MATT WERTZ

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A few years ago we had the idea to put on a stemma dinner for an artist and 20 of their fans in a pop-up kitchen across the street from one of our favorite venues, Evanston SPACE. Matt turned out to be the best possible artist to try out something like this for the first time; his warmth and down-to-earth personality shines through to everyone he meets. He was so genuinely thankful to be there with us in the middle of his tour across the midwest and the way that he gave each of his fans individual time and attention was inspiring. We still talk about that night as one of our most treasured memories in the kitchen together. It's taken us a bit to figure out what to do with this stemma concept but we're so glad to finally share Matt's story and food memories with you. Check out my recent podcast interview (above) with him and be sure to also check out the video at the bottom of the page documenting our dinner with him in 2013. You can also find his website here and his newest album Gun Shy on iTunes.

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MATT'S SOUR CREAM NOODLE BAKE

8oz wide egg noodles

1lb ground beef

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1 onion, chopped

1 cup gruyere cheese, shredded

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 TBSP tomato paste

28oz  can of crushed tomato

Zest and Juice of 1 lemon

1/2 cup of fresh dill, roughly chopped

1 pack of asparagus, 1-inch cut on a diagonal into 1 inch pieces

1 cup of fresh peas

1 small pack of microgreens

olive oil

salt + pepper

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain the noodles and add them to a large mixing bowl. Combine the noodles with the sour cream, cottage cheese, half of the lemon juice/zest, half of the dill, peas, asparagus, and a pinch of salt and pepper - set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and then add the onion - cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic, cook for 2 minutes, then add the ground beef and a big pinch of salt and pepper - stirring occasionally until the meat is browned. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste; let simmer on low for 15 minutes. Grease a 2 quart casserole dish and layer in half of the noodle mixture. Add the meat/tomato mixture on top of the noodles and then half of the gruyere cheese. Repeat these layers once more; cover and bake at 375 F for 20-25 minutes (if desired, remove the covering and broil for the last 60 seconds in order to add some color to the top of the casserole). In a small bowl, combine the microgreens and the remaining dill, lemon juice/zest. Let the casserole cool for 5 minutes before serving; garnish with microgreens. (Adapted from Matt's mother's original family recipe)