Thursday, June 21, 2012

Riff on a recipe

My awesome sister-in-law Elizabeth Tigani has a great wellness website, She recently posted one of her favorite summer recipes, gluten-free lemon spaghetti with kale. It sounded so good, I had to try it. But you know me: I always do my own thing with recipes!
The original from DishingWell has (as you'd expect) gluten free spaghetti and kale, as well as lemon zest and parmesan. I eat gluten, Jordy doesn't care for spaghetti much, I didn't have kale, we're vegan (so no parmesan), I can't have pasta without garlic, and I was too lazy to juice AND zest lemon. So here's my gluten-full, vegan, protein-rich variation:

Garlic Lemon Basil Capellini with Broccolli Rabe, Spinach, and Navy Beans

Boil a big pot of salted water.

Chop 4 cloves of garlic. Wash about 6 sprigs of fresh basil. Cut one lemon into sixths and remove the seeds. (Just wait-- you'll see how lazy I am!)

Put small pieces of broccoli rabe in a colander. Put your colander over the boiling water pot and cover with the lid to steam/ boil for about 5 minutes. Add handfuls of spinach to colander. Steam for another minute. Take colander out of pot and set aside in your clean sink.

If you're pressed for time, rinse and drain a can of navy beans. (If you have time, soak and cook to rehydrate some-- it's healthier!)

Boil your capellini. (Takes about 2 minutes).

When your capellini's done, strain in colander WITH THE BROCCOLI RABE AND SPINACH IN IT. Yeah, heck, why not?!? Why dirty a bowl?!?

Put your empty pot back on the stovetop. Add a glug of olive oil. Put your garlic and a few shakes of chili pepper flakes in the oil; sautee. (It's totally fine to use a packet from delivery pizza. I used one.) Then add your beans. Then dump your colander o' goodies (pasta, spinach, broccoli rabe) into the pan. Turn off heat.

Rip up the basil and toss it in the pot. Squeeze your lemon wedges into the pot. Add a little more olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, maybe a grind of fresh black pepper to taste. Put the lid on the pot and shake it around to mix or be civilized and use a utensil to stir.

Plate and enjoy!

(Notice how you really only dirty on big cutting board, your pot, your colander, a knife, a spatula, and your dinner plates? This is why I really love this recipe. If you enjoy it with a nice bottle of rose, you don't have to have the buzz kill of lots of dishes after your lovely meal.)

I also added avocado to the leftovers one day and ate it all cold-- another delicious variation.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Just finished "Outcasts United" (kids' version)

I'm reading through boxes and boxes of galleys for the fall season, and I just found the kind of well-written narrative non-fiction for kids I've been waiting for!!! It's the young reader's edition of Outcasts United by Warren St. John, coming from Random House Sept. 11, 2012.
Inspiring and informative, the book tells the true story of Luma Mufleh, a young woman from Jordan who moved to the US for college and decided she couldn't return to her home country after graduation; even though her parents threatened to cut ties with her, she wanted to take advantage of the opportunities available to women in the United States.
But in Atlanta, Luma felt lonely and isolated. She found joy in pick-up soccer games, and decided to start a youth soccer team for the children of refugees in nearby Clarkson, GA. She recruited and coached boys for under-13, under-15, and under-17 teams-- the Fugees. With some help from the local YMCA and Tracy, a young volunteer, she not only coached and managed the three teams, she also started a tutoring program to help the boys off the field. She assisted families with everything from paperwork to groceries to introducing the kids to trick-or-treating. She literally gives one boy the shoes off her feet. She's tough, she's strong, she's caring, and she's real.
But what really got me about this book is the way the author uses the boys' personal stories to teach an overview of atrocities of the modern world. Just a handful of players' backgrounds provide a shocking tour of the world's conflicts-- Sudan, Iraq, Bosnia, Congo, Liberia... St. John gives a clear overview of the situations and the boys' heartbreaking reasons for coming to the US. It made me get out a map to appreciate the global diversity of the Fugees. Then I wanted to get out my wallet to donate to the Fugees. And finally, I wanted to get out my old soccer cleats and play some soccer, because the kick-by-kick descriptions of some of the games were that exciting!
I haven't read the original version of this book, but the kids' version is extremely satisfying. It will be a great discussion book, a fabulous gift, and a wonderful read for kids who are curious about the world, kids who like soccer, or kids who just enjoy a good story about likeable underdogs.