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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

There are a few foods that are dinner staples in our house. We can’t seem to go a week or two without having them. Pizza, pasta and Mexican are three of the things you’ll find us eating frequently. (And coincidentally all feature carbs and/or cheese!)

We decided on pasta last night but wanted to try a new recipe. Typing “pasta” into the search box on Epicurious yields overwhelming results so in order to focus us a bit more, I gave Brandon The Gourmet Cookbook to browse through. He came up with a Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto that sounded great and featured a 20 minute start to finish time. This was perfect since we weren’t able to start on dinner until after 8 p.m.

We made a few modifications to the original recipe. The biggest was the addition of shrimp which we both agreed really took the dish up a notch. Overall, this is a very simple recipe but each element plays a big part in the flavor, especially the arugula. Don’t skip it.

While the pasta was boiling, I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil with a little bit of a lemon pepper rub (Dizzy Pig Shakin’ the Tree). Once the pasta and shrimp were done, I drained the pasta and dumped all the ingredients into the pot with the pasta. After a stir and a generous crank of salt and pepper it was time to eat.

I served this  dish with a hunk of bread and olive oil dipping sauce. At one point I said, “Mmm…I love carbs.” aloud. We’re happy to have another pasta dish worth repeating (over and over again) in our repertoire!

Pasta with Shrimp, Arugula and Prosciutto
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pasta (half box) pasta, penne, corkscrew, etc.
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Seasoning of your choice for the shrimp (salt and pepper, lemon pepper, etc)
1/4 pound thinly sliced proscuitto, chopped
3/4 to 1 pound arugula, stems removed, chopped roughly (I used about 1/2 of a clamshell container)
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 quarter lemon, squeezed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain pasta.

While pasta is cooking, sautee shrimp over medium high heat with olive oil and seasoning of your choice. This should take about 3-4 minutes, total.

Return pasta to pot and toss with prosciutto, shrimp, arugula, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of the pasta water if it seems dry.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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Herbs de Provence is one of my favorite spices but I don’t find many opportunities to use it. I ran across this recipe for Herb-Rubbed Chicken with Creamy Orzo on Annie’s Eats a few years ago and have been making variations of it ever since.

This is a simple dish to prepare because the chicken and orzo cook in the same pan. The original recipe includes broccoli in the pan with the chicken and orzo but I find that I prefer it roasted on the side. If you feel inclined to make it a one-pan dinner, throw the broccoli in there! (Side note, if you haven’t tried roasted broccoli yet, you must. It’s life changing.)

I really like recipes where chicken is braised in liquid. It’s a fool-proof, forgiving method for getting juicy, perfectly cooked chicken. The original recipe includes heavy cream but think all the other flavors are so great that I don’t need more than just a sprinkle of parmesan at the end.

Herbs de Provence Chicken with Orzo
(Recipe inspired by Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup chicken stock
Freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Season chicken with salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Set aside.

Preheat a large sautee pan (with a lid) over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken and let cook for about 5 minutes until browned on one side. Remove chicken from pan and add orzo, tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir and return chicken to pan, browned side up. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until orzo is tender and internal temperature of chicken reads 160 degrees.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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We really enjoy noodle bowl creations but usually lean towards broth-based, curry flavored noodle bowls. This recipe caught my attention because I have never cooked with soba at home and it seemed healthy and satisfying. I’m in the midst of a 10 day break from meat so I added this vegetarian dish to this week’s menu.

Soba noodles are Japanese thin noodles made from buckwheat flour. They are high in fiber contain all eight amino acids, making them a great source of vegetarian protein. I experienced some difficulty finding them in my normal store – they carried them but they were out of stock at two different stores. Brandon stopped by Earth Fare and discovered they had several different brands. If your local grocery doesn’t carry them check an Asian market or a health foods store or substitute whole wheat spaghetti.

I was drawn to two different recipes – I liked the dressing from Annie’s Eats and the vegetable mixture for the noodles from a Gourmet recipe. I decided to combine the recipes and was pleased with the results. I also think this would be delicious with tofu or chicken added to the mix.

Add this to your weekly menu plan as a meatless main! It’s easy, healthy and flavorful!

One Year Ago: Kefta and Zucchini Kabobs
Two Years Ago: Indian Spiced Chicken Burgers

Spicy Soba Noodles with Edamame, Mushrooms and Cabbage
(Inspired by Annie’s Eats and Gourmet)

Ingredients:

FOR THE DRESSING
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
2-3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar

FOR THE NOODLES
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons peeled ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (shiitake or button)
1 pound Napa cabbage, thinly sliced (5-6 cups)
2 green onions, sliced
8 ounces soba
1 cup frozen shelled edamame

Directions:

FOR THE DRESSING
In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

FOR THE NOODLES
Toast sesame seeds in a large, heavy skillet (not nonstick and with no oil) over medium heat. Stir often and cook until pale golden. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms, stirring frequently, until they start to brown, about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add cabbage and scallions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is crisp but tender, about 6 minutes. Add sauce and simmer for another 2 minutes.

While the cabbage is cooking, cook the soba and edamame together in a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until noodles are just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water.

Transfer noodles to a large bowl and toss with sesame seeds and vegetable mixture.

Yield: 4 servings

 

 

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One of Brandon’s all-time favorite dinners is pasta with red sauce so I wasn’t surprised when he requested it for our first “return to normal eating and homecooked meals” after the holidays. I wasn’t really in the mood for traditional spaghetti sauce and Brandon suggested arrabbita sauce. Spicy homemade marinara sauce with pancetta sounded perfect.

We usually top stuffed shells with arrabbita but I was not in the mood for the richness of stuffed shells after the holidays so we stuck with plain spaghetti noodles. This ended up being a great choice because it really allowed the awesome flavor of the arrabbita sauce to be the star. The pancetta is a must in the sauce – it adds so much flavor and richness. The red pepper flakes don’t dominate the dish but contribute a nice, slow burn.

I used my go-to marinara sauce as the base for this sauce and added the sauteed pancetta and red pepper flakes at the end. If you have never made homemade marinara sauce, you must! It tastes nothing like what you buy in a jar. I recommend doubling this recipe and keeping a batch in the freezer for a quick dinner option. It reheats wonderfully.

One Year Ago: Three-Ingredient Pot Roast
Two Years Ago: Kefta – Greek Meatballs

Pasta with Arrabbita Sauce
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 stalk celery, broken into 4 pieces
1 carrot, finely diced
32-ounces high-quality crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
Pinch of sugar
Shot of red wine (1-2 tablespoons)
1/3 pound (around 6 ounces) pancetta, chopped
2 teaspoons (or more if  you like spice!) red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, julienned

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 5 minutes, until they begin to look translucent. Add garlic, celery and carrot and cook for another 5 minutes. Add wine, tomatoes, bay leaves, sugar and red wine. Simmer for 1 hour over low heat, uncovered.

While sauce is simmering, heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then pancetta. Sautee about 5 minutes, or until it begins to look crispy. Add red pepper flakes and sautee for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into marinara sauce.

Season with salt and pepper and stir in fresh basil right before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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In the past I’ve been pretty indifferent to pasta salads. I never feel like they really deliver on flavor. I’ve been lucky in the past couple months to try two outstanding pasta salads. First there was the Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives and last night my mother in law served this Orzo Salad as part of our joint birthday/Father’s Day celebration. (My birthday was last Wednesday and Brandon’s is this Tuesday.) I went back for seconds and took leftovers home for lunch. It is so full of flavor and I think it’s a very pretty and colorful pasta salad.

The ingredient list is a little long but the preparation is simple. I think it would be easy to cut down on the ingredients.  Although pretty, I don’t think it’s necessary to use three different colors of peppers and I also think you could get away with using one variety of olives instead of two. But I do recommend the recipe as is. I’m definitely keeping this one in my summer side dish lineup.

One Year Ago: Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli

Orzo Salad
(Recipe source In Order to Serve: Christ Church Cooks II)

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (rehydrated in hot water if necessary)
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions and drain. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Chill before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 65

I haven’t had much luck with making pasta salad in the past. It always seemed to be lacking in flavor and pretty mediocre. We decided to grill kebabs last week and enjoy our first dinner out on our patio. I thought pasta salad sounded like the perfect side item.

I read through several recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this recipe for Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives sounded like a winner. We love Mediterranean flavors and I didn’t see how this could be boring with zucchini, olives, onions, tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil and feta.

I made a few modifications to the recipe. First, I made the pasta salad ahead of time (wanted to go to a late yoga class!) so I skipped grilling the zucchini in favor of a quick saute. Second, I just do not love the flavor of raw onions and garlic so I gave those a quick saute too (and subbed Vidalia’s for red onions because they were on hand).

The verdict? Awesome! The only complaint Brandon had was with the whole wheat pasta but that’s typical. He’s not a lover of the added chewiness. If you struggle with that too you may want to substitute white pasta for the wheat but keep in mind the added health benefits of using whole wheat pasta :)

I loved the flavors of this pasta salad and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch the next couple days. I cut the recipe in half and it still made a ton. This would be great for entertaining or to make for lunches for the week. I will most definitely be making this recipe again soon.

One Year Ago: Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese, Sundried Tomatoes and Basil

Whole-Wheat Pasta Salad with Zucchini and Olives
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 1994)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing  zucchini
1 1/2 pounds zucchini, cut diagonally into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1 pound whole-wheat penne or other tubular pasta
2/3 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, coarsely chopped
6 ounces ricotta salata or feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups whole small or torn large fresh basil leaves

In a large bowl gently stir together tomatoes, onion, garlic paste, vinegar and olive oil. Set aside.

Brush one side of zucchini slices lightly with additional oil and season with salt and pepper. Heat a well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat until hot and grill zucchini, oiled sides down, in batches, brushing tops with more oil before turning, 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until just tender but not soft. Transfer to a small bowl.

In a pot of salted boiling water cook pasta until just tender (following package directions) and drain. Add hot pasta to tomato mixture and toss to combine. Cool pasta slightly and stir in zucchini, olives, cheese, basil and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 47

This is going to be short and sweet. I am sick for the first time in almost two years and need to get to bed! My throat is so sore but luckily no fever. I made this Thai Beef Noodle Soup on Monday night when the sore throat was first making its appearance. It has great flavor. The ginger and lime juice gave the broth so much flavor. And I’m usually not really into beef-based soups but thought it was perfect in this dish. I had some leftover noodles and whipped up another batch of broth using chicken stock and left the beef out – also delicious.

Needless to say, there isn’t much to report on the fitness front. I taught BodyPump Monday morning but after that the sickness started creeping in. I was really feeling ick by Tuesday. It has taken every ounce of my willpower not to go to a yoga class the past couple days but I know that my body needs the rest and my instructors and classmates would not appreciate my attendance while sick! I’m itching to practice though since I’ve missed my regular Sunday and Tuesday classes. But since I’ve been sick my appetite has been a little off and I’ve struggled to get enough fruits and veggies in. Hopefully a good night of sleep will be just what I need!

Thai Beef Noodle Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, February 2008)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound flank steak (I used a flat iron steak, much cheaper!)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai green-curry paste (or more if you want to kick it up a little)
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra slices for serving
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
3/4 pound dried Asian egg noodles

Directions:

Mix together soy, honey, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking dish. Add steak and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

While steak marinates, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until it shimmering. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. then cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until browned well, about 8 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute. Add add broth and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice, remaining tablespoon fish sauce and salt to taste and keep warm, covered.

Heat grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, then lightly oil. Cook steak, turning once, about 12 minutes total or until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss bell pepper and scallions with remaining tablespoon oil, then grill, turning frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

While steak stands, cook noodles following package directions. Drain well, then add to vegetables and mix well. Divide noodles among 4 bowls and top with 1/2 cup broth. Cut steak in half lengthwise, thinly slice across the grain and serve on top of noodles. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Yield: 4 servings

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