So we are in our second week of school and it has shaken up our dinner routine. Some days I feel like I have more time to cook a fun dinner (only 1 boy underfoot, not 2) and other days our schedule (having gone from 0 to 60) brings us home at 6 pm, tired and lazy. My dinner expectations and aspirations are having to adjust to our new routine. Very simple dinners, pulled from the pantry, are happening now more than ever. Oatmeal is one of those pantry dinners. We usually top it with maple syrup, berries, and nuts but the other night I just wasn’t in the mood for a sweet meal. Then a light bulb went off – why not savory oatmeal? Oats are just a grain like rice and rice makes creamy risotto so…..Green Oatmeal was born. Yes, there were a few bowls of sweet oatmeal on the table but my savory heart is psyched on this new discovery.
The family member with the sweetest of sweet tooths (who clearly opted for the maple syrup topping) has been helping me test new fall recipes. It’s strange to cook fall food full of spice, cranberries, and root vegetables when the September sun is pounding 80-degrees into our kitchen window. But hey, a bubbling fall dessert, even eaten in just underpants, tastes pretty good anytime.
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 cup steel cut oats
1/2 pound baby spinach (or any green you like)
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for serving
Red pepper flakes
goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 lemon, sliced
First, get the steel cut oats cooking. Bring the water and milk to a boil. Slowly stir in the oats. After 5 minutes, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the oats are cooking saute the spinach and olive oil over medium heat to just wilt the leaves. Sprinkle in some salt.
Serve creamy oats topped with crumbled goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, spinach, fresh lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Every morning for the past month or so Dylan has woken up and asked if it was Halloween. He looks forward to this holiday more then any other. The costume planning, house decorating, and pre-school conversations around trick-or-treating have filled our month of October. So, drum roll….we wake up Halloween morning and he asks if today is Halloween!?! Nick and I are so excited to finally say YES! Then he responds, “Mama, I wish tomorrow was Halloween – not today so it would always be Halloween tomorrow.” My heart melted.
Dylan is into big cats so naturally he requested a cheetah costume. My mom made the suit, I did the face paint, and Nick painted the spots with glow in the dark paint (I wish I had a picture after dark). Dylan has taught me a lot about cheetahs recently. For example, the black fur around their eyes is to attract sunlight so they can see in the bright sun (like football players) and they have an extra long tail to help them steer when running at top speed – so cool. Gray worn the cozy sock monkey costume my mom made for Dylan when he was 1. It is one of my all time favorites!
But back to the food. This salad is a new favorite of mine. The vinaigrette is delicious and everything is warm, salty, and flavorful (love me some capers and lemon). I hope you give it a try.
Warm Spiced Chickpea Salad with Caper Vinaigrette
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 small bunch kale or mustard greens, ribs and stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup water
1/2 small shallot, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon honey
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and patted dry
1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Combine the chickpeas, cumin, and 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl. Mash about half of the chickpeas with a fork; season with salt and pepper. Transfer chickpeas to a shallow baking dish.
2. Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add greens and cook, tossing, until slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add honey and 1/4 cup water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until greens are completely wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to dish with chickpea mixture and toss to combine. Bake in a 350F oven for 30-35 minutes.
3. While the salad toasts up, make the vinaigrette. Whisk shallot, lemon juice, mustard, and honey in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Heat vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook caper until opened and crisp, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer popped capers to vinaigrette. When ready to serve, drizzle warm salad with vinaigrette.
This seems to be the summer of the gifted greens. A neighbor down the street, friend across town, and family growing vegetables on a nearby hill have all gifted us bowls of summer greens. They tell us they planted too much, don’t want it to go to the deer and rabbits, or arn’t craving crunchy lettuce this week. Of course, we always say yes and enjoy every bite.
Nick was inspired by a recent bunch of mustard greens to try a Fresh Mustard Greens Pasta. It came out perfectly and is an ideal summer dinner. I was always intimidated by making fresh pasta at home but Nick’s confidence has made me realize it really is as easy as they say. You won’t know until you try it – so you should try it. Our garden is definitely not overflowing with beautiful lettuces and greens but does have some pretty darn good lavender. We snipped some bunches this week, tied them up, and hid them around the house and in the bottom of the new (old) car we bought.
Fresh Mustard Greens Pasta
1 1/2 cups chopped raw mustard greens leaves
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
water (only if absolutely needed)
additional flour for rolling
Rip mustard greens leaves from the stems, wash, and while still wet, wilt in a hot skillet until completely soft, about 4 minutes. Let cool and wring out all the water — this is very important. Use your hands and squeeze squeeze squeeze. Finely chop the cooked greens.
Dump mustard greens, flour, and salt on countertop and mix with your fingers, then form into a pile. Make a deep well in the center and add the whole eggs and yolks to it. Use your fingertips to break up the eggs and begin moving your fingers in a circular motion, keeping the eggs within the center. Each circular movement pulls in a little bit of flour from the sides. In a few minutes, the mixture will become thicker and thicker, finally becoming too tight to move easily with your fingers. At this point, you can use a bench scraper or spatula to start adding the remaining, a little pile at a time. Once a rough dough has formed, begin kneading the mixture, scraping it up when it sticks, until a ball is formed. It will look flaky but will hold together.
Knead the dough, pressing it away with the heels of your hands then forming it back into a blob, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the dough is moist but not sticky. Add extra flour, a spoonful at a time, only if dough is too sticky. Add a drop or two of water only if it’s cracking when you knead it. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again for 5 to 8 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic and let rest at room temperature for an hour.
Divide dough into thirds. On a floured surface, roll the pasta as thin as you can; as thin as a newspaper and translucent is ideal (with either a rolling pin or pasta machine). You can either cut the pasta sheets with a sharp knife or use a machine to make your shape. Don’t worry about it too much – you can cut long pasta, 1″ long rectangles, or triangles.
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling. The cooking time will depend on the thickness but can range from 2-6 minutes. Drain and toss with fixings of your choice — garlic-sizzled olive oil or melted butter, parmesan or pecorino, dollops of ricotta or mascarpone. Eat immediately.