Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cooking with arugula, pasta shells and whole whiting

Organic whole-wheat pasta shells from Whole Foods Market in bottled marinara with added white wine, extra-virgin olive oil, anchovies, capers, organic diced tomatoes, baby spinach and arugula.


The peppery flavor of arugula -- one of my favorite greens -- was immediately evident when it started showing up in Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix a few weeks ago.

I have fond memories of a white pizza with arugula -- also called rocket -- and prosciutto I enjoyed more than once at Trattoria La Sorrentina in North Bergen, but that was before I stopped eating meat. 

So, when I saw a 5-ounce package of arugula at the International Food Warehouse in Lodi this week, I decided to add it a cooked pasta dish and my usual salad of spring mix, cucumber and tomato.

In making the pasta dish, I put about a half-pound of organic baby spinach in a large colander and poured the hot water and pasta over them, then added drained pasta, spinach and fresh arugula to another pot with the sauce I had prepared. 

The imported whole-wheat pasta shells took less time to cook al dente than what is listed on the package. 

I used a half-pound of shells and half of a 32-ounce bottle of Kirkland Signature Marinara.

The 5-ounce package of pre-washed arugula was $1.99. At Costco Wholesale, 1-pound plastic tubs of pre-washed organic spring mix and organic baby spinach were $4.99 and $4.29, respectively.

I added peppery arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese and fresh blueberries to an organic spring mix salad with cucumbers and tomato wedges, all dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and Ponti Balsamic Vinegar, which is free of caramel color.
Coastal Valley Farms Organic Spring Mix was available on Tuesday at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack for the same price as Earthbound Farm's organic salad, but I couldn't find a use-by date on the package of the new product. Both are $4.99 for 16 ounces.

Whole whiting

One of our favorite whole fish is fresh, wild-caught whiting, which is flaky, sweet and has a minimum of bones.

They're inexpensive, too, usually $3.99 a pound at H Mart, the Korean supermarket chain.

Whiting also is a relatively small fish that has potentially much less mercury than larger fish.

On Friday, my wife seasoned, floured and pan-fried whiting she had cut in half. 

I had a leftover piece of wild king salmon for dinner, but got to the whiting this morning.

An egg-free breakfast of pan-fried whiting, upper right; fried plantains, and spicy Korean stewed tofu and Alaskan pollock, both from H Mart in Englewood.

Pan-fried whole whiting are sweet and easy to eat.

Leftover wild king salmon with pesto, Aleppo pepper and fresh lime juice.

A new pesto?

The price, jar size and ingredients list are the same, but the refrigerated Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto I brought home from Costco Wholesale on May 6 seems different ($7.99).

The great taste is still there, but it has lost the bright-green color of the Italian-grown basil that is one of the main ingredients.

Basil Pesto still makes a great sandwich spread and pasta sauce, with no heating required, and can be added as a garnish to frittatas, baked sweet potatoes and soup.  

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