Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Eggplant Pasta with Black Trumpet Mushrooms and a Simple Kale Salad

This is a delicious hearty dish full of earthy flavors with a little element of surprise. What? No pasta in the pasta? That's right, the eggplant actually is the pasta! Surprise! That means this dish is gluten free yet even more filling that a normal plate of pasta.
The Black Trumpet Mushrooms for this dish were handpicked from this hillsides of beautiful Humboldt on a New Year's Day hike with a group of amazing friends that seem to have a sixth sense for finding wild mushrooms.We found pounds and pounds of Chanterelles, Hedgehogs, Black Trumpets, Candy Caps, and a few enormous Boletes that were past their prime. Although we gorged ourselves on fresh mushrooms while we were there, I took a handful of Black Trumpets home to dry and save for later when I was starting to have withdrawals.

I started by soaking the Black Trumpets in red wine. I used Rabbit Ridge Barrel Curvee Zinfandel because it has rich flavors of blackberry and spice that I thought would work well with the earthy mushrooms.
I started some diced yellow onion caramelizing with a little bit of olive oil in a large frying pan. While this was going I sliced the eggplant into thin ribbons about the size of fettuccine. Next I chopped up some sundried tomatoes and some garlic. Once the onions were starting to brown I added the eggplant noodles, sundried tomatoes, garlic, and Black Trumpets along with the wine they were soaking in. Add another touch of olive oil and toss together over medium heat. Cover the pan for a few minutes to help the eggplant soften up. Stir frequently. When the wine is absorbed and the eggplant is tender, mix in a scoop of soft goat cheese and a dash of salt and pepper. Once the goat cheese is melted in and is coating the pasta you are ready to eat!

Kale salad is a refreshing winter salad I've recently been turned on to. They are often called "Massaged Kale Salads" because the kale will soften if you massage the lemon juice and olive oil into the leaves with your fingers. I stated with a bunch of curly kale, although red curly kale, dinosaur kale, or a mixture of all three is also great. Rip the kale into small bit size pieces. Then drizzle olive oil, lemon juice, and in this case champagne vinegar over the kale and then roll up your sleeves and massage it all together. Once all the leaves are fully coated set it aside. Chop up some red onion and add it to the kale. Toss in some sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. If you are wanting to get a little fancier with this kale salad you can also do chopped leeks, grated carrot, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, diced tangerine, and grated firm goat cheese such as Cypress Grove's Midnight Moon.

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