Sheet Pan Orzo with Roasted Tomatoes, Lemon, & Mozzarella

I realize that many people avoid using the oven in warm weather, but I have a couple of quick sheet pan meals that make using the oven completely worth the extra summer heat.

In this dish, the pasta even cooks in the oven! It was super creamy as a result. The roasted lemon added incredible brightness. This recipe is from Meatless Sheet Pan Suppers: 100 Surprising Vegetarian Meals Straight from the Oven by Raquel Pelzel. The cheese can be omitted for a vegan version. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium-size lemon, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed
  • 3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
  • 16 oz orzo pasta
  • 3 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and thinly sliced crosswise into ribbons
  • 6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, roughly torn by hand
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a sheet pan on the rack, and preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Place the tomatoes, lemon, garlic, 1 tsp salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, and the olive oil in a medium-size bowl and toss to combine.
  3. Carefully turn the tomato mixture out onto the heated sheet pan, spread it in an even layer, and roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and stir the vermouth into the tomato mixture.
  5. Using a spatula, press down on the tomatoes and lemon slices to extract their juices.
  6. Stir in the orzo.
  7. Pull the oven rack partway out of the oven and place the sheet pan on it. Carefully pour the boiling water into the orzo, stirring to combine and distribute evenly.
  8. Wearing oven mitts, cover the sheet pan with aluminum foil (you may need 2 sheets), crimping it tightly around the edges to seal. Bake the pasta for 15 minutes.
  9. Uncover the pan, add the remaining 1 tsp salt, stir, and cook, uncovered, to allow the juices to thicken and any partially cooked pasta from the top layer to absorb more liquid, about 5 minutes more.
  10. Preheat the broiler to high.
  11. Stir most of the basil into the pasta, then scatter the mozzarella cheese over the top. Sprinkle the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over the mozzarella and broil until the cheese is melted and golden, 3 to 5 minutes more. Watch carefully!
  12. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes.
  13. Sprinkle the remaining basil over the top just before serving.
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Pasta with Kale, Sausage, & Mushrooms

This quick weeknight dish makes kale a crowd-pleaser. 🙂 It was fabulous.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Latt. I used my CSA red kale instead of black kale and I doubled the mushrooms and the garlic. I also modified the cooking sequence. This recipe could easily be adapted to make a vegetarian version by omitting the sausage.

  • 1 bunch red or black kale, washed, ribs removed
  • 1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausages
  • 8 oz (½ pound) shiitakes mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz  pound) cremini mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 shallots, peeled, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock or pasta water
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • 1 pound pasta (spaghetti, ziti, penne, or fusilli) (I used La Molisana Pantacce Toscane, 106)
  • 1 T Kosher salt for the pasta
  1. Sauté with olive oil or grill the sausages to put a crust on the outside, drain on a paper towel, cut into 1/4-inch rounds, then set aside.
  2. In a hot pan lightly brown the kale with the olive oil and remove.
  3. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic; sauté until lightly browned.
  4. Turn down the heat to medium. Return the kale to the pan along with the sausages, stock, and butter. Braise for 15 minutes. The liquid should reduce by half.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper.
  6. Meanwhile, make the pasta in boiling salted water, drain, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water, drizzle with olive oil, season with sea salt and black pepper, toss.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the sausage mixture, toss to coat with the sauce. Serve with grated cheese.

Creamy Tagliatelle with Asparagus & Herbs

I love springtime pasta dishes loaded with vegetables. This version was creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. Chopping the asparagus so that it could be completely incorporated throughout the pasta was genius.

This recipe was adapted from Ruth Rogers of River Café London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant cookbook, via Food 52. I modified the proportions to use one pound of pasta. I also left the asparagus tips intact. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 1/4 pounds thin asparagus spears
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano)
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 to 16 ounces taglierini, tagliatelle, or pappardelle pasta
  • 5 to 6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  1. Trim or snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Cut into 1-inch pieces; reserve tips in a separate bowl.
  2. Finely chop the 1-inch pieces of asparagus all together with 2 of the garlic cloves and the herbs in a food processor. (I chopped the garlic and herbs first and then added the asparagus.)
  3. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan with the remaining 4 whole garlic cloves and simmer until the cloves are soft. Remove from the heat; discard the garlic.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan and sauté half of the chopped asparagus for 5 minutes, stirring. (I used a 14-inch skillet.)
  5. Add the rest of the chopped asparagus-herb mixture and the reserved asparagus tips, followed by the flavored cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cream begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  6. Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly.
  7. Add to the sauce along with about half of the Parmesan and toss together.
  8. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

Two Years Ago: Linguine with Asparagus & Egg

Three Years Ago: Rigatoni with Lemon-Chile Pesto & Grated Egg

Four Years Ago: Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas, & Mushrooms

Five Years Ago: Baked Shells with Cauliflower & Taleggio

Stuffed Shells with Marinara

I was immediately drawn to the photo of this dish when I first spotted it in Bon Appétit magazine because it looked incredibly saucy. Maybe my expectations were too high regarding the amount of sauce, but next time I may even make 1.5 times the amount. It’s all about the sauce! 🙂

This classic marinara sauce was described as “the little black dress of Italian-American cooking.” This version, as well as the stuffed shells recipe, is from Palizzi Social Club in Philadelphia, PA, via Bon Appétit. The magazine rated it one of the Best New Restaurants in America in 2017 (#4). Quite an endorsement!

Yield: 8 servings

For the Classic Marinara Sauce:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs basil
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes (I used San Marzano tomatoes)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Heat oil in a medium heavy pot over medium. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until very soft, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft, about 5 minutes; stir in basil.
  3. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go; season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.
  4. Reduce heat; simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thick, about 1 hour.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Note: Sauce can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

To Complete the Dish:
  • 12 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • coarse salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups whole-milk fresh ricotta
  • 3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, coarsely grated, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups Classic Marinara Sauce, recipe above, divided
  • dried oregano and olive oil, for serving, as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Cook shells in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente; drain. (I cooked mine for 9 minutes.) Run under cold water to stop the cooking and drain again. Place noodles on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Lightly whisk egg yolks and egg in a large bowl.
  4. Stir in ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, and 1½ cups mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Transfer filling to a large resealable plastic bag.
  6. Spread 1½ cups marinara sauce in a 13×9″ baking dish.
  7. Snip off 1 end of plastic bag and, working one at a time, squeeze filling into shells. I returned them to the rimmed baking sheet to make sure the filling was evenly distributed before placing the shells into the baking dish.
  8. Arranging the filled shells in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
  9. Top with remaining 1½ cups marinara sauce and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella.
  10. Cover pan tightly with foil and bake shells until sauce is bubbling throughout, 35–40 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes.
  11. Carefully move rack to top of oven and heat broiler.
  12. Uncover pasta and broil until lightly browned on top, about 2 minutes.
  13. Sprinkle with oregano and more Parmesan and drizzle with oil, if desired.

Note: Pasta can be baked 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat, covered, at 375°.

One Year Ago: Bucatini with Lemony Carbonara

Two Years Ago: Shepherd’s Chicken Pot Pie

Three Years Ago: Baked Spaghetti & Mozzarella

Four Years Ago: Chicken, Spinach, & Mushroom Casserole with Parmesan Croutons

Five Years Ago:

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Tomatoes

I have a couple family friendly comfort food pasta casseroles to share. In my house, this type of dish always seems to be the perfect meal in cold weather.

We recently enjoyed this one on a snowy evening- eating by candlelight. I thanked my lucky stars that it had finished baking before our power went out… hence the candlelight! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I used diced tomatoes and substituted fontina for provolone. I suppose half and half could be substituted for some (or all) of the heavy cream, but I went for the full indulgence on this (dark and cold) occasion.

  • 1 pound pasta, such as medium shell or tube pasta (I used Capunti pasta)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 4 ounces fontina, coarsely grated
  • 2 ounces extra sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • room-temperature butter or nonstick cooking oil spray (for pan)
  • fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, or parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until about halfway cooked (it needs to be very firm at this stage so that it doesn’t overcook when baked). Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid, and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well.
  3. Combine mozzarella, fontina, cheddar, Parmesan, cream, diced tomatoes, and reserved ½ cup pasta cooking liquid in a large bowl; mix to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Add cauliflower and cooked pasta and toss to coat.
  5. Grease a 3-qt. or 13x9x2″ baking dish with butter or cooking oil spray.
  6. Scrape in pasta mixture and spread out into an even layer.
  7. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake pasta until hot throughout and steaming when foil is lifted, 20–25 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 425◦, preferably on convection.
  9. Continue to bake pasta until sauce is bubbling and top is browned and crunchy in spots, 20–30 minutes.
  10. Let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, as desired.

Note: Pasta can be assembled 2 days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to bake.

One Year Ago: Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Two Years Ago: Oscar Night Waffles

Three Years Ago: Chicken Parmesan with Chicken Thighs

Four Years Ago: Chicken, Shrimp, & Clam Jambalaya

Five Years Ago:

Wide Green Noodles with Cauliflower & Mustard-Shallot Butter

I have to share this dish because it was a reminder of an important lesson: Not every dish will be a complete success. It’s the risk taken when trying new recipes- even if they are from a trusted resource.

I am also sharing this dish because I think it can be rescued! I have updated the recipe below. The fresh pasta was lovely, with wonderful color and texture, so that portion of the dish has remained untouched. The mustard-shallot butter was overwhelmingly potent in the finished dish, so the proportions have been modified; I reduced the mustard and shallots by at least one-half.

This dish was so pretty and loaded with wonderful flavors! I was really disappointed that it wasn’t as delicious as it sounded or looked. Especially because it was particularly time-consuming to prepare. 😦 This recipe was adapted from The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison with Edward Espé Brown.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4

For the Fresh Herb Pasta:

  • 1 cup loosely packed herb leaves (I used a mixture of basil and parsley)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • large pinch coarse salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • water, as needed

To Complete the Dish:

  • 1 recipe Fresh Herb Pasta, about 7 oz (recipe above)
  • 7 T unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1 T strong Dijon mustard
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or more, to taste
  • large handful of arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups cauliflower, broccoli, and/or romanesco cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces
  • thin strip lemon peel, very finely slivered
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

To Make the Fresh Herb Pasta:

  1. Wash the herbs and dry them as thoroughly as possible.
  2. Chop them very finely, I used a mini-food processor, and measure out no more than 3 T.
  3. Combine the herbs with the flour and salt.
  4. Add the egg and the oil, and combine until distributed throughout.
  5. Press together to form a dough. If it is too dry, add drops of water, a few at a time, to moisten it and help it come together. (I used 2-3 tsp of additional water.)
  6. Turn the dough out onto a counter- I put it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form into a ball.
  7. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it feels smooth and supple. (I added a little bit more water while kneading as well.)
  8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for at least 30 minutes, preferably for one hour.
  9. Roll the dough through the pasta machine, starting at the widest setting, and reducing until desired thickness is achieved. ‘(I rolled mine out to level 6.)
  10. Cut the strips into desired noodle length, typically 12-inches. Then cut the dough into 1/2-inch wide noodles. (I actually chose to cut mine crosswise into shorter 1/2-inch wide noodles.)
  11. Dust with semolina flour or flour, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Cream 4 T of the butter with the mustard, shallot, garlic, vinegar, and arugula. (This can be done ahead of time, covered, and set aside until needed.)
  3. Melt the remaining 3 T butter in a small frying pan, add the bread crumbs, and fry them until they are crisp and browned.
  4. When you are ready to cook the pasta, salt the boiling water.
  5. Melt the mustard butter over a low flame and cook to soften the shallots. Add 1/2 cup pasta water and the sun-dried tomatoes.
  6. Steam the cauliflower and/or broccoli in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Alternatively, the cauliflower and/or broccoli can be dropped into the boiling pasta water, returned to a boil, and cooked for about 1 minute, until tender.
  7. Add the cooked cauliflower and/or broccoli to the butter.
  8. Next, cook the pasta for about 2 to 3 minutes, until al dente. Add it to the butter.
  9. Add the sliced lemon zest to the butter.
  10. Toss well with tongs, season with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve garnished with the bread crumbs and freshly grated Parmesan.

One Year Ago: Garlicky Spaghetti with Mixed Greens

Two Years Ago: Tropical Carrot, Turmeric, & Ginger Smoothie

Three Years Ago: Spinach-Potato Soup

Four Years Ago: Creamy Mushroom Pappardelle

Five Years Ago:

Pasta al Forno with Asparagus and Chard

This dish was the first-runner up for Valentine’s Day dinner. It was a Valentine’s Day bonus that I made it in addition to our celebratory biscuit-topped Chicken Pot Pie. Right? Why choose when you can have both? 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook by Jim Lahey. I increased the amount of vegetables, modified the baking temperature, and incorporated the garlic used to make the garlic oil. We could eat some sort of cheesy, veggie pasta every night of the week. Great!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Béchamel:

  • 5 T (70 g) unsalted butter
  • 2 T (20 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (650 g) whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp (2 g) fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1 g) freshly grated nutmeg

For the Pasta:

  • 2 T (24 g) coarse salt
  • 1 pound (454 g) penne or rigatoni
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound), large stems removed, cut into 1-inch ribbons
  • 1 bunch thin asparagus (about 1/2 to 3/4 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 T (30 g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 batch béchamel, about 3 cups (recipe above)
  • 1 1/2 cups (130 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

To Make the Béchamel:

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is a light butterscotch color, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the milk in a slow, steady stream, whisking continuously to keep lumps from forming.
  4. Continue to whisk and cook for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens and has the consistency of heavy cream.
  5. Pour the sauce into a bowl to cool.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil, add the salt, and cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta well and spread it out over the surface of a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Heat the oven to 475, preferably on convection.
  4. Steam the chard and asparagus for 4 minutes, or until tender. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so, until it begins to sizzle. Lower the heat and continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Brush the inside of a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with some of the garlic oil.
  7. In the pot that was used to cook the pasta, combine the cooled pasta, the garlic oil (including the garlic, if desired), the béchamel, half of the grated cheese, the steamed asparagus and chard. Stir until well incorporated.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.
  9. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta begins to brown on top.

One Year Ago: Flattened Chicken Thighs with Roasted Lemon Slices

Two Years Ago: Meera Sodha’s Chicken Curry

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

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