Wednesday, July 12, 2006

When inspiration doesn't strike...

... but a fridge full of veggies that need to be used up does, and you cook no matter how unmotivated you feel. Tonight, I didn't feel like cooking. In fact, I didn't feel like doing much at all. I talked myself out of the gym, and the weather outside looked like this - and my inspiration was at an all time low. M. had a work function and wouldn't be home for dinner and I was ready to scrounge for food and kick back and do nothing.

But I persevered against these strong evolutionary feelings to sit back and watch the rain thunder down on poor hapless Brooklyn. Instead, I tackled those fresh fava beans, and made what turned out to be a surprisingly tasty dish. Reading through the ingredients I thought - eh. This will be okay. Nothing special. In fact, it turned out to be a surprisingly delicious combination of simple ingredients (CHEESE), so much so that I had to put the leftovers away in the fridge quickly so as not to consume too much! And paired with my own incarnation of a Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad, the meal made the efforts (and cleaning the kitchen) worthwhile. M. now has tasty leftovers to take for lunch tomorrow, and I feel like I did something instead of being a lazy bum! It works out for everyone.

Orecchiette with Fresh Fava Beans, Ricotta, and Shredded Mint
Cooking Light April 2006

While fava beans are best, frozen lima beans or green peas can be used in a pinch. If using frozen beans or peas, just toss them into the pasta water during the last minute of cooking and drain with the pasta. If you can’t find orecchiette, use seashell pasta.

2 pounds unshelled fava beans (about 1 cup shelled)
1 pound uncooked orecchiette pasta (little ears pasta)
1 teaspoon olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
½ cup chopped fresh mint
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
mint sprigs optional

Remove beans from pods; discard pods. Cook beans in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove beans with a slotted spoon. Plunge beans into ice water; drain. Remove tough outer skins from beans; discard skins. Set beans aside.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Place pasta in a large bowl; add oil and salt. Toss well.

Combine the 1 cup reserved pasta water, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, chopped mint, and pepper. Add beans and cheese mixture to pasta mixture; toss to combine. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

CALORIES 507(16% from fat); FAT 8.8g (sat 4.1g,mono 2.5g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 29.2g; CHOLESTEROL 25mg; CALCIUM 255mg; SODIUM 540mg; FIBER 4.7g; IRON 6.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 85.5g

Today's Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

I took my bunch of beets, cut off the greens and then scrubbed the beets. After scrubbing, I wrapped each individually in foil, and roasted at 400 degrees for one hour. Then I held under running water while I rubbed off the skins. I then washed and sliced the greens, and sauteed them on a nonstick cooking skillet with cooking spray and one diced garlic clove. I took pre-sliced and washed lettuce, and assembled one portion on a plate. I added some beet greens and stems, and then sliced an appropriate number of beets. I sprinkled goat cheese on the top, added a swirl of storebought vinaigrette and called it tonight's beet and goat cheese salad.

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