Category Archives: Pasta

Spaghetti with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

It was one of those nights where I had no idea what to make for dinner. I had a chicken breast in the fridge but no real plan. After a bit of web browsing, this recipe came up. I had the ingredients, and it seemed easy enough. To be honest, when I first read the post, I kind of skimmed over it, but it didn’t make that much of an impact on me. Visually, it wasn’t that appealing, and it really didn’t seem that interesting to me.

However. It is so good. I followed the recipe loosely, and it turned out so well.

Start with onions and garlic in a pan. Then add some thinly sliced chicken breasts seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little cumin. After it cooks on each side, pour in a little wine and let it reduce.

Then, add some pureed and whole chickpeas and a can of tomatoes. I used fire-roasted tomatoes because I had them, and it was delicious. I think it would be good with regular tomatoes as well. Season with more salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin, and basil. Put a pot of water on to boil, so the mixture has awhile to simmer together. When the water boils and you add the spaghetti, add the zucchini to the pan with the tomato/chickpea mixture. {I initially used a pan that was too small, so I had to transfer to a larger pan at this stage.}

Once the spaghetti is cooked, add to the pan and toss to coat. Add a little of the pasta water if the sauce is too thick.

Yum! I should note that, while I enjoyed this with spaghetti, I think it would be even better as a sauce over whole chicken breasts, maybe with a little rice or bread on the side.

Spaghetti with Chickpeas and Tomatoes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 2 generously

Ingredients:
-5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
-1 medium onion, thinly sliced
-3-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 large chicken breast (or 2 smaller – enough for two people), thinly sliced
-1/2 cup white wine
-15 ounces canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained or about 2 cups, freshly cooked chickpeas
-1/2 cup chicken stock or water
-1 14-ounce can fire roasted or regular chopped tomatoes
-1 medium zucchini, sliced into thin half moons
-1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried basil
-1/2 to 1 teaspoon cumin
-Pinch of red pepper flakes
-Salt & pepper to taste
-1/2 pound spaghetti

Directions:

  1. Heat saute pan over medium heat. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and cumin.
  2. Add olive oil to pan, and add onions. Saute till soft, and then add garlic. Saute for a few minutes, then add chicken in an even layer in pan. After a few minutes, turn till cooked on both sides.
  3. Add wine and cook till reduced slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, puree all but 1/3 cup chickpeas in a blender or food processor with chicken broth until roughly chopped  (I actually eyeballed the amounts and just used water, and it turned out fine, but chicken broth would probably be better).
  5. Add the pureed and whole chickpeas, tomatoes, and spices to the pan and mix.  Taste to see if you need more salt, pepper, or other spices (I kind of eyeballed it and tasted as I went).
  6. After you add the tomatoes and chickpeas, put a pot of water on to boil.  When the water boils, add the spaghetti. At that point, also add the zucchini to the tomato and chickpea mixture, and mix.
  7. When the spaghetti is cooked, reserve the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the pan, and toss to coat. Add some pasta water if the mixture is a little thick (I added a few tablespoons).
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Peanut Sesame Noodles

I looove pasta, and I love Thai and Chinese noodles. AND ever since I saw Kung Fu Panda, my obsession with noodles has grown. Strange, I know. Mostly it means I’ve been searching for the perfect noodle soup, but when I saw this recipe for Hot and Cold Sesame Noodles, it instantly appealed to me.

I adjusted the ingredients to make it more of a meal. One important thing is missing from this picture above – peanut butter. Whoops. And, I didn’t end up using the ginger.

Cook the spaghetti till al dente.  While that’s cooking, just slice all the veggies thinly. I used a serrano pepper (from my container garden) instead of cayenne pepper, but I seeded it and it wasn’t very spicy. I would definitely add a a little more spice.

Then cook up some chopped chicken with a little olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. When it’s done, set aside in a large bowl. Put the noodles in the bowl as well, when they’re cooked.

Then add some more olive oil, garlic, peppers and onions to skillet and cook till tender. While that’s happening, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl and add to the skillet. Toss to coat, then pour over the chicken and noodles.  Toss, and add some fresh basil, scallions, and sesame seeds.

It was good, although I felt the sauce was a little thick. I would consider thinning it out a little bit next time; maybe with some chicken broth? Edamame would be good in this too.

Peanut Sesame Noodles

Adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves 4

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves garlic
8 oz. dried spaghetti or other thin noodle
1 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup green beans, fresh or frozen
2 hot peppers, such as serranos (or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

For sauce:
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup Tamari dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider or rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

5-6 leaves fresh basil
3 scallions
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Cook the spaghetti until al dente. When cooked, drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. Thinly slice chicken breasts and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and pour in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. While the pan is heating, chop the garlic cloves.
  5. Cook the chicken with one of the garlic cloves till browned and cooked through. Add to the bowl with the noodles.
  6. While the chicken is cooking, thinly slice the red onion and red pepper, chop the hot peppers, slice the green onions, and julienne the basil.
  7. In a separate bowl, microwave the peanut butter for a few seconds to soften. Whisk in the Tamari, vinegar, and sesame oil.
  8. In the same skillet as you used to cook the chicken, add 1 more tablespoon of olive oil. When heated, add the onions, garlic, red peppers, hot peppers, and green beans. You want to cook the vegetables for a few minutes – just so they’re heated through but still crisp.
  9. Pour the sauce into the skillet with the vegetables and stir to coat.  Pour the vegetable mixture over the noodles and chicken, add the basil, scallions, and sesame seeds on top and toss to coat.
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Creamy Pasta with Peas and Chicken

This was the best kind of weeknight supper – it used ingredients I had on hand, it came together pretty quickly, and it was filling and comfort-food satisfying. Inspired by the ingredients in pasta carbonara and this recipe, I quickly came up with a plan using ingredients I had on hand.

Yes, that is a big hunk of frozen peas. And chopped rotisserie chicken.

Onions, a (large) clove of garlic, and some Laughing Cow cheese (that stuff is incredible with pretzel chips, by the way). Not shown: a few slices of bacon and bowtie pasta.

While I set the water to boil for the pasta, I started cooking the bacon with a tiny bit of olive oil. I didn’t need too much – just enough so it wouldn’t stick too much.

After that crisped up a bit, I added garlic and onions, then sauteed them for a few minutes (note: I didn’t take the bacon out before I added the garlic and onion, but I should have so it kept its crispiness. This is reflected in the directions below).

Then I added frozen peas, and by that time, my bowtie pasta was cooked.

I spooned the pasta into the pan, reserving the pasta liquid, and added some cooked chopped chicken. Then, in went three wedges of Laughing Cow cheese. I also added salt, pepper, and a bit of the pasta liquid to help everything melt together and create a creamier sauce.

I stirred it around a bit, then covered and let simmer for awhile so everything would melt and come together.

I finished with a little bit more salt and pepper, and voila, a quick 30 minute meal. This made enough for two, but it’s easily adaptable for four.  It would be great with asparagus and/or artichoke hearts and a good splash of white wine. If you don’t have Laughing Cow cheese, you could use a little bit of cream (I would think maybe a 1/4 cup would work – I haven’t tried it, but you could just add some until it reaches the right consistency), or another soft, melty cheese (like cream cheese, Boursin, or blue cheese), or you could leave it out altogether and just finish with a little parmesan cheese.

Creamy Pasta with Peas and Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

8 oz dried bowtie pasta (or other small pasta) – about half a box
3-4 strips thick cut bacon or pancetta
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1/4 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup frozen or fresh peas (no need to thaw frozen peas)
1-2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
3 wedges (2.25 oz) Laughing Cow cheese (or approx. 1/4 cup half and half or heavy cream for this; or another soft, melty cheese; or leave it out altogether)

Directions:

  1. Put pasta on to cook
  2. Heat large skillet over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil (the bacon will add plenty of fat, so no need to put in a ton).
  3. Slice bacon crosswise into small strips.
  4. Add to pan and stir. While the bacon is crisping up, mince the garlic and chop the onion.
  5. When the bacon is starting to crisp and rendering out the fat, remove from pan (you’ll add it back later, but this will keep it crisp instead of getting soggy).
  6. Add the onion and garlic to the pan (don’t drain the fat). Season with salt and pepper. Cook till onion is translucent.
  7. If you’re using wine, add at this point and cook down for a minute or two.
  8. Add the peas, and cook until mostly thawed.
  9. At this point, the pasta should be al dente. Scoop out of pot (but don’t drain the pasta water) into the skillet. Stir to mix.
  10. Add the chopped chicken and the cheese. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Pour in some of the pasta liquid and stir – you want it to all loosen up and form a little bit of a sauce. Don’t worry too much about adding too much liquid – you can always cook it off, and pasta absorbs a lot of liquid.
  12. Cover the pan and let simmer for a few minutes so the cheese melts and incorporates and the chicken heats through.
  13. Stir so everything is incorporated and the pasta is coated with sauce.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. If it’s a little thick, add some more pasta water.
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Lemon Orzo Primavera

This is definitely one of my go-to summer dishes – it’s a perfect blend of warm weather flavors: summer vegetables, white wine, lemon, light pasta.  I love risottos, but they can be a little heavy for summer.  This is a similar style dish, but it’s made with orzo pasta instead, and it’s super adaptable: you can use whatever veggies you like best, and you can make it more pasta heavy if you prefer.  I will add fresh herbs if I have them on hand, but it’s fine without.  It can be vegetarian, or you can add chopped chicken breast.  Usually I’ll just cook two chicken breasts with some salt and pepper, maybe herbs & lemon zest, in the same pan I will use for the pasta – that way I will get those yummy flavors in the dish when I cook the orzo.  Then, I’ll chop it up and throw it in near the end of the cook time.

This time around, I used bell peppers, zucchini, carrots, and asparagus. I almost always use carrots and zucchini and mix and match from there till I get about 6 cups of chopped veggies.  For a more pasta-y dish, use about 4 cups of veggies.

It’s cooked sort of risotto-style, but much lower maintenance.  You cook the orzo a little bit with some olive oil, till it gets nice and toasty, then pour in some white wine and cook till that’s absorbed.  Then you add in the onion, garlic, and veggies that will take longer to cook (like broccoli, peppers, carrots).  I’ve found that if I throw in the zucchini now, it will be a mushy mess by the time everything else is finished.

Then you add in the quicker cooking vegetables (like asparagus, zucchini, squash), broth, herbs, and lemon zest and cook that around for about 10 minutes till the pasta absorbs all that broth.

You can also throw in some cooked, diced chicken.  Yum – the pasta is nice and firm, the veggies are cooked through but still should have a nice bite to them.  The last thing is to stir in some salt & pepper to taste, lemon juice and fresh grated parmesan.

Sprinkle a little bit of parmesan on top, too, and the end result is really nice and savory, fresh, lemony, yummy.

Lemon Orzo Primavera

Adapted from this recipe.

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 cup Uncooked Orzo Pasta
1/4 cup White Wine (optional)
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Onion, Diced
1 cup Carrots, Diced (about 2-3 whole)
1.5 cups Zucchini, Diced (about 1 whole)
1 cup Asparagus, cut into thirds
2 cups Bell Peppers, Diced (about 2 whole)
1-3/4 cups Chicken Broth
1 whole Lemon (zest Of The Whole Lemon, Juice Of Half Of The Lemon, Divided Use)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (like Thyme, Basil, Rosemary)
2 whole Chicken Breasts, Cooked & Diced
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large saute or frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add orzo and cook approximately 2 minutes until golden.
  3. Add white wine if using and cook till absorbed. I usually use Sauvignon Blanc, but any nice white will do.
  4. Add garlic, onion, and carrots, broccoli, bell peppers (any veggies that will take longer to cook) and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook about 2 minutes.
  6. Next, add zucchini and asparagus (any of the quicker cooking veggies).
  7. Cook about 1-2 minutes.
  8. Add chicken broth, lemon zest, and herbs, and bring to a boil.
  9. Reduce heat and let simmer till broth is absorbed and the orzo is cooked (about 10 minutes).
  10. Near end of cook time, add diced, cooked chicken and heat through
  11. Once it’s all cooked, add salt & pepper to taste, stir in parmesan cheese, and squeeze juice of half the lemon over top (more to taste), and serve.

Notes:
*You could make this vegetarian by using vegetable broth and no chicken.
*For veggies, use whatever you like – zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, bell peppers, asparagus, and broccoli are all great.  I try to aim for about 5-6 cups of chopped veggies total.  Just make sure they’re all chopped to about the same size, and add them to the pan in order of cook time so that everything cooks to a similar consistency and nothing is overcooked.

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