meatless monday: asparagus goat cheese pasta, caprese salad- JAM

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Man, why would I just start craving a Caprese salad. I know it is a nice, bright dish with fresh basil and tomato and big globs of cheese– in other words, all good– but what would cause me to want it all of a sudden? Whatever it was, thank you. I’d also like to thank Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen for the recipe I used. I felt like I need to go back to basics after going on a few off book adventures of late.

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Who could resist?

I also went to the Smitten well for tonight’s main, a nice gooey goat cheese pasta. Goat cheese when mixed with hot pasta and a little oil and water makes the easiest cream sauce you’ve ever made. I tweak her recipe a bit with a little garlic and a visit to Bungalow Garden.

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I can smell these guys through the screen.

This is one of those recipes where the ingredients really matter. The herbs have to be fresh, the tomatoes have to be ripe (I used “ugly ripe” heirloom tomatoes, the pasta needs to stand up to flavor of your good chevre (cannot used crumbles). Even if you are using quality ingredients, this meal is not going to break the bank and it is going to make a ton of food. Wonderful delicious food cast down from Nomulus and Nomus, the founders of Flavortown.

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Things got fancy, this is from Italy.

Caprese: Altered from smittenkitchen.com

3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound peak-season tomatoes diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 15-ounce can white beans
A handful of chopped basil plus 1/4 cup olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Bed of red leaf lettuce

Stir it up and go to town.

Asparagus Goat Cheese Pasta: Altered from Smittenkitchen.com

1 pound spiral-shaped pasta
1 pound slender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of elephant garlic, lightly roasted
Grated lemon peel from 1 whole lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh herbs, oregano, rosemary, thyme
2 4-ounce log soft fresh chevre (1 regular, one with herbs
Fresh lemon juice to taste

Boil the pasta with salted water for about 6 minutes. Add the cut asparagus to the water and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so. Drain, but retain some of the water for a gooey sauce. MIx the herbs, garlic, oil, and cheese in a bowl. Add the hot pasta and the water and stir until it looks like this:

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It’s the mac and cheese you never knew you wanted all the time.

 Enjoy the adventures, y’all. Both of these recipes are prime for tweaking. Share your ideas!

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