Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale with Pasta

I have mega folders in my computer filled with recipes, all very neatly organized. In the “Sides” folder, each veggie has its own file. However, the “Kale” folder was empty when I began searching for a new recipe to cook up the abundance of kale growing in my garden. I use kale regularly in green smoothies and in my favorite salad, the Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad. I needed something new, though. So off to the internet to search for inspiration.

A garlicky mushrooms and kale recipe sounded appetizing, but I wanted a fuller meal. Hence, I mixed this with some pasta and voilà, a main dish was born, one that is pungent with garlic and earthy with mushrooms, yet the pasta mellows it all out.

By the way, the “kale” file in the veggies folder is still empty since I turned this into a main dish, but I did accomplish the goal of finding a new use for kale.

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale with Pasta

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  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter, unsalted
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 ounces Cremini or button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound kale, coarse stems removed, leaves sliced or torn into pieces
  • several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated


  1. In a large pot, heat water to boiling. Add a tbsp. of salt, then add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside while veggies cook.
  2. In a large skillet, add oil, butter, and garlic. Turn heat on to medium and sauté garlic for about 2 minutes, until it begins to sizzle and smell fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Let them cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the moisture has released and the mushrooms are lightly browned.
  4. Add the kale and pepper, and sauté for about 10 more minutes. (Cover pan with lid if the kale needs some help cooking down.) Add splashes of water if the pan seems dry. OR, as an alternative, you can blanch the kale for a few seconds, perhaps 10-20, and that will retain the bright green color while tenderizing the greens a bit.
  5. Mix pasta with veggies and serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Serious Eats

Ham, Mushroom, & Asparagus Frittata

My favorite use of leftover asparagus includes slicing it up and tossing it into a frittata, which is basically like a fat omelette fried partially in the pan and finished under the broiler. Very easy to make these, actually. And very versatile for using up a myriad of leftovers or unused veggies and meats. Just make sure you use a pan that can handle the oven heat (I use our small cast-iron skillet).

My brother recently visited, and I whipped us up a frittata. I had leftover roasted asparagus from the previous night, diced ham in a baggie from the freezer, and canned mushrooms from the pantry. I’ve made frittatas several times, but this was my first time using the roasted asparagus. I think the deepened flavor and herbs from the roasting added extra oomph to the dish because it was mighty delish. I have also used a chicken/spinach sausage chopped up instead of the ham–another savory item that takes this dish over-the-top delish.

Ham, Mushroom, & Asparagus Frittata


  • 8 eggs, beaten
  • 1 oz. Parmesan, grated — that’s about 1/4-1/2 cup (fresh is best; I used 1/2 Asiago cheese & 1/2 Parmesan combo)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • pinch of salt (I use Kosher)
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted asparagus (I used about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup diced ham or sausage (I used about 1 cup)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 small can sliced mushrooms or 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • if not using roasted asparagus, add 1/2 tsp. dried oregano


  1. Preheat oven to broil setting, and adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, about 5 inches from heating element.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs, Parmesan, pepper, and salt (add oregano at this point if not using leftover roasted asparagus).
  3. Heat a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet (or other oven safe pan) over medium-high heat. Add butter to pan and melt.
  4. Add asparagus and ham to pan; saute for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Pour egg mixture into pan; stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom of skillet, until large curds form and spatula begins to leave wake but eggs are still very wet, about 2 minutes. Shake skillet to distribute eggs evenly; cook without stirring for 30 seconds to let bottom set.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley.
  7. Slide pan under broiler and broil 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy (when cut into with knife, eggs should be slightly wet and runny). Remove from pan; using spatula, loosen frittata from skillet, slide onto cutting board or platter, and cut into wedges. Serve immediately.

SOURCE: adapted from (Alton Brown) and

New York-Style Pizza Sauce & Pepperoni-Tomato-Mushroom Pizza Loaded with Far Too Much Cheese

I have yet to master homemade pizza dough (sadly, I still buy Boboli for a quick, easy solution), but a few years ago I discovered a pizza sauce that far surpasses anything you can buy at the market. It mixes up in a jiff and tastes rich and tomato-ey with a touch of sweetness from the sugar and a touch of freshness from the basil. Plus, it’s far less expensive than the pizza sauce from the jar–an added plus :  )

Since a can of diced tomatoes is used for this, the sauce is on the chunkier side. If you want it less chunky, use scissors to cut it into smaller pieces, which you can do while the tomatoes are still in the can. Or you can blend it in the food processor to a consistency you like. Surprisingly, the scissors trick works very well.

This makes more than we need for one pizza, so I always freeze half. Speaking of freezing, don’t you hate opening a can of tomato paste when you only need one tablespoon or some other small amount? Did you know you can scoop the remaining paste into ice cube trays, freeze, and then package in a Ziploc bag and use as needed? That’s what I did with this recent batch of pizza sauce. I don’t even know if I used the 6-ounce can required because I only had 4 cubes left, which are about a tablespoon each.  And microwaving it for a minute defrosted it plenty.

And here’s another thought on freezing. Basil grows plentifully in the summer if you have an herb garden, but buying it at the market just to make this sauce can get pricey. I saw somewhere that basil can be chopped up and stuffed into ice cube trays, then filled with a bit of water. Once frozen, store the cubes in Ziploc bags and use as needed. I haven’t tried that yet, but the thought of not having to throw away unused-basil-gone-bad sure appeals to me. And since this sauce uses water, you can use the frozen basil-water mixture and not waste any basil! Yay!

Finally, since I used the sauce to make hubby’s favorite pizza–Pepperoni Loaded with Cheese–I thought I’d share pics of how I put it together. Nothing fancy here, but the addition of sliced tomatoes and mushroom enhance the overall concoction and hubby just loves it when I make this for him, although I much prefer Mexican Pizza to this one.

After a thick slathering of pizza sauce, arrange sliced tomatoes. I slice them on the thinner side and usually place even more than this, but we only had one tomato left. Oh, here’s a step I forgot: sprinkle semolina flour or corn meal beneath the dough so it will slide off more easily onto your pizza stone–if you are using one.

Spread some mushrooms around. I prefer freshly sliced mushrooms, but we were out. Luckily, we keep cans of mushrooms in the pantry for emergencies like this.

Hubby loves 2-3 times as many pepperoni as you see here. This time I gave him  two layers of pepperoni, so I didn’t overlap them and crowd them like I usually do. What you see here is layer #1.

Sprinkle on waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much mozzarella cheese (the grater on the food processor is a timesaver!). I then grated a bit of Asiago cheese just because we had some in the fridge. Hubby actually likes even more cheese than this and even this was too much for my taste, but I went for a compromise.

Layer #2 of pepperoni.

And now here is one of the most important parts of pizza making: the use of the pizza stone. You heat this up in a 450-500 degree oven for 30 minutes. When you place the pizza on it, the bottom bakes up crispy while the inside remains chewy. Yummy yum yum. And amazingly, the pizza cooks up in about 10 minutes, whether you use homemade pizza dough or the store-bought pre-cooked ones. As you can see, this is a well-used stone. Since you never wash it with soap and scrub it, it begins to look like this yet is still perfectly good. By the way, I bought mine at Ralphs for $15 whereas they usually sell at fancypants places for $50 and up. I got mine a year or so ago but I’ve still spotted them at Ralphs. Bargain–gotta love it! And it works just fine, although I must admit I haven’t tried the pricey ones so I can’t offer a comparison.

Here’s a step I forgot to do in the beginning. Before rolling out your dough or placing a pre-made dough on a cookie sheet, sprinkle either semolina flour or corn meal beneath the pizza dough. This will keep it from sticking to your pan for the transfer process. Or, you can also place everything on a sheet of parchment paper and place parchment paper and all directly onto the stone (I’ve done that before, especially when using homemade pizza dough that needs to be rolled out).

After 10-12 minutes of baking, you will have a crispy, ooey-gooey-cheesey pizza with hidden goodies underneath all that cheese. And a happy hubby–at least in my case :  )

New York-Style Pizza Sauce

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  • 7 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk.

Yield: 2 2/3 cups (I have enough sauce to make two 14-inch pizzas)

Note: Freezes well in a Ziploc bag, but eliminate as much air as possible.

SOURCE: Cooking Light magazine, July 2009

Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms

I took out too much ground meat last night and thought I’d use the extra for this Beef Barley soup. It’s the first time I’ve ever cooked with barley, and I bought it the same day I bought lentils because they were both housed next to each other on the shelf. It was sort of an impulse buy but not really because I had seen this recipe and wanted to try it.

Hubby likes the canned barley soup (yuck), and I actually like the soft yet firm texture of the barley; plus, it’s another of those good-for-you ingredients (high in dietary fiber). Hence, this seemed like a tester recipe.

Want to know more about barley? My Encyclopedia of Healing Foods classifies it as a minor food grain. That leaves me wondering what in the world the major food grains are and who decides which is major or minor?!

Factoid: more than 80% of barley that is produced is used to either feed livestock or make alcohol, like beer and whiskey.

The other 20% that we humans consume in food products is described as a “glutenous grain…[with] a rich, nutlike flavor and a … chewy, pastalike consistency.” Well no wonder I like barley: I love nuts and I love pasta. There you have it.

Like lentils, barley comes in many forms: hulled, pearl (intensely milled), pot/Scotch (has bran layer still on it), flakes, and grits. How’s that for variety?

Back to my soup: I used loads of mushrooms by mistake. I sliced up what we had in the fridge before I remembered that I had some leftover sliced mushrooms from the pizza I made a couple nights earlier. Good thing hubby loves mushrooms ;  )

Overall, a thick, hearty soup with tons of goodies. We liked it. We’ll make it again. And again. And maybe even again.

Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms

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  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped medium
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped medium
  • 12 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup drained canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 2 cups meat shredded into bite size pieces (I used ground meat)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves (or you can substitute fresh dill)
  • salt and ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and carrots; saute until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1 more tbsp. oil and mushrooms; saute until mushrooms soften and the liquid they throw off evaporates, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add thyme, tomatoes, broth, meat, and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until vegetables and barley are tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. Stir in parsley; salt and pepper to taste.

SOURCE: The New Recipe Book (pg. 40)