Category Archives: Pasta

Detox: Pomegranate and Kale Orzo Salad

During this period between Thanksgiving and Christmas a lot of our lives revolve around food.  First, there is the giant Thanksgiving dinner- and we’re all very full.  And in the last couple of weeks a number of our friends have had birthdays- which means more food!  (Don’t worry friends- I will gladly try new restaurants with you!)  And I know many people reach for a salad to give their stomach a break.

I think this salad is a great alternative!  It’s got a light pasta- orzo, a fruit- pomegranate, vegetables- kale, pearl onions, and a great dressing.  And the hardest thing to do (for me) was peeling out the pomegranate seeds.  Don’t worry- in most stores you can buy the peeled seeds.

We took this salad to work almost all week for lunch, and it had the perfect level of lightness, but filling enough that our stomachs weren’t growing an hour after.  It was a great little detox salad from all of the big dinners!

I’m truly a fan of pomegranate.  The texture is fantastic- soft at first, but firm when you bit into it.  Plus it’s not overly sweet.  Around the holidays I like to add it to a lot of salads or dishes, since it does add a festive feel to it with the beautiful red color.

Adding the kale to the salad gave it that earthy taste.  If you’re not a fan of kale, I think spinach or arugula would be a great substitution.   That small change can actually make the dish even lighter, and have a spring or summer feel to it.  Very versatile.  I’d love to hear of any additions or substitutions any you might have!

Pomegranate and Kale Orzo Salad
Adapted from: Happyolks
Servings: 6-8 lunch salads

1 pinch & 1 tsp of salt
2 cups of pearl onions
1 tsp & 1/4 cup of olive oil
2 1/2 cups of orzo
2 pomegranates
1-2 bunches of kale, chopped
juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp honey

In a large pot, add water and cook it.  Once the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt.  Then add the pearl onions.  Cook them for about 10 minutes.  Once they are cooked through, use a strainer to take all of the pearl onions out of the pot.  Leave the water in the pot.  Set the cooked pearl onions aside in a bowl.

In the pot with the boiling water, add the orzo.  Add 1 tsp of olive oil and cook the orzo for about 8-10 minutes, or until the orzo is cooked through.  When the orzo is ready, drain and rinse with cold water.  Add to it to a large bowl.

While the pearl onions and orzo are cooking, break open the pomegranates.  I tend to cut the fruit into 4 pieces, and then begin to take out the seeds. Meanwhile, pick out and throw out the white fibrous bits.  Add all of the seeds to the bowl with the orzo.

Once the pearl onions are cooled, trim off one end (just a tiny piece).  Squeeze out the rest of the onion from its skins.  Once I removed the skins I roughly chopped the onions (but feel free to keep them whole).  Toss them into the large bowl with the other ingredients.

Then, toss in the chopped kale into the bowl.  Mix all of the ingredients well.

In a separate bowl whisk together: 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tsp salt, juice of an orange and honey.  Once it’s all mixed together, pour over the salad.  Toss the pasta salad once more to mix all of the ingredients thoroughly.

Kale Lasagna

Sometimes during the weekends we like to make a dish that will last us several days.  When I saw a recipe for kale lasagna (without ricotta) I added it to our list.

As I’ve mentioned before, ricotta and I do not have a wonderful relationship.  Therefore, I try to find ways to substitute it.  Last time we made lasagna, we used tofu as the substitute- check it out here!  This time the substitute was cottage cheese.  I feel like I should have thought of that long ago, yet I didn’t.

Now, if you’re not a fan of kale- feel free to use spinach or any other greens.  Personally, I do not like meat in my lasagna.  I feel like it’s an already heavy dish- and by adding meat, it’ll give me a stronger food-coma.  Since all recipes can have some tweaking- this one is the same.  If you’re a meat lasagna fan, definitely add a layer of it somewhere in there.

This is the pre-bake picture.  I loved the contrast between the green kale, red tomatoes and white cottage cheese.  Yum!

Kale Lasagna
Adapted from: Kalyn’s Kitchen

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
10 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
28oz chopped tomatoes
6 cups of kale, roughly chopped
2 cups of cottage cheese
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded
box of lasagna noodles
2 cups of mozzarella cheese, grated

In a large pan, heat up olive oil.  Add onions and saute for about 3 minutes, or until they are soft.  Then add garlic, mushrooms, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.  Saute all of the ingredients for about 5 minutes.  Finally, add the tomatoes.  Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes.  Once the sauce has cooled, pour into a food processor.  Puree the sauce, depending on how smooth or chunky you would like your sauce to be.

The next step is to blanch kale.  Take a large pot and boil water.  Add the chopped kale into the boiling water for about 3 minutes.  Have a bowl of cold water ready, and once the kale is cooked add it to the cold water.  Keep the kale in the cold water for about 3 minutes, and then drain the kale.

In a separate bowl, mix together cottage cheese, beaten eggs and grated Parmesan.  Finally, add the drained kale.  Mix all of the ingredients.

Spray a 9×12 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.  Lay lasagna noodles at the bottom of the pan.  Pour a layer of the sauce onto the lasagna noodles.  Then put down a layer of the cottage cheese-kale mixture.  Finally, sprinkle 1/2 of a cup of mozzarella cheese.  Continue putting the layers until you have used up all of the ingredients.  The top layer will be lasagna noodles covered with a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Preheat the over to 375°F.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 60 minutes.  Then, take off the aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  Let the lasagna cool for about 5-10 minutes before cutting it and serving.

Orzo with Brie & Cauliflower

I apologize for the disappearing act (again!), but this past weekend I ran the Marine Corps Marathon!  So this week was a bit of a recovery week, and it allowed me to catch up on my social life- yes, Saturday long runs don’t allow for many crazy Friday nights!

But since I was running the marathon, the week prior I was looking for savory, carb-filled dishes.  I came across this recipe during the summer, but kept this little gem hidden until the weather allowed for it.  Yes, it’s coat weather here in DC.  This recipe satisfied us with its rich, warm taste on a chilly Wednesday night.

The orzo with Brie and cauliflower not only made us want seconds, but we wished we had made more of it!  And as many cheesy recipes, this was even better the next day.  I wish the picture came out a little better- it does look a bit color bland- but you can’t judge a book by its cover, right?

One change I did make from the original recipe was add mushroom bouillons, if you don’t have those on hand you can do this with a veggie broth (or beef).  If you would like the mushroom flavor, just sauté mushrooms and toss them into the dish when adding the cauliflower.  But that could be another recipe post!

Orzo with Brie & Cauliflower
Adapted from: Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures

1 1/2 cups orzo
6 cups of water
2 mushroom bouillons
4 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 head of cauliflower, florets cut
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup of white wine (we used Pinot Grigio)
5 oz creamy Brie, chopped
1 tsp salt (depending on taste)
1 tsp pepper (depending on taste)
2 tbsp chives, minced

Heat a small non-stick pan, then add the orzo.  Toast the orzo and roast for about 3 minutes  This will give the orzo a roasted, nutty smell and taste.  Turn off the heat once the orzo is lightly browned.

Bring water, bouillon cubes and 2 tbsps of thyme leaves to a simmer in a saucepan.  Keep this liquid at a simmer until you use it all up.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan heat up 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the cauliflower  and sauté it for about 5 minutes or until the florets start to get golden brown.  For the last minute add the garlic and 2 tbsp of chopped thyme.  Transfer all of the ingredients to a bowl.

Add the rest of the butter and olive oil (1 tbsp of each) into the saucepan.  Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes- the onion should become translucent.  Then add the orzo, stir the mixture for about 30 seconds.  Then add the wine, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed.

From the broth/thyme liquid, take out 2 ladles (about 1/2 cup) and pour it into the saucepan which has the onion and orzo.  Stir it slowly until the broth has been absorbed.  Continue simmering, stirring and adding the hot broth until you have used up all of the broth.  Allow for the broth to be absorbed before adding another ladle.

Lastly, stir in the cauliflower/garlic mixture into the saucepan with orzo.  Then add the Brie pieces- keep stirring so the cheese can melt into the orzo.  Add salt and pepper to taste (we only had about 1 tsp of each- the bouillons and cheese were salty).

You can sprinkle the top with some leftover Brie pieces and chives.

Southwest Pasta Salad

Marathon training has started, only 118 days until the Marine Corps Marathon!  Which means Saturday’s start early, and lunch becomes significant.  During the rest of the year, on the weekends, we tend to have a bigger breakfast, which then leads to a skipped lunch and early dinner…or something along the lines of that.

Since we ignore weekend lunches, I need some quick and healthy ideas.  It’s probably not a good idea to do a long run, and then fill my tummy with some greasy stuff, right?  This salad was great: easy to make, delicious to eat and nutritious.  And when you’re like me, the Mexican flavors are always welcome in my tummy.

Since it is 4th of July weekend, some of you might be picnicking- well this would be a great addition.  This can be made a day ahead and takes almost no time.  In addition, pasta salads are always liked by many.

Southwest Pasta Salad
Adapted from: Aggie’s Kitchen

1/2 box spiral pasta (or other fun shapes)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped (optional)
1 15-oz can of black beans, rinsed
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Cook pasta according to directions on the box.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the onion and garlic.  Cook for a couple of minutes until the onion turns translucent.  Add the chili powder and dried cilantro, stir well.  Then add the red bell pepper and jalapeño.  Cook for another couple of minutes.  Finally, add the black beans- cook and stir this mixture for 3-4 minutes.

Finally, add the pasta and vegetable mixture into a bowl.  Add the tomatoes, cilantro, salt and pepper.  Toss the salad well.  You can serve it warm, or you can put it in the fridge for some time to cool it off.

Sam’s Summer Pasta Sauce

One of the first meals that Sam had made for me was this sauce, and I loved it!  He’s been perfecting this baby for years, so it is delicious.  I couldn’t wait until the tomatoes were in season, since this pasta is significantly better with deep red fresh tomatoes.

It’s finally tomato season!  Hopefully, my pasta sauce recipe will help you figure out how to use them.

It looks like a lot, but really, this one is pretty easy.  I developed this recipe over a couple years of trial and error.  Originally, I prepared the sauce as noted below, but then simmered it for about an hour over the stovetop.  I’ve found that omitting this last step and serving it with the tomatoes and herbs in their raw state gives the sauce a really nice, fresh-from-the-garden flavor.  I hope you like it.

Sam’s Summer Pasta Sauce

1 box, dry pasta (I recommend penne or rigatoni)
3 large, ripe tomatoes, quartered
2 zucchini, slice length-wise & chopped into chunks
2 squash, slice length-wise & chopped into chunks
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
5 garlic cloves, minced
handful of fresh basil
6 sprigs of fresh oregano
¾ can, drained, pitted, black olives
Dry red wine (a nice Chianti works well)
1 tbsp butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter together with the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Then add the squash, zucchini, and onion together with the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

Now is a good time to start boiling your pasta.  I recommend cooking in liberally salted boiling water until al dente.  When done, drain and rinse in cold water to ensure it doesn’t continue to cook.

When the onions are translucent, add the mushrooms and garlic.  Continue to sauté until the mushrooms soften but still have a bit of a bite.  Remove from heat.

In a large food processor, add quarter of the sauté mixture together with the tomatoes, oregano, basil, olives, and a splash of wine and olive oil.  Pureé and add more salt, pepper, and olive oil as necessary.

Serve the sauce with the remainder of the squash mixture over the cooked pasta and top with a little fresh, grated parmesan (not that powdered stuff!).  Oh, and don’t forget to drink the remainder of that wine!

Buon appetito!