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 cloves garlic
White wine (optional)
Veggie broth (can use Chicken for a sweeter flavor)
1 large juicy lemon
2 small broccoli crowns, cut into bite sized florets
1/4 red pepper, julienned
1/4 green pepper, julienned
1/4 onion, sliced into strips
2 small zucchini
1 generous handful arugula
About 20 small cherry or grape tomatoes

Instructions:
Set a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Heat about 1 tbs. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Drop in the garlic cloves and cook until golden and starting to brown. Pour in white wine until there is about an inch liquid in the pan. If not using, use veggie broth. Add a good amount of dried oregano and let simmer on low-medium heat so the alcohol can burn off. As it reduces, add the veggie broth to keep the sauce at about 1-2 inches deep, continue simmering until ingredients are ready.

Meanwhile, arrange all your sliced veggies on a baking tray, excluding the zucchini (they cook faster). Bake at 350 degrees until broccoli are starting to become tender but still slightly crisp and raw (about 7-10 minutes). Your sauce should just be coming together at this point.

Drop your pasta in the boiling water. Cook according to package instructions. Strain, reserving 1/4 cup starchy cooking liquid.

While pasta is cooking, add the zucchini to your baking sheet and broil on high until the broccoli are nicely crisped and all veggies are tender (about 5-7 minutes).

While veggies are crisping, squeeze half a lemon into your sauce, and add another tbs of olive oil. Throw the cherry tomatoes into the sauce so they’ll warm up and be nice and juicy when you bite into them.

When pasta is done, mix pasta, reserved liquid, and arugula right in your saucepan. Use tongs to coat pasta evenly. Your arugula will start to wilt. Remove saucepan from heat. Add veggies and mix using tongs. Squeeze the other lemon half over the pasta; season with salt and pepper.

Phew, I forgot all the moving parts to that dish! But it comes together very quickly – the longest time is spent chopping and you can do that ahead of time.

For the Creative Writer award, you have to name seven things about yourself, six untrue. Assuming I have any readers other than my mom left after my hiatus, I invite you to guess which one is true.

1. I was on my high school junior varsity basketball team.
2. I had my first beer when I was 15.
3. I’ve always wanted to visit Asia.
4. I hated tofu as a child.
5. I had an enviable attendance record in college.
6. My favorite meal I’ve ever had was ham and cheese on a roll.
7. My college freshman year roommate was goth.

Thanks for reading such a lengthy post. It feels great to be back.