One-Pan Farro & Cauliflower Parmesan

I love vegetable-loaded comfort food. ūüôā This casserole dish also has farro, a favorite, and cheese, of course. My husband said he would have loved it even without the fresh mozzarella on top! Absolutely delicious.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah DiGregorio. I doubled the amount of cauliflower, omitted the olives, used Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro, and modified the method and proportions.

We ate the casserole as a main course with garlic bread and green salad. It could also be served as a hearty side dish. The recipe is very adaptable and could be easily modified to incorporate other vegetables.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Farro and Cauliflower:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, florets and tender stems cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 8.8 oz bag Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro
  • 1¬†(28 to 32-ounce) jar good-quality marinara sauce (I used Rao’s)
  • 1/4¬†cup olive oil
  • 1/2¬†cup pitted kalamata or black olives, roughly chopped, optional (I omitted them)
  • 10 large¬†garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 3¬†ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano (about 3/4 cup finely grated)
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons dried oregano or dried basil
  • 1¬†teaspoon balsamic or sherry vinegar
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground¬†black pepper
  • 1 cup stock (can substitute water)
  • 2/3 cup water

For the Topping:

  • 1¬†cup panko
  • 2¬†ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano (about 1/2 cup finely grated)
  • 1¬†tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 to 12¬†ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced into rounds (I used 12 slices)
  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9-by-13-inch pan, combine the cauliflower, farro, marinara sauce, olive oil, olives (if using), garlic, grated cheese, onion powder, oregano or basil, vinegar and red-pepper flakes. Season with the salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
  3. Pour in 1 cup stock and 2/3 cups water and stir well to combine. (can substitute with 1 2/3 cups water)
  4. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make the topping: Stir together the panko, grated cheese and olive oil.
  6. Uncover the pan and stir.
  7. Evenly cover the top with the panko topping.
  8. Top with the fresh mozzarella rounds.
  9. Continue baking uncovered until the farro is tender and chewy, the sauce is thick, the topping is browned, and the mozzarella has melted, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked it for an additional 12 minutes on convection roast.) (I also put my garlic bread in the same oven at this point!)

Skillet Greek Chicken with Orzo, Tomatoes & Feta

This was a super quick and delicious skillet dinner that was absolutely packed with flavor. I loved the colorful and fresh tomato topping. We ate it with a green salad but it truly could have been a complete meal on its own.

This recipe was adapted from Half Baked Harvest, contributed by Tieghan Gerard. I used chicken thighs, dried oregano, and capers. I also modified the method and proportions. Next time, I may substitute 10-minute farro for the orzo. Great.

Yield: Serves 6

For the Chicken & Orzo:

  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 to 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces (about 4 large)
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (I used a yellow pepper)
  • 2 cups dry orzo pasta
  • 2 T capers, drained

For the Tomatoes & To Serve:

  • 2 1/2 cups mixed heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or put through a garlic press
  • kosher salt
  • 1-2 pinches/dashes red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
  1. In a large skillet, toss together the olive oil, chicken, oregano, paprika; season with salt and pepper. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and garlic, cook another minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the skillet.
  4. Add the bell peppers to the drippings in the skillet. Cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the orzo and 2 1/2 cups water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often until almost all the water is absorbed, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste the pasta for doneness; add water and continue to cook until tender, if necessary. (I added 1/2 to 3/4 cup additional water after 5 minutes.)
  6. Stir the chicken and capers into the orzo. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
  8. To serve, spoon the tomatoes over the chicken and gently toss. Top with feta cheese.

Cheesy & Crunchy Baked Pasta with Cauliflower

I loved that this cheesy comfort food baked pasta dish incorporated an entire head of cauliflower. The lemon zest and capers also added brightness which had a nice balance with the cheese.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ina Garten. Great comfort food.

Yield: Serves 8

  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried pasta, such as medium shells (I used Cascatelli)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2‚ÄČ1/2 pounds cauliflower (1 large head cut into small florets)¬†
  • 3 tablespoons sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 15 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese, lightly packed (10 oz with rind)
  • 1 cup (8 oz) whole milk ricotta
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley leaves, minced fresh
  1. Preheat the oven to 400¬į. (I set my oven to convection.)
  2. Fill a large pot with water, add 2 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until 2 minutes less than al dente, according to the instructions on the package. (Since it will be baked later, don’t overcook it! Drain and pour into a very large bowl.)
  3. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large (12 to 14-inch) skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the florets are lightly browned and tender. Season with salt.
  4. Pour the cauliflower, including the small bits, into the bowl with the pasta.
  5. Add 3 more tablespoons of olive oil to the sauté pan, add the remaining cauliflower, cook until browned and tender and add to the bowl.
  6. Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper to the bowl and stir carefully.
  7. Stir in the Fontina.
  8. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10 x 13 x 2‚Äďinch rectangular baking dish.
  9. Spoon 12 rounded tablespoons of ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  10. Combine the panko, grated Pecorino, minced parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly on top.
  11. Bake for 22 minutes on convection, or 25 to 30 minutes in a standard oven, until browned and crusty on top. Serve hot.

Note: The dish can be assembled ahead of time. Assemble the dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake before serving.

Oven-Baked Pearl Couscous with Roasted Tomatoes, Chickpeas & Feta

I have served this flavorful dish as a vegetarian main dish served over baby spinach and as a side dish with rotisserie chicken, roasted cauliflower and green salad. So versatile! I also love that it is made in one pan.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with Couscous with Quinoa, Orzo, and Garbanzo Beans and modified the proportions and method. Nice.

Yield: Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side dish

  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved (or a combination grape & small Campari- quartered)
  • 1 large shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced scallions, for garnish (about 2 large)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 large¬†garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
  • 3 oregano, rosemary or sage sprigs
  • 2 cups vegetable stock or water (I used 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, dill or parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 ounces pearl couscous (1 1/2 cups)(I used Trader Joe’s Harvest Brain blend)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups feta, crumbled (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan (1 1/2 ounces)( I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, cake pan or gratin dish (I used a ceramic 9×13 baking dish), toss together tomatoes, shallot, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper and rosemary, oregano, or sage sprigs. Roast until tomatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. While tomatoes roast, heat the stock (or stock and water) until it boils, then stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, adding more to taste. (You want a well-seasoned broth here to flavor the couscous.)
  4. Stir in cilantro, lemon zest and cumin.
  5. Remove tomatoes from oven and fold in couscous, chickpeas and hot stock mixture. Cover pan tightly with foil, and return to oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove foil and fold in the Parmesan and about 3/4ths of the feta (save the rest for garnish). Bake uncovered until feta starts to melt, another 5 minutes.
  7. To serve, pull out and discard herb sprigs if you like, and spoon couscous into bowls. (I served it in the baking dish as a side dish.)
  8. Top with remaining feta, more Parmesan, scallions, more herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as desired.

One-Pot Turkey Chili with Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

We ate this wonderful one-pot dish during the Super Bowl this year. The chili and biscuit dough can be made in advance, even several hours in advance, so it was perfect for the occasion. It also complemented our mandatory game day guacamole.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I modified the proportions to serve 8 people- so that we would have leftovers! ūüėČ I reheated the chili, topped it with the biscuit dough and placed it in the oven just before serving. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Cornmeal Biscuits:

  • 1¬†cup/120 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2/3¬†cup/92 grams fine yellow cornmeal
  • 2¬†tsp baking powder
  • 1¬†tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2¬†tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4¬†tsp baking soda
  • 8¬†T/113 grams cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4¬†cup/177 ml buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1¬†scallion, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
  • milk, more buttermilk, or yogurt, for finishing
  • 3+¬†tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino-Romano, for finishing

For the Turkey Chili:

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4¬†pounds ground turkey
  • 1¬†very large or 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 1-2¬†jalape√Īos, seeded (if desired) and diced (I used 1 1/2 jalape√Īos)
  • 6¬†garlic cloves, finely grated, passed through a press or minced
  • 1¬†1/2 T chili powder
  • 2 1/4¬†teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste, divided
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2¬†teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¬†(28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices (I used San Marzano)
  • 3¬†(15-ounce) cans pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2¬†cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
  • sliced or pickled jalape√Īos, for serving, optional

To Prepare the Biscuit Dough:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.
  2. Using a pastry cutter (or your hands), cut (or rub) in the butter until mixture resembles rolled oats.
  3. Fold in the buttermilk and scallion slices.
  4. Gently stir mixture until it comes together in a moist, sticky mass. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use. (This can be done a day in advance.)
  5. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.

To Prepare the Turkey Chili:

  1. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until it thins. (I used an enameled cast iron pan. A cast iron skillet would also be great.)
  2. Stir in turkey and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink with some browned bits, about 7 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to medium, and add onion and jalape√Īo, and cook until translucent and tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in garlic, chili powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, oregano, cumin, and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
  5. Using kitchen shears (or your hands), break up tomatoes and add them, along with the juices, to the pan. (I cut the tomatoes while they are still in the can.)
  6. Add beans and remaining 3/4 teaspoons salt, and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. If the mixture seems very dry, add a few tablespoons water. It should be juicy-looking but not wet.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Taste and add more salt, if needed.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Divide biscuit dough into 8 equal balls. Use your palm to flatten each ball into a 3/4-inch-thick disk. Arrange on top of turkey chili.
  2. Brush biscuits lightly with buttermilk, and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  3. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until biscuits are golden at the edges, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked mine for 22 minutes on convection.)
  4. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro and scallions, if desired. Serve with sour cream and sliced or pickled jalape√Īos.

One-Pot Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage & Spinach

In New York, today is a day for cheesy snow-day comfort food.

This dish could be made in a single pot but I must confess that I transferred the pasta to a casserole dish prior to browning it in the oven. This was completely unnecessary but I liked the increased surface area exposed for browning.

The recipe was adapted from Cook’s Country. I modified the method and proportions. I also used crushed tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. We ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Great.

Yield: Serves 8

  • 10 to 11 ounces (about 4 links) sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 2/3 cups water
  • 16 ounces (1 pound) ziti
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) chopped fresh basil (chiffonade)
  • 9-10 ounces (9 cups) baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces whole-milk fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 2/3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 1/3 cups), divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 11 ounces whole-milk ricotta cheese
  1. Cook sausage in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking up pieces with spoon, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and their juice, salt, oregano, sugar, and pepper flakes. Bring mixture to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in water, pasta, and 6 tablespoons chopped basil. Increase heat to high and bring to boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and simmer vigorously, uncovered, until pasta is still very firm but just starting to soften, 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Adjust oven rack 8 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. (I set my oven to Broil+Max @450 degrees.)
  7. Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach, half of the mozzarella, and 1 cup grated Parmesan. If using a separate casserole dish, transfer the mixture after incorporating the spinach and cheese. (I placed the casserole dish on a rimmed baking sheet and covered the handles with foil to protect them.)
  8. Dollop surface of pasta evenly with spoonfuls of ricotta.
  9. Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
  10. Broil ziti until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, 5 to 7 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time.
  11. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
  12. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve.

Enchiladas Verdes (Green Enchiladas with Chicken & Cheese)

Enchiladas verdes has been one of my all-time favorite dishes for almost my entire life. So, naturally, I am drawn to every version that I come across! I liked how this version included cheese in the filling rather than melted over the top. These enchiladas were also extra saucy- loved it.

This recipe was adapted from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street magazine. I used poached chicken thighs but rotisserie chicken meat could be used as a shortcut.

We ate the enchiladas garnished with chopped onion and cilantro with rice and refried beans on the side. I cooked the rice in the chicken poaching liquid which made it extra flavorful. Great.

Yield: 4 servings (8 enchiladas)

  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium-large poblano chilies (about 12 to 14 oz), stemmed, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked, cored, and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock, plus an additional 2 cups if poaching the chicken
  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems, rinsed and dried, plus more for garnish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless chicken (I used 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs) (or 1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken)
  • 6 oz Monterey jack or whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 T hot sauce, such as Cholula or Tapat√≠o (I used Chipotle Cholula- my favorite)
  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas
  • lime wedges, to serve, optional
  • sour cream or Mexican crema, for serving, optional
  • rice and refried beans, for serving, optional
  1. Place the chicken in a medium saucepan and cover with about 2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce to low, cover and cook until the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees for thighs or 160 degrees for breasts, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let the chicken cool in the liquid until just warm, then finely chop the meat. Reserve the cooking liquid. (Alternatively, 1 1/2 cups of chopped rotisserie chicken meat can be substituted.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the center position.
  3. In a large pot over medium-high, combine 1 tablespoon of the oil, the chopped poblanos, cored & chopped tomatillos, chopped onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have completely softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute.
  7. Add the cilantro and continue to process until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch baking dish; set aside. (I used 4 individual enameled cast iron serving dishes, placing 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of each dish.)
  9. In a medium bowl, toss together the chicken, cheese, hot sauce, 3/4 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside.
  10. Brush both sides of the tortillas with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet (its fine to overlap them slightly). Cover tightly with foil and warm in the oven just until soft and pliable, about 3 minutes. (This step is important in order to make sure that the tortillas are pliable enough to fill and roll.)
  11. Uncover the tortillas; reserve the foil. Lay the tortillas out on a large cutting board (or 2) or a clean counter.
  12. Divide the chicken mixture evenly among the tortillas (about 3 heaping tablespoons each), arranging the filling in a line along the bottom edge of each tortilla. (I used a 3 T cookie scoop.)
  13. Working one at a time, roll up the tortillas to enclose the filling and place seam side down in a tight row down the center of the prepared baking dish. (or 2 enchiladas per individual baking dish)
  14. Spoon 1/2 cup of the sauce over the enchiladas. (or 2 T per individual baking dish)
  15. Cover tightly with a layer of parchment paper topped with the reserved foil. Bake until the cheese begins to melt out of the ends, about 15 minutes.
  16. Meanwhile, cook 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of chicken poaching liquid, if desired. (I used white Basmati rice.) (I also warmed refried beans at this point.)
  17. Uncover and spread the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. (or about 2 T per individual baking dish) Re-cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  18. Serve with lime wedges and sour cream or Mexican crema, garnished with chopped onion and cilantro, as desired.

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