Rigatoni Amatriciana

We may have a new favorite pasta dish in my house! I have already made this dish a couple of times. We didn’t even miss the garlic. 😉 It is an incredible version of the classic- a perfect weeknight dish.

The recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe, inspired by sommelier Arjav Ezekiel, co-owner of Birdie’s in Austin, contributed by Anna Theoktisto. We ate it with our favorite garlic bread and green salad, of course.

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 (4 oz) package chopped pancetta
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole plum tomatoes (I used San Marzano)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound uncooked rigatoni pasta
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely shredded (about 2/3 cup), plus more for serving
  • 3/4 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely shredded (about 1/4 cup), plus more for serving
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in pancetta; cook, stirring often, until pancetta begins to render, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in crushed red pepper.
  5. Using your hands or a wooden spoon, crush tomatoes; add tomatoes and their juices to skillet. Bring to a boil over medium; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, until flavors meld and mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in salt. Remove from heat.
  7. While sauce cooks, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high. Add rigatoni, and cook according to package instructions for al dente, about 13 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  8. Add rigatoni, 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino Romano, and butter to sauce in skillet.
  9. Cook over medium, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat, and garnish with parsley. Serve with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano and pecorino Romano cheeses, as desired.

Cowboy Caviar

My daughter was absolutely obsessed with making cowboy caviar this summer. This recipe made a large volume. The leftovers were perfect to have available to eat as a side, a dip, or over salad greens. Everyone loved it.

This version was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. We ate it with tortilla chips and grilled chicken sausages for dinner. 🙂 I served the diced mango as an additional topping on the side to please everyone in my crowd.

Yield: 8 cups

  • 5 T olive oil
  • 4 T freshly squeezed lime juice or red wine vinegar
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 beefsteak tomato, seeded, cored, and diced plus 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or any combination of tomatoes resulting about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans or black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 2 to 4 cobs) or thawed, drained frozen sweet corn (about 8 ounces)(I used kernels from 3 ears of corn)
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1 avocado, diced, optional
  • 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled, optional
  • 1 mango, diced, optional
  • 1-2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped, for garnish, optional
  • tortilla chips, for serving
  1. Make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to combine.
  2. Cut the corn kernels off the cob directly into the bowl with the dressing.
  3. Add the tomatoes, red onion, black beans, pinto/black-eyed peas, bell pepper, jalapeño and cilantro. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
  5. To serve, toss well and season to taste. Add the diced avocado, crumbled feta, and diced mango, if using.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with scallions and serve with tortilla chips. (Alternatively, the avocado can also be served over the top.)

Grilled Corn & Scallion Salad

We shopped at the farmers market to get beautiful corn and scallions for this summer side dish. I could happily eat corn and basil every day all summer long. 😉

This salad was very fresh and light. It was a perfect accompaniment to our dinner of grilled burgers (and Impossible burgers), pickles, tomato slices drizzled with basil vinaigrette, and potato chips, of course. We even had brownie ice cream sandwiches for dessert. A summer feast.

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I incorporated my CSA tomatoes and backyard basil. We ate it immediately but the components can also be made in advance. Perfect.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • cooking oil spray, for grill grates
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 bunch scallions (I used 4 huge scallions)
  • 2 T freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 1/2 of a large lime)
  • 2 T sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz mixed heirloom tomatoes, chopped, and/or cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sweet basil, chiffonade, plus more for garnish
  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate (before heating).
  2. Grill husked corn and scallions, turning occasionally, until very tender and charred and blackened in spots, 10–12 minutes for corn, 5–7 minutes for scallions. (Alternatively, you can cut kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into ¼”–½” pieces; cook together in a dry large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, turning and stirring occasionally, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.)
  3. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, sherry vinegar, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl to combine; season vinaigrette generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Cut corn kernels from cobs in slabs and slice scallions into 1/2-inch pieces.
  6. Add corn kernels, scallions, tomatoes, and basil to vinaigrette and gently toss to combine.
  7. Top corn and scallion salad with more basil just before serving.

Do ahead: Corn and scallions can be grilled and vinaigrette can be made 3 days ahead; wrap corn and scallions separately and chill. Cover and chill vinaigrette. Salad (without basil topping) can be assembled 3 hours ahead; cover and chill.

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Summer Corn & Tomatoes

This dish is absolutely perfect for entertaining. It is not only quick to prepare, but also needs to rest at room temperature prior to serving. By placing the warm grilled chicken over the raw corn kernels, as well as the thinly sliced tomatoes and red onion, the juices and seasonings enhance every layer.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I modified the proportions. Next time I would consider adding even more corn, noted below. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Healthy and delicious. A great summer dish!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, patted dry
  • 4 to 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced (I used 3 large tomatoes plus 1/2 pound Campari tomatoes)
  • 3 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob, plus more, if desired
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh oregano leaves, for garnish, optional
  1. In a medium bowl, coat the chicken with 4 tablespoons olive oil, chili powder and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside. (You can do this step up to 1 day ahead; covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before cooking.)
  2. Thinly slice the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper; set aside. Drain excess liquid before using.
  3. Hold each ear of corn upright over a bowl; slice off the kernels. Repeat with remaining ears.
  4. Using a mandoline, slice the red onion into 1/8-inch rounds.
  5. On a large platter, layer the corn kernels, red onion, and (seasoned and drained) tomatoes. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, if desired. (I omitted the additional oil.)
  6. Heat the grill to medium-high.
  7. When ready to grill, clean the grates with a grill brush, then lightly grease the grates.
  8. Grill the chicken until browned and cooked through, and it releases easily from the grates, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
  9. Transfer the chicken to the prepared platter; let rest for 5 to 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh oregano before serving, as desired.

Ina Garten’s Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes

Once again, Ina did not disappoint. 🙂 This classic baked macaroni and cheese recipe incorporated two of my ultimate favorite cheeses and was upgraded with a colorful tomato topping. It was really delicious- a new favorite!

This dish was part of my husband’s birthday feast this year. I was able to assemble the dish the day prior to baking it which was very helpful. I actually grated the cheeses two days in advance- which would be completely unnecessary if making this dish on its own, of course.

The recipe was adapted from FoodNetwork.com, contributed by Ina Garten. I modified the method and used Campari tomatoes and panko in the topping.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 as a main dish or 10 to 12 as a side dish

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound (16 oz) elbow macaroni or cavatappi (I used 17.6 oz Gigli pasta)
  • 4 cups (1 quart) milk (I used whole milk)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 4 cups)(I used Swiss Raw Milk Le Gruyère aged over 120 days from Trader Joe’s)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups)(I used Cabot 3-year extra-sharp white cheddar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 Campari tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (I set my oven to convection.)
  2. Grate the cheeses with a food processor, if desired.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, about 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. Reserve the pot for the sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it.
  5. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the large pot (the pasta cooking pot) and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk.
  6. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth.
  7. Off the heat, add the shredded Gruyere, cheddar, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  8. Add the cooked pasta and stir well.
  9. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish. (I chose a shallow baking dish to increase the surface area for tomatoes and crispy panko topping.)*If making in advance, cover and refrigerate after this step.
  10. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. (I sliced the tomatoes about 1/4-inch thick.)
  11. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine with the panko, and sprinkle on the top.
  12. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on the top. 

Note: To make ahead, put the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish, cover, and refrigerate until ready to bake. Put the tomatoes and panko on top and bake for about 40 to 50 minutes.

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.

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.

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