Broccoli, Chicken & Bacon Pasta


Hi friends–  We sat down to a luscious dinner at Paul and Sue’s house last week– and this pasta was on the table–  So back home, I had some Cappellacci pasta  that I’d picked up at Homegoods (Don’t you love that place??) and a huge Costco bag of pine nuts (thanks to my mom), and  I thought I’d try to recreate Sue’s wonderful meal.

It’s rich and savory and filling– the best sort of comfort food.  Add a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread.  Perfect.

BROCCOLI, CHICKEN & BACON PASTA
1 pound of your favorite pasta*
6 slices bacon, chopped to bits
1  1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut to bits
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 small heads of broccoli, cut to bite size bits
1/2 cup parmesan
1/2 cup pine nuts

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

Cook the chopped bacon in a large skillet until it just crispy and a lightly browned.  Remove it from the skillet, but leave the bacon droppings.

Cook the pieces of chicken in the same skillet, about 4 to 5 minutes until it’s browned and cooked through.  Remove it from the skillet.

Then drop in the chopped red onion and cook for 3 or 4 minutes until it’s tender and add in the garlic and cook a minute more.

While all that is happening, put the broccoli bites until a bowl of salted water and microwave it for about 4 minutes, until it’s done but still a little crunchy.  Drain off the water.

Now is the fun part.  Into the skillet with the onion & garlic, add the drained pasta, broccoli, chicken and bacon.  Then sprinkle on the parmesan and pine nuts and stir it all together over low heat to warm it through.  (If it seems a bit dry to you add a drizzle of olive oil as you stir it up).  Delicious!!

*I used Cappellacci, thin round discs that look a little like sunflowers, but any pasta will do.

 

Roasted Broccoli with Pine Nuts

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Hello all– When I was a kid, our home did not see a lot of fresh cooked veggies– We were a whole big tableful of picky eaters!!  My mom would make broccoli (for herself!).  And we would beg her to leave it in the kitchen with the lid on so we didn’t have to smell it!

Then I married Larry– the veggie guy.  “Where’s the Brussel sprouts? the spinach? the broccoli? he wanted to know.  So “for love” I learned to eat all kinds of fresh vegetables  (thanks Larry).  Here is the latest of our vegetable finds– roasted broccoli– generously seasoned with the distinct taste/texture of pine nuts thrown in.  It’s enough to make a girl love her veggies!

ROASTED BROCCOLI WITH PINE NUTS
1 large head (bunch) of broccoli
1/2 cup pine nuts (or walnuts, almonds)
3 or 4 tab. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt (or table salt)
1/2 tsp. dried basil
freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the main stem off of the broccoli and discard.  Chop the rest to small bits.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the broccoli, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic salt, basil and pepper.

Spread the broccoli mixture onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Roast it in a 400 degree over for 10 to 15 minutes (just cook until the broccoli is tender, not browned). Serve it up piping hot– delish!

P.S.  I buy the big bags of pine nuts at Costco and they keep a long long time in the fridge.  It costs a bit, but so much less expensive than those tiny $8 bags of pine nuts at the market.  (cheapskate tip!)

 

Easy Zucchini Lasagna

IMG_1133Hi there you all– I’m loving this zucchini lasagna because it’s a little lighter than my heavy duty standard, filled with sausage and all that spicy tomato.  I think this must be the summer version of lasagna– just in time for when all those zucchini start ripening in your side yard.

And it’s easy with no bake noodles, a sauce you just whiz up in the blender and grated zucchini that you don’t have to cook ahead.  You pretty much just throw it together– and make a salad while it’s in the oven– summer dinner!

P.S.  I know it’s not summer yet.  But all the teachers at school (that’s me) are anticipating summer break around the corner (and the kids are too!).  I guess it’s just on my mind!

EASY ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

Topping:
1/4 cup parmesan romano, grated
2 tab. bread crumbs
1/4 pine nuts

Sauce:
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Other ingredients:
16 oz. fresh mozarella, broken into small bit with you fingers
2 cups zucchini, grated (2 small)
2 cups yellow crooked neck squash, grated (2 medium)
9 non-cook lasagna noodles (I use Barilla)

Mix the 1/4 cup parmesan and 2 tab. breadcrumbs and set aside.  Hold on to the pine nuts til later.

With a blender (or stick blender or food processor), mix together the ricotta, parmesan, eggs, milk, garlic, basil, salt and pepper– into a creamy sauce.

Then in a 8″x10″ baking dish layer the ingredients:

First, a thin layer of sauce, then 3 noodles-side by side, the zucchini & squash, mozarella and then 1/3 of the remaining sauce.

Do a second layer and then a third.  To them all off with the parmesan mixed with the bread crumbs.  Cover it closely with foil (try not to touch the top of the lasagna with the foil– it will stick).  And pop it into a 375 degree over for 45 minutes.

Pull out the lasagna.  Take off the foil.  Sprinkle on the pine nuts and cook 10 minutes more to brown the top a bit.

When you take it out of the oven, let it sit about 15 minutes before you dig into it so it will firm up a bit.  Oh yumm.

Kale Pesto Pizza with Sausage & Mushrooms

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Hi Pizza Eating Friends–  My Larry is a kale eater.  In fact, he was a kale fan before kale was a “thing.”  We’d go to the soup/salad buffet in town and he’s embarrass the girls by loading the kale garnish onto his plate along with the red lettuce and radishes…

So when I cam across this kale pesto to start off the layers of a pizza, I thought he would really like this one!  It’s a nice gentle flavored pesto– I’m imagining it on ravioli or over a nice piece of baked chicken.  And with pizza it’s just grand.  Hope you try it!!

KALE PESTO PIZZA WITH SAUSAGE & MUSHROOMS

Crust (makes enough for 2 12″ pizza crusts)
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Kale Pesto (enough for 2 pizzas):
6 cups kale, chopped finely
1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan romano

Toppings (for 2 pizzas):
8 oz. mozzarella (or your favorite pizza cheese), grated
8 oz. Italian sausage (mild or hot)
3 oz. crimini mushrooms, chopped to bits
1/4 cup pine nuts to sprinkle on top

DSC00409Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

To make the pesto, drop the kale, 1/4 cup pine nuts, garlic, oil and parmesan romano into a blender and whirl it to a lovely green paste.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet, chopping it to fine bits.  Grate the cheese, chop the mushrooms.

Then take the rising crust from the oven and gently spread on the kale pesto.  Then sprinkle on the cheese, cooked sausage bits, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Pop the pizzas into a 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until they are browned and the crust is cooked through.  —Eat them while they’re hot with a colorful salad.

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Caramelized Onion & Spinach Pizza

IMG_2812Hello all-  On a Friday night, what’s better than pizza, something good on the “telly” and a comfy spot on the sofa– winding down at the end of the week??  Perfect.

Here’s a favorite of ours.  First had something like this at Cheese Board Pizza in Berkeley several years ago and it’s been coming out of our oven ever since.  Garlicky, onion-y good.  (and it makes 2 pizzas!)

CARAMELIZED ONION & SPINACH PIZZA

Crust:
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2  12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

IMG_2788Toppings:
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil*
4 onions (yes 4!!), chopped
Big splash of olive oil
8 oz. mozzarella, grated
4 oz. spinach, chopped
6 oz. brown mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup pine nuts

While the crust is rising, do all your chopping and grating of the topping ingredients.

Heat the splash of olive oil in a skillet.  Cook the onions for about 10 minutes until they are browned and caramelized.

Mix the garlic and 1/3 cup olive oil together.  Spread it over the raised crust.

Then layer on the onions, cheese, spinach, mushrooms and pine nuts.

Pop the 2 pizzas into a 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pizza starts to brown around the edges.

*We love the Spanish Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s.  It tastes like cooking-smells floating out the windows in Seville on a hot summer night.  So rich and buttery.

Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions & Pine Nuts

IMG_2019Hello friends– I’m eating the leftovers of this savory dish right now as I type of this post!  When I saw this recipe on MM’s yummy blog, I knew Larry would like it.  So I made a big pan full for a late supper last night.  It’s one of those cozy, honest kinds of food that taste just right for  a quiet evening tucked in at home.

MM is an Australian mom, living now in Sweden.  I think you might really like her healthy eating blog– Miss Marzipan!

LENTILS AND RICE WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS & PINE NUTS
1 cup rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup green lentils
1 red onion, chopped to bits (about 2 cups)
2 tab. olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
salt & freshly

Cook the rice according to the directions on your package. (I simmer it with 2 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. salt for 10 minutes)

Cook the lentils in 2 cups of water for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are tender.  Then drain off any extra water in a sieve.

While those two are cooking away, Heat the olive oil in a large pan and throw in the red onion.  Cook the onion bits 8 to 10 minutes until they are thoroughly soft and caramelized.
Then add in the cumin and and 1/4 cup water and stir to blend.  Turn off the heat.

When the lentils and rice are thoroughly cooked mix them into the onions in the large pan along with the cilantro and pine nuts.  Taste to see if you want to add a little salt & pepper.

Serve it up warm and hearty with a nice chunk of sturdy bread and a colorful salad.  Dinner!

Parmesan Asparagus

IMG_8203Hi there– It’s hard to go wrong with asparagus.  Fresh and crunchy– it tastes like spring.  Here’s a savory version we had for dinner last night with a rosemary & tomato pork dish.  It’s nice that it only takes 15 minutes start to finish — and it shared the hot oven with the pork and some sturdy bread.  I’m hoping you will like it as much as we did…

PARMESAN ASPARGUS
1 bunch medium size asparagus*
1/2 cup parmesan, grated
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus and discard.  Lay the asparagus closely side by side on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle parmesan over the asparagus and then the salt and pepper.

Put them into a 425 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Then take them out sprinkle on the pine nuts and bake 5 minutes more.  Enjoy!!

*I usually love the smallest, pencil thin asparagus, crisp and tender, but for roasted, the medium thick stalks hold up better.

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Fig & Feta Salad

IMG_5167Hello all-  Figs– even their name is fun.  Sweet and shapely, with that darkish purple skin hiding all the speckledy pink tucked inside.  I’ll tell you in our small town they are a little hard to find, but I tracked some down this week and made a bright little salad to go with our chicken chili when friends came for lunch on Sunday.

FIG & FETA SALAD
8 or 10 sweet ripe figs
salad greens, torn to pieces
1/4 cup crumbled feta*
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
dash of salt
a few grinds of fresh pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar

Pop the pine nuts into a 350 degree oven for just 2 or 3 minutes to toast them (please do keep your eye on them–they can burn easily).  Layer the salad greens, figs, feta and pine nuts on a pretty platter.  In a container with a lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar until they are completely blended and drizzle the dressing over the salad just before you serve it up.

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Makes plenty for 4 servings of salad as a side dish.

*I had feta with lemon and herbs, nice and fresh on this salad.

Pesto Pasta Salad

IMG_3727Hey there–  It’s the end of those lazy summer days.  On a warm evening I love this simple supper out under the maple trees, when the evening breeze starts up.  Serve it up with a hunk of sturdy bread with butter and a glass of something delicious and cold.

PESTO PASTA SALAD
8 oz. elbow macaroni*
8 oz. tub of pesto
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
3 cups baby arugula
8 oz. tub of fresh mozzarella pearls (small balls)
1/4 cup pine nuts.

Cook the macaroni according the package directions.  Cool to room temp.  (a little visit to the freezer for a few minutes helps this along!)  Then add in all the other ingredients except the arugula. Set it in the fridge to cool it and meld the flavors.  Stir in the greens just before you set it out to eat.  It’s that simple.

*Any small macaroni will do.  I used the tiny elbow macaroni from the Mexican food aisle at the grocers– only 33 cents!

Crostini with Creamy Burrata and Chard

IMG_1087Hello friends– A while back Larry and I drove on down to Mozza, for a celebratory anniversary meal–  The Crostini we nibbled on before dinner was the best!  So I decided to try my hand at duplicating it.  Cooked it up along with a pear & almond salad for a light dinner on a warm evening.  It was crunchy, creamy, cheesy delicious!

CROSTINI WITH CREAMY BURRATA & CHARD
4 thick slices of sour dough bread
(or your favorite sturdy loaf)
4 large leaves of Swiss chard
2 tab. olive oil
garlic salt
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
8 oz. Burrata mozzarella creamed cheese
2 tab. pine nuts
2 green onions

IMG_1098Lightly toast the slices of sour dough bread.  Then heat the olive oil in a pan.  Drop in the Swiss chard and give it a couple shakes of garlic salt.  Stir it in the pan just 1 or 2 minutes until it starts to wilt.  Then take it off the heat.  Sprinkle the balsamic vinegar over the bread slices.  Cover them with the Swiss chard and top that with slices of the burrata cheese.  Sprinkle on the pine nuts and pop the them all in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melty and the nuts brown a bit.  Drop the green onion bits on top as you pull them out of the oven.  Eat them up hot and gooey!

Spinach Ricotta White Pizza

IMG_0859Hello there–  We do love pizza around here.  So in the endless search for a new, interesting, tasty version of this yummy stuff, we tried out a “white pizza” for dinner on Saturday.  (thanks Danielle for the suggestion!)  The ricotta takes the place of tomato saucy topping.  Add some mozzarella, spinach, pine nuts…  It’s lovely.

SPINACH RICOTTA WHITE PIZZA

Crust (makes 2 pizzas):
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2 12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Topping:
1 1/2 cup ricotta
2 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 bunch of fresh spinach
2 tab. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 more tab. olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 handfuls of pine nuts

While the crust is rising a bit, in large shallow pan, heat the 2 tab. of olive oil.  When the pan is hot, throw in the garlic and the spinach and stir it just a minute or two until the spinach wilts a bit–not long enough to let it cook completely. (You know how spinach can cook down away to nothing!)  Mix the ricotta, mozzarella and basil together in a bowl.  Then take the two pizza crusts and spread a tablespoon of olive oil on each one.  Top each with half of the ricotta mixture.  Then spoon the spinach over the pizzas.  Sprinkle on the parmesan and pine nuts.  Slide the pizzas into a 375 degree oven for 25 to 20 minutes until the crust browns around the edge and cheese is a bit bubbly.  All that’s left it to eat it up!

Asparagus and Caramelized Onion Pizza

Hi Pizza Lovers– I’m thinking that’s a lot of you.  At least I know in third grade, Pizza is by far the most popular food.  While this version lacks pepperoni (Sorry third graders), it makes up the flavor with the intensity of the caramelized onions and plenty of garlic. This recipe makes 2 pizzas–I’m sitting here now waiting for them to come out of the oven…

ASPARAGUS AND CARAMELIZED ONION PIZZA

Dough:
1 package yeast
1 cup warm water*
1 tab. sugar
2 tab olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups flour

Let the yeast dissolve in the water and then stir in the other ingredients.  Knead 3 to 4 minutes (you can add a little more flour if it feels too sticky)  and stretch the dough onto 2 12″ pizza pans that have been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put them in a warm place to rise while you do the rest of the prep.  (I turn the oven on for just 3 minutes, then turn it off to warm it a bit and set the pizza crusts in there to rise).

Toppings:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup olive oil, plus one extra splash
3 onions, sliced
1 small bunch of thin asparagus
1/2 cup kalmata olives
8 to 10 oz. mozarella, grated
1/3 cup parmesan reggiano
1/4 cup pine nuts (or walnuts)

Put the minced garlic into the olive oil and let it infuse for a bit.  Then splash just a dollop of olive oil into a large pan.  Heat it up and dump in the sliced onions to carmelize them, for about 10 to 12 minutes, until they are brown and sweet.  Cook the asparagus in the microwave just 3 or 4 minutes (depending on how thick it is) until it is cooked, but still crisp.  And cut up the olives into nice little bits.

By the time you’ve done all this the pizza dough should be raised.  Spread on the garlic oil.  Then the caramelized onions.  Top with the mozzarella and parmesan.  And finally sprinkle on the asparagus, olives and pine nuts.  Pop it all into a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until it’s beautiful and browned.  Hope you love it as much as I do!