simple, delicious, comfort food…alfredo with veggies!

So, as usual, I hadn’t really ‘planned’ dinner…I used to plan dinners, well, sort of… my idea of planning was and still is, to try and incorporate a new recipe every now and again – to help with the boringness of the ‘same old, same old’ – but now that I’m only home three nights a week, I tend to ‘wing it’ and simply use what I have on hand…sometimes it works, sometimes it’s still the ‘same old, same old’…but it’s always homemade, with love.

This night I was in need of a change, do you that know that feeling?

Our bodies need change, our minds need change, and our food prep habits need change…hence, how I ended up with this recipe…

I needed to use what I had (I live 25 minutes from the closest grocery store, one-way), and I wanted to utilize the abundance of fresh kale I had just picked from my backyard garden and I wanted comfort food.

first kale + swiss chard

So, guess what I came up with? Pasta with kale, dripping in alfredo sauce!

vertical alfredo

It was SO good.

I think all that cheese negated the health benefits of the kale, but such is life sometimes…

A few months ago (in the cold, dark of winter) I was wanting something rich, gooey, and comforting –  I needed a recipe for an alfredo sauce. A simple sauce of cheese, milk/cream, roux and salt and pepper. Nothing else would do. I connected to the internet (yes, I still have dial-up and yes, it still exists, sadly…) and after awhile I came across this delicious and easy to make recipe. I made it, I loved it and I printed it to keep – and I’m so glad I did.

I hadn’t made it since the dark days of winter, but when your in the mood for a rich and decadent alfredo sauce and you live in the woods by the sea, well, you better know how to make it, or at least have a recipe to help you know how!

So, I looked in the fridge – yeah, all the ingredients were there! All I had to do was prep.

No simple feat as a mamma of a pre-schooler, but with a little help from Michael, my partner – he entertained our four year old, while I chopped, diced, whisked and then finally, assembled – dinner!

pasta, veggies, alfredo

This recipe is so flexible, it’s ridiculous.

Here’s what you need and what to do;

Sautee any veggies you have – I used peppers, mushrooms and kale – in a bit of olive oil and set aside.

veggies sauteed

Boil water for pasta and begin cooking pasta just before you start making the alfredo sauce.

Prepare alfredo sauce.

Place cooked pasta on plate or bowl, top with alfredo, then veggies and voila, dinner is served! Finish with a bit of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper and serve alongside a salad of greens and a feast is served! Enjoy.

Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo Recipe – Print this!

Slightly adapted from Jessica at Delicious Obsessions

Ingredients;

1/4 cup

1/2 tbsp. freshly minced garlic

1 -2 tbsp. flour of your choice (I used 1.5 tbsp. unbleached white)

3/4 cup whole milk*

3/4 cup heavy cream*

**(I substituted 1.5 cups half and half and 1/4 whole milk for heavy cream and milk measurements)

1.5 cups freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Kosher or sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

What to Do:

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add garlic and saute until lightly browned.

Sprinkle the flour over the butter/garlic mixture and whisk around, quickly. You want to use enough flour to absorb the butter, without over doing it.  You want to create a roux (which is a mixture of flour and a fat (usually butter) used to thicken sauces and soups), which is slightly thick, yet fluid, without being gloppy.

Whisk this mixture for about 4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning…this helps remove the ‘raw’ taste the flour could have if undercooked. The flour should be very lightly browned.

After you’ve made your roux (cooked your flour), slowly add the milk and cream, all the while continuing to whisk. Keep whisking – or else your sauce will be clumpy – until it’s slightly thickened and gently bubbling…

While whisking, add the shredded parmesan, little by little, until all is incorporated.

Remove from heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Things to consider;

Don’t have kale? Use spinach or swiss chard.

Don’t have peppers? Use caramelized onions or summer squash.

What about garlic? Or garlic scapes? Or fresh basil? What about freshly chopped parsley?

Like meat? Add sausage or bacon.

Play around with what you have and keep it simple.

Veggies and cheese over pasta, how can you go wrong?

Enjoy.

 

 

black bean, kale and goat cheese nachos

Nachos are a simple and easy dinner idea, especially for those hot summer nights – very little cooking time (thus heat!)…corn chips, beans or meat, cheese (goat or cheddar) and toppings – that’s it. Prep is uncomplicated. Use your judgement and preferences for quantities – adding more or less as you like – here’s what I used;

1 large bag organic corn chips – tortilla chips

1 can black beans or as I used 1.5 cups freshly cooked black beans

1 small onion

crumbled goat cheese (about one small log)

1 good handful finely chopped kale (about three – four handfuls before cutting and cooking)  

two good dashes of cumin

one good dash of chipotle

freshly chopped tomatoes

fresh cilantro or as I used, fresh basil – it was so good!

2-3 limes

salt and pepper to taste

What to do;

cook beans if necessary. partially rinse beans, reserving about 1/4 cup of cooking or can liquid.

chop onion and saute in olive oil or butter until translucent and or slightly browned. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

add chopped kale – saute quickly until it becomes emerald green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

add rinsed beans, tomatoes and spices.

heat beans through – add as much liquid as necessary to give it a slight ‘broth’ … adjust seasonings to taste.  Let flavor (simmer) for a short time.

Meanwhile, spread one layer of chips on cookie sheet.

Use slotted spoon to pour bean mixture onto chips (this way you’ll get enough ‘juice’ without the chips becoming soggy) – be generous.

Top with cheese and then another layer of chips, beans, and cheese

Place under broiler until cheese melts (a few minutes only)

Serve and top with salsa, sour cream, avocado and fresh lime juice.  Add a side salad and rice – dinner is served!

Substitute chicken or beef for beans and you have a meat eaters meal or mix it up and use beans and meat…instead of kale, swiss chard or spinach could be used (eat your greens) or omit all together … cheese is up to you. Great for lunch, parties, dinner or as an appetizer…Nachos – eat them up, yum!

bliss

Saturday was one of those days in Maine…the kind of day people envision when they think of ‘vacationland’… the kind of day which makes me appreciate living here – a cloudless brilliant blue sky, the sound of warm breezes blowing through tree leaves, roses in bloom, hot sunshine, green grass, waves gently rolling in the background and most importantly no bugs. The last part is the most critical – you see, Maine is notorious for its’ mosquitos, there are LOTS of them and where I live, they are relentless – truly incomprehensible…SO, to have the entire day to myself (Michael and Finn were out for the day), absolutely stunning weather (prior to this we’d been having nothing but rain) and to not be constantly assaulted with buzzing and biting (mosquitos), well, the day was absolute perfection (for a girl in rural Maine who loves her garden)… I spent five blissful hours outside, working in my garden.

I transplanted pumpkin seedlings,  planted more beans, carrots and spinach in order to have a continuous supply…I also planted corn seeds – I love fresh corn on the cob in August.

I was also thankfully able to transplant my tomato plants – they were over 3 feet in height and desperate to get in the ground. I planted each with a few basil plants (said to enhance flavor) and marigolds (pest control) as well as borage (for the dreaded tomato worm – they were terrible last year). I’d never seen or worked with borage, but I’d learned of its’ benefits from companion planting with tomatoes, so I gave it a try – I’m curious to see what comes of it.…if all works well this year, I’ll start a few borage plants from seed next year. It’s also said to help prevent worms in corn as well.

I then mulched the new transplants with hay to help with weeds as well as prevent moisture loss. I then happily picked baby lettuce, kale and spinach and have enjoyed them every night since.

I am hopeful for a good garden season – the risk with gardening is you just never know how it will all turn out – it’s all a bit of an experiment really…we cannot control the weather, thus we cannot control what may come of all our hard work. You may know the what, where and when of planting and gardening, yet still you cannot control the outcome of your labor…We prep the soil, begin seedlings months in advance, plan the layout, plant, weed, water and continue looking after the soil and if mother nature decides not to cooperate, well, that’s just how it is…So while I hope (and work towards) an abundant season (there’s nothing better that homegrown veggies) I know in the end, its not up to me – it will just be as it is…so until then, I will eat my greens and hope for more!