Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Orecchiette with Lentils, Onions and Spinach

I've been feeling pretty emotional about our impending move. We are leaving our family and a wonderful circle of friends. It's going to be tough. And yes, I've shed quite a few tears over the last few days. That said, the time has really come for us to move to a city that is more suitable for our family of 5 (I'm including the elderly Rottweiler in this count).   
For five generations my ancestors have made New York City their home. The original pioneers left Europe and came through Ellis Island well over a century ago. My great-grandparents lived in Manhattan, my grandmother grew up in the tenements on East Broadway (long destroyed) and my grandfather grew up in Harlem.  In the 1940's a good chunk of my mother's family crossed the East River (Harlem River) and settled on the Grand Concourse (fun fact: the concourse has the second largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the United States).  
My parents moved to the Riverdale section of the city in the 1970's and I grew up on a beautiful tree-lined street. I took the 1 and now-defunct 9 train (plus the cross town bus) to high school on the Upper East Side , went to college in the village and most recently spent 7 years in Brooklyn. You can see that there's a lot of history here. Sure, a few family members moved to Los Angeles and Seattle in the 1950's (I think it was) but, for the most part, my people don't move west of the Hudson River...
Now we are picking up, heading west toward the Rockies and replanting ourselves in a new city with the hopes that we will provide an enjoyable childhood for our sons. We don't want to be on wait lists for public schools and we are tired of living in such close (albeit environmentally friendly) quarters. I mean it's time to move around in a space that exceeds 600 square feet.  I marvel that we've been able to function in such a small space for all this time. We don't need a mansion, just a little bit more room. Okay and maybe a yard. And decent schools. Some National Parks. Kayaking and white water rafting? Yes, please.  Maybe snowboarding or winter sports for the kids! 
In general we are looking for a less aggressive existence... because we don't believe that things really have to be so hard.  Fingers crossed!  
Anyway, the reason I mention this is because I need to start using up a lot of odds and ends in my pantry. I have left over French Lentils and Orecchiette, so I used google to figure out what I should make. This is what popped up.  
So, if you're making a big move and  looking to use some left over legumes and pasta this recipe is for you. If you are staying put and just want a dinner, I think this does the trick too. 
Bon Appetite! We will miss you (and you know who you are) so, so, so much. 
{In addition to my pantry items (lentils and pasta), I used a combination of fresh and organic frozen spinach and CSA onions and garlic.} 

Orecchiette with Lentils, Onions and Spinach (Courtesy of Gourmet Magazine by way of
Serves 6
1/3 cup olive oil
3 large onions (2 pounds total), thinly sliced (7 cups) 
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 cup French green lentils
1 pound orecchiette, fusilli, or penne
2 (5-ounce) bags baby spinach
1 1/2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then stir in onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to moderately low and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are very tender and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
While onions cook, cover lentils with water by 1 inch in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan and boil over moderate heat, covered, until lentils are just tender and most of water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and let stand, covered, until ready to use.
Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander and return pasta to pot.
Add onions, lentils, and spinach to pasta, then toss with just enough reserved cooking water to wilt spinach and moisten pasta.  Add cheese and salt and pepper to taste, tossing to combine.

Post Script: Follow-up on this dish: I had to add quite a bit more salt and pepper once everything was mixed. I also think that the lentils should have been rinsed before being added to the pasta. This recipe should be 'really good' and I thought it was just 'good.' Maybe some stock would help. I'm open to suggestions as I'd like to make this again. I like the combination of greens, beans and pasta-- this dish just needs a little kick. Maybe some red pepper flakes? That said, I wanted to post this pasta anyway.   I made it and so I feel like it should be documented. With a little tweaking I think it could be excellent. Happy cooking!  
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  2. Traveling mercies to your new destination.

  3. I just discovered your blog. The recipes look wonderful and I can't wait to start trying them. Would you share with us what kind of camera you use? Your photos are amazing!

  4. Thanks so much! I use a Canon Digital Rebel XSi.