Maybe it’s the pretty colors, or perhaps just its reliable presence at the farmer’s market, but I am consistently drawn to swiss chard. I love its texture and depth of flavor, and the way it always feels a little more unexpected than, say, spinach or kale. (Of course take a quick scroll through my recipe index and you can see very clearly that I have major love for those two as well.) Here I’ve combined chard with spaghetti and golden pan-fried tempeh to make a dish that’s earthy, garlicky, and straight up delicious. Just thinking about it makes me hungry.
12-oz spaghetti, capellini, or pasta of choice
1 8-oz package of tempeh, cut into bite-size pieces
¼ tsp garlic powder
red pepper flakes
sea salt and black pepper
3 to 5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch of swiss chard, ends trimmed, stalks and leaves chopped separately
½ vegetable broth (I’ve been using the organic vegetable Better Than Bouillon), divided
- First, steam your tempeh. Place tempeh in a bowl with about an inch of water, cover, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Alternatively, place in a saucepan and cover with water. Cook over high heat until boiling, then cover with lid, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
- Drizzle some olive oil in a large skillet and heat over medium. When hot, add tempeh and season with garlic powder, salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Use a wooden spoon to mix and break up the pieces of tempeh. You’re going for crumbly here. Then let cook, without touching for about 3 minutes, til it starts to get golden. Warning: you may want to use a splatter guard here (or a lid tilted on its side). Stir/turn pieces over, and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Remove tempeh from skillet and set aside.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. If it finishes before everything else is ready, toss the drained pasta with a bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.
- Drizzle some more olive oil into the skillet and add garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Stir in chopped chard stems and ½ cup of vegetable broth. Cover, turn up head to medium-high, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the chard leaves and remaining ½ cup vegetable broth and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes or until cooked through.
- Add the pasta to the chard mixture, sprinkle on the tempeh, drizzle with a little more olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix everything together. Serve.
Yield: About 4-5 servings
I’ve been wanting to post this recipe for quite some time now. Yet even after I finally (finally!) buckled down and took photos, edited them and even uploaded them onto WordPress, I still didn’t post. I felt the pressure to write something eloquent– after all my last post was half a year ago! The fact of the matter is that working a full-time job (and riding two very popular trains to and from there every day) leaves little room for much else. On weeknights I carve out my time to hang out with Phil, make dinner, maybe watch Colbert’s monologue to help us swallow the latest news, prep for the next day. On the weekends we sleep and play catch-up. Can you relate?
Still, eating well (though not necessarily perfectly) is something I prioritize. I’m not really a meal planner, but I’ve been trying to do more “veg prepping”— washing and cutting my market haul– on Sundays. Then during the week all I have to do is cook my already prepped vegetables and toss them with whatever else I feel like making. This pasta dish is one of those throw together dinners that has become a staple in our home. I like to joke that it combines my Eastern European Jewish roots with my Italian sensibilities, simultaneously familiar and satisfying. I’m not sure when I started adding sunflower seeds, but they go beautifully with tender braised cabbage, providing a protein boost and salty crunch.
12 oz pasta, preferably farfalle/bowties
1 medium head of cabbage, trimmed and cored, chopped thin then chopped again so pieces aren’t too big
5-6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
¼ cup roasted, salted sunflower seed kernels
- Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Drizzle a bit of oil in a large skillet and cook the garlic and red pepper flakes on medium low for about 3 minutes, watching closely and stirring as needed.
- Add the cabbage and a couple splashes of water and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every now and then, until tender and browned in places. Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine the (cooked and drained) pasta with the cabbage and, if desired, drizzle with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top and serve.
For better or worse, 2016 is coming to an end. I know I’ve been feeling all the feels lately, but I’ll keep things nice and cozy here with some pasta featuring the year’s most popular vegetable, cauliflower– which has been everywhere and everything. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I haven’t tried cauliflower in any of its more trendy, experimental forms, but plan to remedy that soon with these buffalo wings, this pizza, and these steaks with romesco sauce. Yep, cauliflower is one intriguing, can-do brassica oleracea. Here, its mellow sweetness is complemented by garlic, kalamata olives, toasted almonds, and aromatic fresh oregano.
*I’ve been so excited that my local nataural foods store started carrying gluten free farfalle. If you buy/eat gluten free pasta with any frequency you know that gluten free bowties are something of a unicorn. Jovial also makes gluten free casarecce and manicotti (!). Get it.
12 oz pasta (farfalle, penne, fusilli, etc.)
4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into bite size chunks
1 cup vegetable broth
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves only, chopped
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large pan/wok. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper and cook over medium heat, agitating frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
- Stir in cauliflower and then the broth. Cover, turn up heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until “crips tender.” Stir in oregano and olives.
- Add pasta to the pan, season with salt and pepper and, if desired, drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Sprinkle on toasted almonds and serve.
Yield: About 5 servings
Fresh cabbage is not something I typically buy. For me, it usually conjures images of sad plops of diner coleslaw and The Kids in the Hall. When shopping I pass right by those pale green heads (and even the purple ones) in favor of darker leafy things like kale and chard, or more exciting things like tatsoi and romanesco. Still, the beautiful varieties at the farmer’s market piqued my interest and made me reconsider. Stir-fried with ginger, garlic, peanuts, tofu, and hot sesame oil, cabbage is totally delicious– and not at all reminiscent of coleslaw. I’m craving some right now.
*I thought this was spicy! Not too spicy with rice, though. And perfect if your head gets extra stuffy this time of year like mine does. Of course Philip added hot sauce anyway. If you prefer a less spicy dish, reduce the amount of hot sesame oil or cut with some toasted sesame oil. For a totally mild dish, replace completely with toasted sesame oil.
1 block extra-firm tofu
½ tbsp grapeseed or other hot cooking oil (peanut, canola, refined coconut, etc.)
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp coconut sugar
½ tbsp tamari
For everything else:
1-1½ tsp grapeseed or other hot cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 medium head of cabbage, trimmed of outer leaves and core, cut into thin shreds
1 tbsp tamari
½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp hot sesame oil
¼ cup peanuts (I used roasted and salted)
Rice, for serving
- Pat tofu with a clean tea towel or paper towel. Cut into 1” cubes, then pat again to soak up extra moisture.
- Heat ½ tbsp grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes, sprinkle with garlic powder and coconut sugar, and stir gently to distribute seasonings. Then let cook—without touching– for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden and a bit crispy. Carefully flip over (turn down the heat while you do this) and splash with ½ tbsp tamari. Cook for 3-4 minutes more. Turn off burner and transfer tofu to another dish. Let the pan cool a bit and then give it a wipe to remove any blackened bits.
- Heat 1-1½ tsp grapeseed (or other) oil in pan over medium heat, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Stir in cabbage. Splash with a tiny bit of water and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring as needed. Add tamari and rice wine vinegar and cook for a couple minutes more.
- Add the tofu, peanuts, and hot sesame oil, and cook for another minute or two. Taste for seasonings and serve with rice.
Yield: About 3-4 servings
When I made this for dinner a few nights ago, Phil told me it was “very fall.” While cooking, I had thought I had been making a very summery meal–eggplants! peppers! fresh basil and mint!– yet had to agree that my hot bowl of pasta full of roasted things was pretty damn cozy. Even the fact that I had turned the oven on at all was evidence of the seasonal shift. To be sure, this is a transitional dish, showcasing late summer’s abundant harvest while gently easing us into fall’s rhythms and encouraging us to slow down– even if for just a bit.
*To smash the garlic, peel each clove and pressed down gently but firmly (and very carefully!) with the side of a chef’s knife, taking care not to break the clove completely.
13 or so fairytale eggplants, stemmed and halved
2-3 red peppers (I used 3 not too big frying ones), cut into 1-1½” pieces
1 small red onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, gently smashed
1½-2 tbsp olive oil (enough to evenly coat vegetables)
1 12 oz package of pasta
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread evenly on a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once half way through, until vegetables are tender and browning around the edges. Remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Just before draining, reserve about a ¼ cup of the pasta water (use a mug with a handle to scoop directly from the pot). Drain pasta.
- To the pasta, add the tomato paste, vinegar, and pasta water and stir to combine. Then mix in the roasted vegetables, breaking the garlic with your spoon. Season with salt and pepper, and top with basil and mint.
Yield: About 4 servings