Recipe inspirations and other ponderings

Yesterday I made a fairly quick and straightforward non-challenge recipe for dinner. I wanted to share it with you because it’s tasty and easy, but also to demonstrate how even someone who is not the strongest cook can have a lovely and fast meal made via inspiration.

I’ll undoubtedly post on this again. After all, somewhere in this house there’s a recipe for “Blueberry Hopeful” and that’s all about the disasters and the inspiration. Also, waiting in the wings is a post about peach compote, but this post got very long. So I’ve edited it and will post about peaches (again) later today or tomorrow.

All in all, I imagine folks who read this blog have picked up that I’m not the greatest cook, no matter how much I like food. While my friend Michelle, for example, has implied that I seem fairly competent in the kitchen when she reads this blog, I can say that I don’t often feel it myself. Still, I think the thought process that follows demonstrates how easy it can be to meld two recipes into a single tasty meal, even if you feel very weak in the kitchen.

Speed instructions! Click “here”: and make kale, using about 1/4 to 1/2 the kale they call for, keeping everything else the same. Then dump it over a pound of whole wheat/whole grain pasta, grate a serious amount of a delicious cheese over it, and toss together. Eat, passing salt, pepper and more cheese as needed.

In other words, don’t hesitate to make this dish. It isn’t the most exciting dish you’ve ever had, but it’s healthy and fairly tasty and so easy.

The story of how we got here is below.

Thursday of last week (9 Sept 2010) I went to the Daley Plaza Farmers’ Market, and made the mistake of getting there RIGHT at lunch time. For those who don’t live in Chicago, Daley Plaza is right in the “Loop”: so there’s a great deal of activity at lunch time. The above link goes to a part of wikipedia with a photo of Daley Plaza. If you “look in the upper left”: for “Washington/Dearborn”, that’s a stop that lets out right in Daley Plaza.

Anyway, lunchtime is a zoo there. I typically try to arrive earlier, but I didn’t manage it. I always manage to wander around doing my shopping, ignoring the Tribune booth and the radio station booth, but usually getting sucked in by the “random rotating booth”. This booth changes every week, and is always some company trying to promote itself by giving stuff away. I’ve gotten from this booth, a bag from, a water bottle from and now a box of whole grain spaghetti from Barilla pasta company. They also gave me a little booklet of recipes but no coupons, surprisingly and kind of sadly.

One of the recipes looked kind of like some recipes Bill and I have made several times with CSA kale. Unfortunately, I can’t share that recipe with you, because I lost the booklet. But I was attempting to follow it last night. The key was that it called for many similar ingredients to this class of recipes we use, but didn’t call for the kale to be cooked. Originally, I was just going to make the recipe as directed, but a bite of the kale told me we’d be regretting it. So, instead, I asked Bill to find online some recipe in the class of recipes we do make to cook the kale.

We settled on “this one from Eating Well.”: Well, sort of settled on it. We didn’t have nearly the quantity of kale it called for (our half-share from the CSA never gave us the copious amounts of kale several recipes call for), but we figured we could still use all the other quantities. So we sauteed/braised the kale and dumped it over the whole grain Barilla rottini pasta I’d purchased a week ago or so. We also grated some 3 month aged Manchego cheese over the top, since the Barilla recipe called for parm to be grated over it. Note that we normally have 12 month aged Manchego as a parm substitute, but we had both in the fridge and figured we’d try the 3 month. It wasn’t a great choice, and I’d go back to the 12 month for this again.

In honesty, our search for this kale recipe originated, back in June or so, when we had CSA kale and not a clue what to do with it. When we got our second or third batch, Bill was in a waiting room somewhere and read a Men’s Health magazine with an interview with the Obama’s personal chef that shared an idea (not a recipe) for braising kale. We found something more similar to that, and it was LOVELY. But then we couldn’t remember all the ingredients (though we’re pretty sure there were pine nuts or some other nuts involved), and could never find the first recipe again. So the Eating Well recipe is our new back-up.