Chard, corn, and garlic scape pasta salad

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Are you guys ever surprised by your own agency? I feel like I've gotten more on board with the decision-maker role, but some things still catch me off guard. For example, I often forget that I can change the radio station in the car when I hear a song I don't like. I'll listen to something really annoying until it suddenly occurs to me, "I could change this." I'm a weirdo.

That said, you don't have to live with boring basic pasta salad! (In fact, you don't have to bring pasta salad to parties at all, but you'll want to when you read this recipe.)

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Pasta salad feels like one of those things that food snobs are supposed to hate. But I'll be honest, my mom makes one that, on paper, sounds gross (pasta, mayo, celery, hard boiled eggs, celery salt, etc), but is actually delicious.

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However, more often than not it's included on a BBQ table as more of an afterthought than a star. But this guy right here, is a star. It's nutty, salty, crunchy, tangy, and full of greens. AND, it's vegan. When do you have a pasta salad whose flavor doesn't hinge on some meat or cheese? Use a gluten-free pasta if that fits your dietary needs and everyone is happy.

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A few notes:
-None of these veggies need a ton of cooking and I would eat corn raw all summer if you let me. But if you like things more well done, feel free to increase cooking times. Just a note, the more you cook garlic scapes, the mellower the garlic flavor gets, so I would advise against overcooking them lest they lose their kick entirely.
-Don't be afraid of salt here. Since there isn't a traditional sauce or a terribly large amount of oil, the flavor of this pasta hinges on the salt (and the veggies, nuts, lemon, and olive oil, but mostly, the salt). I oversalt the pasta water (use what you normally would and then add another 2 large pinches) and season the veggies as they're cooking and again once you've added all of the ingredients together. It may feel like a lot of salt (and taste throughout cooking and prepping, lest you add more salt than you personally enjoy), but I do think it's necessary to have a hefty amount of seasoning here.

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Chard, corn, and garlic scape pasta salad

¾-1 lb dry pasta (in v salted water)
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 large head chard (if less than 8 leaves or if very small leaves, use two heads)
8-10 large garlic scapes
3 medium or 2 large ears of corn
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped
½ cup marcona almonds, roughly chopped
1 cup torn fresh basil
1 tsp kosher salt
Pepper
Nutty cheese (optional)

Bring water to a boil and cook your pasta according to package directions. Once cooked, drain the pasta and add to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

While the pasta is cooking, wash and chop the chard, garlic scapes, and corn. In a large sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the chard first and allow it to wilt for 1 minute. Season with more salt. Add the garlic scapes and cook both veggies, tossing and stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Add the cooked vegetables to the pasta and olive oil and toss. Add the lemon juice and toss again. Add the chopped nuts and torn basil and toss again. Test for seasoning and adjust with more salt and pepper as needed.

If using, add the cheese just before serving.

Yield: So much pasta salad. But seriously, at least 6 adult servings, more if this as a side dish.

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Potato leek quiche

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Spring. I love you and hate you. You bring the promise of new things and warm weather, but you never just happen. Last weekend, we ate lunch outside and went for a walk at a state park without jackets. This weekend, we're getting more snow. I DON'T UNDERSTAND. Anyway, I'll stop complaining about the weather because a) it'll be hot before you know it, and b) I'm not a cranky 85-year-old. Or am I?

Anyway, this quiche feels like spring to me. It's light and fresh and simple, but also warm and cheesy and comforting. It straddles the line between weather and feels right for whatever spring throws at us: I can picture myself eating it in a cozy sweater in front of a fire, but also on a picnic blanket in the sun.

The potato crust is so simple and a great substitute for a butter-and-flour crust. Not only is it healthier, but it also speeds up the quiche cooking process considerably.

A couple of tips: The slight fluting outward of the pie plate sides helps the potatoes stay upright while they cook. You also want to slice the potatoes thinly enough that they're pliable, but not so thin that they get crispy or warp too much when initially cooking.

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Potato leek quiche


12-16 oz white potatoes (about 2 large)
4 tsp olive oil, divided
2 small leeks (about 1.5 cups chopped)
1 teaspoon fresh or ½ tsp dried thyme
1 cup shredded gruyere, comte, or cheese of choice
6 eggs
½-2/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper

Preheat the oven to 400. Wash and dry the potatoes. Very thinly slice (about 1/8 of an inch thick) with a knife or a mandolin. Cut a small slice off of one edge of the thin potato slices to create one flat side.

Spray or brush a pie tin with one tsp of oil. Place a single line of potato slices around the edge of the pie plate with the flat sides down.

Then, cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of potatoes. Using the rest of the potato slices, fill in gaps on the bottom and sides.

Brush or spray the raw potato crust lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 10 minutes (until the potatoes just start to soften) and then remove from the oven.

While the potato crust cooks, slice and chop the leeks and shred the cheese.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until small bubbles form. Add the Dijon, salt, and pepper and whisk again. Add the leeks and cheese and stir well to combine.

Pour into the potato crust and press lightly to even out the leeks and cheese. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the center of the quiche is set. To check, jiggle the quiche lightly and if the middle wiggles, continue cooking. If the middle is set, it won’t jiggle. If the top browns too much before the eggs are set, cover with tin foil and continue cooking.

Yield: 6 small servings, 4 large servings

PS: I'd love to know more about anyone who reads this blog! If you feel so inclined, I have a short (10 questions!), anonymous survey that would really help me to know how to best tailor content. Thanks a million! 

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