Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go Big With the Garlic: Garlic Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Peppers

Ever tried to eat a whole clove of garlic? Let’s just say you won’t be going after the opposite sex for a while…
The original recipe I looked at for tonight’s dinner called for nearly two heads of garlic. Two HEADS of garlic. Not two singular cloves of garlic, two entire heads of garlic cloves. I could already taste two weeks of stinky breath ahead.
Needless to say, I personalized the recipe and drastically cut down on the garlic, for two reasons: I was only cooking for two people and I have learned to respect the power of garlic. This time though, I boiled the garlic until it had become tender. By doing this, I took the edge off the taste and replaced the sharp bite with a smoother, sweeter flavor. Depending on the size of your dinner crowd, I could definitely see making an entire head of garlic; it seems not be as potent as previously feared. Add some vibrant red peppers, fresh green spinach and buttery mushrooms, toss with parmesan cheese and you’ve got yourself a meal. Even my omnivorous dad enjoyed it!
Garlic Pasta with Spinach, Mushrooms and Peppers
1 head of garlic
2 cups water
2 red bell peppers
1 bag [1 lb] fresh spinach
8 mushrooms
1 T olive oil or butter
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan Cheese
1. Peel and separate the cloves of garlic from the head. Boil garlic with water, covered, until very tender – about 30 min. [May have to add more water, check often]. Remove garlic cloves, RESERVE WATER. Put cloves in food processor [or use immersion blender] with less than a tsp of salt. Mix until forms a paste.
2. Broil bell peppers in oven at high heat until skin bubbles on all sides [about 10-15 min]. Take out of oven and let cool.
3. In skillet, heat oil/butter over medium heat. Cook mushrooms until tender, about 5 min. Remove.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package instructions.
5. Rinse spinach. Place in skillet with reserved garlic water, cook until just wilted. Sprinkle salt, pepper and thyme to taste.
6. Peel skin off bell peppers and chop into bite-sized pieces.
7. Add the mushrooms, peppers and boiled garlic paste to the skillet. Mix with spinach until incorporated.
8. Place over bed of pasta, grate parmesan cheese on top!

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