Baked Rigatoni with Cheddar & Broccoli Rabe

I love a cheesy baked pasta loaded with greens. 🙂 This one was bursting with broccoli rabe (of which I am a huge fan) but it could have easily incorporated broccoli, baby broccolini, or other greens such as collards, spinach, and/or kale instead. We ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Great.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Alison Roman. I was a little bit concerned about the spice level after adding an entire teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, but the finished result was perfect. I baked the casserole in a Dutch oven and the cheesy bread crumb topping formed an incredible crispy crust over the entire top. I may consider adding garlic next time, but it was amazing without it!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 lb rigatoni, ziti, or fusilli
  • 8 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons
  • minced garlic, optional
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 2 bunches broccoli rabe or 3 bunches baby broccolini, trimmed, coarsely chopped (I cut the stems into 2-inch pieces and the leaves into 3-inch pieces)(see alternate green vegetable alternatives above)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz sharp white cheddar, coarsely grated (about 3 cups), divided (I used 10 oz extra-sharp white cheddar and 2 oz white Beecher’s Flagship Handmade Cheese)
  • 1 bunch chives, chopped, divided (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs or panko (I used a blend of the two)
  1. Preheat oven to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking together, until just barely al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat 5 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  4. Add leeks and season with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened (but not so much that they don’t have any texture left) and starting to brown, 5–10 minutes.
  5. Add red pepper flakes and garlic, if using, to leeks and stir to incorporate.
  6. Add broccoli rabe by the handful, stirring to combine and allowing each addition to wilt before adding more.
  7. Season with salt and black pepper.
  8. Once all of the broccoli rabe has been added, cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
  9. Add pasta to reserved broccoli rabe mixture along with cream, three-quarters of the cheese, 2/3 of the chopped chives, and reserved pasta cooking liquid; mix well. Season with salt and black pepper and add more red pepper flakes if you prefer more heat (keep in mind that the saltiness and spiciness will increase as the pasta bakes).(I didn’t add any additional heat.)
  10. Transfer pasta to a 3-qt. baking dish (or, if your Dutch oven is ovenproof, just leave it in there). (I scraped down the sides of my Dutch oven and kept the mixture in it to bake- less dishes!)
  11. Toss breadcrumbs and remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a medium bowl until coated; season with salt and black pepper.
  12. Scatter breadcrumbs over pasta, then sprinkle evenly with remaining cheese.
  13. Bake until pasta is bubbling across the entire surface and breadcrumbs are deep golden brown, 22 to 35 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  14. Scatter remaining chives over pasta just before serving.

Weeknight Meatballs

The large size of these meatballs prevents them from becoming overcooked in the oven- genius. I also loved the store-bought marinara shortcut. We ate them with an entire loaf of sourdough baguette garlic bread which was essential. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I used ground turkey and modified the proportions. Easy and delicious comfort food. Everyone absolutely loved it!

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings, about 12 to 14 meatballs
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking sheet
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup milk or water
  • 1 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan, finely grated (about 3/4 cup), plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 lbs ground turkey or ground beef (20% fat) (or other ground meat)(I used 1 2/3 pounds ground turkey)
  • warm homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (I used 28 oz jar of Rao’s marinara)
  • basil leaves, chiffonade or torn, for serving
  1. Place rack in top third of oven; preheat to 425°, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly brush a large rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  3. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, vigorously stir eggs, panko, milk, salt, garlic powder, several cranks of pepper, Parmesan, and remaining 3 T oil in a medium bowl until nearly a smooth paste.
  4. Mix in one quarter of meat (combining just a small amount of meat in the beginning makes it easier to incorporate the rest without overmixing).
  5. Add remaining meat and mix well to thoroughly combine, but don’t overwork it.
  6. Using oiled hands or a large cookie scoop, form into 12 to 14 large meatballs and place on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Bake meatballs until well browned underneath, about 15 minutes. Using a stiff metal spatula, pry up and turn over meatballs (they may want to stick a bit). Bake until browned on second side and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each one registers 160°, 4–7 minutes.
  8. Divide meatballs among plates and spoon some sauce over. Alternatively, warm the sauce in a large, shallow pan and place the meatballs into the sauce.
  9. Top with basil and more Parmesan.

Strawberry Brown Butter Bettys

Yes… I have a couple more strawberry recipes to share. This is what happens when your family picks over 12 pounds of fresh berries! 😉

Every year, I make strawberry-vanilla bean jam, strawberry shortcake cookies, fresh strawberry gelato, and pancakes with strawberries (both sourdough & simple but perfect)- at the very least. After adding a new strawberry cocktail and spoon cake to the list this year, we still had plenty of berries to enjoy.

This recipe was adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen.com. I doubled the recipe to make 12 desserts, used lemon juice instead of zest, and used potato bread instead of white sandwich bread. I measured the berries prior to slicing them.

I loved the combination of browned butter with berries in these simple tarts. We ate them with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. They would also be wonderful served with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Yield: 6 muffin-sized desserts

  • 3/4 stick salted or unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 6 slices potato sandwich bread or white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest, finely grated OR 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp coarse salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 (generous) cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, preferably on convection, with rack in middle.
  2. Make the Brown Butter: In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once melted, reduce heat to medium-low. The butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as while you may be impatient for it to start browning, the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is less than a minute. Remove from heat.
  3. Lightly butter muffin cups with some of brown butter, then sprinkle with granulated sugar.
  4. Roll bread slices with a rolling pin to flatten.
  5. Brush both sides with additional brown butter, then gently fit into muffin cups.
  6. Stir together brown sugar, zest or juice, salt, and panko.
  7. Add strawberries to the sugar mixture and toss to coat.
  8. Stir in remaining brown butter.
  9. Heap strawberry mixture into the prepared bread cups, pressing gently.
  10. Cover pan with foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes.
  11. Uncover and bake until strawberries are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes more. (I baked mine for 12 minutes more.)
  12. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spicy Chicken Katsu Sandwiches

My family would eat these delicious, crispy, katsu-style chicken sandwiches year round. They were CRAZY good.

The original recipe is meant to be a combination of a katsu sando and Nashville hot chicken. I modified the heat level for my crowd but included the original proportions in the recipe below. I actually think that my version had the perfect amount of heat. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I modified the proportions and method. I also used chipotle Cholula hot sauce, dill pickles, and potato rolls. I served it with green salad, pickles, and a combination of roasted sweet and tiny potatoes on the side. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chopped dill pickles or bread-and-butter pickles
  • 2 T plus an additional 2 T to 4 T hot sauce, such as chipotle Cholula or Crystal
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning sauce
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 T to 3 T cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups panko
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, lightly pounded to ½” thick
  • ¼ cup (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 potato rolls or 12 slices Japanese milk bread or white sandwich bread, for serving
  • shredded iceberg lettuce, for serving
  1. Combine mayonnaise, pickles, and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce in a small bowl. (I used chipotle Cholula.) Season with salt; set aside.
  2. Combine flour, cayenne, garlic powder, and 1 tsp salt in a glass pie plate or medium bowl.
  3. Whisk egg and remaining 2 T to 4 T hot sauce in another glass pie plate or medium bowl.
  4. Place 1 1/2 cups panko on a large plate. (Reserve additional 1/2 cup to use later, if needed.)
  5. Working one at a time, dip chicken into flour dredge, turning to coat. Shake off any excess.
  6. Dip into egg mixture until coated, shaking off excess.
  7. Dredge in panko, turning to coat.
  8. Transfer to a large plate or a small rimmed baking sheet.
  9. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
  10. Working in 2 batches, cook chicken, reducing heat to medium if it’s browning too quickly, until golden and very crisp on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack.
  11. Spread reserved spicy mayo on one side (or both!) of each roll or slice of bread. Top with chicken and shredded lettuce, then close up sandwiches.

Note: The chicken (surprisingly) can be made ahead. We reheated the leftover fried chicken, one piece at a time, for 1 minute in the microwave with great results.

Basil Chicken Saltimbocca with Marinated Tomatoes & Mozzarella

We gobbled up the original version of this classic Italian dish when it was published in Bon Appétit. I had to try this summery version of the same dish. It was absolutely incredible.

This recipe was adapted from Half Baked Harvest.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, increased the amount of garlic, and substituted ciliegine mozzarella balls for the burrata. It is an amazing adaptation of the original recipe.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, approximately, divided
  • 10 thin slices prosciutto
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T fresh thyme leaves, optional
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • 4 oz ciliegine mozzarella balls or 3 balls burrata cheese, torn
  1. Working one at a time, place the chicken thighs between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound to achieve even thickness.
  2. Place the eggs and Panko in separate shallow bowls. (I used glass pie dishes.)
  3. Rub the chicken with garlic (1 clove per chicken thigh) and season with salt and pepper.
  4. One at a time, press 2 basil leaves on top of each chicken thigh.
  5. Wrap 2 pieces (1 1/2 pieces if small) of prosciutto around each cutlet to secure the basil.
  6. Dredge both sides of the chicken through the egg and then through the Panko, pressing gently to adhere. Place the chicken on a plate.
  7. Make the marinated tomatoes: In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup fresh basil (chiffonade), and a pinch of salt, as well as the thyme and lemon zest, if using. (I omitted the thyme and lemon zest.) Add the cheese, if using ciliegine. Toss to combine. Set aside.
  8. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high.
  9. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  10. Carefully flip the chicken and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3-4 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a plate and lightly season with salt.
  12. Serve the chicken warm topped with the mozzarella/burrata and marinated tomatoes.

Buttermilk “Fried” Pork Chops

I have learned so much about cooking by watching Sara Moulton, particularly when she had a live cooking show many years ago. I’ve just started watching her PBS series and I’m thrilled. I have to watch a lot of episodes from previous seasons to catch up! 🙂

She cooked this dish on the show with her son who is reportedly obsessed with making it. We absolutely loved it too- it’s a wonderful weeknight dish. I made the “warm weather” version, serving it over salad dressed with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, but plan to try the “cool weather” version as well, serving it over sautéed apples and cabbage with butternut squash or sweet potato purée.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used larger pork chops, used basil, thyme and cilantro in the dressing and topping, and modified the method. I served it with roasted potatoes on the side for my starch-loving husband.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Pork Chops:

  • four 1 inch-thick boneless pork chops
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 t Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 to 2 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 6 to 8 T extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, cilantro, and/or basil
  • lemon wedges, for serving, optional
  • Warm Weather Version: green salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, for serving (dressing recipe below)
  • Cool Weather Version: sautéed apples and cabbage, for serving
  • Cool Weather Version: butternut squash or sweet potato purée, for serving

For the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 T rinsed, dried, and chopped fresh mixed herbs (tarragon, chives, parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Pork Chops:

  1. If time permits, freeze the pork chops for 30 minutes to make them easier to cut.
  2. Carefully cut each horizontally to make 2 thin chops for a total of 8 chops.
  3. Place the meat on a cutting board between 2 layers of plastic wrap.  (Alternatively, sprinkle a small amount of water into a large resealable plastic bag.  Place a pork chop in the bag and close, leaving 1/2 inch open.) Pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until the chop is about 1/8 inch thick; remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chops.
  4. Whisk together buttermilk, Tabasco, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup; press in the garlic. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag.
  5. Place the pounded chops in the bag with buttermilk mixture, one at a time making sure each one is coated, and marinate at room temperature, turning several times, for 30 minutes.
  6. Spread out the bread crumbs in a pie plate.
  7. Remove the chops from the marinade and season them with salt.
  8. Working with one chop at a time, toss the chop in the bread crumbs; shake off the excess crumbs.
  9. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stainless steel, cast iron, or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot; add half the chops. (I used a 14″ skillet over scant medium heat. Next time I will try a cast iron skillet to ease the clean up!)
  10. Sauté them, turning once for 3 minutes per side, or until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  11. Repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining chops, adding more oil if necessary.
  12. Chop the herbs for the topping. (I used cilantro and basil.)

To Serve:

  1. Divide the pork chops among dinner plates, top each portion with come chopped herbs, and serve with a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, serve the pork chops over the dressed green salad.

To Make the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a measuring cup.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: These pork chops are delicious hot, at room temperature, or even chilled.

Za’atar Chicken Schnitzel with Israeli Salad

I made all of these sautéed chicken dishes months apart, but it seems right to share them at the same time. 🙂

My Austrian sister-in-law has traditional schnitzel with freshly made mayonnaise and cucumber salad for dinner every Christmas Eve. It is absolutely delicious. I loved this Middle Eastern variation.

This recipe was adapted from Bringing it Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox. I substituted chicken thighs for chicken cutlets and cooked the dish in a 12-inch cast iron skillet. Perfect.

This schnitzel would also be wonderful served as a sandwich in a pita with hummus.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Israeli Salad:

  • 1 red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1/2 English cucumber, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp za’atar
  • 1 tsp sumac, optional
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Schnitzel:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 1/2 T za’atar
  • freshly grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 4 chicken cutlets, about 1 pound
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • lemon wedges, for serving

To start the salad:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the bell pepper, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, parsley, and mint.
  2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the schnitzel:

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place an ovenproof platter or a baking sheet int he oven to warm.
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, stir together the flour, 1 tsp salt, and a generous pinch of pepper.
  3. In another shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and a pinch of salt.
  4. In a third shallow bowl, combine the panko, za’atar, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Place each piece of chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat pounder or a rolling pin, gently pound each piece of chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.
  6. Pat the meat dry and season both sides lightly with salt and pepper.
  7. Dredge in the seasoned flour, shaking off excess.
  8. Dip in the eggs, letting excess drip off, then gently press into the panko mixture to completely coat.
  9. Transfer the chicken to a large plate.
  10. Heat the 1/2 cup of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium to medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking. (I used a cast iron skillet over medium heat.)
  11. Fry the chicken in 2 batches, turning once, until cooked through and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side.
  12. Drain each batch on paper towel-lined plates, season with salt, then transfer to the platter in the oven to keep warm.

To finish the salad:

  1. Add the 2 T oil, lemon juice, za’atar, sumac, and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper to the vegetable mixture.
  2. Toss to combine.

To serve:

  1. Serve the schnitzel with the salad piled on top (or vice versa!) with lemon wedges on the side.

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