One-Pan Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomatoes & Cauliflower (Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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OK – so, Martha Stewart has, it seems, caused quite a stir with her one-pan pasta recipe.  One pan?  One STEP?  Sorta.  Once you prep the ingredients (meaning – cut the vegetables) this is easier than making Kraft mac & cheese.  I added cheese & the awesome Red Boat fish sauce – but omit these for a vegan variety.

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I keep mentioning this Red Boat stuff because it is a very fancy fish sauce.  Here is what Red Boat says about itself:

In Vietnamese, nước mắm means literally “salted fish water.” Red Boat “nước mắm nhi” is the secret ingredient in South East Asian cooking. The savory, sweet, and umami-laden sauce gives dishes a unique, rich and satisfying dimension.

Red Boat is an all-natural, first press, “extra virgin” Vietnamese fish sauce. It does not contain added water, preservatives or MSG. Made from a two hundred year-old, chemical free, artisanal process, Red Boat uses only the freshest cá com (black anchovy), salted minutes after leaving the sea then slow aged for over a year in traditional wooden barrels. Red Boat anchovies are sourced exclusively from the crystal clear waters off the Phu Quoc Island archipelago.

In the past, this top grade fish sauce was reserved for our family table in Vietnam but we are very excited to share our family secret with you. With pride we bring you the only authentic Vietnamese Phu Quoc fish sauce available in the United States.

Whether you are a master chef or enthusiastic home cook, we guarantee you the highest quality product and the best results.

Anyway – it smells just as gross as any other fish sauce – maybe even grosser – but it adds a subtle, salty flavor (like minced anchovies would) and not some disgusting fishy thing.  Ever seen Clamato?  I used to joke about that stuff.  I’d say, “You know what’s wrong with this Bloody Mary?  It doesn’t taste fishy enough!”  Then I tried a Bloody Caesar and I stopped cracking wise.  Well, Red Boat adds a delightful depth to dishes that need a little added oomph – so I recommend strongly that you try it.  Eh – but if you can’t find it or if you are vegan – blow that shit off.  See how easy I am?

So, anyway, Martha dropped this one-pan-pasta bomb on the world & I just had to try it.  For some reason, every recipe I saw used 12 oz of dry pasta.  Who the fuck cooks 3/4 of a box of pasta?  And one recipe made the LUDICROUS assertion that a recipe using 12 ounces of dry pasta was enough to feed six.  SIX!  This person must also believe that a box of Kraft feeds four or that there are 25 servings in a standard tub of Cool Whip.  Seriously.  TWO ounces of pasta per person?  In my world, a pound of pasta MIGHT feed four.  Might.  But I digress.

Because all the recipes used that bizarre 12 ounce suggestion – I had to wing this a bit.  I had 8 ounces – and it was 8 ounces of whole wheat angel hair.  I do not recommend using angel hair.  It cooks in 5-7 minutes and, I fear, is a tad on the fragile side for this kind of preparation.  Go with a spaghetti or linguine if you try this.  And try this you should because it really did work & it was damned tasty.

I used cauliflower because I had it.  You could sub that out for anything really.  Try shrimp or a puttanesca or whatever you have around that you feel would work on pasta.

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One-Pan Whole Wheat Pasta with Tomatoes & Cauliflower (Vegan)

Serves 2 hungry people

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces dry pasta (spaghetti or linguine or penne)

1/2 large onion – sliced thin

4 garlic cloves – sliced thin

3 tomatoes – diced

3-4 sprigs basil – chopped

1/2 small head cauliflower – cut into small florets

1 TBS olive oil

2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 TBS oregano

2 tsp fish sauce (omit if you are vegan)

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp each of S&P

GARNISH – with chopped basil, crushed red pepper & (vegan) Parmesan

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DIRECTIONS

Put everything in a pot large enough to lay the pasta flat.  Bring to a boil and, stirring frequently, cook as long as the pasta directions suggest.  This should result in a pan of cooked pasta in a creamy sauce (as the starch from the pasta blends with the stock).  If it seems too wet, cook it down a bit more or add Parmesan to make that moisture into an even creamier sauce.

Garnish as you will & be amazed at how well this experiment worked!

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Zucchini Squash Blossom & Saffron Pesto Pasta with Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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9-11-13 (55)

I love me some squash blossoms.   They are just so pretty & elegant and the fact they are seasonal & so hard to come by makes them all that much more exotic & satisfying to use.  They have only the slightest hint of flavor, though.  Less even than my latest other favorite ingredient – saffron.  Saffron is also rare – in fact – I believe it is the most expensive spice in the world when priced by the pound.  Saffron is also pretty & delicate & elegantly flavored.  So, I thought, why not marry the two in a recipe?  This pesto is as easy as any other, assuming you have some kind of food processor or blender.  I didn’t use garlic as I thought it might overwhelm the other flavors and, as it turned out, I found that the Parmesan I used ended up being the most powerful taste.  Still, this is a pretty & easy & quite yummy.  And it is a great way to use squash blossoms that might no longer be in the peak of their glory (as in – been in the fridge a few days).  Like these:

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I added cauliflower to the dish because 1) it, too, has a lovely & delicate flavor and 2) it lightens up a pasta dish with all its bulky, veggie goodness.  Feel free to leave it out or even to use only cauliflower & leave out the pasta.   Also – I used whole wheat spaghetti but any pasta (or risotto) would work.

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INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound dry pasta

1/2 head cauliflower – cut into florets

15 (or so) squash blossoms (plus extra chopped up for garnish)

1/4 cup almonds (about 30) or other nut (pine nut, walnut, pecan)

3 TBS saffron liquid (or a generous pinch steeped in 3 TBS warm water)

1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) – (I used more but I feel I overdid it.)

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DIRECTIONS

Remove the pistils from the centers of the squash blossoms & then wash them.  Separate a few to chop as garnish.

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Toast the nuts in a dry pan for about 2-3 minutes or until they are fragrant.  Be careful not to burn them.  Blend the blossoms, nuts, saffron water, & cheese in a food processor or blender.  Add the crushed red pepper (if using).  Drizzle in the olive oil.  You might need to scrape the sides of the work bowl a few times.

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Cook the pasta according to directions – adding the cauliflower florets for the last 5 minutes.  Drain & toss with the pesto.  Garnish with chopped squash blossoms and/or chopped basil or parsley or a tad more crushed red pepper or Parmesan.

9-11-13 (90)

Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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OK, admittedly, this one has a few steps but none are difficult & this dish is incredibly delicious.  In the interest of full disclosure – I must confess where my inspiration for this dish came from.  It came from a recipe in the Dallas News – that was accompanied by this picture below:

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I thought that was so pretty that I had to try it.  Their recipe used frozen meatballs & jarred vodka & pesto sauces.  I made the sauce from scratch.  They used fancy skewers that had black balls decorating the tops.  I used black olives – as they seemed to go very well with my eggplant polpette and I had no fancy skewers handy.  They also used angel hair pasta while I used whole wheat spaghetti.  In retrospect – angel hair is probably easier to wrap around skewers but I don’t imagine most of you will be attempting this presentation.  You should just go for this one:

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So – while you need to make the sauce (easy) and the eggplant mash (easy) and the ricotta stuffing (easy) – I am guessing you will find it all worthwhile – especially as this recipe makes about a dozen “meatballs” that were all nearly the size of a pool ball.  That would feed 4 easily – maybe even 6 – if you made more than a pound of pasta.  I opted to fry my polpette but they can also be baked (for 30 minutes or so at 350 – or until they are brown & just begin to turn crusty) if you are worried about calories (as I should be).

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Spaghetti and Ricotta-Stuffed Roasted Eggplant Polpette (Meatballs) with Spicy Tomato Vodka Sauce

INGREDIENTS

For the sauce

1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes (or tomato sauce)

1 TBS olive oil

1 small onion – diced

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)

1/2 cup vodka

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup chopped parsley

S&P to taste

For the eggplant polpette

2 small eggplants

1 egg

4 cloves garlic – chopped

1/2 cup parsley – chopped

1/3 cup basil – chopped

1 cup grated Parmesan

2 cups (or so) breadcrumbs

Vegetable oil for frying (or bake them at 350 for about 25 minutes)

Filling

1 cup ricotta

1/3 cup grated mozzarella

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 TBS parsley – chopped

S&P to taste

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti (or other pasta)

If making skewers – you need skewers & a few pitted black olives

Fresh basil and/or parsley – chopped – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Halve the eggplants & roast them, cut side down, for about 20-25 minutes or until they soften & begin to wrinkle.  Remove from the oven & allow to cool a bit.

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For the sauce – heat the olive oil in a stock pot.  Cook the onions & crushed red pepper until the onions soften.  Add the garlic & saute about a minute.

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Add the vodka and cook for a minute or two to cook off the alcohol a bit.  Add the canned tomatoes & the parsley.

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Simmer for about fifteen minutes.  At this point – I used an immersion blender & smoothed the sauce a lot.  You can do this, too, or do it in a blender or even leave the sauce with more texture.  Stir in the heavy cream & allow to simmer on very low heat.

In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the ricotta filling.

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In a food processor or blender, blend everything for the polpette except the eggplant and breadcrumbs.  When the other ingredients are chopped finely, scoop out the eggplant flesh & add it to the food processor.  Pulse until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl & add as much of the breadcrumbs (maybe less – maybe more) as you need to get a consistency that can be made into balls.

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To make the stuffed polpette, put the bowls of eggplant & stuffing near each other by the sink.  Wet your hands and scoop out some eggplant

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Create a little nest indentation & add some filling.  Top with more eggplant & create a little “meatball.”

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Mine started like golf balls but ended up more like pool balls.  Do this until the eggplant is gone.  I ended up with extra filling left over.  You may or may not – depending on how much you fill your polpette.  Try to patch any spots you see with filler peeking out with more eggplant.  If the filling seeps out while you fry them – they just get a little harder to manage in the oil & you risk them sticking to the pan or falling apart.

Bake them at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until golden & beginning to crisp.  OR – heat about 1/2 inch of oil & shallow fry them until they are golden brown or darker – all over.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon & drain on a paper towel.  If you like, you can put them in a warm (200 degrees) oven to keep them hot.

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Cook the pasta according to directions.

You can warm the polpette more by dropping them into the hot vodka sauce a few minutes before serving.

Serve pasta topped with sauce & a few polpette & garnish with chopped fresh basil and/or parsley.

Or – if you are feeling ambitious, wrap a few strands of pasta around a few skewers & stand the skewer up in a “meatball.”  Place that skewered meatball on a little pool of sauce.  Cap your spaghetti & skewer tip with pitted black olives & garnish with basil & parsley.  Brag at the water cooler tomorrow!

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Grilled Zucchini & Fresh Mozzarella Whole Wheat Quesadilla with Poached Egg

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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You thought I was fucking around when I said I’d gone bonkers for quesadillas.  I wasn’t.  They are just so endlessly customizable – you can find one to suit any meal or any mood.   This one works really well for breakfast.  The only tricky thing is the egg poaching – a skill I have yet to master.  HERE are a few tutorials on doing it right.  Review a few to get an idea of the techniques & the results they provide.

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Grilled Zucchini & Fresh Mozzarella Whole Wheat Quesadilla with Poached Egg

INGREDIENTS

Whole wheat tortilla

Fresh mozzarella

Grilled zucchini

1 egg

DIRECTIONS

Slice & grill your zucchini (I dip mine in Italian dressing first).  Put a tortilla in a dry pan over med-high heat.  Layer the cheese & zucchini & fold over.  I use a pot lid to apply pressure & retain heat.

Meanwhile – poach an egg.

Flip your quesadilla.  It should take 2-3 minutes on each side for the cheese to melt & the tortilla to brown up a bit.

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Top with the poached egg & plenty of fresh ground pepper.  Eat it up!

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Creamy Goat Cheese Spaghetti with Lemon & Collard Greens

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Yesterday, I decided to blog about wraps.  A wrap rap.  So – I set about making a wrap.  A collard green wrap.  But what to wrap it around?  I had the ingredients for a decent slaw in my fridge, leftover from my Vegan Pozole & Taco Pizza efforts so I decided to make a sort of light, Asian slaw with a soy-vinaigrette rather than anything creamy.  I also had some plain tempeh in my fridge so I opened that and marinated it in the soy vinaigrette.

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Then, with the addition of some avocado & tomato – I commenced to wrap.

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As seems to be happening more often these days, I was uninspired in the photography department.  I have exhausted my lit locations & various plates & napkins – all of which have been used many times & I now feel like all my images look the same.  Cranky & hungry – I snapped a few of the damn collard wrap & then shoved it in my face like a wine cork.

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I discovered that 1) the vinaigrette was a bit overpowering and 2) the wrap was MESSY to eat and 3) I fucking hate tempeh!  Ick!  Even my dog Dexter turned it down when I offered it to him – though my fatboy Memphis ate the piece I gave him AND Dexter’s.

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So – I found myself with nearly a full bunch of collard greens that had been quick wilted by soaking them for 2 minutes in boiling water.  I didn’t want to muck around with wraps anymore when it came time for dinner.  So – like usual – a meal was born of the other ingredients I had handy: lemon, goat cheese, parsley & pasta.  Oh – and some dried up old Parmesan.

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This is the easiest kind of dish & comes together really fast.  The ratio of lemon or goat cheese I list here is just a suggestion.  You might like less lemon & more cheese or visa versa.  Feel free to tweak it to suit you.  Also – the collard green could be replaced with any other leafy green – Swiss chard or spinach or even asparagus or something.  This is a really healthy dish, too, as pastas go – so try it!

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Creamy Goat Cheese Spaghetti with Lemon & Collard Greens

INGREDIENTS (for 2 servings)

8 oz pasta or your choice

5 oz goat cheese

1 bunch collard (or other) greens

Juice of 1 lemon

Lots of chopped parsley

S&P

Parmesan as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Boil water in the pot you will cook the pasta in.  Remove the ribs from the collard greens as is depicted above.   Roll the leaves & slice them.

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My greens had already gotten a 2 minute soak but that isn’t necessary.  The collard greens will need about 5-7 minutes in the boiling pasta water.  My whole wheat spaghetti had a 7 minute cooking time so – had I not pre-soaked the greens for my failed wrap endeavor – I would have put them in the water with the spaghetti at the same time.   The greens are forgiving so do not sweat the timing.  Just drop them into the water with the pasta when your pasta is about 7 minutes from being done.

While the pasta cooks, scoop maybe 1/4 cup of the pasta water out & heat it in another pan.  Melt the goat cheese in that until it is nice & creamy.  I used an herbed goat cheese – hence all the flecks in it.  Add the parsley & lemon juice.

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When the pasta is al dente, drain it & toss with the goat cheese.  Add S&P to taste.  Serve with additional lemon and/or parsley and/or Parmesan & plenty of fresh cracked pepper.

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Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Ok – I confess – I just could NOT get a decent shot of this dish.  This is becoming a frequent issue – caused, most likely, from my lack of continued inspiration photographically.  My lighting & plating options are limited & largely exhausted.   I need to start going to yard sales & junk stores & buy up some new cutie little dishes etc to maybe restore the fun of photographing the foods I prepare.

At any rate – this was a really satisfying dish to prepare.  I felt like an old Italian mamma in my kitchen, expertly filling squid with stuffing & braising them.  Braising, by the way, is defined on Wikipedia like this:

Braising (from the French “braiser”) is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor.

This dish takes a few steps but is well worth it.  If you use boxed pasta & jarred sauce – this dish is downright easy!

I found fresh squid at my store the other day, all cleaned & pristine looking, and I got two packages for under three dollars combined.  There were probably 20 little squid in there – each only about 3 inches long.

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I, personally, preferred the littler guys but you could do this with larger squid & have less work to do with the stuffing of them.

I marinated the squid in garlic, olive oil & lemon overnight – but this is unnecessary.  I did that, primarily, because I thought they had an odd smell & I wanted to get rid of that.  It wasn’t a smell like they had spoiled or were fishy but, rather, kind of a musky, bleachy scent which I found super gross.  The marinade cured that & these guys cooked up as mildly & inoffensively as any squid I’ve ever had.

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Also – I used baby kale because that is what I had.  You could use regular kale or spinach or broccoli or whatever in the stuffing for these.  Other recipes I looked at for this kind of thing suggested a course chop for the shrimp.  I opted to puree the whole lot & that resulted in a stuffing mix that could be inserted into the squid with a pastry bag or, as I used, a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off.  THIS was a lifesaver!  Trying to stuff these fuckers by hand – even with my green puree – was crazy-making so definitely have a zip-lock bag handy.

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Also – I only had these foiled sandwich toothpicks around.  If you use these, be sure to cut off the plastic fringe with kitchen scissors before cooking the calamari.

Also – I used my 5 Minute Arrabiata Sauce for these. You can do that, too, or use your own favorite red sauce, whether homemade or jarred.  I used whole wheat spaghetti from a box

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because I really like whole wheat pastas & was too lazy to make fresh pasta.  This, too, is open to your interpretation.  Make some pasta (I have posted lots of recipes for that) or simply boil up your favorite brand & shape of the boxed variety.

Lastly – definitely buy CLEANED squid.  I tried to clean squid once in the late eighties & was scarred emotionally by the experience.  It took until this week for me to ever attempt squid again.  So – if your grocer has squid in the case but it isn’t cleaned – pay whatever it takes to get them to clean them for you.  Trust.

When these little bad boys are cooked up, they are so tight & neat & resilient – you can slice them up with a knife & they do not fall apart.

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Braised Calamari Stuffed with Shrimp & Baby Kale Over Whole Wheat Spaghetti

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta of your choice

15 -20 little 3″ squid or lesser quantity of larger ones

3/4 lb shrimp – peeled & deveined

6 garlic cloves

2 cups baby kale (or other vegetable like maybe spinach or broccoli or arugula)

3/4 cup panko (or other breadcrumbs)

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 TBS crushed red pepper

1 TBS dry oregano

6-7 fresh basil leaves

S&P to taste (1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper?)

Olive oil

1 tomato – diced (optional)

Parsley as garnish

Marinara or Arrabiata of your choice

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DIRECTIONS

I marinated my squid in a little olive oil, 10 cloves of crushed garlic, the juice of a lemon and some S&P overnight.  This is optional.

Prepare your red sauce or simmer your jarred sauce in a large saute pan.

For the stuffing – put any tentacles you might have from the squid into a food processor with the shrimp, garlic, kale, eggs, panko, cheese, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil and S&P & pulse to puree.  You might need to scrape the sides a few times.

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With either a pastry bag or a large zip-lock bag with one corner cut off – squeeze your puree into each of the squid.  Only fill about 2/3 of the way because squid shrinks when it cooks & it will shrink wrap your stuffing quickly & begin to squeeze it out.  Secure the open end by simply piercing through with a toothpick.  If using fancy tipped toothpicks – cut the fancy part off with kitchen scissors.  Pierce each squid once or twice in the fat part with the tip of a sharp knife to vent them as they cook.

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I had extra stuffing so I just made little “meatballs” from it.

Heat a frying pan & add 2 TBS olive oil.  I used my marinade to sear the squid & you can, too, but know that the garlic burns a bit.  When hot, place the calamari in there & sear them a bit all over, on high heat, until they begin to brown.  Remove from heat.  You can sear your “meatballs” in this process, too.

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When your red sauce is ready, place the seared calamari into that pan.  I added a little water to my sauce to thin it but that is just a matter of taste.  I also added 1 diced tomato.  Cook for about 15 minutes over low to medium-low heat without disturbing them.  Then turn them & cook another 15 minutes.  If you have extra stuffing “meatballs, add them to the pan for the second 15 minutes.

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Cook your pasta & serve it smothered in your red sauce & evenly distribute your stuffed squid.  Remove the toothpicks!  Garnish with chopped parsley & maybe extra crushed red pepper.

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Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garbanzo Garlic Sauce & Tomatoes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is so delicious & so easy – I cannot recommend highly enough that you give it a try.  I used a LOT of crushed red pepper & lots of garlic & the dish was genuinely spicy.  You might want to reduce the quantities of these to suit your own taste.  Also – I made this – as usual – from whatever ingredients I had handy which included half a lemon & about a cup of some kind of peppercorn Pecorino or something that looked like this (image pilfered off Google):

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It was a bit creamier than a Pecorino and it was really pungent.  It went very well in this recipe but a Parmesan or feta would work, too.  I am just gonna go ahead & list the recipe with Parmesan but you could use a blend & experiment, if you like.

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Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Garbanzo Garlic Sauce & Tomatoes

INGREDIENTS

36 oz vegetable (or other) stock

2 tomatoes – diced

8 garlic cloves – minced & divided (or less – to taste)

1 29oz can Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) – drained

3 TBS olive oil

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or less – to taste)

1 cup grated Parmesan (or feta or other richly flavored cheese)

3 TBS lemon juice

3 TBS parsley – chopped

1 TBS basil – chopped

1 lb whole wheat pasta

S&P to taste

More grated Parmesan for garnish

More chopped parsley and/or basil as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta as per the directions.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add 6 of the minced garlic cloves, crushed red pepper & saute a minute or two.  Set a handful of garbanzos aside for garnish later.  Add the remaining garbanzo beans & the stock.  Bring to a boil & then simmer for about 15 minutes.  Then, CAREFULLY, puree the garbanzos in a blender or deep food processor.

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When the pasta is done, drain it & return it to the pan you cooked it in.  Add the pureed garbanzos, the remaining two minced garlic cloves, the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, cheese & parsley to the pasta & stir to blend.  Add S&P to taste.  Serve with extra grated cheese & chopped parsley or basil and a few whole garbanzos.  Devour.

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