What’s in my kitchen this month?
I turned an interested eye to the most used room in my home after reading Nupur’s post which in turn was inspired by a meme hosted each month by Celia of the blog Fig Jam and Lime Cordial. It is such a great idea, I couldn’t wait to get started!
My kitchen, like everyone else’s I suppose, is the heart of my home. It’s the place I enjoy being in most because I love to cook and to eat. It’s the place where we spend many evenings chatting about the important things and the trivial. It’s where guests seem to naturally congregate, no matter how comfortable the other rooms are.My kitchen, I will confess, or more specifically my kitchen table, can be messy. It ends up becoming a not-so-temporary home of all those things that pass through our daily lives. It’s where the mail lands every evening, where my bowls of sourdough and sprouting beans sit, and where the waffle maker waits between use and cleaning. In my kitchen hangs this tile: we picked it up years ago during a trip to beautiful Delft in the Netherlands. “This house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy.”
From my kitchen I have a beautiful view of the oak tree sprouting new leaves in the backyard. Never mind the dead potted plant crying out to be replaced. Oh, well.
My kitchen has a favorite guest: my sweetheart pooch Opie who knows to go here when he gets an attack of the munchies. Because Opie has arthritis which can make bending over a bowl on the floor difficult, we bought him this raised contraption with a place for his water bowl and his food bowl. It stands in a corner of the kitchen, but his more favorite way to eat here is by scratching my leg with his paw and demanding a share of whatever it is I am cooking. When we sit down at the kitchen table to eat, he goes underneath the table and nuzzles our fingers to get attention– and food.
In my kitchen are memories I will remember for a lifetime: Desi loading the dishwasher just so every night; the twinkle in my brother-in-law Naru’s eye when he took his first bite of my mango bread; our dogs Opie, Lucy, and Freddie sitting in a half-circle around Desi, eyes fixed keenly on his face and hand as he dispensed treats; my cat Pubm meowing for us to open the kitchen door leading to the back yard; learning from my sister-in-law Paddu how to spread dosa batter on a hot griddle; baking cookies with my friend Navami on Christmas Eve, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for our friends Kumar and Lalita at 3 am in the morning after a long drive home from Niagara Falls…and many more to come.
In my kitchen this past week I cooked up this Spaghetti Gratin with Artichoke Cashew Cheese.
I love making pastas on weeknights because they are so easy to brown-bag to lunch the next day. Desi is extremely finicky about anything drippy that might ooze out of a lunch box, and because he eats at his desk most of the time– as do I– lunch has to be delicious, convenient and unfussy, all at the same time.
Although this gratin sounds like it might take a day and a half to make, what with the mushrooms and the artichokes and the cashew cheese, it took me under an hour, promise. The cashew cheese is easy and delicious– better than the real thing, and healthier. I used whole-wheat spaghetti to make this dish healthy, and frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s– better than sliced bread, surely, because who has the time (or the skill) to actually prep an artichoke? Not me.
The mushrooms give this dish some added nutrition and flavor. I used a mix of crimini and shiitake, although you could go with one or the other or just about any other mushroom.
Here’s the recipe, then. Enjoy, all!
Spaghetti Gratin with Artichoke Cashew Cheese
- 1 16- oz package of whole-wheat spaghetti , broken into 2-inch pieces and cooked per package directions until al dente.
- 2 cups frozen artichoke hearts. I put them in a microwave with 2 tbsp of water and zap them for about five minutes or until they're quite tender. Drain the artichoke hearts and reserve.
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts , roasted lightly.
- 2 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion , thinly sliced
- 4 cups of mushrooms , halved if small and quartered if large
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs , tossed with 1 tsp olive oil, salt and ground black pepper
- A generous dash of ground black pepper
- Salt to taste
- To make the artichoke cashew cheese, place the cashew nuts in a blender along with the artichokes, nutritional yeast, salt, ground black pepper, and enough water to make a smooth paste.
- Blend into a very smooth consistency. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil and saute the sliced onions until they turn translucent, about five minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir-fry a few seconds.
- Add the mushrooms and saute until they are tender, another five minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and add the spaghetti along with 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water. Add the artichoke cheese and stir well to mix everything.
- Pour the spaghetti into a gratin dish or baking dish. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid over the spaghetti.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Place under a medium-hot broiler for 10 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
- Serve hot.