Orecchiette with Greens, Mozzarella & Crispy Chickpeas

I love a recipe that gobbles up the greens from my CSA share. I have made this dish a couple of times using whatever combination of greens I had available. Recently, I used turnip greens, kale and spinach but I have also used chard and baby collard greens in the past. The classic combination of basil, tomatoes, and mozzarella was a nice complement to the sautéed greens as well.

This quick dish was adapted from a Food and Wine staff favorite recipe, contributed by Marcie Turney. I doubled the recipe, decreased the red pepper flakes, and increased amount of fresh mozzarella. SO delicious.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 pound orecchiette
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and patted dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • coarse salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pound greens such as Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens, spinach, stemmed and leaves coarsely chopped (or more, as desired)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 16 large basil leaves, torn or chiffonade
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium, deep skillet, heat 1/4 inch of vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat until crisp, 4 minutes. Transfer them to a paper towel–lined plate, sprinkle with the cumin and coriander and season with salt and black pepper. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet.
  3. Add the olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper to the skillet. Cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until softened, 3 minutes.
  5. Add the greens and cook, stirring, until wilted, 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
  6. Add the pasta and 1/2 cup of reserved cooking water to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring until incorporated.
  7. Add the mozzarella and basil and toss. Add more pasta water, if necessary.
  8. Spoon the pasta into bowls, sprinkle with the chickpeas and serve.

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Shortcut Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs

There are so many end-of-the-school-year parties this time of year. A great time to share a crowd-pleasing casserole! I brought this baked pasta dish to my son’s pre-County Championship Swim Meet pasta dinner. I was thrilled when my friend’s husband asked for the recipe. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from such a fun book- Mad Genius Tips: Over 90 Expert Hacks + 100 Delicious Recipes by Justin Chapple and the Editors of Food and Wine. I love Chapple’s column in the printed magazine and knew I would enjoy this book as well. The pasta and the meatballs cook in the oven. Truly genius!

  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed basil, torn or chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ziti, rigatoni, rotini, fusilli, shells, or campanelle pasta
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 28 oz (about 3 cups) prepared marinara sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pork, beef, bread crumbs, eggs, 1/3 cup torn basil, 1/4 cup of Parmesan and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper; mix well.
  3. Using a cookie scoop, form the meat mixture into one-inch balls.
  4. In a 9-by-13-inch ceramic baking dish, spread half of the pasta in an even layer.
  5. Arrange half of the meatballs (about 16) and mozzarella on the pasta.
  6. Spoon half of the marinara on top and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  7. Repeat with the remaining pasta, meatballs, cheese, and marinara. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  8. Place baking dish on a rimmed cookie sheet. Add 2 1/2 cups of water to the baking dish and cover tightly with foil.
  9. Bake for about 1 hour, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
  10. Uncover and bake for 5 minutes longer, until lightly browned.
  11. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with basil and parmesan and serve.

Make Ahead: The baked pasta can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

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Three Cheese Crepe Manicotti

During my college days, I was lucky enough to celebrate Easter with one of my roommates and her large Italian family. It was always an amazing feast. One of the first courses served was a homemade manicotti. I’ve loved it ever since- and now think of it in the springtime.

I was drawn to the “French” twist in this version, using crêpes in lieu of pasta. They were tender and delicious. Lovely.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine contributed by Christine Dimmick. I adjusted the seasoning and ratios. I also modified the crêpe batter technique from using a blender to hand-whisking, and to cooking them on a lightly oiled crêpe pan, my tried and true method. This dish could be modified to include any variety of fillings in the crêpes. Next time I may incorporate spinach or mushrooms. 🙂

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese (15 ounces), preferably fresh
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 6 ounces)(part-skim okay)
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped basil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • vegetable oil, for the pans
  • 3 cups tomato sauce, preferably homemade (I used local Mamma Lombardi’s Marinara Sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  1. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta with the mozzarella, basil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, to taste.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour and eggs until thoroughly combined. Add the water and a generous 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat an 8-inch crêpe or omelet pan over moderately high heat. Using a brush, lightly oil the pan and add a small ladle of the batter (about 1/4 cup); working quickly, swirl the pan to coat it evenly.
  4. Cook until the top of the crêpe is dry and the bottom is lightly golden, about 1 minute. Flip the crêpe and cook until the bottom is lightly golden, about 20 seconds longer.
  5. Transfer the crêpe to a large plate and repeat with the remaining batter to make a total of 16 crêpes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  7. Coat the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish with 1 cup of the tomato sauce.
  8. Arrange the crêpes on a work surface. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the ricotta filling in a line down the center of each crêpe. Loosely roll up the crêpes, burrito-style with ends folded in, and arrange them, seam side up, side by side in the baking dish. (I placed them in 2 rows of 8 crêpes.)
  9. Pour the remaining 2 cups of tomato sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
  10. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the manicotti are heated through.
  11. Garnish with basil, if desired. Serve piping hot.

Make Ahead: The unbaked manicotti can be refrigerated overnight. Allow up to 15 minutes longer for baking.

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Skillet Chicken with Tomatoes, Pancetta, & Mozzarella

Wow. This dish was AMAZING. I would describe it as a lighter take on chicken parmesan, but it even brings that classic dish to another level with its more complex flavors.

The first time I made this dish, I served it with roasted red potatoes and roasted broccoli on the side. Realizing that it would have been more perfect with pasta, we “had” to have it again. Absolute perfection served over rigatoni!

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. She referred to the dish as “Pizza Chicken.” 🙂 I used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in, increased the garlic, decreased the pancetta, and used ciliegine instead of bocconcini. Fabulous!!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 3 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 15)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 large basil sprig, plus more chopped basil for serving
  • 8 ounces bocconcini or ciliegine, halved (or use mozzarella cut into 3/4-inch pieces)
  • cooked pasta, such as rigatoni, for serving (tossed with pasta water, olive oil, or butter, as desired)

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large oven-proof skillet, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  3. Working in two batches, add chicken to skillet. Sear, turning only occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon oil.
  4. Add garlic, anchovy and red pepper flakes to skillet; fry 1 minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and basil. Cook, breaking up tomatoes with a spatula, until sauce thickens somewhat, about 10 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to skillet. Transfer skillet to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink, about 30 minutes.
  7. Scatter bocconcini, ciliegine, or mozzarella pieces over skillet. Adjust oven temperature to broil. Return skillet to oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes (watch carefully to see that it does not burn).
  8. Garnish with pancetta and chopped basil before serving. Serve over pasta, as desired.

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Orecchiette with Corn, Bacon, & Parmesan

My family has a tough time getting back into our school schedule after summer vacation. It’s such a struggle! :/ I have a few quick weeknight meals that are just perfect for those of us who are suddenly short on time.

I first made this dish to celebrate after receiving my first ever organic corn in my CSA share. I had used cavatappi noodles and was disappointed in my choice of pasta. I think that this dish was perfect the second time around with my farm stand corn and orecchiette. Yay!

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. Quick and tasty comfort food.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 16 ounces dried orecchiette pasta
  • 1/2 pound bacon, ideally thick-cut, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces (I used 5 slices)
  • 3 ears corn, shucked and kernels cut from cob (I used bi-color corn_
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes, optional, to taste
  • 6 scallions, sliced
  • 2/3 cup finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano
  • a fistful of fresh basil and/or chives, chiffonade

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, or 1 to 2 minutes before it is done. Reserve a cup of pasta cooking water and drain.
  2. Scatter bacon in a large sauté pan (4 quart) over medium-high heat, no need to heat the pan first. Cook, stirring, until evenly browned and crisp.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon bits to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat from pan (reserve for other uses, like frying eggs) and add corn to it.
  4. Season corn with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for 1 to 2 minutes, until crisp-tender. Add a dash or two of red pepper flakes, if using.
  5. Add pasta and a couple splashes of the cooking water and half the parmesan and toss, toss, toss the pasta with the corn, seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed and adding more cooking water if it doesn’t feel loose enough.
  6. Add scallions and stir to warm. (I reserved a few for garnish.)
  7. Stir in bacon and transfer to a serving bowl. (I reserved a little bit for garnish.)
  8. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, fresh herbs, and reserved scallions and bacon. Serve.

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Summer Vegetable Gratin

This colorful dish used my entire CSA box in one meal! My husband accepted it as a vegetarian main because of the flavorful baguette-cheese topping (yay!), but it would also work well as a hearty side dish. We even had a green salad on the side. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. Moskin recommended using a fresh baguette in the topping for the best crust. Great!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or up to 12 as a side dish

Time: 1 1/2 hours

For the Base Layer:

  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced, or 2 additional onions
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 8 cloves garlic, smashed

For the Tomato-Bread Crumb Topping:

  • 1 ½ pounds plum or other ripe tomatoes
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan or Gruyère cheese

For the Gratin:

  • ¼ cup olive oil, more for baking
  • 1 ½ pounds zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used 2 pieces)
  • 1 ½ pounds yellow squash, sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used 2 pieces)
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped basil or parsley, more for garnish
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Make the base layer: In a large, heavy ovenproof skillet or enameled cast-iron pan (10 to 12 inches across), combine onions and olive oil and heat to a sizzle, stirring to separate.
  2. Add bell peppers, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook, stirring, over low heat until peppers are very soft and onions are browned, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and leave mixture in the pan. (The garlic can be removed at this time, if desired.)
  3. Meanwhile, make the topping: Core tomatoes and slice them 1/4 inch thick. Lay on paper towels to drain for 10+ minutes.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add tomatoes and cook very slowly, turning once or twice, until liquid has bubbled away and flesh is cooked through, about 8 minutes. (Do not overcook, or tomatoes will fall apart.) Turn off heat and let slices cool in skillet; they will continue to dry out.
  5. Tear baguette into pieces and pulse in a food processor to make coarse, fluffy, pea-size crumbs. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the cheese and pulse to combine.
  6. Assemble the gratin: Heat oven to 425 degrees. (If your oven has a convection feature, use it, reducing baking temperature to 400 degrees.)
  7. In a large bowl, combine oil, zucchini and squash, and toss well until lightly and evenly coated. Add basil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and toss again.
  8. On top of the base layer in pan, arrange squash and zucchini slices around the inner rim of the pan, standing on their edges in roughly alternating colors. Pat down into the pan so slices overlap and lie down, like shingles or fallen dominoes. Repeat to make another circle inside the first, and again if necessary, until pan is filled. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  9. Brush oil over the top of the gratin and transfer to oven. Bake 30 minutes. Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees (425 degrees for convection), or heat the broiler.
  10. Add the topping: Arrange tomato slices in one layer on top of the par-baked gratin. Spread bread-cheese mixture over tomatoes and press down gently.
  11. Bake or broil until vegetables are browned around the edges or crust is crisp and golden. 
  12. Let cool slightly and serve hot or at warm room temperature. Garnish each serving with herbs, if desired.

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Arugula Salad with Corn & Burrata

I am in love with burrata. My blog friend, Johanne @ French Gardener Dishes, just posted a fabulous (anonymous) quote about the subject, “Burrata improves the flavor of summer and the flavor of life!” Apparently, I share my fondness of the creamy cheese. 🙂

The creamy burrata added a wonderful richness to this lovely summer vegetable salad. I served it to friends for lunch along with Grilled Garlicky Eggplant Sandwiches with Basil & Feta. We -along with all of our kids- also enjoyed Back to School Blondies with an ice cream terrine inspired by Nancy @ Feasting with Friends Blog for dessert. It was quite a feast for lunch!

The salad recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chef Brian Clevenger of Raccolto in Seattle. I substituted edamame for the fava beans, increased the tomatoes, and omitted the mint. It was a crowd pleaser.

I’m bringing this lovely vegetable-loaded dish to share with my friends at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #136 this week hosted by Judi @ Cooking with Aunt Juju. Enjoy!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 cup frozen shelled, pre-cooked edamame, thawed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ears of corn (preferably white), shucked and kernels cut off the cobs (3 1/2 cups)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T sherry vinegar
  • 4 ounces baby arugula (6 cups lightly packed)
  • 10 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped mint, optional
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 8 ounces burrata cheese

  1. Place the frozen edamame on a plate or rimmed cookie sheet to thaw.
  2. Once the edamame is thawed, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet.
  3. Add the corn and edamame and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, just until the corn is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
  5. Add the arugula, tomatoes, mint (if using), basil and the corn mixture and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Toss to coat, then spoon onto plates. Scoop or tear the burrata into pieces and gently spoon it onto the plates.
  7. Season with pepper and serve.

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