Thursday, January 28, 2010

Throwing together deliciousness

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, but I’m hoping to make it a more regular thing, at least while I’m off work taking care of my newborn son.

N and I have been home since the day after Thanksgiving watching our little man grow, all the while getting very little sleep. It’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’ve felt I had enough brain back to think about getting near knives and a hot stove. :o)

Tonight, N suggested that I write up dinner, if for no other reason than to keep track of what I threw together.

As I’ve mentioned before, we get a bin every other week from a local produce delivery service and have learned to cook and eat things we never thought we liked (like cauliflower…take a page from Chef Tom Colicchio’s book; if you don’t like a vegetable, try it roasted. It makes all the difference! I still don’t like beets, but I tried.)

Tonight I decided I wanted to use the collard greens we got in this week’s bin. So I started thinking about what else we had in the fridge. And I was inspired.

I started by crisping up five slices of bacon cut into lardons. I had to add a little canola oil for additional fat because the bacon was so beautifully lean. When the bacon was crisp, I scooped it out of the fat and added some thinly sliced onion and red bell pepper, letting them soak up the yummy bacon fat.

When those veggies were close to soft, I added thinly sliced crimini mushrooms and a couple of cloves of sliced garlic, salting to help the mushrooms get rid of their liquid.

It didn’t take long for the mushrooms to soak up the delicious liquid in the pan and take on the flavors that had built up. Once everything looked done, I added a little more oil and added the collards, which I had rinsed and cut in rough strips. The sauté pan was a little small, so I had to add them in batches.

I let them continue to cook down with the rest of the vegetables, adding the reserved bacon, while I boiled the pasta, a spelt angel hair in deference to N’s wheat sensitivity.

After the pasta was rinsed, I tossed it with a blood orange infused olive oil, salt and pepper. At the last minute, I sprinkled the veggie/bacon mixture with some red wine vinegar to brighten up the flavors.

The pasta was plated with a generous mound of the veg and bacon. Sadly, I didn’t think to take a picture. It was a beautiful dish.

It turned out delicious! The peppers and onions had carmelized a little, adding a dark sweetness to the whole affair. The greens still had some good tooth to them, the mushrooms, peppers and onions were soft and almost creamy, the bacon was scrumptiously crunchy and chewy. There could have been a little more acid and maybe an herb (like thyme or basil) to brighten the whole thing a bit more. And the blood orange olive oil gave everything a lovely floral, citrus note.

It’s just so satisfying to look in the fridge, pull out some raw ingredients and come up with something that is both beautiful and tasty.

Next time, I’ll try to remember to take a picture before we eat it all!