Category Archives: Pastas and Grains

Orange and Thyme-Scented Orzo

Orange_Thyme-Scented OrzoFor those of you who saw my last post (and those who didn’t), I made chicken saltimbocca and chose to serve it with this orzo dish. The two went very well together. We all know orzo dishes (picnics, pitch-ins, 4th of July, etc.), but this version has a very sophisticated, wonderful and savory flavor — the orange and thyme are very mild, but give this dish it’s uniqueness among orzo dishes. Delicious, I hope you’ll try this simple, elegant dish tonight!

1 lb uncooked orzo
2 cups chicken stock
1 packed tsp finely grated orange zest
1/2 tsp chopped thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add orzo and (pre)cook for six minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Add drained orzo to a large sauce pan, and add stock, orange zest and thyme. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat to medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper until well-incorporated. Plate and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

 

 

Veal Croquettes with Gnocchi Tossed in a Browned Butter-Sage Sauce

Veal_Croquettes (1 of 1)Last night I was in the mood for a good croquette dish, so I made this Italian version — so simple and delicious. The capers add a great touch! Wasn’t sure what to serve them with, but I ended up going with gnocchi in browned butter, flavored with sage leaves — the perfect complement! I hope you’ll try this wonderful combo tonight (or tomorrow night)!

2 Tbsp capers, drained and finely chopped
1 lb ground veal
2 cloves garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups plain bread crumbs

1 16-oz package of potato gnocchi
4 Tbsp butter
20 fresh sage leaves
5 Tbsp chicken stock
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (capers through black pepper) — do this with your hand to ensure ingredients are well-incorporated.

Shape mixture into 1 by 3-inch patties. Heat oil over high heat in a 12-inch skillet. Once oil is good and hot, dredge each patty in the bread crumbs, and gently slip into the oil. Cook patties until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove patties from pan with a slotted spoon to paper towels and let drain.

Meanwhile, cook the gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add sage leaves and cook until butter begins to brown to a nice amber color (but don’t burn), about 4 minutes. Remove sage leaves to a paper towel. To the browned butter, and the gnocchi, chicken stock, pinch of salt, Parmesan cheese and cooked sage leaves. Gently toss to coat. Serve with the croquettes.

Serves 6.

Chicken and Rice Flavored with Garam Masala

Chicken_and_Rice_with_Garam_Masala (1 of 1)Hi guys! I probably should have thrown something on the grill out back because it was the fist nice day since last fall, but I ended up making this simple and delicious chicken dish last night instead. This dish features garam masala, which is actually a (yummy) blend of ground spices, and is commonly used in Northern Indian cooking. I’ve never made garam masala my self, since it’s readily available at Indian markets. I’ve found that you need to discard what you have on-hand every 6 months, because freshness, as with most ground spices, is very important to a dish. I enjoyed this dish, and I hope you will to — please consider giving it a try tonight!

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, very finely grated or minced
2 1/2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 2/3 cups uncooked jasmine rice
4 tsp salt
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large wok or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Increase heat to medium high. Add chicken and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Stir in garam masala and cayenne pepper. Stir in rice and salt, and then the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover wok and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove wok from heat and let stand for an additional minutes. Fluff with a fork, garnish with cilantro and serve.

Serves 4.

Beef Sauce with Red Wine, Sage and Parsley over Cavatappi

Meat_Sauce_with_Sage1 (1 of 1)Once again, it was my overflowing herb garden that inspired me to make this dish — I used to think of sage as an herb you cook with only in winter. I’ve always grown it, but by the time I wanted to use it, it was gone with the first frost. Luckily, I’ve discovered that sage is wonderful year-round. In this simple meat sauce,  the sage (together with the meat browned in butter!) provides for a nice depth of flavor! I hope you’ll try this recipe tonight with your fresh herbs!

2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and very finely grated or minced
8 large sage leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups red wine
3/4 cup beef stock
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 lb (uncooked) cavatappi pasta, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup sour cream

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over high heat. Add beef and brown 5 minutes, stirring constantly to breaking up any clumps. Add onion, garlic, sage, and sprinkle with flour. Stir an additional 3 minutes. Stir in wine, beef stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Stir in tomato paste. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat. Stir in parsley and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over pasta with a dollup of sour cream.

Serves 6.

 

Sautéed Chicken with a Summer Garden Salsa and Lemon-Scented Barley Pilaf

Sauteed Chicken1 (1 of 1)We have a ton of fresh basil in the garden, so I wanted to make use of that. I decided to do this chicken sauté dish with a delicious, fresh garden salsa. I was also inspired by a recent issue of my favorite cooking mag that featured various grain dishes. I had barley in the fridge, so I made this great, lemon and bay leaf-scented pilaf as a side (I’m very keen on things flavored with lemon and bay leaf!). The main and side went so well together — I hope you’ll give them a try!

Chicken with Summer Garden Salsa

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
12 oz grape tomatoes, cut lengthwise into thirds
1/4 cup chopped green onions
3 Tbsp finely sliced fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, pounded between sheets of plastic to an even 1/2-inch thickness
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 Tbsp butter
1 1/12 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a bowl, toss corn with 1 Tbsp olive oil and spread mixture evenly on a foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to brown. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in tomatoes, green onions, basil, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper, then dust with the flour (shaking off excess). Heat butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and sauté about 5 minutes per side, until done. Serve chicken topped with tomato-corn salsa.

Barley Pilaf

1 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup pearl barley
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp grated lemon peel

Heat butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until onion softens. Add Barley. Stirring constantly, cook 3 minutes. Add the stock, salt and bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon peel, cover and let stand 10 minutes.

Serves 4.

 

Gnocchi with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Sage (Gnocchi mit Pfifferlingen und Salbei)

Gnocchi_mit_Pifferlingen_und_Salbei3 (1 of 1)Although this dish seems Italian, it has a strong German accent. The stars are the chanterelles (which are commonly used in Germany) and the sage (which I harvested from my herb garden out back). The crème fraîche in this recipe is also a key ingredient — it’s similar to sour cream, but not as sour. Try not to substitute. The sauce is simple and absolutely delicious! I hope you’ll give this a try!

1 1/2 lbs ready-to-cook gnocchi
1 lb fresh chanterelle mushrooms, (or 2 oz dried, soaked in 4 cups very hot water for 30 minutes), coarsely chopped
2 strips bacon (about 5 oz), finely chopped
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup vegetable, beef or chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
8 large sage leaves, chopped
3/4 cup crème fraîche
Ground black pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese

Cook gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Heat bacon in a large pan over medium-high heat. Cook until crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and let sit on paper towels. With a paper towel, wipe up all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon drippings from the pan.

Reduce heat to medium, and add mushrooms and onions. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in stock and crème fraîche. Cook for a few minutes, until sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in sage and some ground black pepper, and cook an additional 1 minute. Remove from heat and season with additional salt if desired. Serve over gnocchi and sprinkle portions with Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

Italian Meatloaf

Italian_Meatloaf2 (1 of 1)Some of my readers may recall that I have a thing for meatloaf. Well, it’s been a while since my last meatloaf post, so here we go (again). This fantastic version comes from central Italy — its ingredients are simple, but make for a delicious meatloaf and sauce! Really easy to prepare — hope you’ll try it out!

 

Two thick slices bread, torn into pieces and soaked in about a cup of milk
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb lean ground pork
1/4 lb pancetta, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 chopped parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
2  14-oz cans diced tomatoes with juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Drain milk from bread, squeezing out excess liquid. Combine bread and next 8 ingredients (ground beef through black pepper) in a large bowl. Mix well with hands.

Coat lidded casserole with cooking spray. Add meat mixture to casserole and form into a Italian_Meatloaf1 (1 of 1)10-inch x 5-inch loaf. Combine tomatoes and wine, together with a pinch of additional salt in a bowl. Pour tomato mixture around loaf. Cover, place in oven and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 45 minutes. Remove casserole from oven and let stand, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Slice meatloaf in casserole into 1-inch slices. Serve with hot pasta.

Serves 8.

 

Milanese-Style Risotto with Saffron (Risotto alla Milanese)

Risotto_alla_Milanese2 (1 of 1)For a proper, creamy and delicious risotto, you must be patient — the key is to stir constantly and add liquid gradually, allowing it to absorb each time. When I first made risotto, I didn’t do it right, and the rice ended up gooey and uncooked (had to toss it). I was discouraged and didn’t make it again for several years. I finally tried again, preparing it correctly. I now think a good risotto is one of the simplest and most satisfying dishes to prepare!. Hope you try it!

1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 Tbsp hot water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish

In a small bowl, combine saffron with hot water. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pan) over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add rice and sauté 2 minutes.

Add wine and stir until absorbed. Stir in saffron mixture, and season with the salt and pepper. Add stock very gradually, one ladle at a time, allowing each to Risotto_alla_Milanese1 (1 of 1)be absorbed before proceeding to the next. Stir mixture constantly. This process is key to a rich, creamy risotto, and should take 20 minutes or so. Be patient!

Remove rice from heat. Stir in a couple additional tablespoons of chicken stock, as well as the parmesan cheese. Cover and let stand for about 3 minutes. Divide among 6 serving dishes. Grate plenty of parmesan cheese over each. Serve with crusty, country-style bread and nice glasses of white wine.

Serves 6.

Spanish Cannelloni (Canelones Rellenos)

Canalones1 (1 of 1)Although cannelloni are of Italian origin, canelones rellenos is a popular dish in Barcelona, Spain (thought to have been brought there by Italian migrants in the 19th century). With a unique use of herbs and sherry, the fantastic flavors of this dish are distinctly Spanish. These canelones are delicious, so I hope you’ll give them a try tonight!

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 1/2 oz ground beef
4 1/2 oz ground pork
3 oz chicken liver, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 leek (white part), chopped
3 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp chopped parsley
9 oz dried cannelloni tubes
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
4 cups milk
4 oz tomato purée
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add beef, pork, chicken liver, onion, leek, 1 1/2 tsp Canalones2 (1 of 1)salt and 1/4 ground black pepper. Cook 10 minutes, breaking up lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Add sherry, thyme, diced tomatoes and 2 Tbsp of the parsley. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature.

Using your hands, fill the cannelloni tubes with the meat mixture and place them in a 13×9-inch ovenproof dish that has been sprayed with cooking oil.

Meanwhile, make a white sauce by melting the butter in a medium sauce pan. Whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes, until you have a nice, pale yellow roux. Add nutmeg and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Gradually whisk in the milk. Return to medium heat and whisk constantly for 15 minutes, until thickened.

Pour white sauce evenly over cannelloni. Scatter dollops of the tomato purée over the top. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake for about 45 minutes, until lightly browned. Garnish with remaining parsley and serve.

Serves 6.

Baked Mac and Cheese with Gruyère, Cabbage and Sage

Mac_n_Cheese1 (1 of 1)What could possibly be better than the combined flavors of garlic and sage! Add cheese and throw in some pasta, bake it, and you have heaven in a dish! This mac and cheese is delicious, and so easy to prepare. Serve with a green salad, and you have a meal. This recipe can easily be cooked in a single casserole, but I made it in individual ramekins, because I thought they’d be more photogenic. Anyway, I hope you’ll try this dish!

1/4 olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced
6 sage leaves, torn into small pieces
10 oz uncooked rigatoni pasta
1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 cups savoy cabbage, thinly sliced into 1/2-inch strips
1 cup grated gruyère cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sage; saute another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Strain pasta, reserving water. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl; set aside.

Bring reserved pasta water to a boil in a pot. Add potatoes and cook 7 minutes. Add cabbage and cook 1 more minute. Strain.

Combine potatoes and cabbage with pasta. Stir in 1/2 cup of the grated gruyère,  parmesan, salt and pepper.  Divide equally into 6 single-serving size ramekins that have been sprayed with cooking oil. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup gruyère (or more!) over ramekins. Place into oven on a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes, then broil for a couple of minutes until nicely browned. Serve.

Serves 6.