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
1-2 pinches/dashes red pepper flakes, to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, for serving
In a large skillet, toss together the olive oil, chicken, oregano, paprika; season with salt and pepper. (I used an enameled cast iron pan.)
Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is browned all over and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar and garlic, cook another minute. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the skillet.
Add the bell peppers to the drippings in the skillet. Cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.
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.)
Stir the chicken and capers into the orzo. Allow the chicken to warm through, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes with olive oil, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
To serve, spoon the tomatoes over the chicken and gently toss. Top with feta cheese.
This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.
The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
Kosher salt and black pepper
5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
2 wide lemon peel strips
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
dash of red pepper flakes, optional
10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.
My husband and I enjoyed this skillet dinner. The kids had mixed reviews! My son thought that it was over-seasoned and my daughter declared that she wouldn’t eat bone-in chicken thighs. (We are quite used to boneless, skinless chicken thighs in my house.) It’s clearly hard to please the two teenagers in my house. 😉
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Aaron Hutcherson. I modified the method and proportions, incorporated red onion, used a Meyer lemon, and substituted chicken stock for broth.
This is another weeknight dish loaded with spinach. I also incorporated my CSA turnip greens. It features many of the flavors of my favorite Greek dishes, including lemon zest, feta, and fresh herbs. I used parsley from my CSA share as well.
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. It was very quick and easy to prepare. I used a large, wide enameled cast iron pot. I increased the amount of garlic and modified the cooking method.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, divided
2 to 4 large garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces baby spinach leaves (8 cups), coarsely chopped (I used 6oz spinach and 2oz turnip greens)
3/4 cup crumbled feta (3 ounces), plus more for garnish
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup fresh dill, or use parsley or cilantro, chopped
Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium, then melt butter, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (I used a large and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
Stir in about three-quarters of the scallions (saving some of the green parts for garnish) and garlic, and cook until softened, stirring frequently, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in stock and bring to a simmer.
Stir in orzo, lemon zest and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until orzo is nearly cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Stir in spinach (and other greens, if using), adding in batches if it doesn’t all fit in the pan at once, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.
Stir in cheese, peas, and dill/parsley/cilantro, cover the pan, and cook for another 1 minute, to finish cooking and warm the peas.
To serve, sprinkle with more cheese and the reserved scallions.
This is an incredibly full-flavored one-pan dish. I made it when my mom was visiting because she is such a fan of shrimp. She loved it! 🙂
This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. Fast and fabulous.
Yield: Serves 4
1pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined, patted dry
3tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1tablespoon fresh lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/4 to 1/2teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4garlic cloves, minced, divided
2tablespoons unsalted butter
⅓cup dry white wine
2cups boiling water, seafood stock, or chicken stock
3tablespoons finely chopped parsley
In a medium bowl, stir together the shrimp, 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lemon zest, red-pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and half the garlic. Set aside to marinate (this step can be done up to 1 hour in advance).
To a medium skillet, add the butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and remaining minced garlic; heat over medium.
When the butter starts to bubble, add the orzo and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the orzo is toasted, about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the garlic from burning.
Carefully add the wine (it will bubble) and stir until absorbed, about 1 minute.
Stir in the water or stock, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the orzo is al dente, about 12 to 16 minutes.
Add the shrimp in a snug, even layer on top of the orzo, cover, and cook until all the shrimp is pink and cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 2 minutes.
Sprinkle with parsley and lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Happy 2019! I have a few healthy “January” recipes to share before getting back to my belated holiday menu recipes. 🙂
This wonderful stew was hearty and healthy. The flavors in the dish were brightened with lemon zest and juice. I also loved that the roasted eggplant was seasoned with crushed coriander seeds- it made it a more special topping.
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. I doubled the recipe, increased the garlic and eggplant, decreased the oil, and used green lentils and feta cheese. Excellent.
Yield: 8 servings
roughly 3pounds eggplant (I used 3 medium eggplant), chopped into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 T olive oil, divided
2 T coriander seeds, crushed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2medium yellow onions, finely chopped
4celery stalks, finely chopped
10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T tomato paste
2cups dried lentils (green, black or brown)
10cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water (I used 4 cups homemade turkey stock & 6 cups chicken stock)
1 cup orzo or other small pasta
zest and juice from 2 lemons, plus lemon wedges for garnish
¼cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta, or to taste
Heat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on 2 parchment paper-lined large rimmed baking sheets and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
In a large stock pot, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons oil over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.) Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and crumbled feta or large shavings of ricotta salata. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing, as desired.
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
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.
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.
Carefully turn the tomato mixture out onto the heated sheet pan, spread it in an even layer, and roast for 10 minutes.
Remove the sheet pan from the oven and stir the vermouth into the tomato mixture.
Using a spatula, press down on the tomatoes and lemon slices to extract their juices.
Stir in the orzo.
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.
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.
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.
Preheat the broiler to high.
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!
Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes.
Sprinkle the remaining basil over the top just before serving.