Category: Pasta/Rice

Udon Noodles with Spring Vegetables

Vegetables! Give me spring vegetables.

It can’t be pizza all the time around here. But I wouldn’t complain if it was.  

This came from a fierce craving of something fresh, green, and crisp. It’s rather coincidence that sugar snap peas are all the rage right now. Thanks Spring. I had a handful or two [probably two, lets be real] of dried udon noodles left over in the pantry, so noodles! I spent a crazy amount of time julienning again because it’s turning into a soothing ritual. Who am I? Meditating is all the rage, right?

If I’m honest, I really just wanted the vegetables [of which I ate a ton while cutting them up] and this sauce. The udon noodles just kept me from gnawing my arm off within an hour after eating. I love any excuse to use toasted sesame oil. It’s such a specific, slight overpowering flavor that it takes time to find those recipes that it would be good in. Rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger round out the rest of the flavors. It’s very bright and tangy. It feels almost as crisp as the vegetables. I added red chile flakes and a bunch of the seaweed gomasio, which is sesame seeds, salt, and seaweed. I had to immediately put half of this in a to-go container so I could eat some for work the next day, otherwise I’m sure I’d have eaten all of it in one sitting.

Spring Udon Noodles

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 6oz dried udon noodles, cooked to package directions and rinsed/drained under cool water
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 2 handfuls of sugar snap peas, halved
  • Green onion, red chile flakes, sesame seeds for garnish

Preparation

In a small bowl or in a jar with a lid, add the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger. Whisk or shake together.

In a large bowl, add the vegetables and the dressing. Toss everything together before adding the noodles. Serve and top with your garnishes.

 

Sweet Potato Spinach Pasta

No long hours at the office. No studying. No class. No exams. Nothing. I leave the office like a normal human, and I find myself with an abundance if free time. I haven’t had free time like this in years. Even though I would still do what I wanted during school, CPA exams, and busy season, I always had a lot going on mentally. That to-do list ever present. And now? Nothing. It’s weird and it’s awesome. I’ve already read a few books, read a ton of magazines thanks to the library’s magazine app, and am a few lessons into German on Duolingo. I went out to eat only once last week. Once! Who am I? That means there are several new recipes to come. We have a loose timeline for the Germany trip, but I can actually focus on details now. Plans for replanting the patio flowers will have to wait until we’re back from Germany. They need all the help they can get to not die this year.

Pizza week was a success. I have a few photos to share once I get them off the phone camera. It’s probably my favorite in the burgers vs pizza weeks that go on. I’m such a sucker for pizza.

It’s funny that I’m sharing a pasta recipe today, and I have at least two more coming up. Apparently I’ve been on a pasta kick lately. I hardly ever cook pasta because…I don’t know. I don’t really have a good reason. It’s just not something I think about most of the time. Maybe because it’s a little lower on the difficulty scale. It’s also just an excuse to eat whatever is with it. I am actually a little more partial to loading up my pastas with all kinds of vegetables. It takes a lot of vegetables to get me to feel full enough to stop eating, so pasta helps me out in that department. This was a result of me craving vegetables towards the end of busy season when all I getting sick of all the snacks and catering. Plus, blue cheese. I love blue cheese.

Sweet Potato Spinach Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into uniform cubes
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2lb pasta of choice [I used spaghetti]
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven and roast until browned on the edges and cooked through, approximately 30-40 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes roast, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. In a large bowl, add the spinach. Pour the drained, hot pasta on top of the spinach so it will wilt.

Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. Saute the minced garlic until it’s  browning and fragrant. Add the olive oil to the top of the pasta. Top with the roasted sweet potatoes and blue cheese crumbles. Toss together until well mixed. Serve.

 

Jok with Chicken [aka Rice Porridge]

Ohhhh man. There is a new food cart downtown that serves all the jook and bao I could possibly want. Jook is rice porridge of the Chinese variety. Jok is rice porridge of the Thai variety. I had no idea until now. The more you know. Anyway, the cart is aptly named the Jook Joint, and you can add some pretty awesome proteins to it, like their 12-hour brisket. It has a little bit of a sweet sauce, but it’s a-ok with the fish sauce goodness that you find in a porridge like this. The soft boiled egg isn’t a bummer either. It’s stellar comfort food. There are a few other places in town that serve it, like Sen Yai, with all the squeaky pork or fish that you could possibly want. Making jok been on my to-do list for awhile. Gotta love checking something off the list.

It’s really easy to make, but requires a little bit of babysitting because you don’t want it to burn to the bottom of the pan. It makes a ton because the solution to keeping it from burning is adding more and more water. I kept adding more and more fish sauce because I didn’t want the flavor to get too diluted. Like most soups, it’s really customizable. I used chicken, but you often seen pork or seafood. There are often soft-boiled eggs, but I couldn’t be bothered. Because rice porridge like a more smooth risotto, you probably have an idea how filling this can be. It’s just like that. It tastes just as good day one as day three. We ate it and ate it and ate it again. The recipe I originally used no longer exists, apparently. Their website went down. This one from Rachel Cooks Thai is very familiar.

rice porridge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jasmin rice
  • 10+ cups of water
  • 1 pound ground dark meat chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce + more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Green onions, soft-boiled eggs, diced chilies, or other hot sauce for serving

In a large pot, add the rice and 6 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil before turning down to a simmer. While the rice simmers, heat a skillet on medium high. Brown the chicken and add the garlic and ginger. Leave the chicken a little chunky to add texture to the rice when you add it. When it’s nearly cooked through, add a tablespoon of the fish and soy sauces. Add the fully cooked chicken and any remaining juices to the simmering rice.

Stir the rice occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add another cup anytime it starts to get too thick. At least another four cups is needed to achieve the typical creaminess. When the porridge is ready, stir in the remaining two tablespoons of the soy and fish sauces. Taste for more. I always love more fish sauce.

Blue Cheese Pasta with Spinach

We spent Valentine’s Day doing the things we normally do. Soccer game. Laundry. Eating. Food coma induced naps. This is the life.

We ate at Por Que No? Taqueria for tacos, red beers, chips and guac and followed it up with drinking chocolate and churros at 180. It sounds romantic, I know, but we do this kind of thing regularly. Why save it for one day? On a slightly unrelated note, this chocolate bar is the key to Andrew’s heart, in case you were wondering. And now I wish I hadn’t gone to their website. They had a small, perfectly good selection at WM Goods, but now I want ALL OF THEM. Sigh. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. Trying a new-to-me pizza place tonight, Pizza Jerk, because pizza.

We made this pasta dish a few times now [and by we, I mean I made and we ate and he cleaned up], and it’s turning more and more into a vehicle for making steak this way. A little simple cast-iron action. It’s the only way to go when I’m too lazy to get outside on the grill, which has been a lot these days. This is a sneaky way to eat an entire 5oz container of spinach in one sitting and not realize it. It breaks down against heat of the pasta and you hardly taste it with the love-it-or-hate-it taste of blue cheese or gorgonzola. It’s so delightfully simple—cheese and pasta water. I’ve tried it with a few different pastas. It benefits from something with nooks and crannies. It captures that cheese sauce better. From there chopped nuts, fresh cracked pepper, or red chile flakes are yours to experiment. With the sliced steak, I found it didn’t need much else. The steak juices would get caught in those same pasta nooks. So good.

[sorry mom! blue cheese AND medium-heavy-on-the-rare steak]

Blue Cheese Pasta with Steak

Inspiration: The Splendid Table

Ingredients

  • 8oz pasta, trottole or other curly pasta
  • 4oz gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • 4-5oz container of baby spinach
  • grilled steak, chicken, or other protein for serving

Preparation

Bring your pot of salted pasta water to a boil. Make sure you use a pot that has a lid. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions minus 2-3 minutes. It should still be very dente so it can continue cooking with the sauce.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the pot. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cheese, 1/4 of the pasta water, and the spinach. Stir to combine and cover. The heat will melt the cheese and wilt the spinach. Now is a good time to cook your protein.

After a few minutes stir the pasta and add more water as necessary. I end up using at least half, sometimes more. The spinach will stick together which is mildly irritating, but ultimately ok. Season with fresh cracked pepper before serving.

Grilled Mixed Paella

I actually used the paella pan!

I was kind of expecting it to sit in my pantry forever a lot longer than it did, but paella has been made. This was the pan we picked up in Boise at The Basque Market on the road trip. It successfully made paella. I’m pretty sure I bastardized it. When researching a good recipe, I came across so many conflicting ways to “correctly” make paella. It’s origins are from Valencia, Spain, and it’s cooked over open flame in the paella pan sometimes called a paellera. From there, there are several types of paellas, do’s, don’ts, and techniques. Two things I did that will probably get shamed is the use of chorizo and not using the correct rice. I didn’t want to buy a separate thing of bomba/Valencia rice. I have a huge bag of jasmine rice in the pantry. You see where I’m going with this. Yes, I used jasmine rice in a paella. I’m not sorry. It turned out just fine. I even got the coveted socarrat, which is the layer of toasted rice at the bottom. It’s a delicacy in Spanish tradition. I’m personally not a huge fan of burnt toasted rice, but all in the name of authenticity.

Of the various types of paellas you can make, I went with the mixed so there would be a little of everything — chicken, shrimp, chorizo, mussels. There is so much flavor going around in the mixed version. Had I added some green beans, it would have been a nod to the Valencia paella tradition, but I didn’t. I was running out of pan space as it was. It’s protein.com over here. Olympia Provisions makes a really great Chorizo Rioja by the way. What didn’t make it into the pan made it into my mouth. If there is one thing I’m really, really, really glad I did was buy some saffron. I die a little inside when I see how much saffron costs and how little you’re getting, but it makes the biggest difference. Have you smelled saffron on its own? It smells like paella. I can’t imagine paella without it. Get a few strands. Cherish them.

This all came together really easily. Get everything prepped in advance. The biggest hassle is bringing everything out with you to the grill. Make sure you have everything handy. There are a few steps, but if you have it all near you, it’ll go by quick. That grill gets really hot. Tongs are necessary to move the pan around to avoid hot spots. Changing the type of rice really didn’t make a difference from a timing or broth perspective. I wouldn’t use any sort of brown rice though.

Grilled Paella

I’ve only made the paella once, but the heat changed the color of the pan so it looks well used. I’m into it. Now to make more paella.

Inspiration: Chowhound

Ingredients

  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1lb boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 8oz cured chorizo, sliced thin
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 16 mussels
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley and lemon wedges for serving

Preparation

In a bowl, toss the shrimp in 1/2 of the paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside in the fridge.

Grate or peel and dice the tomatoes. This should yield about 3/4 cup of pulp.

Sprinkle the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.

Heat the grill on high. It should get to 450° – 550°. Hot. Add the paella pan to the grill and let it heat up for a few minutes. This will keep everything from sticking. Add the chorizo. Stir it only a couple of times. Let the fat render and the edges get crispy. Remove the chorizo to a paper towel lined plate. Add a tablespoon or two of the olive oil to the pan depending on how much fat was rendered. I needed both tablespoons.

Add the chicken in a single even layer. Sear each side for several minutes before moving the chicken to the bowl with the chorizo. Add the onions. Stir occasionally so they don’t burn. This may mean moving the pan or turning down the heat. Once browned, add the remaining paprika, garlic, and saffron threads. Stir for only 30 seconds before adding the tomato pulp. Use the juice to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. The color of the tomato will darken as it cooks, approximately three minutes. Add the rice and a teaspoon of salt. Stir to mix thoroughly and the rice is coated in tomato before adding the broth.

Arrange the chicken and chorizo amongst the rice. Bring everything to a simmer. Close the grill and only check on it every few minutes to rotate the pan so it doesn’t burn. DON’T STIR THE RICE. This will help ensure the toasted layer on the bottom. After about 10-12 minutes, the broth should be mostly absorbed. Arrange the shrimp and mussels hinge side down into the rice mixture.

Cook everything for another 10-12 minutes. The mussels should have opened and the rice should be tender. Remove the paella from the grill and cover it with foil. Let it rest for at least five minutes before serving. Toss any unopened mussels and sprinkle the finished product with parsley and a squeeze of lemon.