Prepared Mediterranean-style, this nutty Toasted Orzo Pasta Recipe with Garlic, Parmesan and Sun-dried Tomatoes will steal the show next to your favorite protein. You can even serve it as a quick and easy vegetarian meal on its own; it will feed 4 people as a vegetarian main and about 6 or so as a side dish.
It was a superb complement to our top sirloin and veggie kebabs. In fact, this orzo recipe jumped to the top of the list and one we’ll make time and again!
Leftovers? Lucky you. It will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days in a tightly closed container. Warm over medium heat.
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add the orzo and cook, tossing around, until toasted to a beautiful golden brown.
Add at least 7 cups of boiling water to the saucepan and season well with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Cook the pasta in boiling water to al dente according to the package instructions (about 7 to 8 minutes).
Just before the pasta is fully cooked (after about 5 minutes), remove 1 cup of the starchy pasta water and set it aside.
In a large pan, warm 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and season with a pinch of kosher salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, tossing regularly, until just fragrant. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water. Raise the heat if needed to bring to a boil. Add the parsley and oregano.
When the pasta is ready, drain and add it to the pan and toss to combine. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan. Toss to combine. If needed, add a little more of the pasta cooking water.
Finish with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if you like.
This version of bolognese is half lamb and half ground beef, a mixture you’ll see a lot in northern Italy, and because the lamb is lean, this is a somewhat lighter sauce than all-beef or pork-based ragu.
The sauce needs a good long simmer, but it makes enough that you’ll likely get two meals. Giada claims the pasta shouldn’t be swimming in sauce; you only want it to stain the pasta, but we are “saucy” people and like to pile on a fair amount.
One of the ingredients is Calabrian chili paste, but a good substitute is Sriracha, and that’s what we used.
1 can whole San Marzano tomatoes, (28 ounce) crushed by hand
1 bay leaf
1 piece parmesan rind, (3 inch)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb. fusilli, cooked to package instructions; or polenta
Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add the butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil and warm until the butter is melted.
Add the onions, carrots, celery and a 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook stirring often for 6 minutes or until the vegetable are soft but have no color.
Add the lamb and beef and cook breaking apart the meat with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
Stir the garlic, chili paste, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste into the meat mixture. Cook the tomato paste stirring often for 2 minutes.
Add the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the milk is almost entirely evaporated.
Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf, parmesan rind and remaining salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low to just maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer the sauce for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Use several folded paper towels to skim some of the oil from the surface.
Discard the bay leaf and parm rind.
Spoon the bolognese over fusilli or creamy polenta reserving any extra to serve on the side. Serve with additional parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
Did you know that Umbria, in central Italy, is home to a tomato-free version of Chicken alla Cacciatora? Rather, the rustic braise gets it character from lemon, olives, garlic and herbs. Capers also are customary, but this version uses pancetta instead to build rich, savory depth. Finally, alternatively to cutting up a whole chicken, which is what we usually do, here we substitute bone-in, skin-on thighs.
Strips of lemon zest are simmered into the sauce to infuse the dish with subtle citrusy notes. For easiest results, use a sharp vegetable peeler to plane off wide strips of zest from the fruit; each piece should be roughly 2 to 3 inches long. You will need a 12-inch oven-safe skillet for this recipe, our 3-quart Le Creuset “Baby Blue” enameled cast-iron pot was perfect.
Fantastic! The combination of flavors had so much depth, we wanted to lick our plates clean. I know we loved the previous version using an entire chicken and capers, but this riff may have raised the bar to another level…
3 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. pancetta, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 cup dry white wine
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup pitted green or black olives or a combination, drained and halved
4 strips lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
Heat the oven to 450°F with a rack in the middle position. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.
In an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook without disturbing until golden brown on the bottom, 5 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a large plate.
Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet and set the pan over medium. Add the pancetta and onion, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the wine, bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, rosemary, olives and lemon zest. Return the chicken skin up to the skillet and pour in the accumulated juices. Transfer to the oven and cook until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 175°F, 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven; the handle will be hot. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skin up to a serving platter, then remove and discard the rosemary and lemon zest. Bring the liquid in the pan to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced, 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the lemon juice and vinegar, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce around the chicken.
According to chef/author Suzy Karadheh, this is hands-down the BEST mushroom pasta recipe without cream. Rich and velvety with loads of mushrooms, garlic, shallots, a little parmesan, and a lighter silky-smooth sauce.
An easy recipe, it has two main components: the pasta and the mushroom sauce. Once you cook the pasta and sauté the mushrooms, everything will come together with a light sauce in one pan.
A typical pasta with mushrooms usually involves a heavy cream-based sauce that you would likely cook separately and then spoon over the pasta. Making a hearty garlic mushroom pasta without cream or too much butter is fairly simple. The science behind this is using a little of the starchy pasta water.
Walnuts were in the original list of ingredients, but you know how The Hubs detests those little nuggets, claiming they taste like soap. I personally love them, but to keep the peace they went by the wayside. And the dish didn’t seem to suffer without them!
8 oz. dry pasta, such as orecchiette, campanelle or farfalle
⅓ cup extra virgin olive
1 Tbsp. butter
2 shallots, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. portabella mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tsp. rosemary
3 Tbsp. of tomato paste
¼ cup dry red wine
½ cup of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ cup packed parsley, chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste, optional
Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling salted water according to box instructions. Keep 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain the pasta.
In a large skillet, heat the olive and butter over medium-high heat, add the shallots and garlic and cook, tossing regularly for 2 to 3 minutes (manage the heat so that the garlic does not burn).
Add all the mushrooms and toss them around in the pan for a couple of minutes, adding another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a good pinch of kosher salt, black pepper and the rosemary. Cook the mushrooms for about 7 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until they turn color and release their juices.
Add the tomato paste, wine and about ½ to ¾ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes (this becomes your mushroom pasta sauce).
Add the cooked pasta to the mushroom sauce. Toss to combine. If needed add a little bit more of the pasta cooking water.
Stir in Parmesan cheese and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately.
The flavors were amazing in this dish from Mastering the Art of Italian Cooking by Lidia Bastianich, one of our favorite Italian chef/authors. With rosemary, fennel, capers, onion and homemade stock, you can’t help but start salivating from the heady aromas while you’re cooking.
Shoulder lamb chops are usually not as costly as other cuts, but you do have to deal with a little more fat and bone. With only three chops, we still needed to brown them in two batches, which the original instructions didn’t indicate. Too closely together in the skillet, and the meat will steam instead of brown.
One major difference we will do next time is reduce the amount of stock from 2 cups down to 1 cup (this is noted in the list of ingredients below). After the chops were removed from the skillet, we tented them with foil, and reduced down the liquid in the pan (which still included the other ingredients).
And what is with throwing out the garlic?? That’s like tossing the baby out with the bath water, a sacrilege in our opinion! Otherwise, it was a fabulous recipe.
2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 medium onions, sliced
1⁄4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1⁄4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1⁄4 cup drained tiny capers in brine
Season lamb chops with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Spread some flour on a plate and dredge the chops in the flour, tapping off the excess.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add 1⁄4 inch of vegetable oil. Cook the chops until they are crisp and browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove them to a plate. (It’s likely you will need to do this in 2 batches.)
Pour out the oil and wipe the skillet clean. Set skillet over medium heat, and add olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and rosemary. Once the garlic and rosemary are sizzling, add the fennel and onions, and season with the remaining salt and the red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring to make sure the vegetables don’t burn, until they are wilted and golden, about 10 minutes.
Add the vinegar and bring it to a boil. Add the stock. Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering, and add the chops and capers.
Simmer, covered, until the chops are tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the rosemary stems and garlic (no way!), and serve.
Here’s a wonderfully warming soup for a cold Winter’s day. Once you’ve prepped the ingredients, there’s not much you have to do for several hours. It’s made even easier if you buy bulk sausage, so that you don’t have to meddle with removing casings. And if spicy is not your thing, go ahead and use mild Italian or turkey sausage.
With lots of super-flavorful turkey stock leftover, we used that as the base, ramping up the overall deliciousness! Serve with a slice of crusty garlic bread toasted under the broiler.
2 14.5 oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
5 oz. baby kale leaves, roughly chopped
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the sausage to the skillet, and cook, stirring to crumble with a wooden spoon, 4 minutes.
Add the onions, carrots, and celery to the skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned and the vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes.
Add 1 cup of the stock; cook 1 minute, stirring and scraping to loosen the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.
Transfer the sausage mixture to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, beans, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper, and the remaining 5 cups stock. Cover and cook on LOW until the vegetables are tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Stir in the pasta; cover and cook on LOW until the pasta is al dente, about 1 hour.
Stir in the kale and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls, and serve hot.
An Italian, Middle-Eastern mash-up if you will. In a twist, this version of Sicilian eggplant dish is roasted on a sheet pan in the oven, so you don’t have to bother with any deep- or pan-frying. The tomato paste and cinnamon give it depth, the sherry vinegar lends brightness, and the raisins and brown sugar offer balance.
This variation on Italian caponata becomes a main course atop fluffy couscous and creamy goat cheese. Buy the freshest eggplant you can find, it should feel heavy and have no soft spots, and you won’t need to peel or salt it to pull out any bitterness. Because pine nuts are traditional in caponata, they’re the first choice, but they can be pricey so pepitas or chopped walnuts make fine substitutions. Finally, if you don’t like goat cheese, substitute ricotta or farmer cheese. But the cheese adds a welcome component, so don’t omit it.
Under the couscous, the goat cheese melts into a creamy, salty, tangy puddle.
G. Daniela galarza
NOTE: Leftovers may be refrigerated in covered containers for up to 4 days.
1 lb. Japanese or globe eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium yellow or red onion (8 to 10 oz.), chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato (6 to 8 oz.), chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 tsp. light brown sugar or honey, or to taste
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup raisins (any kind)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, pepitas or chopped walnuts
1/4 to 1/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, or to taste
For the Couscous
1 1/2 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) couscous
3 oz. soft goat cheese, or more if desired
1/4 cup torn fresh basil, mint or parsley (optional)
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic, and use your hands to toss everything together. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, followed by the brown sugar or honey, salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Toss again, then spread into an even layer.
Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, flip and redistribute vegetables so they cook evenly. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
Transfer the pan to a heatproof surface. Mash the garlic cloves into a paste. Push the vegetables aside to expose a small area of the hot metal and place the tomato paste on it. Using a wooden spoon, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables, followed by the raisins, nuts or seeds, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar, salt and/or pepper as desired.
Make the couscous: About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, in a medium lidded saucepan over high heat, bring the water or stock, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil. Immediately pour in the couscous, ensuring it’s moistened throughout, then cover, remove from the heat and let it steam for about 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
To serve, portion about a quarter of the goat cheese into the center of each plate. Top with a pile of couscous and some of the caponata. Garnish with the torn herbs and more goat cheese, if desired.
If you’re not familiar with Beef Braciole(I had never heard of it until I moved out East in my early twenties),it’s a classic Italian dish with many variations. It can be made with thin, individual slices of beef such as round or as one large roll using flank steak. It can also be made with pork and it always has a savory filling. But first, get the pronunciation right: [brah-chee-oh-ley, brah-choh-; Italian brah-chaw-le].
For this take on stuffed beef rolls, Cook’s Illustrated chose flank steak rather than top or bottom round because its loose grain makes it easier to pound thin and its higher fat content means that it emerges from the oven tender and moist. And that it did!
This filling is on the bold side, with the inclusion of umami-rich ingredients such as prosciutto; anchovies; and fontina, a good melter that also brings much-needed fat to the dish. In addition, a gremolata-inspired mix added to the filling provides a jolt of flavor and freshness. Right up our alley! Finally, beef broth is added to the tomato sauce to integrate the beef and the sauce into a unified whole.
This is not your quick weeknight meal. It takes the better part of 4 to 5 hours before you will be serving it on the dinner table, so plan accordingly.
And below is a bonus Roasted Broccoli Rabe recipe to accompany the main dish; this recipe hailing from Milk Street. It takes about 30 minutes max, so you can make it just as the braciole is getting done.
NOTES: Before you begin, cut sixteen 10-inch lengths of kitchen twine. You can substitute sharp provolone for the fontina, if desired. For the most tender braciole, be sure to roll the meat so that the grain runs parallel to the length of the roll. Serve the braciole and sauce together, with pasta or polenta, or separately, as a pasta course with the sauce followed by the meat.
⅓ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
⅓ cup plain dried bread crumbs
3 oz. fontina cheese, shredded (3⁄4 cup)
1 (2- to 2½-pound) flank steak
8 thin slices prosciutto
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 large onion, chopped fine
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ cup tomato paste
¾ cup dry red wine
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups beef broth
Your choice of pasta, optional
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
Stir 3 tablespoons oil, half of garlic, lemon zest, and anchovies together in medium bowl. Add ⅓ cup basil, parsley, Pecorino, and bread crumbs and stir to incorporate. Stir in fontina until evenly distributed and set aside filling.
Halve steak against grain to create 2 smaller steaks. Lay 1 steak on cutting board with grain running parallel to counter edge. Holding blade of chef’s knife parallel to counter, halve steak horizontally to create 2 thin pieces. Repeat with remaining steak.
Cover 1 piece with plastic wrap and, using meat pounder, flatten into rough rectangle measuring no more than ¼ inch thick. Repeat pounding with remaining 3 pieces. Cut each piece in half, with grain, to create total of 8 pieces.
Lay 4 pieces on cutting board with grain running parallel to counter edge (if 1 side is shorter than the other, place shorter side closer to you). Distribute half of filling evenly over pieces. Top filling on each piece with 1 slice of prosciutto, folding to fit, and press firmly. Keeping filling in place, roll each piece away from you to form tight log. Tie each roll with 2 pieces kitchen twine to secure. Repeat process with remaining steak pieces, filling, and prosciutto. Sprinkle rolls on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat remaining ¼ cup oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown rolls on 2 sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer rolls to plate.
Add onion to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in pepper flakes and remaining garlic; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add wine and cook, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Return rolls to pot; bring to simmer. Add parchment paper to cover the entire pot opening, then cover tightly and transfer to oven. Braise until meat is fork-tender, 2½ to 3 hours, using tongs to flip rolls halfway through braising.
Transfer braciole to serving dish and discard twine. If there is a lot of fat on the surface of the sauce, skim off as much as you can with a large spoon.
Meanwhile, if serving pasta, cook according to package directions.
TIP: If your sauce reduced too much (ours did), add up to a cup of the pasta water to thin it. Stir remaining 2 tablespoons basil into tomato sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour sauce over braciole and serve, passing extra Pecorino separately.
Roasted Broccoli Rabe with Fennel and Chili Flakes
The high heat renders the stems and florets tender while the leaves crisp around the edges, like kale chips with a spicy broccoli bite. Make sure not crowd the pan or everything will steam rather than roast. In the end, they may not look real pretty, but they are fantastic in the taste category!
If possible, use whole toasted fennel seed then grind it down yourself either with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. There was a sweet-and-sour mint dressing that was also part of this recipe, but we omitted it. And in a word, the rabe was “Delish!”
Roasted Broccoli Rabe with Fennel and Chili Flakes