Quinoa Pasta with Broccoli, Snow Peas, and Chorizo Sausage

Quinoa Pasta with Broccoli, Snow Peas, and Chorizo Sausage 2

Why don’t we address the giant elephant in the room: I’ve been AWOL for over a year, and I apologize for that, I really do.  However, I’m returning with cool cooking experiences under my belt and some even better ones about to start (including a foray into a two Michelin-starred kitchen!).  Now here’s a picture of a cute baby elephant.  Please don’t go to the circus.

Baby-Elephant-HD-Photos

Source: hdwallpaperstop.com

Today I’m presenting you a pasta with a twist if you will, the base of which is a gluten-free quinoa pasta.  I purchased quinoa elbows from the Whole Foods in Venice, CA, where customers can buy as much or as little of the pasta as they want.  If you do indeed want to make this dish with quinoa pasta, I suggest using the Ancient Harvest brand.  The main difference I’ve noticed between quinoa pasta and “regular” pasta is that there is, as you might guess, no starch or gluten to provide a thick consistency and hearty bite.  With that said, I enjoyed the lightness of these elbows and wouldn’t mind cooking with them again.  Quinoa in general is a great source of calcium, phosphorous, and iron.

To provide a salty and flavor-packed component, I bought one pork chorizo sausage link, which came out to about 3 ounces.  You might opt for other sausage varieties: spicy chicken, lamb merguez, or something without a kick if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t find snow peas, you can easily omit them, or substitute another crunchy vegetable. Lastly, while I tried to keep this dish at one serving size, I found that it was almost impossible given the quantity of broccoli and sausage. So, I hope you won’t mind having leftovers for the next day or later in the week!
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Summer Whole Wheat Pasta with Corn, Tomatoes, & Tuna

Good Thursday morning to everybody!

I confess that I didn’t intend to write this much at the outset, but once I got started I realized that I have so much to say to you today, mainly about one ingredient in particular.  I think this delicious pasta got me excited and I have rambled, and I apologize.  Please feel free to skip straight down to the recipe, or continue reading for what I consider to be interesting information on what comprises about 0.4% of our body’s weight.

So before I let you go on your merry way and continue your beautiful life, I am going to impart some information to you.  As I’ve mentioned before, since January I’ve been working as a cook and teaching assistant at Haven’s Kitchen, a beautiful cooking school and private event space in NYC.  Working here initially was not only exciting to me (I felt like I finally got the job I always wanted!) but so scary that I felt like a person with no hands constantly trying to grip a knife – I was trying to find ways to work efficiently, but I had no idea how to do so.

As an avid home cook for over 6 years, I have enjoyed testing out recipes, playing around with my food, and cooking for friends and family at my leisure.  Stepping into Haven’s Kitchen represented the first time I was working side by side with some of the best chefs I know (ok, fine, all of the best chefs I know), who harked from such amazing restaurants as Per Se, WD-50, and Le Bernardin.  Restaurant chefs operate on a different level and get a different kind of high than home cooks do from spending time in the kitchen, and lets just say we didn’t speak the same language.

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Spring Pasta with Zucchini Ribbons

 

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” ~Oscar Wilde

 

I won’t go into the details of why cooking for yourself is a great way to dive into this so-called romance as Mr. Wilde puts it, but I thought this quote might inspire you as it did me.  I also would like to apologize for not having written any recipes for exactly two months.  When it comes to this blog, consistency is clearly is not my strong suit.

I am going to keep it fairly short today, and just give you the run-down with this pasta, a healthy dish that comes together nicely and showcases the prime vegetables of the season.  While I like cooking year round, cooking in springtime is a special treat because I am finally able to cook with fresh produce that is full of fragrance, flavor and texture.  The silky zucchini complements perfectly the crunch of the asparagus and peas, and fresh basil adds the final touch to remind you that better weather really is on its way!

Of course this springtime bliss is only relevant to those living in seasonal areas in the northern hemisphere, but hopefully you will all enjoy making this pasta no matter where you call home.  As with pretty much any recipe on this blog, feel free to change it up as you see fit: replace the peas with fava beans, use fresh mint or cilantro instead of basil, and you may even want to omit the bacon, in which case you would need to use olive oil to cook the zucchini and asparagus. 

One last note: if you have leftover zucchini and asparagus, why don’t you dice or slice everything and cook it in the next few days in a frittata?

Happy spring to every one, may your next meal be absolutely delicious, wherever and whatever you find yourself eating.  And please give feedback/comments/new recipe ideas!  The more the merrier!

Spring Pasta- Serves 1
 
1 zucchini, ends cut off, peeled
1/4-cup lardons, or two slices bacon, cut into small dice
2 ounces papardelle pasta, or any other pasta you want to use (you’re making this for yourself, so go nuts!)
1/2-cup fresh or frozen peas (if using frozen, make sure to thaw them)
3 stalks asparagus, trimmed, sliced thinly on the diagonal
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lemon
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan, or more as desired
good-quality olive oil (optional)
 
1. Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil.
2.  Using your vegetable peeler, cut the zucchini vertically into pasta-like ribbons.

3.  In a small or medium saute pan, cook the lardons or bacon bits over medium heat, until well browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Once cooked through, remove from heat, leaving the fat in the pan.
4.  Once water is boiling, add pasta and peas and cook pasta to package instructions. 
5.  Return the saute pan to heat and cook garlic in the remaining bacon fat until browned, about 30 seconds.  Add the zucchini ribbons and saute until slightly softened, 2 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook until asparagus pieces are just slightly tender, 2-3 minutes.
6.  Once pasta is ready, drain in a colander along with the peas.  Add pasta, peas, and bacon bits to the skillet containing the asparagus and zucchini, and toss to combine.  Add lemon juice as desired, probably 1-2 tablespoons. Season generously with freshly ground pepper.
7.  Remove from heat and toss in the basil.  Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and drizzle with good-quality olive oil if desired.
 
Booooon appetito!