June 10, 2013

Pasta with Garlic and Lemon

To echo the sentiments of my blogging "spouse" Sarah, I'm so sorry for being so quiet lately! 

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.
The blog has been patiently waiting its turn as it got temporarily pushed by the wayside by more immediate and urgent to-dos.  I hope, with summer vacation just days away, the blog can makes its ascent back towards the top of my long priority list!  (Here's hoping a lazy summer can help shorten that list, too.)

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!)
Olive oil
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
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. When garlic starts to turn golden, toss in pasta noodles.  Mix in basil, oregano, and/or parsley to taste.  Toss pasta.
  5. Add cooked kale, lemon juice, and zest and toss pasta to mix.  
  6. 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.  
  7. When the pasta is well-coated with sauce, remove from heat.  Add in the vegan cheese.  
  8. 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!


  1. Hi Irene, I just posted a vegan chocolate cake recipe on your Get Allergy Wise FB page. Hope it works for you! Regarding your microplane, if you peel and freeze your ginger, it will grate beautifully frozen. Plus the ginger will last for months in the freezer and not dry out.
    P.S. I'm still wearing the "Food Allergy Rocks" bracelet!

  2. Thanks for the recipe and the microplane tips. I am fond of that vegan chocolate cake recipe. If you hear of a light, barely sweet milk-free, egg-free sponge cake recipe, do letme know! Popping my ginger in the freezer now...

    BTW did you know that Kyle Dine will be performing at the Bay Area's Food Allergy Walk in October? Come on out! And definitely think about forming a fundraising/walk team.

  3. You could always check out a allergy and asthma specialton in Minneapolis, MN as well. They would be able to give you a more run down analyses about how sensitive you are, possible ways to treat, if any, and so on. Give'em a call to see what else they can do!