Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cooking With the Queen of Improv

One thing I dislike about being a busy mom (wait, "busy mom" is a redundant term, right?) is the fact that I don't get a lot of time to try out new recipes, let alone go shopping for special items that I normally don't stock in my bulging pantry. So when I see a recipe I like, I become the Queen of Improv. Sometimes the results are delicious; sometimes they're comically bad. Fortunately, they're often good enough to cancel out the bad.

I was inspired by reading this great article in Sunday's Seattle Times about cooking with local seasonal produce. The article includes a great recipe for Farfalle pasta with pine nuts, currants and kale. It sounded delicious and, as we do not eat kale on a regular basis, I marched down to my local grocers to pick up a large bunch of organic kale. I was surprised by how reasonably priced it was, about $3 for a HUGE bunch.

Of course, I was so busy with other "to-do's" that I didn't manage to pick up the rest of the ingredients. So tonight, during a busy weekday evening, I decided to do the Improv using substitute ingredients I already had. I used chopped walnuts instead of pine nuts, raisins instead of currants and (the biggest difference) spaghetti noodles instead of farfalle (or bowtie) pasta. I also used more garlic than the recipe called for, as our family subscribes to the "if-four-cloves-are-good-then-six-is-better" school of thought.

"What's for dinner?" the kids asked.

"Spaghetti with kale, garlic, walnuts and raisins!" I announced, with just the right amount of enthusiasm - enough to try to get them excited but not enough to make them suspicious.

Silence. "Um, that sounds interesting," said my son cautiously.

The results? It was delicious and the whole family enjoyed it. The toasted walnuts and thin slices of sauteed kale gave a nice crunch to the noodles, and the raisins' sweetness balanced the kale's peppery bitterness quite effectively. I believe some family members went back for seconds and both kids asked me to make it again. Ding, ding, ding -- WINNER!

One of these days I may try to find time to follow the recipe exactly so it'll look as pretty as the Seattle Times photo below. Until then, I am still unashamedly and unabashedly the Queen of Improv.

Photo from The Seattle Times


Mokihana said...

Wow! You posted!! I've missed you around here!

Great idea, O Queen of Improv. It looks 'ono!

Nate @ House of Annie said...

It's always a good thing when the kids ask for seconds, especially when the dish contains veggies that are "good for you". That's the great thing about pasta recipes - they really allow you to change up the ingredients and as long as you don't go too far overboard, it'll still come out great.

Did you put any cheese on it?

Jenster said...

Yes, Nate, we sprinkled a little cheese on top but didn't have to put too much on it. The olive oil made it rich enough and the garlic gave it a good flavor.