you’re familiar with the notion of the ‘biological clock’, right? well, mine’s ticking. I want badly to have a bun in the oven. several, actually. I don’t know if it’s the prospect of cooler weather and the onslaught of warm, comforting recipes but I’m just finding myself with a hankerin’ to take off my pants and BAKE LOTS OF BREAD. literal bread. literally delicious gluten free bread. not babies. babyless bread. no babies. sorry mom. but really, I’m so inspired lately by beautiful baked treats and I want to bake them all. there’s something so artful about gathering ingredients, parsing them out ever so carefully, subjecting them to intense heat until they become it, something else, different; its own form. baking is so romantic and beautiful and messy and scientific. baking tells so many stories and there are so many stories in baking.
some baking + other things moving me this week:
links for a week’s end
this roasted apple butter from brooklyn supper is calling my name (and the names of all the tiny little north carolinian apples that bret and I inherited this week!).
I have a habit of sneaking hummus onto anything I possible can, but on the bottom of a bowl, to be topped with shakshuka to be eaten with a spoon? never have my thoughts ventured to such a place and no longer shall they remain unenlightened, thanks to green kitchen stories.
more enlightenment: everything ottolenghi.
minimalist baker inspires again with simple + brilliant recipe ideas. check out these sweet potato pie oats (spoiler alert: I’m sharing a major twist on this recipe next week) and their fresh vegan take on seven layer dip.
kombucha cocktail YES. ginger apple autumn crunkies YES, mouth, now. and let’s just ride this tasty yummies train and talk about this roasted curry cauliflower with feta + cilantro because I love the idea of adding contrasting flavors + textures (cheese, fresh herbs) to simple roasted veggies.
GRILLED CHEESE BLOODY CAESAR. there are no words.
I am so charmed by anna malmberg’s home and aspire to create a space so beautiful and personal.
I really like this DIY wall art made from a foraged branch and yarn.
and now, this:
southern pesto squash pasta
I’m so excited to share this pasta. admittedly there’s likely nothing southern about its preparation or even its ingredient list at first glance. in place of basil in the pesto, I used young mustard greens — a plant that to my knowledge I’ve only ever tasted here in alabama — and pecans instead of pine nuts. those are southern flavors to my tongue. I tossed the pesto with wholesome brown rice spaghetti and topped it with charred coins of zephyr squash and other local squashes I’ve never seen before. it’s a combination of flavors so fresh from the earth; local; one that I couldn’t exactly replicate anywhere else in the world. I’m beginning to appreciate these types of things about living here.
that said, the recipe/format/structure of this dish is so simple and unceasingly flexible, so if mustard greens aren’t in season where you live (or they’re just not your thing), use another leafy green or the classic basil leaves. this meal is all fun. to think up, to plan, to make, to eat. it’s so easy, so so rewarding. need to make it gluten free? do like-a meee and use brown rice spaghetti. no wanna grains? use 100% buckwheat noodles and run with the asian vibe–I could see tiny slivers of bell peppers along or instead of the roasted squash and maybe almonds or something crazy like hazelnuts instead of pecans. a splash of tamari or fish sauce in place of lemon in that pesto?! it’s your circus, man. go for it.
mustard green + pecan pesto pasta with charred zephyr squash
this is a recipe I’m happy to provide measurement estimates for just to give an idea of what I did. I didn’t actually measure anything and I don’t think you’ll need to either. this pasta comes together so nicely. the pesto is forgiving and flexible; if you taste too much of something, you can make an adjustment. no worries.
1/2 big bunch of mustard greens (4 cups of moderately packed leaves, ish)
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup parmesan/other hard cheese OR a handful of nutritional yeast + few more pecans
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
lemon juice (optional–and I always opt for a few tablespoons)
salt and pepper to taste (plenty!)
red/cayenne pepper (optional)
place ingredients in a food processor and hit go. let blend a few minutes until you’re happy with the consistency, adding more oil as necessary to get a fairly smooth, luscious texture. set aside.
3-4 slender squash and/or zucchini–the skinnier the better for cuteness factor
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
preheat oven to 425F. pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil onto a baking tray. slice squash into coins about a quarter of an inch thick. toss slices in the oil on the baking sheet, and then distribute them evenly and flatly in a single layer. season with plenty of salt and pepper. if you’re me, you’ll roast it on the middle oven rack for I don’t know, 12 minutes, and then turn on the broiler without moving the oven rack to crisp up the tops for 5-7 minutes. ish. doing it this way was easy and fun, but feel free to flip all the damn slices and continue roasting normally if you please. while the squash roasts, cook the pasta.
1 package brown rice pasta (or less, if you’re cooking for one or two mouths. I used spaghetti)
cook according to package directions while the squash roasts. when it’s done, rinse quickly with whatever temperature whatever is coming out of your sink, drain well, and place in a bowl.
plating + assembly
toss the pasta with some of the pesto. add a touch more olive oil if it seems thick. mix with your fingers until pasta is coated evenly, then divvy up your servings onto plates or into bowls. top with plenty of the crispy, salty, caramelized squash slices. top with a few more grinds of pepper or grated cheese, if you want. enjoy.
- about three small squashes were enough for two servings of pasta. one normal box of spaghetti makes enough for four servings here, so you may want to double the amount of squash–you’ll likely want plenty plenty on each serving–if you’re feeding four. in that case, use two baking sheets to keep the slices on a single layer.
- you’ll have pesto leftover. make a pizza and use the pesto instead of tomato sauce. put it on sandwiches. eat it with a spoon.