Feta Orecchiette

Enjoy this simple March Madness lunch or dinner while pulling for your favorite team. It’s honestly so straightforward that it’s almost like child’s play. And you can pull it off during half time. Bonus…it’s a winner even if your team falters. And if that happens, then just Eat. Drink. Carry On. And Stay Tuned for Next Year. 

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1/2 t olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs capers, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs sugar
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved*
1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
1/4 cup snipped fresh flat leaf parsley
12 oz dried orecchiette
8 oz crumbled feta

In small skillet heat 1/2 t olive oil until hot.
Add pine nuts.
Cook and stir about 2 minutes until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.
Season lightly with salt.

For dressing, in large bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers, sugar, and garlic.
Stir in cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, and parsley.
Let stand at room temperature to allow flavors to meld.
Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions.
Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.
Drain pasta.
In the pasta pot, combine reserved pasta water, pasta, and cherry tomato mixture.
Heat for 2 minutes.
Transfer to serving bowl.
Sprinkle with pine nuts and feta.
Garnish with lemon slices and additional parsley.

*For this particular recipe I used my homemade canned Italian tomatoes rather than the cherry tomatoes indicated in the recipe. This is only due to the fact that I am slightly addicted to them! But good quality cherry tomatoes are available at your local grocery all year, and this dish is excellent using them!

Adapted from 100 Best Tomato Recipes by Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications, 2016.

Onion and Pasta Soup

End of Summer Bummer? I don’t think so! Pep up sweet people. As we are officially in the final week of Regular Season Baseball, I give you one of my favorite soups, yummy in baseball weather, and on into the fall and winter. Then bring it out again for Spring Training next year! It’s just that and a bit more. To honor Big Papi and his retirement from the Red Sox this year (more on that coming soon!), Liam and I made this with pasta in the shape of a baseball glove. H.E.L.L.O. lunch or dinner for all Four Seasons. Grand Slam!

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Look at that sneaky pea that jumped out of the bowl and on to the plate!

Here’s what you need!

1/2 stick butter
1 Tbs olive oil
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cups frozen peas
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
4 cups water
1 (or more) cups small pasta
1 t kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
8 torn basil leaves
Lemon Sour Cream for garnish, optional
Fontina Toast for garnish, optional

And here’s how you do it:

In 4 quart Dutch oven, heat butter and olive oil over medium low heat until butter is melted.
Add sweet onion and cook 15 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally.
Add leeks.
Cook, covered 10 minutes.
Stir in peas, chicken broth, water, pasta, and salt.
Bring to boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered 5 minutes.
Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil.
Serve with Lemon Sour Cream and Fontina Toast.

Lemon Sour Cream:
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs lemon juice
Season with salt and pepper.
Mix all together in small bowl.

Fontina Toast:
Sour dough bread, sliced
6 slices Fontina cheese
Arrange bread slices on baking sheet.
Top with cheese.
Broil 4 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted.

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Liam sorted the pasta, as we wanted to use only the natural color since there would already be green in the soup with the peas and basil. Sweet little sous chef!

 

Penne with Tomatoes and Havarti

Pasta Penne Havarti Tomatoes IIjpgSunday Night = Pasta Night!  I didn’t know if my strength was going to hang on to cook last night.  The Don and I had been out of town for the lovely wedding of our dear friend Lawrence.  (Tons of fun, but in the end, travel and elegant parties can be tiring depending on your current age!) His bride is lovely outside and in, and I look forward to years of experiences with the new Mr. and Mrs.  Adding to the energy drain, was the ordeal of hours, literally, spent yesterday afternoon, pouring over Istanbul hotels, studying web sites, phone calls with AmEx, phone calls with British Air, and phone calls with Brenton (who had spent equal or more hours studying).  At the end of the day, we were booked. Whew!  Re-energized by that monkey off my back, and having drained the remains of the refrigerated Friday Margarita pitcher, I managed to crawl in to the kitchen and cook one of my favorite pastas.  I don’t eat pasta often, so I want it to totally count when I do! Mmmmm.Pasta Penne Havarti Tomatoes

3 Tbs olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped
1 t minced garlic
2 35 oz cans crushed tomatoes or coarsely chopped stewed tomatoes
2 Tbs fresh basil, finely chopped (or 2 t dried)
1 t dried red pepper

1 lb bag of Penne Pasta
1 cup grated Havarti
1/2 cup shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil

Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes.
Mix in tomato, basil and red pepper.
Cook on medium low 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season with black pepper.

While sauce is cooking, cook pasta according to package directions.
Drain and rinse lightly with warm water.
Toss with 1 Tbs olive oil.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Pour pasta into the sauce pot.
Add the Havarti.
Lightly stir to mix all together.

Pour mixture in baking dish.

Bake 30 minutes uncovered.
Sprinkle with basil and Parmesan.

Serves 6 to 8.

*When tomatoes are in season, always avail yourself them in creating the sauce.  The flavor is much fresher and cleaner tasting.