Cappelletti with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese and Fresh Mushroom and Parsley Salad

Our lazy Friday night family pizza nights have now somehow morphed into pasta nights because on Saturday mornings Q is trying to squeeze in relaxing four-hour bike rides followed by one-hour runs as part of his Ironman training, and apparently, so he tells me, a few slices of zza the evening before these events don't fuel his system adequately for such Herculean athletic endeavours. It's up to me to adjust our traditions and skip my lazy approach of simply flipping open the delivered box 'o' dinner, and instead create some carb-loading, veggie-packed alternative so I can't be blamed for any slow pace or reduced performance. Yes, it's true, these are the difficult, unreasonable demands I'm asked to accommodate.... With no promise of pizza, all three of the kids vamooshed to their friends' houses and dinner became a candlelight affair (not) for the two of us.

When I read Giada's description of this dish as a combination of pasta and salad, I knew I was in the right place. I liked the idea of the goat cheese simply melting to create a sauce, with the sun-dried tomatoes and mixed salad greens as the main attractions. With five ingredients that were already on hand and the process totally idiotproof, my only regret is that I can't make this again sooner. Simple, straightforward and tasty... will make sure Corbin takes this recipe off to university with him in the fall since it meets all the requirements of student cooking.

Even though the pasta could be interpreted (at a stretch) as a partial salad, I also tossed together a fresh mushroom and parsley salad as a side dish. Again, five ingredients and super-quick and easy. Unfortunately, however, it wasn't very flavourful and not something I'd make again, unless perhaps to accompany something more substantial like grilled steak or chicken. Or maybe adding some balsamic vinegar to the dressing would have given it more oomph and depth.

Cappelletti with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese
serves 4

1 cup dried cappelletti pasta
2 cups Mediterranean-style mixed salad greens
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil), chopped
1 tablespoon goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the water.
In medium bowl, mix the salad greens with the sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and parmesan. Top with warm pasta and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine and wilt the greens. Season with a pinch each of salt and pepper, or to taste.

Fresh Mushroom and Parsley Salad
serves 4

1 pound large button mushrooms, trimmed, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-ounce piece parmesan

In a medium salad bowl, mix together the mushrooms and parsley.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and lemon juice until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Add the oil mixture to the salad bowl and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the Parmesan on top and serve.

Rest of the week

May 7 Cappelletti and mushroom/parsley salad

May 8 Went to a fun Kentucky Derby party and had delicious Kentucky burgoo and Kentucky Derby pie