Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Greens and Bacon

whole wheat spaghetti kale bacon

This whole wheat spaghetti with greens and bacon is the happy result of an experiment in emptying out my fridge. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I’ll need a near empty fridge for groceries; I’m hosting a dinner for 12 on Sunday evening and I’m going to be cooking some amazing food (but no turkey, I’m at best indifferent towards turkey.) This recipe that follows is flexible in its use of ingredients: use any kind of pasta you would like, use broccoli/spinach/Swiss chard/arugula and adjust cooking times as necessary, use a different type of cheese and experiment with different textures and flavours, etc., etc. The egg could also be omitted, but I love the creamy texture that follows when a soft boiled egg is cut open over a bowl of pasta. Getting creative when I feel stumped in the kitchen at the end of the day can be very therapeutic. Maybe it’s because the sensation of repetitive movement is comforting to me, but quietly concentrating on chopping up vegetables is an immensely calming experience each night. Each time you allow yourself to be playful in the kitchen you are fostering your culinary instinct so that on those nights when your cupboards look bare you won’t be quite as devastated but rather tentatively excited.

whole wheat spaghetti with greens and bacon:

(this serves 3-4 people)

About 8 oz. of whole wheat pasta

2 strips of bacon, cut into very thin strips

1 tsp. olive oil

3 cups of kale, destemmed and cut into fine ribbons

5 small bok choy, rinsed and cut into thick pieces (separate ribs from leaves as they take longer to cook)

1/2 cup of stock (I used beef stock, chicken or vegetable would also be good)

1/2 cup fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade

One egg for each person, soft boiled*

Shaved Parmesan or Grana Padano

Freshly cracked pepper and salt to taste

1. Cook the whole wheat spaghetti according to package directions while you’re making the rest of the recipe, it will take the same amount of time if your ingredients are prepped ahead of time.

2. Cook the bacon over medium heat in a saucepan with a fitted lid until crisp (leave uncovered while cooking the bacon.) Drain on paper towel.

3. Discard bacon grease from the pot and add olive oil, kale, and bok choy ribs. Stir to coat with the oil before adding the stock. Cover and allow to steam for 5 minutes. Add the bok choy leaves and fresh basil, cook for 1 minutes before taking off the the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Combine the greens with the pasta, tossing to combine. Serve with a warm soft boiled egg  broken over the pasta with shavings of Parmesan cheese.

*To soft boil an egg: bring a pot of water to a rolling simmer. Carefully lower the eggs one at a time into the water and simmer for 5-7 minutes depending on how set you like your eggs. Remove eggs from the hot water and run under cold water for 1 minute. Peel immediately  but be watch your hands as the eggs will still be ver hot.

When I think about it, a lot of the music I like as an adult is a natural extension of the melodic emo I was really into as a teenager. I still love Sunny Day Real Estate and The Appleseed Cast and I think that bias shows when I listen to bands like DIIV, this whole album resonates with my experience of high school seamlessly. Now it’s what I listen to when I’m running through the leaves at 7:30 on dark October nights. There’s something comforting to be said about being in a cocoon of music in the dark, feeling completely invisible as you pass other people.

DIIV – Past Lives

Kale and Haloumi Salad

kale haloumi salad

How do you make something tasty for a picnic without actually having gone shopping for the necessary ingredients? The answer is faith in your food pairing instincts and some vague creative idea as to what the finished result will look like. This Kale and Haloumi Salad is just such a happy accident, the kale was saved from the drudges of the crisper drawer and revitalized in a bath of ice water and the haloumi, blessedly cryovaced, had been languishing in the back of my fridge for ages. When serving raw kale I find that it’s best to be careful about removing the rough stems and slicing the vegetable into very fine ribbons before adding to the salad. There’s something rather tough about raw kale and this attention to detail tends to soften the texture of the overall salad. The roasted shallots can easily be replaced by equal amounts of roasted red onions, leeks, scallions, and white onions that have been quartered in their skins and liberally doused with olive oil before cooking. For simplicity’s sake I have baked the haloumi in this recipe, but you may choose to grill, broil, or sear it in a hot pan. Since this was a picnic meal I had this salad alongside my mom’s potato salad and Stoli blueberry vodka mixed with lemonade.

kale and haloumi salad:

1 medium head of kale, tough stems removed and thinly sliced

3 celery ribs, thinly and diagonally sliced into half moons

1 cup of Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

1 raw beet, peeled and grated

3 large shallots, papers left intact

1 250 g block of haloumi

1 lemon, juiced

Generous amount of freshly cracked black pepper

Olive oil, for drizzling

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the haloumi into 1 cm thick slices and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes before removing from heat and drizzling with olive oil  and pepper. When cool enough to handle tear into bite-sized pieces and toss with the juice of 1 lemon.

2. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Lay the shallots in their papers in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive and bake for 30-40 minutes until the shallots can be squeezed from their husks without difficulty. When cool enough to handle chop roughly into small pieces.

3. Arrange the kale, celery, parsley, grated carrots and beets, and roasted shallots on a large salad platter. Toss with as much of the salad dressing dressing as you’d like below before scattering the torn pieces of haloumi on top. Serve immediately or within the next couple of hours.

2 lemons, juiced

1/4 cup of fruity olive oil

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

1 tsp. white sugar

1 chili pepper, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp. kosher salt

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in an empty jar and shake until completely emulsified.

 

The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson dazzles on this Röyksopp track; her voice is blinding and gigantic, grandiose and beautiful. This is a song to instantly draw you back into reality on days when your head feels fuggy and not quite present.

Röyksopp – This Must Be It

Kale and Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken and Kale Noodle Soup

This past month has been an eventful one, we just got back from our honeymoon in Maui a little over a week ago and Vancouver is only now starting to feel normal again. Being in Maui was super magical and amazing, I haven’t ever felt that consistently and deeply relaxed that I can remember as an adult or even as a teenager. I ate lots of barbecued fish tacos and fresh pineapple and began each evening on our balcony watching the sun set in our robes with an ice cold gin and tonic. I’m trying to sustain this elusive feeling of refreshed relaxation by being mindful of my  penchant for worrying over events both past and future, basically the events that are entirely out of my hands in the present moment. So far this has been helpful, maintained by good sleeps, lots of outdoor exercise, and nutritionally dense and diverse foods. This kale and chicken noodle soup was what got me through a rough bout with H1N1 in mid-January, I have since made it several times during stints of pervasive rain and darkness and I especially appreciate it after blustery wet nighttime run. Besides some light chopping this soup comes together quite quickly and I recommend eating it as soon as the noodles are cooked through, it will reheat but definitely tastes best eaten immediately. You could easily change the vegetables used in this version, add tinned diced tomatoes with their juices, use finely cut Napa cabbage or bok choy instead of the kale, and a fried egg perched on top of the noodles with some Sriracha sauce will only be doing you a delicious favour.

kale and chicken noodle soup:

3 cups of chicken stock

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 small white onion, minced

1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into thin 1/4 moons

1 stem of celery, sliced thinly

2 cups of kale, cut into thin ribbons with any tough stem removed

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

2 nests of Rooster Brand instant noodles (an instant noodle made with duck eggs), or 1 package of ramen noodles

1 tsp. dried dill weed

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. dried red chili flakes

Juice of half a lemon

1. In a large soup pot bring the chicken stock to a steady simmer before adding the onions, garlic, chicken pieces, carrot, celery, dill weed, kosher salt and red chili flakes to the hot stock. Allow to cook in the simmering liquid for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the instant noodles and chopped kale, cover and simmer for 3 more minutes or until the kale is cooked through.

3. Stir in the chick peas and lemon juice before testing for seasoning, adding more salt or chili flakes if desired. Serve as hot as possible to soothe cold and flu symptoms or to warm up after being out in the cold.

It’s been a lot of nights listening to The House of Love lately, this easily being one of my favourite songs ever. Its nostalgia for the relationship between the listener and the song captures my time alone with music and food perfectly, the quiet concentration in the kitchen with a cup of tea or a glass of wine while providing nourishment for myself and those I love is one I hold dearly.

The House of Love – Beatles and The Stones

Garlicky Greens with a Fried Egg

I like to make this when I’ll be eating alone because it can be made in one skillet and ingredients are easily tampered with for a different taste each time you prepare these garlicky greens with a fried egg perched on top. Whenever I buy greens I immediately wash and seperate them upon arriving home and then store them in a large reusable takeout container on top of a piece of damp paper towel. I find that this method ensures gorgeous green leaves for at least a week, during which I will usually have made these greens and copious green smoothies. You can use whichever types of greens you like; for this meal I used my 3 favourites which are red swiss chard, kale, and bok choy. Peppery greens like mustard greens and broccoli rabe would also be lovely accompaniements to the garlic and soy dressing. Garlic chili paste is my condiment of choice for this dinner; sriracha, salsa, spicy mustard or even cilantro pesto are all perfect too.

garlicky greens with a fried egg:

About 4 cups of mixed greens, roughly torn into small-ish pieces

2 tsp. mild cooking oil such as grapeseed or canola

4 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1tsp. dried chili flakes (this makes it quite spicy so scale back by at least half if you don’t want that much heat)

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1 egg

Your choice of savoury condiment

1. Over medium-high heat cook the greens in the oil, adding some water if needed. Using kitchen tongs toss the greens quickly as they cook, after a minute or two add the minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot chilis and sesame seeds and continue to cook until the greens are wilted and very bright. Transfer to your plate.

2. Put the skillet back on the burner and fry an egg, there should be enough oil left over that you don’t need to add more but be the judge of that yourself. To me the idea of a runny yolk is romantic when eating eggs but in reality I hate runny yolks and make sure my egg is completely cooked through before I eat it; again, I leave this in your hands.

3. Place the egg on top of your mountain of greens, add condiment of choice and eat rapidly and happily.

My top 3 trying-to-relax-after-work artists are Nick Drake, Chet Baker, and American Analog Set. Therefore it’s not stretch at all to say that I’ll be listening to this band at least 3 nights a week and lately more specifically their album Set Free (I tend to oscillate between Set Free and the very different The Fun of Watching Fireworks.) Their music is always perfectly suited to my mood and to my environment, insistently adaptable to pretty much everything for 10 years of my life.

American Analog Set – Green Green Grass