Appetizers, Main Course Recipes

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

 

I don’t cook mussels at home often enough. But, I did this past Friday. It was glorious.

Elegant, affordable, readily available, and a breeze to make. From the fridge to dinner table, the mussels are ready to devour in just 20 minutes. I paired this batch with white wine, garlic, parsley and lemon. Obviously, I had some good bread to soak up the broth.

A few tips about buying, storing, and cleaning:

Buying: When you’re at the fish market, make sure the mussels are kept over ice and that their shells are glistening with moisture. The shells should be tightly closed. The mussels should smell briny, like the ocean. Mussels are living creatures, so they will still be alive when you buy them at the store. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite) Though wild mussels are available in certain markets, the vast majority of mussels you’ll find at the market are farm-raised.

Storing: Mussels are best if cooked within a few hours of purchasing. If you can’t do that, they’ll be fine for a few days in the fridge. If you need to store them, place the mussels in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel to keep the mussels protected and moist, and store in the fridge. The mussels need to breathe, so don’t store them in an airtight container or in water.

Cleaning: Mussels attach themselves to stable surfaces using thin sticky membranes referred to as “beards.”  Most farm-raised mussels will come debearded, but odds are good you’ll find a couple of stubborn beards left over.  Look for a group of short brown strings coming out on one side of the mussel where the two halves of the shell close. This is the “beard.” Grip these strings with your fingers and tug gently from side to side. As you tug, the strings will pull out and detach from the shell. If you have trouble gripping the beard with your fingers, a dry paper towel usually does the trick.

Steamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and ParsleySteamed Mussels with Wine, Garlic and Parsley

 

On to the recipe …

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds mussels. Prince Edward Island (PEI) are my favorite.
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (more if you want spicy)
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Lemon wedges, to garnish
  • Crusty bread, to serve

Directions:

  1. Rinse the mussels in a strainer and check them over. If you feel any muddy spots, rub under running water to remove.  All the mussels should be tightly closed. Discard any mussels with cracked shells. If the shell is open, tap the mussel lightly against the counter. If the shell doesn’t close in a few minutes, discard the mussel. Do a quick check for beards.  If any beards are still attached, remove and discard.
  2. Now you’re ready to start cooking. Warm butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add shallot and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until shallot is translucent and garlic fragrant. Season with freshly cracked black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  3. Add mussels to the pot and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Pour chicken broth and white wine over the mussels and immediately cover pot with lid.  Cook, covered, for 5 minutes.  Shake the pan once or twice while cooking (with the lid on) to distribute mussels.
  4. After 5 minutes, the mussels should be fully cooked and open.  If not, return the lid to the pot and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. Add lemon juice and fresh parsley and give the mussels a good stir. This coats the mussels in the shallots, garlic and broth. Remove and discard any mussels that have not fully opened at this point.
  6. Serve mussels straight out of the pot in the middle of the table, or pour mussels and broth into 4 large bowls. Serve with extra lemon wedges, and crusty bread for mopping up the broth.

Servings: 4 (1 pound per serving)

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Pasta Recipes, Salads

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad with Chicken

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad2

 

Some of the best memories are made in flip flops … while eating this dish.

Summer’s back.  Time to make Greek tortellini pasta salad.  Here’s my update on the classic Greek salad. I mixed it up by adding cheese tortellini, shredded chicken, and a couple other tid bits.  I’ve always got cheese tortellini on hand for simple weeknight suppers.  Always a crowd (or, just me) pleaser.

I toss the cheese tortellini with chicken breasts (use a rotisserie chicken as a huge time saver), cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, artichoke hearts, chickpeas, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and parsley. On the side, I’ll put together a simple homemade Greek salad dressing.  Give it all a toss, and ,dinner is served.  Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  Lunch, a simple after workout snack, or even breakfast.  (Yes, I’ve been known to eat leftover pasta salad for breakfast before work. No shame!)

This also works wonderfully for picnics, potlucks, bbqs, or a weeknight meal.  Perfect for summer.  Bright and easy. Just like my favorite pair of flip flops.

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad1Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad3

 

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz cheese tortellini
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large breasts), or 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2 cups cucumber (about 1/2 of a hothouse cucumber), peeled, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 14 oz can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and chopped
  • 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 5 oz block feta cheese, crumbled (I prefer feta packed in brine)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Season chicken breasts with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook for 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.  Set aside until cool enough to handle and cut into bite sized pieces.  Alternatively, dice 3 cups of rotisserie chicken.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook tortellini in boiling water for 5-7 minutes, or according to package directions.  Drain and rinse under cold water until cool.  Set aside and reserve.
  3. Combine cooled tortellini, shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, artichoke hearts, chickpeas and kalamata olives in a large bowl.
  4. Make dressing by combining olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and dried oregano.  Mix well.
  5. Toss salad with the dressing.  Start by adding half of the dressing and add more to suit your taste.
  6. Add feta cheese and fresh parsley.  Toss well and serve.

Note: Salad can be served right away but is best cooled in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Salad will keep well for 3 days in the refrigerator.

Greek Tortellini Pasta Salad4

Breakfast Recipes

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

 

What’s my key to hosting brunch, you ask?

Everything’s made and prepped in advance.

With this in mind, here’s my go-to brunch recipe – Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata.  This dish inherently abides by my “made in advance” rule.  You’re literally SUPPOSED to make and prepare it the night before.  For those unfamiliar with the strata, it’s a savory bread pudding consisting mostly of bread, cheese, and eggs.  My recipe includes sausage and veggies.  The addition of cottage cheese provides a slightly creamy texture.  Hearty and well balanced.  All inclusive … bread, eggs, meat, cheese, veg … all in one dish.

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast StrataSausage and Veggie Breakfast StrataSausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

 

So it’s the morning of.  All you have to do is roll out of bed, brew coffee, set out bloody mary fixins, turn on the oven, and enjoy.

You’ve got brunch questions.  I’ve got brunch answers.  Simple, tasty answers.

Sausage and Veggie Breakfast Strata

 

Ingredients:

  • Butter, for greasing baking dish
  • 1 loaf day-old Italian bread, crust removed and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups cubed)
  • 1 lb sweet breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled into pieces
  • 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained of excess moisture
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups fontina cheese, freshly grated
  • A small handful fresh basil, torn into pieces (about 1/4 cup)
  • 12 large eggs
  • 2 cups half and half (or milk if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Butter a 9×13 inch casserole dish, set aside, and reserve.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cubed bread, cooked sausage, spinach, bell peppers, fontina cheese, and fresh basil.  Toss together well until evenly distributed.  Pour mixture into buttered casserole dish.
  3. In another bowl (I used a large measuring cup) whisk eggs until blended.  Add the half and half, cottage cheese, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.  Whisk until smooth, then pour over bread mixture in the casserole dish. (Note, not all of the bread will be covered at this point with the egg mixture. This is fine. As the casserole rests, it will absorb the eggs and become covered.)
  4. Cover the strata/casserole and refrigerate for a few hours or preferably overnight (up to 18 hours).
  5. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Let rest.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and bake the strata/casserole, covered, for 45 minutes.  Remove cover and cook an additional 15 minutes until custard has set and the top is golden brown.  After 1 hour of cooking, if the custard has not set, return the casserole to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  6. Allow casserole to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Servings: 12

Main Course Recipes, Pasta Recipes

Lazy Ravioli Lasagna

Lazy Lasagna

 

So, you’re in a precarious “situation” with the mafia?  (It happens … I guess)  Cooking up a tasty lasagna would really ease some tensions, right?  Problem is, you’ve got neither the time nor the fresh ingredients for a proper dish. Lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese filling, the timely/messy process of layering of everything together?  Here’s the perfect shortcut.  We’re using frozen cheese ravioli!

So, you’re in the above precarious situation? (Figurative … play along) Here’s whatcha do:

No need to pre boil the noodles or make the ricotta cheese filling.  Simply layer together marinara, frozen cheese ravioli, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Then bake until bubbly and golden.  Lasagna on a mafia pressured weeknight just got a whole lot easier. (Phew!)

Lazy LasagnaLazy Lasagna

 

I had to get somewhat fancy with my marinara sauce.  (I couldn’t help it.)  I added some aromatics and Italian sausage.  If you need to save time, then crack open a jar of store-bought marinara.  In this case, make sure you remember to add 1/2 cup of water.  The ravioli’s need a bit more liquid to cook in.

Your family will think you’ve been slaving away all day.  The guys in velvet sweat suits and greased back hair will think “uncle so and so” made it fresh.

Lazy Lasagna.  Saving family dinner … one meal at a time.

Lazy LasagnaLazy Lasagna

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb bulk Italian sausage (leave out to make vegetarian)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 cups marinara, store-bought (25 oz jar) or homemade
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp fresh herbs, divided (parsley/basil/rosemary – whatever you have on hand)
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 24oz frozen ravioli, I used a spinach and ricotta variety
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.  Add Italian sausage and cook, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes.  Once sausage is fully cooked, remove from heat and drain off any excess fat.
  2. Put saute pan with sausage mixture back over medium heat.  Add red pepper flakes and dried oregano.  Stir well and allow herbs to hit the warm oil to “wake them up.”
  3. Add marinara, water, and 2 tbsp fresh herbs.  Bring to a low boil and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before assembling lasagna.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  5. Spray casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray or grease with a small amount of vegetable oil or butter.
  6. Time to begin assembling the lasagna.
  7. Add one cup of marinara to prepared casserole dish to coat the bottom.
  8. In the following order, add half of the ravioli, 1.5 cups marinara, 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella, and 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese.
  9. Repeat with another layer – the other half of the ravioli, the remainder of the sauce (about a cup and a half), 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella and 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese.
  10. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake covered for 50 minutes. Note, spray the inside of the aluminum foil with nonstick cooking spray (or smear with a small amount of vegetable oil) so it does not stick to the cheese.
  11. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.  The cheese will be melted and sauce will be bubbling in the corners.  Add 1 tbsp fresh herbs on top and allow dish to rest for 5 minutes before digging in.

Servings: 8 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

My sous chef couldn’t resist the aroma!

Lazy Lasagna

Pasta Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes

Stove-top Gnocchi (not mac) and Cheese with Peas

Fun enough for the kids.  Just grown up enough for the adult palate as well.  So simple to make.  Ready for it?  Sure you are.

Gnocchi3

 

This is a fun twist on macaroni and cheese.  I like creating an opportunity to introduce children to new foods and expand their palates, while simultaneously eating something with a sense of familiarity.  Stove-top Gnocchi (not Mac) and Cheese with Peas … does just that.  It’s a rich, decadent cheese sauce.  Move over kiddies, I’m diving in too.

If you’ve never cooked gnocchi (small potato dumplings) before, the time is now. Your family will love these little potato pillows.  Just bring a big pot of salted water to a boil (as you would for pasta).  Then add the gnocchi, give it a stir, and wait until they rise to the surface. About 3-ish minutes.  Once they’ve floated to the top, just strain out the water and you’re ready to go!  Easy peasy!

Prepare your ingredients ahead of time.  Shred your cheeses and have your milk and seasonings out and ready.  The thing about cheese sauce is that things happen fast.  Because you’re working with milk, butter, cheese and heat – this sauce can burn easily if you’re not careful.  By getting everything prepared ahead of time, you can focus on the cooking.

This dish comes together in under 30 minutes.  Being prepared in one pot means minimal clean up.  (We love that!)  Happy family.  Easy clean up.  Delicious meal for the whole crew.

Gnocchi2Gnocchi1Gnocchi4

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 17.5 ounce boxes potato gnocchi
  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cups freshly shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • (Optional toppings: chopped fresh basil, extra Parmesan cheese)

Directions:

  1. Bring a large heavy-bottomed stock pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the gnocchi and cook according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and reserve.  Make sure to toss the cooked gnocchi frequently so they do not stick together when preparing the cheese sauce.
  2. Next, make the béchamel sauce.  In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in the flour and cook the mixture, stirring constantly until light brown in color with a slightly toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Add the milk slowly into the flour and butter mixture, whisking constantly so you get all the lumps out.  Bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly, then simmer,  still whisking occasionally, for 3 minutes to thicken.  The sauce should thicken enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Stir in cheeses, mustard powder, salt and pepper until smooth.  Note: Do not add your cheese too fast or too soon as this could result in clumpy, greasy chaos instead of creamy, cheesy deliciousness.  Instead, wait for your béchamel to reach the right thickness.  Then, add the cheese in three batches, making sure each batch is completely melted before adding more cheese.
  4. Add the gnocchi and peas, stirring to combine, and cook over low heat just until warmed throughout. Serve immediately with fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese.

Note: It will originally seem that there is too much cheese sauce for the amount of gnocchi. Trust me – the sauce will continue to thicken and you will be happy with the extra creamy, cheesy deliciousness.

Note: Leftovers can be topped with homemade breadcrumbs (2-3 slices of day old bread pulsed in a food processor to form small crumbs then combined with 1 tbsp melted butter and 2 tsp fresh herbs) and baked in a 350 degree F oven for 40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown.

Servings: 6

Thank you Bell Family Company for featuring Stove-top Gnocchi (not Mac) and Cheese with Peas on your blog.  Anyone living in the New York or Chicago area looking for an incredible nanny service, look no further.  Need a sitter for date night? A TravelSitter for your summer vacation?  A full-time nanny for a new baby?  They have you covered.  Visit their website for details.  Let them know Emily Always Cooks sent you!

Main Course Recipes

Lamb Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Mushrooms

Lamb Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Mushrooms

Time to talk lamb shanks?  Why, yes. Yes it is.

From the lower section of the leg, lamb shanks are a full-flavored cut of meat.  They do, however, require a bit of love and attention to bring out their full potential.  These shanks are first browned in veg oil.  This gives them color while enhancing their rich flavor.  Then, the’re slowly braised in a flavorful and aromatic liquid.  This braising method breaks down the connective tissue and … (culinary cliche alert) …  yields fall-off-the-bone tenderness.
Lamb Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Mushrooms
Now, let’s talk about the hot tub for the shanks.  Or, the “baaaa-th tub.” (I couldn’t resist).  All feeble-minded lamb jokes aside, I’m referring to the braising liquid.
Onion, carrots, celery, garlic, and tomato paste are caramelized in the drippings from the browning process.  They’re then combined with red wine, chopped tomatoes, beef stock, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves.  THEN … brought to a boil.  The shanks are returned to the pot (tub) and placed into the oven. Three hours later, it’s feast time.  I paired these lamb shanks with dreamy Parmesan polenta and mushrooms.  Glamorous!
Lamb Shanks with Parmesan Polenta and Mushrooms
Make plenty, as leftovers can be transformed into another meal that shines.  Shred left over lamb , combine with leftover sauce, and serve over pappradelle noodles with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
Leftovers
Ingredients:
  • 2 1.5lb lamb shanks
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 14.5oz can chopped tomatoes in juice, I prefer low sodium
  • 2 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 1 cup water (or more if needed)
  • 15-20 sprigs fresh thyme, bundled together with butchers twine
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Directions:

  1. Allow lamb shanks to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Trim off any excess fat, cut an inch off the end to expose the bone marrow, and season liberally with salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Heat large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil and sear lamb shanks on all sides until nicely browned.  Remove lamb shanks and set aside.
  4. Drain excess fat from the dutch oven, leaving about 1/2 tbsp.  Drop heat to medium and add carrot, celery, and onion. Cook for 15 minutes until vegetables are nicely caramelized.  Add a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper to season.  Add garlic and cook for 2 additional minutes.
  5. Add tomato paste and stir into vegetables to coat. Cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes to caramelize and develop the tomato flavor.  This is an important step. Don’t skimp on caramelizing the tomato paste as it adds a lovely depth of flavor to the dish.
  6. Add red wine and scrape down any brown bits that have developed on the bottom and sides of the pot.  Add chopped tomatoes, beef stock, and water.  Stir well and increase heat to medium-high to bring to a low boil.  Add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves. Stir well.  Return lamb shanks to the pot.  If the liquid level does not come to the top of the lamb shanks, add additional water.  Season with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  (Note, if you did not use low sodium stock no need to season with salt, the stock will contain enough salt to season the dish.)
  7. Place lid on dutch oven and put in the preheated oven and cook for 2 1/2 hours, basting and rotating lamb shanks 2-3 times throughout the cooking process.  Remove lid and cook an additional 30 minutes to concentrate the cooking liquid.
  8. At this point, start your parmesan polenta and mushrooms.
  9. Remove lamb shanks to a serving platter and tent with foil to keep warm.  Place the dutch oven on the stove-top over low heat. Remove thyme bundle and bay leaves, and skim off any grease that has gathered on the surface (I removed about 3 tbsp).
  10. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary.  Add 1/4 cup fresh parsley.
  11. Spoon about 2 cups of sauce over lamb shanks and serve with parmesan polenta and mushrooms.
  12. You can serve the lamb shanks 2 ways – remove excess fat from the shanks, discard, and serve chunks of lamb mixed with the sauce (like a ragu). OR -serve each person an entire lamb shank to pick at themselves.  Both ways are equally as good 🙂  ALWAYS serve with parmesan polenta and mushrooms.
  13. Top plated dish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.

Servings: 2-4

Note: If you are serving a crowd, there will be enough sauce for 4-6 lamb shanks – no need to double the sauce if you cook additional lamb shanks.  Just make sure your dutch oven is large enough, or cook in 2 pots.

Leftovers: Shred left over lamb shanks, combine with leftover sauce, and serve over pappradelle noodles with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers

Pasta Recipes, Salads, Vegetarian Recipes

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

 

I’ve got roasted garlic and tomatoes, and I’ve got feta cheese, and I’ve got arugula, and I’ve got artichokes, and I’ve got a deliciously lemony dressing.  And, you may partake with me on one condition; that you listen to (read) my short rant about Spring weather in Chicago.  Those of you not dealing with these same weather conditions, just bare with me!

Mother Nature is currently unleashing her full schizophrenic arsenal on us.  One day the temperature “soars” to 60F.  The next day brings partial snow flurries and blustery winds followed by multiple days of perma-gray skies.  This time of year has me craving bright Spring flavors while simultaneously hankering for Winter comfort foods.  This dish is a lovely and beautiful combination of the two.

The produce isn’t exactly “there” yet.  My easy fix … roasting my veggies.  Roasting tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and concentrates the flavor.  The juice from the tomatoes combines with the vinaigrette.  This coats the pasta, adding a fat free component to the sauce.  The same goes for the roasted garlic.

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

 

If you live in a warm weather climate, just chalk my above rant up to ‘another Midwesterner complaining about the weather.’  If you’re here with me … Just chalk my above rant up to ‘another Midwesterner complaining about the weather.’  Either way, this dish is not weather discriminant.  Great when served cold or at room temperature.  Light and bright, yet hearty and comforting.  The answer to this cold/warm/cold/warm weather.

Roasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta SaladRoasted Tomato and Arugula Pasta Salad

 

Ingredients:

  • 16oz whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 sprig rosemary (optional: I add rosemary to all of my roasted vegetables because I have a rosemary plant on my windowsill garden, this can easily be left out if you do not have it on hand.)
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • A small handful of basil, about 1/8 cup, julienned
  • 15oz can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • 4-6 cups arugula
  • 1 cup feta crumbled (or substitute 8 oz container ciliegine “small cherry” fresh mozzarella balls)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water.  For al dente, my whole wheat penne took 15 minutes.  Drain and run under water to cool and stop the cooking.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine cherry tomatoes with 2 tsp olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Cook for 20-25 minutes until tomatoes are soft, slightly charred, and some are just bursting. Discard rosemary and mince the freshly roasted garlic. Set aside to be added to the salad dressing.
  3. To make the vinaigrette, combine 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced roasted garlic, fresh basil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Give the dressing a good whisk. If using a mason jar,  give a few shakes.
  4. Combine cooked pasta, artichokes, and scallions with 1/2 of the dressing, and toss to coat. Add the fresh arugula and roasted tomatoes. Toss again *being careful not to crush the tomatoes.*  Add additional vinaigrette to your taste.  Note: The tomatoes are delicate and contain a lot of juice, so be careful when tossing.  Also, if the tomatoes burst, the tomato juice will add liquid and become part of the vinaigrette, so be careful not to over dress.
  5. Top with feta or mozzarella cheese.

Servings: 10 servings
Serving size: 1 cup – 1 1/2 cups (depending on the amount of arugula added)