Tacos can be made much more interesting if you play around with the fillings and cheese… and making the tortillas golden brown and crispy. I have never been a fan of the hard pre-made taco tortilla shells, but I do enjoy crunchy things. So using the magic of olive oil and a skillet, tacos can become a much more interesting dish.
I used mozzarella and parmesan cheese here… but you can certainly use your favorite cheese combination. I have also used goat cheese, manchego cheese and even the trusty cream cheese.
This is another recipe available in Spanish on the Qué Rica Vida website… If you’re interested, you can read the recipe in Spanish here.
FRIED MUSHROOM TACOS
3 organic sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup white button mushrooms, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
Freshly grated Black Pepper
You’ll be able to make 2 tacos at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps. I consider 3 tacos is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients. This is more a method than a recipe…
- First we cook the mushrooms in advance – in a large non-stick skillet over medium-hi heat add a drizzle of olive oil and place the chopped mushrooms Toss them well so they coat themselves with the olive oil. Organize them in a single layer so they all have the chance to caramelize well. Grate the 2 cloves of garlic on top of the mushrooms. Strip the leaves of the thyme sprigs and add them to the skillet too.
- After they’ve browned well on one side, toss and move them around so they get a chance to brown on a different side. After they’re browned and have shrunk considerably in size, add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel to get rid of small pieces of mushrooms.
- Return the pan to the burner, add another drizzle of olive oil and place one tortilla… flip it over on both sides so there’s some of the olive oil on both sides.
- Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Now place about 1 tablespoon of cooked mushrooms over the cheese. Place little bit of Parmesan cheese over mushrooms.
- Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with mushrooms and cheese. Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.
While one taco is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2 and #3 and so forth.
This is my attempt to update one of my classic go-to recipes, Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes.
Lately I’ve been splurging on all the different varieties of tomatoes available in the market so I mix the best, most colorful tomatoes I can find and marinate them with arugula and even sometimes baby fresh spinach to make for a great un cooked, wilted salad pasta that’s a whole meal in one bowl.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do…
PASTA WITH MARINATED TOMATO ARUGULA SALAD
2-3 cups of tomatoes – cherry, grape, zebra, any kind of tomato you prefer…
3 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
6-8 fresh basil leaves or 1 tbs freeze-fried basil leaves
3-4 handfuls of baby arugula or baby spinach – or a combination of the two – somewhat chopped
2 ounces of goat cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
3 cups of dried pasta – I use quinoa penne pasta, and the amount should be enough for 4 people
- In a large bowl, add the tomatoes either halved or quartered, depending on their original size. I halve the small ones and quarter the larger ones. Add the smashed garlic cloves, drizzle olive oil and season with salt, pepper and basil leaves. Mix well to combine. Add the arugula leaves and toss again. The olive oil and juices of tomatoes will wilt the arugula a bit… that’s our goal.
2. While the tomatoes and arugula marinate and wilt, cook the pasta according to the packages direction. Remember to salt the water well before adding the pasta to the water.
3. Toss the tomatoes and arugula once in while the pasta cooks… it should take about 10-12 minutes. I usually turn the stove off after 12 minutes, cover the pot and leave it covered for about 5 minutes more. The pasta will turn out perfect every time and you save 5 minutes of electricity each time you make pasta…
4. When pasta is done to your liking, drain the water saving a bit of pasta water. I usually just don’t drain it completely… and leave some water in the bottom of the pot. Return the pasta to the pot you cooked it in.
5. Remove the garlic cloves from the marinated tomatoes/arugula mixture and add it to the pasta. Toss well to combine. Add the goat cheese in small pieces to help it melt with the heat of the pasta and pot. Season with grated parmesan cheese and a small drizzle of olive oil, if you prefer…
To me this is one of the most satisfying lunches… and it’s great to eat on the days when I train. It has complex carbs and delicious veggies with some protein from the quinoa pasta and cheeses. Mmmmmmm… I might make myself this today again.
I will be honest… I learned this recipe from somewhere on the Internet. The thing is… I can’t remember where or who to give the credit to.
I made this recipe for the first time about 3 years ago when I was staying with my sister for the birth of my nephew, who turned 3 recently. I was craving eggplant… and I wanted an easy way to make it without frying it, which you all know is my favorite eggplant preparation. I did it at home in Puerto Rico and also at my sister’s after scoring a huge bag of eggplants at The Boys Farmer’s Market.
I vaguely remembered what I did the initial time I made it. So who knows, maybe I did came up with THIS version after all.
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake
1 medium eggplant, find one as light as possible, peeled and diced
1 pint of grape tomatoes, divided, all cut in half
1 tbs of dried basil, I use freeze dried
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 ounces of goat cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, optional
Brown Rice Fettuccini, I use Tinkyada brand
- In an oven-proof dish place all the diced eggplant pieces. Drizzle with olive oil, minced garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss all to combine well.
- Add over the eggplant half of the grape tomatoes that you’ve cut in half already. Leave aside the rest of the tomatoes.
- Sprinkle the dried basil over the tomatoes. Add the goat cheese inc crumbles over the tomatoes. Drizzle a final stream of olive oil over everything and a last sprinkle of salt and pepper to make sure everything is well seasoned.
4. Place in a 375F oven for about 40 minutes. Turn off the oven.
5. Boil water to make the pasta according to the package directions. I use Brown Rice pasta, but you can use your favorite brand/kind
6. Drain the pasta, return to the pot and add the eggplant bake. Mix well to combine. Add Parmesan cheese, if using. Add the fresh tomatoes you set aside earlier. This adds an element of freshness that contrasts really nice with the creaminess of the baked eggplant.
Serve with your favorite salad and baked plantains on the side… This is so easy to make ahead and just re-heat when you’re boiling the pasta. Easy dinner without a lot of tending to it.
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.
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 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
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.
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
- 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.
- While the pasta cooks, we make the sauce… they’ll be done at about the same time.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!!!