Mushroom and Baby Kale Baked Pasta

I spent most of my Monday thinking about mac and cheese, it was cold and dark and dreary and rainy. And all I wanted was something that would be delicious and comforting and warm. This was also compounded by the fact that they had mac and cheese at lunch today and of course I could not eat it because it was chock full of gluten. I thought about just making the

4 cheese baked pasta

I shared with you a few weeks ago, but I decided to shake it up. This baked pasta checked every box for what I was craving.

AND it felt healthy...ish because I put vegetables in it! I have come the decision that no matter what it is, it automatically becomes healthy if you just add kale. My obsession happens to be with baby kale, it is much more tender and I just like it way better. As you can see from this blog I have made salads with it and even put it in quesadillas. So I figured kale and mushroom  baked pasta would satisfy my mac and cheese like thoughts as well as make me feel slightly less guilty about my dinner.

Anyway it is cold and possibly snowy today in New England so make this for dinner and I promise you wont regret it!

xx

L

Mushroom and Baby Kale Baked Pasta

  • 1 lb short pasta (I used g-free but as always you can substitute for some g-full)
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 4 handfuls of baby kale
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock 
  • 2 c parmesan cheese
  • 1 ball of mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon thyme 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour (I used g-free but as always you can substitute for some g-full)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note: Be careful how much salt you add to this dish, chicken stock and parmesan cheese are both very salty. Be conservative with the salt you add, you can always add more later but you cant take it away. 

In a large skillet over medium heat sauté the mushrooms, garlic, and onions in olive oil until they begin to brown and become tender. Add in the butter, once melted add the flour. Once the flour is fully dampened slowly add the chicken stock. Whisk carefully, be sure to get out any lumps of flour that occur. Cook for about 5 minutes until thickened, add in the parmesan cheese and thyme. Cook the pasta to the package specifications.

Toss together the pasta, kale, and the mushroom sauce. Butter a large baking dish or individual ramekins. Toss 1/2 of the mozzarella with the pasta. Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish. Scatter the remaining mozzarella around the top of the dish.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the top is crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Al Forno's Baked Pasta with Cream, Tomatoes, and Five Cheeses

I don't know about you guys but the struggle is very very real on this Monday morning. I woke up and the first words I hear is my best friends saying "But Mom I don't want to go to school." That actually could not be be more accurate. Is it christmas yet? Can I  sleep soon? I mean it is 100% my fault that today is such a struggle, I may or may not have stayed up a little too late last night. Whoops! You're only young once right?

Last night I had an awesome dinner party at P's house with my brother and some good friends. We had an absolute blast and the food was of course amazing. My friend P and I love to cook together, its funny because we are both kinda control freaks and you would think that we would step on each others toes a little too much BUT we don't thank goodness! We made my roast chicken, duck fat brussels sprouts (to.die.for), baked pasta, and a big ol salad. Cooking with friends is so fun and way cheaper than going out!

So this baked pasta is a recipe from Al Forno, a restaurant in Providence RI. It is freaking amazing, like mac and cheese on crack. There are five cheeses (FIVE!) and it is super easy to put together. It also reheats really well. When I first discovered this dish I made it 5 times in one week. I promise that you will be obsessed with it too.

Enjoy!

xx

L

Al Forno's Baked Pasta with Cream, Tomatoes, and Five Cheeses

  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1/3 c ricotta 
  • 1/2 c shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2 c shredded pecorino romano cheese
  • 1/4 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1 c chopped tomatoes 
  • 1/4 lb sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 a stick of butter, sliced
  • 1 lb short pasta
  • 1/2 c basil 
  • 3 scallions chopped
  • salt 
  • pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil. In a large bowl combine the cheeses, heavy cream, half of the basil, and the tomatoes. Par boil the pasta, about 4 minutes. Combine with the cream tomato cheese mixture. Spread in individual ramekins or a large casserole dish. Try to spread as thing as possible. Bake for about 10 minutes, until browned, bubbily and crispy on top. Finish with basil and chopped scallions. 

Ancho Chicken and Kale Quesadillas

I was watching Watch What Happens Live the other night and Rachel Ray was on. She said that a really cheap and easy way to have a holiday party would be to have a nacho bar. Now I got to thinking, nachos (are one of my favorite foods) but I prefer them with melted cheese rather than a cheese sauce. And making a nacho bar with melted cheese would be difficult (these are the things that I think about when I am running). Then I started thinking about omelet bars, and it hit me! Quesadilla bar! Way yummier and you could use a omelet bar set up to make the quesadillas! Mom and Dad I hope you are paying attention, there WILL be a quesadilla bar at my hypothetical wedding.

Anyway I got home from my run and was absolutely starving, so I threw together this quesadilla and let me tell you it was amazing. I felt healthy because I used my handy-dandy grill pan to grill my chicken and put kale inside the quesadilla. Is it just me or does adding just a little bit of kale to something automatically make you feel like your eating something that is good for you?

Enjoy!

xx

L

Ancho Chile Chicken and Kale Quesadillas 

  • 2 Corn Tortillas (or flour if gluten full is the way you roll)
  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast 
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 good dash of oregano
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 cup of baby kale
  • 1 clove of garlic diced
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend 
  • 2 tbs olive oil

For Avocado Crema

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 c sour cream 
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • pinch of salt and pepper

In a small bowl drizzle chicken breast with one tbs of olive oil, ancho chile powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and oregano. Set aside, so all the flavors can get to know one another. 

In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in one tbs of olive oil. Once the garlic is fragrant and begins to cook add the kale. Sauté until soft (it will shrink down a lot), about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Put a grill or sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, cook the chicken about 4 minutes per side. You want to get a nice sear on the outside to keep all the juices in. Set aside to rest. After it has rested for 5 -10 minutes dice. 

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium low heat, place one of the tortillas in the pan, sprinkle with half of the cheese, kale, and diced chicken. Sprinkle with the other half of the cheese and top with the other tortilla. 

After about five minutes (or when you see the cheese on the bottom getting nice and melty) flip your quesadilla and brown the other side. About 4 more minutes. 

In a food processor combine the avocado, sour cream, salt, pepper, and lime juice. Pulse until well incorporated. 

Cut your quesadilla and serve with avocado crema. enjoy! 

Carbonara

I got back from florida yesterday, and let me tell you my transition back to real life has been a little rough. Partially because I returned to my apartment to find it a complete disaster zone (granted it was my own doing) and I had almost no food in the fridge.

After unpacking, cleaning, and beginning the process of organizing my life I started to think about dinner. I searched my fridge and found bacon, eggs, frozen peas, and parmesan. Most people would say, "L you idiot make bacon and eggs!" But I don't know if you have figured this out yet but I am not like most normal people. My mind immediately jumped to one of my favorite things, carbonara! This italian classic is probably my most quintessential comfort food. Luckily I am a crazy person who spends their free time perfecting dishes like this one.

Plus since it was the weekend after thanksgiving I made it "healthy" by adding in frozen peas! The peas actually add some really nice pops of freshness in all of the creamy amazingness of the pasta.

Anyway if you need a dish to fight off the sunday scaries or something to cuddle you and make you happy, this is the one for you.

Enjoy!

xx

L

Carbonara 

  • 1 lb gluten free or full Spaghetti
  • 4 ounces of bacon or pancetta 
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly graded parmesan cheese
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup peas 
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water

Put a large pot of VERY salty water on the stove and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over heat olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Dice the bacon into small lardons and sauté until crispy. Add in the smashed garlic cloves (leave them relatively whole you will pull them out later). Once the water is at a boil cook your pasta to the packages directions. 

In a small bowl combine the eggs and graded parmesan cheese, whisk until well combined. Season with salt (be careful with the salt, both bacon and parmesan cheese are both very salty so be conservative) and pepper. Pull out the cloves of garlic. Once your pasta is cooked, add it to the sauté pan. Toss the peas in as well. Coat the pasta with the bacon grease and olive oil. Remove the pan from the heat and toss in the cheese and egg mixture. Toss the pasta with tongs in order to slowly heat the egg mixture (you don't want scrambled egg pasta). Toss for about 2 minutes until well incorporated. 

EAT IMMEDIATELY : )