The Brellis House

 

Vegetable Pasta with Kale

Posted on October 11th, 2014 by Dan

Penne Pasta with Vegetables and Kale | The Brellis House

Summer’s bounty can be overwhelming sometimes. This dish is a great way to use up the last of summer’s vegetables. Feel free to get creative with the types of vegetables and seasonings. If you plan to switch things up, remember to cook your various vegetables appropriately:

Roast the more hardy ones (potatoes, cauliflower or squash)
Steam (broccoli or asparagus) or briefly boil (peas) the greener ones
Sauté – high heat and quick time – the tender ones (mushrooms, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, or green onions)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1/2 zucchini (peeled, seeded and cut into wedges)
  • 1 onion (sliced)
  • 1 carrot (sliced diagonally)
  • 1 half bell pepper (sliced)
  • 1/4 pound green beans (edges trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 ears of corn (cut off cob)
  • 2 big handfuls of kale (stems removed & chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Italian herbs (dried or fresh parsley, basil, thyme, rosemary, etc- you get to be creative here)

Methods

  1. On a baking sheet, combine the zucchini, onion, carrot and bell pepper. Toss with enough olive oil to coat and about 1/4 tsp of salt. Bake at 350*F until everything is tender, approx 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Once boiling, add the green beans in for no more than 1 minute and then transfer then with a slotted spoon to an ice water bath. Add the pasta to the boiling water and boil until al dente. Strain the pasta and cover.
  3. In a large pot (possibly the same as our pasta cooker), heat up some olive oil (~ 2 tbsp) on low and add the crushed garlic along with a pinch of salt. Cook until fragrant (30 seconds), add the tomatoes, cook another minute then add the corn (if the garlic stars to brown before you add the corn, turn the heat down). Cook the corn for 1-2 minutes, then add the strained green beans, roasted vegetables and cooked pasta. Add more olive oil coat everything, stirring really well. Season with additional salt, if necessary, and mix in the black pepper and Italian herbs and warm throughout. Turn off the heat, add the chopped kale on top, put the lid on the pot and let sit to soften the kale for 1-2 minutes. Once the kale is just barely wilted and a brighter green, mix everything and serve.

Growing Arugula Microgreens | The Brellis House

Also, we accidentally grew microgreens. All our arugula went to seed apparently and after I weeded away the dead cucumber vines and lettuce, these adorable little guys immediately sprouted up. They are so delicious, it’s hard to describe.

Washed Arugula Microgreens | The Brellis House

Yuca, The Unexpected Root

Posted on July 27th, 2013 by Dan

Yuca, cassava or manioc is one of those foods that when you check out at whole foods, the cashier is like, ‘what is that?’ Susanna and I first had yuca when we were studying abroad in Peru for a tropical ecology trip, and we haven’t looked back since. It’s sort of like a potato, in that it’s a startchy root, but the texture is more creamy and it has nutty, complex flavor.

yuca-root

My go-to yuca dish is simply wedges fried in some oil on a skillet and dipped in aioli sauce, but we’ve had them in curry, casserole and tacos. You can mash them or fry them, and use them in place of Russet potatoes in most potato applications and more. They prep differently than potatoes, but if you follow these directions you have nothing to be afraid of!

First, yuca seems intimidating because they are sold as 1.5′ long roots with a tough skin and a thick layer of wax. Whole Foods carries them regularly and some other grocery stores are doing so as well (I know the Safeway nearby carries them with their ethnic produce, along with dried chilies, star fruit, etc). Pick yuca that is firm and smooth all around (side roots and kinks make peeling a pain).

yuca-root-sections

Next, I chop it into roughly 5″ sections for easy handling. Stand each section upright and use a knife to slice off the waxy skin.

peeled-yuca-sections

Peeled chunks of yuca root.

Yuca root can’t be eaten raw. Primarily because it contains toxic levels of cyanide which must be boiled off, but also it’s like eating a raw potato (ew). To make the yuca safe to eat, boil the peeled sections in a large pot of water until easily pierced by a fork (about 30 minutes).

yuca-pieces

Sliced yuca wedges with the fibrous center removed.

Once cooked, drain and let them cool enough to handle. The second caveat to yuca is a tough, fibrous center. It’s easy to remove. Simply cut the section lengthwise and you will be able to pull it right out of the center.

fried-yuca

Yuca wedges fried in oil.

Congratulations, you have successfully prepped yuca. You can now mash it, fry it or do whatever else you’d like with it. Veganomicon has delicious Jamacian sweet potato casserole topped with mashed yuca (below), but I usually can’t help but deep fry it like thick potato wedge french fries with garlic-cilantro aioli.

jamaican-yuca

Jamacian sweet potato casserole with yuca and red beans from Veganomicon

 

3

Vegetable Garden Update

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Dan

It is a beautiful day today, bright sun, cool breeze, and not too humid. It’s the perfect day to be outside or sit by an open window. And in fact, it’s very distracting as I try to write this post. Maybe even more distracting is the occasional need for me to carry Michi away from stalking birds.

The bright sun today made it especially nice for photography. First up, our Herb Pot, which always has something exciting going on in it. The catnip we planted in there at the beginning of the summer has practically quadrupled, taking over the whole pot. But we still have healthy parsley and bay leaf plants in there (I know it’s not much of an herb garden, but it came with a nice sign). Well, the parsley attracted a few friendly caterpillars. I am almost %100 these are Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars. We tested it by poking them and they shot up their defensive osmeterium (orange slingshot looking thing).

Eastern Black Swallowtail Caterpillars

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar Osmeterium

Unfortunately, we didn’t get any good pictures of the osmeterium because they shot it out so fast and it was scary.

So other than these awesome native caterpillars that we had in the Spring, we recently got some fun fungi along with our herbs.

Mushrooms popping up in the herb pot

I have no idea what kind of mushrooms these are, but they’re crazy cool looking. Bright yellow with little pimples all over them.

In another side of the yard (the front), we have our vegetable garden in full growth. This year we decided to implement a ‘Square Foot’ gardening method. This is where you divide the garden in square feet and allocate each square foot with a certain crop. For instance, you can plant one corn plant in a square foot or 4 lettuces or 16 beets. Here’s a photo from early spring when I first started planting. You can still see the dividers.

Vegetable Garden in Spring

It looks nice, right? Not sure how well it worked though. Everything grew very nicely, but I feel like the yields weren’t as good as when I wasn’t using a method. Below are a few shots from the garden, fast forwarding to today. Something that really caught us by surprise are these cucumbers. They transformed from blossom to fruit in about 3 days and they’re super long and beautiful. Each one is easily over 2 feet, and the plant is covered in flowers!

Cucumber

Cucumber

I’m also proud of the corn, cabbage and pumpkin vines!

Corn & Cabbage

Pumpkin flowers

 

Lastly, we’ll go over to the side of the house and take a look at the ‘Man Garden’, which is my own little special section of the flower garden world, well, mine and my fellow male cats :). For the past month or so, the black-eyed susan has been in full bloom.

Black-Eyed Susan

And, our newest addition, which happens to be right next to the Man Garden, coincidentally and appropriately, is the grill! Susanna’s mom dropped it off over the weekend (they had two?) and I couldn’t be more excited to use it. I’m thinking corn, pizza, bread, stuffed peppers, pretty much everything. Oh, pardon the cracked backdrop, it’s on the waiting list to be fixed replaced.

red grill

Michi in Fish Tank

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a picture of Michi in the fish tank. We have plans to make a sweet terrarium with this, but that’s for another post. It seems like if she’s not in the sink, she’s in the tub or fish tank.

I hope your vegetable garden is doing excellent.  What are your favorite things to grill? Give me your best ideas in a comment below.