Tag Archives: whole wheat pasta

Orzotto with Mushroom and Spinach

21 Jun

Orzotto… to be honest I do not know if this is an official Italian term or not. But I decided to use the term to refer to this orzo pasta made to resemble a risotto. Makes sense now, no??

I have been playing for a few weeks not with dried mushrooms to give added flavor to my dishes. This is one of my better experiments lately… I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The beauty of this dish is that it cooks almost by itself; no need to be over the stove stirring rice to get a creamy consistency. The creaminess so characteristic of risottos comes from the cheeses blended into the orzo pasta. I used my trusted Sargento 6-cheese Italian cheese blend, Sargento Parmesan and a newfound favorite, crème fraiche.

Sargento Collage

This is one of the recipes I’ve developed to fuel myself up before training for the half marathons I’ve been doing the last few months. It’s easy, it’s filling and it’s nice enough to make even for a romantic dinner.

Orzotto with Mushrooms and Spinach

ORZOTTO WITH MUSHROOM AND SPINACH

½ cup whole-wheat orzo pasta
1 cup water
1 ounce of dried mushrooms – porcini or your favorite kind will do fine here…
1 tsp Knorr vegetable stock or ½ vegetable bouillon cube
½ onion, chopped
2 tbs of olive oil
5-6 white button mushrooms, chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme
3-4 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
3 tbs crème fraiche
3/4 cup Sargento shredded 6-cheese Italian cheese blend
¼ cup Sargento shredded Parmesan cheese
  1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. Turn off the heat and rehydrate the ounce of dried mushrooms in this water. Cover and let the mushrooms soak for about 30 mins.
  2. After that time has elapsed, strain the mushrooms, reserving the broth you have now created. Cut the mushrooms up in little pieces and set aside.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, bring back to boil the cup of water that now has become mushroom broth. Make sure you have 1 cup of broth before you start boiling again, if not, just complete the amount with some water. Add the vegetable stock gel or bouillon cube to this broth while it’s coming up to temperature.
  4. While the broth comes to a boil, in a medium sauté pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and sauté the onions for a few minutes. Add the chopped fresh mushrooms and allow them to cook and brown on all sides. For this, you need to leave them alone for a few minutes at a time for the mushrooms to get some color. Add the reconstituted mushrooms and cook them with the browned fresh mushrooms. Strip the leaves from the fresh thyme sprig and add to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. When the broth is boiling, add the orzo pasta and mix in well to avoid the pasta sticking together. I partially cover the pot to maintain the level of boiling but be able to reduce the heat of the stove to medium.
  6. While the pasta is almost done, add the baby spinach to the pasta saucepot. Cover the pot and turn off the heat from the stove. Allow the heat from the pot and the stove finish cooking the pasta and spinach. After about 5-6 minutes, the pasta should be done and the water should be almost completely absorbed by the pasta. If you find there’s still too much liquid left, you can certainly strain it. But it does not need to be super strained because this broth will help us create the creamy sauce…
  7. Uncover the pot and stir in the cooked mushrooms, the crème fraiche, the shredded cheese blend and the Parmesan. Mix well to combine everything very well. I allow the pasta to stand cover for about 3-4 minutes while I prepare a salad or any other side dish. I find this helps the sauce to get creamy and all the flavors to fully combine.

The result is a creamy rice-like pasta… easy to make and even easier to eat. It is full of flavor because the pasta absorbed the mushroom broth we created.

Hope you are inspired to make this orzotto at home as well…

This post was inspired by products from Sargento Cheese. They did provide me with their cheese for use and review but the recipe, comments and opinions are all my own.

Spinach, Tomato and Cheese Stove Top Macaroni

22 Feb

I prefer stove-top mac and cheese recipes to mac & cheeses you bake in the oven…

Why?? After the pasta is cooked and the cheese sauce is made, why do we need to cook it all over again??? I like a cheesey topping just like the next person, but I also like to have my macaroni with lots of sauce and unfortunately, baking dries much of the sauce out.

So this is a recipe that came about with no recipe in mind at all… My aunt likes when I make pasta in cheese sauces. I was in the supermarket and I started buying ingredients without knowing how I would make them in the end. The result was a great pasta dish that delighted not just the people who ate it with me initially, but my friends on the internet as well. So to all of you who were drooling over the pic on FB, here’s the recipe!!!!

This is a large recipe for me… I rarely ask you to make the whole box of pasta at once. This will feed about 8 people or 4 people with leftovers. You can certainly halve this recipe… I do it aaaaaaalllllllll the time.

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SPINACH, TOMATO AND CHEESE MACARONI

1 box of whole wheat macaroni
½ bag of frozen chopped spinach
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups half and half
4 oz cream cheese
2 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese, grated to garnish

 

  1. In a large pot, much larger than you think you’ll need, bring about a gallon of water to a boil. When the water reaches it’s boiling point, salt the water and add the pasta. Stir a few times so the pasta won’t stick together. Cook the pasta according to pasta directions until al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, we make the sauce… they’ll be done at about the same time.
  3. In a medium sauce pan over medium heat add some olive oil, the onions and garlic. If you have sofrito, you could add a tbs if you want as an added bonus. Sautee them for a few minutes so the onion softens. Avoid the garlic getting burned.
  4. Add the spinach still frozen… the heat from the pan will thaw it. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the sauce pan for a few minutes. This will help the spinach thaw quicker.
  5. When the spinach is thawed and looks more cooked, add the diced tomatoes and cream cheese. Stir well to combine. Afterwards, add the half and half and allow it to softly boil so the sauce will thicken in consistency. Season again lightly with salt and pepper. Stir a few times as the sauce is thickening to avoid any scorching on the bottom of the pan.
  6. When the sauce has gotten a tad thicker, but is still runny, turn off the stove and add the shredded cheese in small batches. Stir consistently and allow the cheese to melt into the sauce.
  7. When the pasta is done, drain it well… but even if a little water is kept it’s no big deal. Return the pasta to the larger pot and add the sauce to it. Stir well to combine. Try to stir carefully to avoid breaking up the pasta…

Serve with grated parmesan on top with your favorite salad ( we had to have avocados in Miami) and baked sweet plantains.

 

Tell me what you think… Are you brave enough to “invent” a pasta dish on the fly like that??? I want to hear from all my friends on FB that were ohhhh-ing and ahhh-ing when they saw the picture initially. Have you made it?? Tell me what you think. Gracias!!!

Broccoli Pesto

28 Jun

So I wanted to see if I could find a way to eat a whole head of broccoli before it turns yellow, like it usually does in my fridge. How can I eat large quantities of broccoli just by myself??? I have seen how Food Network chefs can make a pesto out of anything… pestos are just “pastes”, right? So let’s make it out of broccoli…

This recipe rocks… it is simple and you do not need to pre-cook the broccoli. I do cook a few florets separately to give it a nice touch and for people to see what’s in the dish. But it certainly does not need it. You can do without the extra broccoli pieces, particularly if you’re giving these to proclaimed non-lovers of broccoli.

Go ahead… convert them with this dish. I dare them to say they do not like broccoli!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BROCCOLI PESTO

½ head of broccoli, florets separated
2 oz of cream cheese
¼ cup almonds
½ tbs horseradish
¼ cup of shredded cheese mix
¼ cup pecorino romano cheese
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup heavy cream
About ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
½ bag of whole wheat or brown rice pasta
  1. In a large pot bring water to a boil to cook the pasta. Salt the water liberally and cook pasta according to package instructions, until al dente.
  2. Reserve a few broccoli florets for the final dish.
  3. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor mix together the remainder raw broccoli, the cream cheese, almonds, horseradish, shredded cheeses, pecorino romano, garlic and heavy cream. Pulse a few times to combine. Add a drizzle of olive oil thru the shoot of the food processor until the mixture is creamy and loose.
  4. Take the reserved broccoli florets and add them to a hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. When the pasta is done, drain all water reserving about a cup and return the pasta to the same hot pot where it cooked. Add the creamy broccoli mixture to the pasta… add a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water to loosen the sauce if needed. Add the sautéed/cooked pieces of broccoli to the mix to add flavor and another layer of texture.

Broccoli Lasagna

29 Jul

Broccoli is in season, because it’s on sale in every supermarket I visit… the bunches looked so green and healthy I wanted to do something different with them.

Is lasagna something different Madelyn, really??  Well, it’s different for me because I have never done lasagna with broccoli before, but lasagnas are a big part of my dinner repertoire.  I used some inspiration from the delicious filling I did last year using broccoli and cauliflower.  Broccoli is on sale, Cauliflower not… so we are using broccoli alone on this one.

 

BROCCOLI LASAGNA

9 whole-wheat lasagna sheets
1 whole bunch of broccoli
1 tbs olive oil
¼ cup red onions, chopped finely
2 cups of milk
3 ounces of cream cheese
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 cup Italian Blend shredded cheeses, divided in half
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
A pinch of red pepper flakes
½ cup of petite diced tomatoes
½ tsp Italian Seasonings
A drizzle of olive oil
2 tsps balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

It seems like a lot of ingredients, but let’s break it down so you can see it’s not that complicated…

 

  1. Prepare the broccoli by cutting up the florets into small pieces so they cook faster.  I also use the stems…  just peel the tough exterior and cut the stems very small so they will cook at the same time as the delicate florets.
  2. I use a steamer to boil the water for the pasta and steam the broccoli at the same time.  I set up the steamer with as much water as it can accommodate in the bottom.  I place the steamer on top and steam the broccoli until it is cooked completely and almost mushy.  This will take about 10-12 minutes.
  3. While the broccoli steams, we make the white sauce…  in a medium sized pan over medium heat add a bit of olive oil and the red onion.  Cook a few minutes to remove the raw taste.  Add the milk and the cream cheese and stir every so often to melt the cheese and start to thicken the sauce.  When the cream cheese is incorporated into the milk, add 1/2 cup of the Italian shredded cheeses, the parmesan cheese and remove from heat.  Whisk all together to melt and blend the cheeses and thicken the sauce.  Set aside.
  4. When the broccoli is done, take the steamer off and place the broccoli in a medium sized bowl.  Add the ricotta and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Mash all the ingredients in bowl using a potato masher.  Set aside.
  5. Using the water still boiling from the steamer, add salt and boil the lasagna noodles for about 8-10 minutes.  I leave them slightly underdone so they do not break on me when assembling the lasagna.
  6. While the pasta cooks, season the diced tomatoes with salt, pepper, Italian Seasonings, drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Mix well and set aside.
  7. Now let’s assemble the lasagna…  In a 9” x 13” glass baking dish sprayed with olive oil spray, place some ladles of the white sauce to prevent anything from sticking.  Place 3 lasagna noodles at the bottom.  Add ½ of the broccoli mixture, add ½ of the diced tomatoes, add a few ladles of white sauce, and sprinkle about 1/3 of the shredded cheeses left.  And we start over again, another layer of noodles, the rest of the broccoli mixture, the rest of the tomatoes, more white sauce and shredded cheeses.  Lastly, top with the last layer of noodles, pour enough white sauce to cover the noodles and allow it to seep into the rest of the lasagna.  Finish off with the remaining shredded cheeses you may have left.
  8. Place the glass dish on a baking sheet to prevent any spilling in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes at 350F, until the filling/sauce is bubbling and the top gets golden brown. 
  9. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving. 

Corn and Spinach Lasagna

28 May

This year’s Mother’s Day crept up on me very unexpectedly…   I had been traveling in India for about a month and when I was making myself at home… POOF! Mother’s Day is here!!!!!

For the last few years, I have been making a big part of our family lunch reunions – partly because I am the food blogger extraordinaire, creator of all recipes delicious, but most of all, because I am the one vegetarian with the least responsibility.  My mom is super busy taking care of my grandma and that consumes most of her day.  And if the vegetarians want to make sure they have something to eat besides salad, I need to take charge.  Besides, it’s Mother’s Day, how am I going to make my Mom or Aunt cook???   

I had to deal with what I had in the pantry and freezer – some lasagna noodles, frozen corn, frozen spinach, a few shredded cheeses, milk (thank God for UHT) and spices.  I was drawing a blank because I didn’t want to make just spinach lasagna again…  I had made one recently at Thanksgiving.  And here comes my friend, Giada Di Laurentiis, with a recipe for mini lasagnas made of sweet corn and mascarpone.  I took some inspiration from her recipe, a quick trip to the 24-hour supermarket, combined with my audacity to use up what I had available and make sure I had enough lasagna to feed 10 people, I came up with this recipe.  It looks like it has a lot of ingredients, but it’s actually super easy to make.  Check it out…

 

CORN AND SPINACH LASAGNA

½ package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package of frozen corn, thawed
9 whole-wheat lasagna sheets
A whole recipe of White Sauce (recipe follows)
½ cup heavy cream
3 garlic cloves, chopped
8 ounces cream cheese, divided (we’ll use half for the corn mixture and half for the white sauce)
1 cup of grated pecorino romano cheese, divided (we’ll use part with the corn mixture and the rest for the lasagna assembly)
2 cups of grated Italian blend cheeses, divided (part for the white sauce and part for the lasagna assembly)
The zest and juice of 1 yellow lemon
About 25 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried
¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
A few grinds of freshly cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil spray for the casserole dish
For the White Sauce:
2 cups of milk
2 tbs of sofrito
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
The cheeses mentioned in the list above (the cream cheese and the Italian shredded cheese blend)
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Note:  My apologies if I confused you with the ingredients list above…  I just want to let you know that for making this whole recipe you’ll need a bar of cream cheese, a tub of grated pecorino romano and a 2-cup bag of shredded cheese.  I just didn’t want YOU to do the math of how much ingredients you need in total when I already know it.  It’s easier to give you the whole amount for when you’re making your grocery list, even though you’ll use it in various applications within the same recipe.  Cool??  I hope so…

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the lasagna noodles and cook until tender, stirring occasionally to avoid any sticking, about 8-10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile we make the white sauce…  In a medium saucepan over medium heat add a bit of olive oil and the sofrito.  Cook a few minutes to remove the raw taste.  Add the milk and 4 ounces of cream cheese (half of a cream cheese bar) and stir every so often to melt the cheese and start to thicken the sauce.  When the cream cheese is incorporated into the milk, add about 1 cup of the Italian shredded cheeses, the parmesan cheese and remove from heat.  Whisk all together to melt and blend the cheeses and thicken the sauce.  Set aside.
  4. In a food processor, blend the corn, spinach, cream and garlic. Add the rest of the cream cheese (you should have ½ a bar left), 2/3 cup of the Pecorino Romano cheese, the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add the basil leaves last and pulse until just combined. Set aside.
  5. In a 9” x 13” glass baking dish sprayed with olive oil spray, place some ladles of the white sauce to prevent anything from sticking.  Place 3 lasagna noodles at the bottom.  Add ½ of the corn/spinach mixture, add a few ladles of white sauce to cover it all, sprinkle some of the shredded cheeses and some of the pecorino romano.  And we start over again, another layer of noodles, the rest of the corn/spinach mixture, more sauce, shredded cheeses and pecorino romano.  Lastly, top with the last layer of noodles, pour enough white sauce to cover the noodles and allow it to seep into the rest of the lasagna.  Finish off with the remaining shredded cheeses and pecorino romano you may have left.
  6. Place the glass dish on a baking sheet to prevent any spilling in the oven and bake for about 3o minutes, until the filling/sauce is bubbling and the top gets golden brown.  If the top takes too long to brown, just turn on the broiler for a few minutes to get the desired color on top.
  7. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving.

 

My aunt and uncle were raving all afternoon about this lasagna.  The funny thing is that you might believe the filling is sweet due to the corn, but its savory and delicious… with traces of corn flavor, but the piquancy of the lemon zest and basil.  It’s different and very, very delicious.


Meatless Spinach Lasagna

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