Weeknight Fancy Ravioli

I have a couple delicious weeknight pasta recipes to share.

The original recipe for this dish described it as “weeknight fancy”- loved it. The spicy brown-butter coated walnut topping was an essential element to earn this description.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I served the flavorful sauce over arugula-parmesan ravioli and incorporated garlic and asparagus. I also modified the method. Any variety of store-bought ravioli would work with this dish.

Yield: Serves 4

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 10 oz package frozen peas (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup (lightly packed) basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  • 4 T unsalted butter, divided
  • 16–20 oz fresh or frozen ravioli (I used Trader Joe’s fresh Arugula & Parmesan Ravioli)
  • 4 T (1/4 cup) coarsely chopped raw walnuts or pistachios
  • 1 tsp Aleppo-style pepper
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces, optional
  1. Place the frozen peas in a fine-mesh sieve and place in a large pot of boiling salted water; cook until peas are tender, about 4 minutes.
  2. Lift sieve from water to drain peas and basil and transfer to a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)(Alternatively, you can skip the sieve and use a spider or slotted spoon to fish out the peas and basil.)
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and keep cooking liquid warm. (You will use it for the sauce, ravioli and the asparagus, if using.)
  4. Add the basil, garlic, grated Parmesan, 2 tablespoons butter (cut into 4 pieces) and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to the blender with the peas.
  5. Blend, gradually increasing speed to high and adding up to 1/4 cup additional cooking liquid as needed, until you have a mostly smooth, fairly loose sauce; season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (I didn’t add any additional liquid.)
  6. Return cooking liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Add ravioli -and asparagus, if using. Cook, stirring gently to unstick, until tender, about 3 minutes or according to package directions. Drain reserving 1/2 cup of pasta liquid. Reserve pot.
  7. Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
  8. Add the chopped nuts and cook, stirring often, until butter begins to smell toasty and turn brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
  9. Add Aleppo-style pepper, finely grate in lemon zest, and season lightly with salt; mix well.
  10. Slice lemon into wedges.
  11. Return cooked ravioli -and asparagus, if using- to pot, pour pea sauce over, and stir gently to coat. At this point, the consistency can be adjusted with reserved pasta water, if necessary. Using a large spoon, transfer ravioli to plates or a serving dish.
  12. Top with more Parmesan and basil, then spoon brown-butter nuts over the top. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over, as desired. 

Pasta with Pestocado (Avocado Pesto) & Broccoli

According to America’s Test Kitchen, Pestocado is the “hottest new ‘it’ sauce.” Avocado replaces the cheese in this full-flavored pesto. It was creamy and delicious.

The recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s cookbook, More Mediterranean, via americastestkitchen.com. I modified the method and used linguine fini, Meyer lemon, walnuts, and two garlic cloves. Easy and great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 T table salt, for cooking broccoli and pasta
  • 12 to 16 ounces broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 pound spaghettini, or spaghetti
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios or walnuts, toasted and chopped, divided
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 2 tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice (I used Meyer lemon)
  • 1/4 cup (4 T) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat an oven to 375 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop.
  2. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon table salt and broccoli stalks and cook for 1 minute. Add florets and cook until stalks and florets are tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Using slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to colander set over bowl (do not discard boiling water). Let broccoli drain and cool slightly, about 5 minutes; set aside.
  4. Add pasta to reserved boiling water and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot.
  5. Process 1 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, avocado, basil, 1/4 cup chopped nuts, anchovies, fennel seeds, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and coarse salt in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
  6. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated, about 15 seconds.
  7. Add pesto to pasta in pot and toss until sauce evenly coats pasta, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed.
  8. Stir in remaining broccoli and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pistachios. Garnish with fresh basil and drizzle with extra oil, as desired. Serve.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip-Oatmeal Cookies

This is another Smitten Kitchen recipe that I couldn’t resist trying. I love baked goods that incorporate whole wheat flour and this one also includes oat bran and old-fashioned rolled oats. 🙂

The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I modified the size and baking time and refrigerated the rationed dough overnight.

Yield: about 20 (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookies or 10 (3 tablespoon) cookies

  • 4 T (50 g) raw or turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup (95 g) dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (95 g) whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour) or medium rye flour
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) oat bran, wheat germ, wheat bran, or finely chopped nuts (such as walnuts)
  • 1 1/2 cups (120 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup (6 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • flaky sea salt, optional
  1. In a large bowl, beat sugars, butter, and salt together until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add egg and vanilla; beat until mixed.
  3. Sprinkle baking powder and baking soda over the batter and beat until very well-combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat again.
  4. Scrape the bowl down and add the flour, oat bran (or another option), oats, and chocolate; mix just until the flour disappears.
  5. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon or 3 tablespoon cookie scoop, ration the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  6. When ready to bake: Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Arrange the mounds of dough 2 inches apart for smaller scoops or 3 inches apart for larger scoops on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the tops with a couple flakes of sea salt.
  8. Bake 1 1/2 tablespoon cookies for about 10 minutes and 3 tablespoon cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time, or until golden brown all over.
  9. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Note: Extra dough will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days and longer in the freezer. Freeze rationed scoops of dough on a tray and transfer to a freezer bag when solid. If baking frozen scoops of dough, add 1 to 2 minutes to the baking time.

Baker’s Banana-Nut Bread

Yes! Another sourdough recipe- all so good! I love that this recipe combines two of the most popular items to bake during this period of self-isolation- sourdough and banana bread. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from theperfectloaf.com. I incorporated whole wheat flour, added turbinado sugar to the topping, and baked the loaf in a Pullman loaf pan, adjusting the baking time accordingly. I loved that this version included olive oil for moisture and honey for sweetness. Lovely.

We ate it as-is, but the original recipe recommends spreading full-fat Greek yogurt over the top of each slice.

Yield: One standard or Pullman loaf

  • 240g (2 cups) spelt, whole wheat, all-purpose flour, or a mix
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 3g (1/2 teaspoon) sea salt
  • 125g (1 cup) chopped walnuts or pecans, divided
  • 126g(1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 100g (1/2 cup lightly packed) brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g (3/4 cup, stirred down) sourdough starter
  • 42g (2 tablespoons) raw honey
  • 3 super ripe medium mashed bananas (almost black and mushy)
  • 28g (2 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 4g (1 teaspoon) vanilla
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • turbinado sugar, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF, preferably on convection.
  2. Coat a 9×5-inch loaf pan or Pullman loaf pan with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, mix a handful of chopped walnuts or pecans and a teaspoon or two of turbinado sugar. Set aside to be used as the topping later.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time. While mixing, scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Add in sourdough starter, honey, mashed bananas, and olive oil.
  8. Add in the vanilla.
  9. Add the flour mixture slowly, pausing to scrape down the sides if necessary.
  10. By hand, fold in the remaining walnuts or pecans and lemon zest.
  11. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
  12. Sprinkle on the reserved chopped nuts and sugar.
  13. Bake for 45-50 minutes in a Pullman loaf pan or 55-65 minutes in a standard loaf pan. (It’s better to undercook this than overcook: you want it moist.)
  14. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then gently remove onto a wire rack to thoroughly cool.

Note: This banana bread will stay moist for days after baking, but be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container to prevent moisture loss.

Brown and Wild Rice Bowl with Broccoli Pesto and Wild Mushrooms

More delicious broccoli and rice. 🙂 My husband and son ate this rice bowl topped with grilled chicken. I thought that it was perfect as is!

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I actually doubled this full-flavored broccoli pesto and served the extra batch over penne with chopped fresh tomatoes.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Rice Bowl:

  • 2/3 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 1/3 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water with 1/2 teaspoon salt), divided
  • 1 cup broccoli pesto (recipe below)
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces sliced wild mushrooms (I used cremini mushrooms)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
  1. Combine the rice in a small saucepan with 1 3/4 cup of the stock, bring the stock to a boil, turn down to a bare simmer, cover the top with a paper towel and a lid and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated.
  4. Add the broccoli pesto and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork and add it to the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until combine well.
  6. Add the remaining  1/4 cup broth and salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. To serve, spoon into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

For the Broccoli Pesto:

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds or chopped walnuts
  • 6 ounces broccoli, trimmed if necessary and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, preferably on convection.
  2. Spread out the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Combine the cooled almonds, broccoli, scallions, cheese, olive oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
  4. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not pureed.
  5. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Use as directed in recipe.

Note: The pesto will keep in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Chicken Biryani

I am a list person. I have lists all over my house… things to do, things to cook, etc. I love a good list. (I especially love crossing items off of these lists!) This simple version of this typically complex dish was part of Bon Appétit’s list of the Most Popular Chicken Dishes of 2019. Bon Appétit loves lists too. 🙂

This dish is all about the rice, and I had some special Basmati rice given to me by a friend just waiting for an occasion to shine. Perfect. I loved the layers of flavor and different textures in the finished dish. It is loaded with spices, nuts, dried fruit, and topped with caramelized onions.

The raita and the chicken (in marinade) are prepared a day in advance. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in and modified the proportions. The creamy raita is essential to the finished dish. We also ate it with roasted cauliflower on the side. It was buttery, rich and delicious.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Onion Raita and Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups whole-milk yogurt, divided (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
  • 3 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 4″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
  • ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground cardamon
  • 10 boneless, skinless, chicken things or 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 2 dried bay leaves

For the Rice and Assembly:

  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • 2 cups Basmati rice, preferably aged, such as Daawat (I used Aahu Barah)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup melted ghee
  • ½ cup mixed coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and/or walnuts
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup mixed dried fruit, such as prunes, apricots, pineapple, and/or cranberries (I used chopped dried mango and dried cranberries)

To Make the Onion Raita:

  1. Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp) into a small bowl.
  2. Squeeze in juice from one half of the lemon.
  3. Add sugar, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.
  4. Finely chop one-quarter of the onion and stir into raita.
  5. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or chill up to overnight.

To Marinate the Chicken:

  1. Purée ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, juice of remaining lemon half, and remaining three-quarters of onion, ½ cup yogurt, 2 tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.) Transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. If using bone-in chicken thighs, pull skin off chicken thighs and discard.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with ginger mixture, add bay leaves, and toss to combine.
  4. Cover with a plate and let marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or preferably chill up to overnight.

To Make the Rice and Assemble the Dish:

  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring salt and 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. Meanwhile, place rice in a medium bowl. Cover with cool tap water, use your hand to gently agitate the grains, and drain. Repeat at least 2 more times until water runs clear enough to see your hand through it.
  4. Add drained rice all at once to boiling salted water. Initially the water will stop boiling and the rice will sink to the bottom. Stir a few times with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, then stop stirring. After a couple of minutes, the water will return to a simmer and a few grains will begin appearing near the surface. The rice is ready to drain when the grains have nearly doubled in size, the water returns to a boil, and most of the rice rapidly bubbles to the surface. When you bite into a grain, you want to see a hard white core; just like pasta cooked al dente, the grains should remain firm. Depending on the quality of your rice, this can take anywhere from 3–7 minutes, so begin tasting the grains early. (I boiled my rice for 7 minutes.)
  5. Drain rice and rinse with water until cool. Set aside.
  6. Cook onion and ghee in a 4–6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until onions are golden and crisp, 8–10 minutes. The sides and bottom of pot may brown and even develop some char. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a plate. (I used a 6-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and toast nuts in ghee in same pot, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and darkened in color, 2–3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer nuts to another plate; set aside for serving. (I used raw slivered almonds and raw walnut pieces.)
  8. Transfer half of ghee in pot to a small bowl; set aside.
  9. Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle sugar over remaining ghee in pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar forms deeply caramelized clumps, 3–5 minutes.
  10. Add chicken, scraping in marinade, and bring to a simmer.
  11. Remove from heat and arrange chicken and marinade in an even layer.
  12. Sprinkle with dried fruit and one-third of fried onions.
  13. Top with rice.
  14. Poke 5–7 holes into rice with the back of a wooden spoon until you reach the chicken. Drizzle reserved ghee over and top with another third of fried onions.
  15. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and return to medium heat. Cook until you can hear the chicken gurgling in the pot and wisps of steam just begin to escape from lid, about 5 minutes. Do not open the lid at any point! If you peek, you will risk losing too much steam, preventing the rice from properly cooking through.
  16. Transfer pot to oven and bake, covered, 45 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before uncovering.
  17. Using a large spoon or small plate, gently scoop rice off chicken and transfer to a platter. Carefully spoon chicken thighs and any sauce over rice. Top with reserved fried nuts and remaining onions.
  18. Serve alongside onion raita while ghee is still hot and rice is steamy.

Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread with Walnuts & Raisins

One of my mom’s best friends shared her recipe for this special pumpkin bread with me. I first tried it last year over the holidays and absolutely loved it. She recommended using olive oil and whole wheat flour. I used olive oil and half whole wheat pastry flour this time. 🙂 It was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made one loaf in a standard loaf pan and the other in my new Nordic Ware fluted loaf pan to make it that much more special. I froze the special loaf to serve over Thanksgiving weekend. I love recipes that make one batch to enjoy right away and another for later- or to share.

Yield: 2 standard loaves

  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 15 to 16 oz can pumpkin purée (about 2 cups)
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat flour
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts (can substitute pecans)
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2-inch loaf pans. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl with a spout.
  4. Blend in the oil and water.
  5. Add and whisk in the pumpkin purée.
  6. In a separate large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder.
  7. Add the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; whisk to combine.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the pumpkin-egg mixture. Mix until just combined.
  9. Fold in the nuts and raisins.
  10. Using a ladle, disperse the batter between the two loaf pans.
  11. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until the bread tests clean in the center. (I baked mine for 62 minutes on convection.)
  12. Cool on a rack in the pans; remove when cool.

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