Baked Pasta, Bok Choy, More Birthdays

Happy Monday, Team Quarantine. Hope you all had healthy weekends and Easter Sundays. Yesterday, I drove across the county to my parents’ house to say hi from the curb and drop off some flour and sugar. (That’s my mom pictured. She’s baking a birthday cake for her grandson, my nephew. Happy Birthday Owen!) I also went for a run in their neighborhood — my favorite route as a teenager — just to switch things up. Here are some things to think about making as we head into week 5…

Project: Pasta Bake with Beans and Kale

I have an unofficial rule that I’m trying to stick to for the recipes I’m developing in my next book. I want them to be so simple that they pass the “Texting Test,” as in “Is this recipe easy enough so that I could text the gist of it to someone who mostly knows their way around the kitchen?” I feel like this dish should be one of those recipes (you could probably figure out a baked pasta without a recipe if you had to, right?) so I hope you’ll forgive me if I just give you the gist of this one.

In a large skillet, sauté kale (curly or Tuscan) with red onions, garlic, and (at the end) a splash of red wine vinegar.

I prepared the pasta (short ziti) according to package directions and reserved a little pasta water before draining. In the same pot that I cooked the pasta, I added olive oil, water, a handful of parm and whisked in a little of the reserved water to make a little “sauce.” I tossed the pasta back in to that sauce along with the kale-onion mixture, a handful shredded mozzarella, a 15-ounce can of white cannellini beans. Then I dumped that whole mess into a baking dish, added another little drizzle of pasta water, a few slices of fresh mozzarella on top, and baked covered for 25 minutes at 350°F. I broiled uncovered for the last 5 minutes to get the cheese brown and bubbly.

Pantry: Gingery Bok Choy (with Scallops or Noodles)

We went to the farmer’s market for the first time this past weekend. It was great — you had to sign up for time slots ahead of time so there were never more than a few people shopping, the vendors pre-bagged all their vegetables, and you weren’t allowed in without masks and gloves. It was by far the most comfortable shopping experience we’ve had yet. I loaded up on vegetables, including two bundles of baby bok choy (my favorite) but was most delighted to score some fresh scallops. If scallops are not something you see yourself getting your hands on any time soon, make the bok choy and add to soba noodles that have been tossed in a drizzle of soy sauce (or fish sauce) along with a little neutral oil and some minced scallions.

Pan-Seared Scallops
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 dozen sea scallops, patted dry and tough side muscle strips removed
1/3 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
1 garlic clove, minced
generous squeeze fresh lemon juice

Add butter and oil to a medium-large pan. Add scallops to the pan and brown 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Remove scallops from pan to a platter. Add wine to the pan, along with garlic and a little more butter. Turn heat to high, whisk and scrape up all the brown bits as you stir, about one minute. (Monitor carefully — the sauce can disappear if you’re not watching.) When pan sauce is syrupy, drizzle over the scallops, along with fresh lemon juice.

Gingery Bok Choy

3 tablespoons light olive oil or neutral oil (grapeseed)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons chopped onion
shake of red pepper flakes
8 stalks baby bok choy, tough end removed, and chopped
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
toasted sesame seeds (for garnish, optional)

Add oils to a medium-large skillet set over medium heat. Add ginger, onion, red pepper flakes and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add bok choy and cook until leaves are wilted, another 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and toss with remaining ingredients.

Purpose: Quarantine Birthdays, Part 485

On Saturday I got a text from my neighbors Ian and Gillian. Don’t be alarmed, “the fire trucks will be driving by with sirens on for Weston’s fifth birthday!” I thought that was adorable. For her daughter’s “quaranteen” 13th birthday, my friend Liz organized a parade of cars to drive by her house, and young passengers popped up through sunroofs holding up posters and singing. And then, of course, there’s this.

Stay safe, stay home.

The goal of the Project, Pantry, Purpose series to keep us sane, distracted, and connected. Please continue to comment below with suggestions for recipes, projects (for kids and adults), good deeds, donation ideas, stories, movies, games, puzzles. Or just tell me how you’re doing, what your daily routine is, and how DALS can help you or people in your community. You can also email me directly at jenny@dinneralovestory.com.

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8 Comments

BB

These really are great. Thanks for doing them. I have been off of social media entirely for a year and a half. I’d probably go back on now esp for the humor aspect of insta except I had my husband set my screen time password and he forgot it. It’s for the better I think anyway. So getting to check in with your blog is extra nice.

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Mom of Boys

We went to the assisted living place yesterday and waved to the in-laws and blew kisses. Upon our arrival home, a text from MIL said that our visit reminded her of going with her parents to wave to her grandfather at the hospital/sanitarium when he was sick with tuberculosis.

Chicken mole I had stored in the deep freeze, beans and homemade tortillas for dinner tonight. Yum!

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Sarah

I’m new to your blog…discovered you via friends during this time and it is now part of my daily ritual…my end of the day, kitchen cleaned, kids in bed, house mostly tidy, cup of tea, making peace with the day. I am not a cook, my husband is our menu planner, shopper and excellent chef. However, I love to make things with/ for my girls (8 & 11) and this time at home and your daily recipes have been wonderful for that. So far, we’ve mastered crepes (multiple times), snickerdoodles, granola, and banana bread….with several more on the list to do. So, thank you for bringing that joy to our household during this uncertain time. Be well.

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Abbie

I have been thinking of you and trying to channel your spirit of celebration. We don’t usually make an effort for Passover, but this year I made matzoh ball soup, latkes (not the right holiday but I love them) and homemade applesauce. We zoomed the service with extended family (many of whom my kids don’t know) and my youngest got to read the questions and try wine(!). Then we hid 107 Easter eggs and had a spirited “capture the flag/egg” game after all were found. We’re doing special desserts, new board games, and snuggly movie nights. My kids set up a tent in the playroom and had a sleepover with each other. We are doing FaceTime game tournaments of battleship and Gobblet Jr with other family members. And hopefully more as the mood strikes!

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Caroline

Thank you for these daily posts. They are a real bright spot and source of ideas & inspiration for new meals. Dinner A Love Story’s been on the kitchen counter these past weeks, and I am cooking from it for old favorites, along with new finds in Sam Sifton’s cookbook. And we finally tried Andy’s “medicine” and made Manhattans this past Saturday night – delicious.

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Jennifer

I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your posts each day – and the recipes I have made that you have shared during this crazy time have been delicious! I think I may be trying this pasta bake tonight!

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