Creamy Feta and Spinach Orzo

YIELDS | 4-6 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 30 MINS

Recipe Image

Creamy feta cheese and spinach melt into the orzo to create a warm and light meal. The lemon zest gives the recipe just enough zing and compliments the feta beautifully.
This dish makes a perfectly balanced meal all on its own or serve along side with roast chicken or fish for a heartier meal.

INGREDIENTS

* 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil or half of each
* 3 large scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced set aside some of the green parts for garnish
* 2 large garlic cloves, minced
* 8 ounces baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1 ¾ cups chicken or vegetable stock plus more if needed
* 1 cup orzo
* 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
* ¾-1 cup cup feta. Not crumbles. Plus more for serving
* 1 cup fresh dill, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and melt the butter or heat the oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Stir in half the scallions and garlic, and cook until wilted about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the spinach in a few batches and sprinkle with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir a couple times until the spinach is wilted but not mushy, about 4-5 minutes.
5. Add stock and bring to a simmer.
6. Stir in orzo, lemon zest and cover. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 12-15 minutes and until the orzo is al dente and most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir a few times to be sure the orzo doesn’t stick to the pan.
7. Stir in the feta cheese and dill. Cover and cook for another minute to let the flavors develop.
8. Sprinkle with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and garnish with a handful of crumbled feta and scallions.

NOTES

I adapted this recipe from a New York Times recipe. I removed a couple of steps and unnecessary ingredients.

Spaghetti with Creamy Pecorino Cheese and Black Pepper Sauce

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

Recipe Image

This is a take on a popular Italian recipe called Cacio e Pepe, aka, cheese and black pepper. It is made with pasta, its cooking water; Pecorino Romano and loads of freshly ground black pepper. The pleasing piquant flavor from the pepper pairs perfectly with the savory cheese and wraps around each noodle like a warm and cozy blanket. I combined a few recipes to come up with this easier version.
Serve with a simple green salad and good white wine.

Duty Recipe Recipe: consider making a double batch of this creamy pepper sauce to stir into mashed potatoes or add a couple of dollops to warm rice for an easy side dish during the week.

INGREDIENTS

* 1 lb spaghetti or other long pasta
* 8 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated and about 2 cups, plus more for serving
* 1 ¼ teaspoons coarsely grated black pepper, plus more for serving
* 1/2 cup filtered water or more as needed
* 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, optional
* Kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with a generous amount kosher salt. Add the spaghetti and cook according to the package instructions until el dente. Save 2 cups of the pasta water and drain the pasta into a colander. Add the pasta back into the pot and cover to keep warm.

2. While the pasta cooks, add the cheese and pepper to a high speed blender or food processor and half the water and blend until a thick paste forms. Add more water as necessary until the paste becomes smooth and glossy but still thick like the consistency of hummus.

3. Add 3/4 cup of the paste 1/2 cup reserved cooking water, and mix well pulling the pasta up from the pot as you go to incorporate. Add more pasta water and paste as necessary until you achieve the desired consistency.

4. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with toasted walnuts, optional, additional grated cheese and a few cranks of black pepper.

NOTES

Kimchi Fried Rice

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15-20 MINS

Recipe Image

Kimchi is a Korean condiment packed with nutrients. It is very low in calories and it is loaded with probiotics which are said to boost the immune system. This recipe calls for your favorite Kimchi whether store bought or home made. This dish is easy, fast and exploding with flavors. Add fried eggs, cooked diced chicken or tofu for a vegetarian option. It is hard to believe it also easily adapts to GF!

INGREDIENTS

* 1 medium head of cauliflower
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 5 cloves of garlic
* 2 cups kimchi
* 2 tbsp Korean red pepper powder called Gochujang or substitute with red pepper flakes. Adjust to your preference of spice.
* 2 tbsp water
* 2 tbsp soy sauce (GF, to make recipe gluten free)
* 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
* 1⁄2 cup sliced scallions
* 1⁄4 cup toasted sesame seeds
* 4 eggs
* A few dashes of hot chili oil, for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. To make cauliflower rice, chop cauliflower into florets. Pulse florets in the bowl of a food processor until it resembles. This will take about 2 minutes, you may have to do it in batches. Set aside
2. In a small bowl whisk together Gochujang red pepper powder, or flakes, water, and soy sauce, set aside.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat sauté garlic in olive oil for 1 minute or until fragrant, add kimchi and continue sautéing for 3-4 minutes.
4. Add cauliflower rice and soy sauce mixture. Sauté for 7-8 minutes, until cauliflower is tender, but not mushy.
5. Remove from heat, top with sesame oil, scallions, and sesame seeds.
6. In a medium skillet fry eggs in 1 tsp olive oil. Scoop kimchi cauliflower rice into individual, shallow bowls and top each with a fried egg.
7. Garnish with a few dashes of hot chili oil and enjoy

NOTES

Kimchi is a Korean condiment packed with nutrients. It is very low in calories and it is loaded with probiotics which are said to boost the immune system. See Very Easy Kimchi recipe on this website.

Cream, Tumeric & Cheese Pasta

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 20 MINS

Recipe Image

I had a version of this dish at a fantastic restaurant , Bacari, in Los Angeles this summer, and it inspired me to try it at home. Although there are several recipes available for turmeric spaghetti, I like the simplicity of this version. I decided to use pecorino instead of Parmesan. While I like both flavors, I really like the sharpness of the sheep’s milk cheese in this dish. It plays beautifully with the earthy turmeric. I also like using a cylindrical pasta instead of spaghetti. The turmeric, cheese and cream seep into every nook and cranny. This recipe can also do double duty. See Notes below. Definitely a keeper!

INGREDIENTS

* 1 pound rigatoni or spaghetti
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
* 1 large shallot, sliced thin
* 3 garlic cloves, minced
*  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
* 1 cup half-and-half
* 11/2 cups freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan plus more for serving
* 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped, for garnish


INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. and cook the rigatoni according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water and drain.
2. While you wait for the water to boil, melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold the pasta over medium-low heat.
3. Add the olive oil, shallot and garlic and stir until lightly golden and bubbly. Add the turmeric and stir to incorporate about 16-20 seconds.
4. Whisk in the half-and-half bring to a simmer.
5. Whisk in the pecorino or Parmesan.
6. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup of the pasta water gently mix until the pasta has a silky consistency. Add more pasta water as necessary.
7. Garnish with parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and a shower of grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese.

NOTES

Double Duty Recipe:
Make extra sauce to use again during the week to mix into veggies or dollop over fish or chicken

Farro with Roasted Tomatoes, Greens and Pesto

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 15 MINS

COOK TIME | 30 MINS

Recipe Image

Farro is my absolute favorite grain. It’s nutty, robust, chewy and filling. Now, mix these flavors and textures with sweet roasted tomatoes and garlicky pesto for one if the most satisfying warm salad combinations ever.

INGREDIENTS

Preheat oven to 425

* 2 pints cherry tomatoes or about 4 cups of various heirloom tomatoes, coarsely chopped
* 1 cup farro, rinsed
* 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
* 1 medium yellow onion, cut in half and then into about 8 wedges
* 2 cups baby spinach or arugula
* 1/4 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped plus more for garnish
* 1 lemon, zested and juiced, about 2 tablespoons
* 1/4 cup (homemade or store bought) pesto or more to taste.
* 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
* 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese plus more for serving
* 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake or more to taste
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Bring a medium to large pot of water to boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt (See notes about not over salting). Add farro, stir and bring water back up to a simmer.

2. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but still chewy. Drain and put the farro back into the pot.

3. While the farro simmers, toss the shallot, onion and tomatoes in olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flake and a few good cracks of pepper. Pour the mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and roast until the tomatoes begin to crack and the onions are golden brown about 30 minutes.

4. Add the tomato, onions and shallots back into the farro and mix gently, spoon the pesto into the pot and stir just enough to incorporate.

5. Add the lemon juice and sprinkle in the lemon zest, add the arugula or spinach and gently fold into the mixture. Let cool for a few minutes.

6. Pour the mixture into a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with Parmesan, add additional kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste and garnish with additional basil and serve.

NOTES

Farro absorbs salt better than most grains so be sure to not over salt the water.
I like roast the tomatoes and shallot on parchment because it makes it easy to gather up the sides and pour the mixture into the pot or bowl.

Refried Bean, Lime and Cilantro Burgers

YIELDS | 4 SERVINGS

PREP TIME | 10 MINS

COOK TIME | 15 MINS

Recipe Image

I discovered Pork Panko a while back and find it adds a wonderful flavor to beans and especially to my Refried Bean Burgers. I add lime to these burgers to brighten the flavor and the chilis give it a nice zing! This is an easy, go-to crowd pleasing recipe. Omit the Pork Panko to make it vegetarian or to enjoy on a Meatless Monday.

INGREDIENTS

Burgers:
* 2-15 oz cans favorite refried beans, pinto, black, etc.
* 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
* 1/2 cup, or more to taste, Pork Panko
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
* 1-4 oz can hot or medium diced green chilies, drained
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
* Freshly ground pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
* 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
* 1 tablespoon lime juice
* 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for frying

Serving:
* 4 light and fluffy hamburger buns such as Brioche
* Lettuce, tomato, pickle, ketchup and whatever other condiments you like
* Slices of pepper jack or cheddar cheese, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Mix all the ingredients together and form into patties. Sprinkle with additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. Heat a medium to large pan over medium heat and then add the oil.
3. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until a nice brown crust forms and then flip and cook for an additional 5-7 minutes.
4. If using cheese, add it to the burger now and then garnish with your favorite condiments

NOTES

Note:
These burgers freeze well. I like to serve with fresh lettuce and tomato and a slice of cheddar cheese.
Happy Eating!