My kids are in the home stretch of their school year and, as the last day of school draw closer, things have been getting busier and busier. I am enjoying their futsal games, swim and soccer classes and helping out more with field trips, fundraisers, classroom, and schoolwide activities. At the same time, I have needed to balance their school and extracurriculars with my other needs: exercise (my sanity keeper!), cooking, and household chores. In addition, it didn't help blogging matters that the couple of times I did find myself with time enough to be creative in the kitchen, my dessert attempts were complete failures! These wasted precious time, energy, and not-so-cheap ingredients while also zapping my kitchen confidence and enthusiasm.
|The pitiful results of my attempt at making a vegan chocolate cream roll.|
Having lost my baking mojo, I needed to find a recipe to get me back in the cooking mood. I decided to go for a simple pasta dish (yeah, not a baked dessert -- I'm still licking my wounds from my recent cake failures). I found a recipe on Pink Parsley Blog and knew it would be a perfect dish to try.
This dish is so easy, I've made it multiple times for my kids and they have loved it every time. I added to the dish by incorporating some nutrient-rich leafy greens. If kale isn't your thing, I have used spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, and chopped red bell pepper with yummy results. And definitely add in Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds as it makes for a delicious faux Parmesan cheese. The ultra thin, short shreds have the right texture and taste that adds a punch to pasta dishes. If you do not have a Trader Joe's near you, rumor has it that Galaxy Foods is the supplier for Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella shreds.
A quick word about kitchen tools: I bought a Microplane grater last year on the advice of one of my son's preschool teachers. It makes grating lemon zest so easy. I tried this with fresh ginger with less-than-ideal results (I stick with a normal, little handled grater for that). I'm not sure how it does with hard cheeses because we are a milk-free house due to food allergies. Having said that, I still love mine even though I only use it for citrus zest!
Pasta with Garlic and Lemon
Adapted from Pink Parsley's recipe for pasta with garlic, olive oil, and lemon
1 lb dry pasta (regular, whole wheat, gluten-free -- any pasta will do!)
Leaves of 1 to 2 bunches of kale, washed and torn into small pieces
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 cloves of garlic, minced
Dried or freshly chopped basil, oregano, or parsley (optional)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 cup of Trader Joe's vegan mozzarella cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Boil pasta to al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Then drain and rinse completely to halt cooking process.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil over medium heat. (I use the same pot that I used for cooking the noodles.) Add kale leaves to the pot and some salt. Cook the kale, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove kale from heat and to a separate plate when the leaves have begun to wilt from cooking.
- Heat up more olive oil (start with 1/4 cup) in the pot. Add red pepper flakes and minced garlic to the oil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring to avoid browning or burning the garlic.
- When garlic starts to turn golden, toss in pasta noodles. Mix in basil, oregano, and/or parsley to taste. Toss pasta.
- Add cooked kale, lemon juice, and zest and toss pasta to mix.
- If the pasta looks a little dry, feel free to add small amounts of the reserved cooking liquid, more olive oil, or more lemon juice.
- When the pasta is well-coated with sauce, remove from heat. Add in the vegan cheese.
- Taste test the pasta and add in more salt, pepper, lemon, or vegan cheese as needed.
Here's to some easy meals this summer. After a long school year, we all deserve a little break!