Rainy Day Greens


Gloom! Rain on rain on rain and still the temperature barely makes it above fifty. What to do? We have Nestles Special Dark chocolate chips, and dry roasted almonds. And Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, which opens with a much-thumbed recipe for Chocolate Almond Biscotti. We can heat up the kitchen with gas, and our hearts with chocolate. In between showers, I race out to the garden to pull weeds in the leek row. After two minutes, every mosquito in midcoast Maine has found my body. My hair and bare arms are soon streaked with mud.

What to make for dinner? In the fridge: a bunch of dinosaur kale; half a red pepper; less than an inch of white wine, taking up space in the door; half a lemon; flax seed oil; parmesan. In the cupboard: half a box of penne. On the counter: last year’s garlic sprouting in a little basket; salt; pepper, olive oil.

Bring a big pot of water to the boil and salt it well. Dump in the pasta. Chop up that red pepper and de-rib the washed kale. Heat up a skillet and add some olive oil, then when it’s sizzling, throw in the red pepper. Let it dance for a while, stir it, and when it starts to brown, turn down the heat and add two pressed or minced cloves of garlic (minus the sprouting core). Saute that a bit more, then deglaze with the wine. When the wine is almost gone, add the chopped kale, then some lemon zest and half a lemon’s juice. Keep sauteeing for about five minutes, or until the kale looks somewhat limp and pieces of it are dark. If you remember (we didn’t, this time) pour 1/2 cup or so of the pasta water into a bowl, and drain the rest. Add a little olive oil to the paste sitting in the sink in a sieve. Then put a little olive oil and flax seed oil in the bottom of your bowls, then some pasta, then the kale/red pepper saute, then parmesan shreds, then a little more oil or some of that saved pasta water, and voila!

Happiness in a bowl at the end of a dreary day. Biscotti for dessert! Photos to follow… we forgot; we didn’t know how good everything would taste! I adapt Maida’s incredible recipe slightly, using 2/3 cup sugar instead of one cup, and strong coffee (I mix a little instant with that day’s carafe remains) instead of brandy. food.com has her recipe here: http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-chip-and-almond-biscotti-maida-heatter-441786


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