Ultimate Stuffed Shells to Ring in the Holidays

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

Here we go….let the Holiday celebrations begin!

Thanksgiving….Friendsgiving….Hannukah….Christmas…Kwanzaa…Winter Solstice…Festivus!

Don’t get me wrong, I adore them all. I’m a holiday-lovin’ gal. Heck, I’ve had my Christmas tree up for over two weeks now but with all of these festivities, there’s a lot of cooking that’s required.

And as much as I’m down for long hours of cooking and baking, I also strongly believe in dishes that I can make ahead that can still carry the spirit and yumminess (is that a word?) of the special occasion.

Ultimate Stuffed Shells

These Ultimate Stuffed Shells really fit that bill. Not only are they bright and colorful but they are just down right comfort food—something like grandma would make. Well, not my grandmas…they were old school Vietnamese and would have stuffed tofu than pasta. But someone’s grandma would have made them and it’s like getting a big ol’ hug when you take a bite.

Why do I call these “ultimate” stuffed shells? Because they’ve got all of my favs in them–spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, spinach, and tons of different cheeses. They’re pretty easy to make and are always a fan favorite when they show up on a spread.

And with that….Bring on the stretchy pants–I’m ready for some Holiday Eats!

ps. And since this is the time for giving, check out these adorable personalized cutting boards from our friends at Red Envelope. Perfect for any loved ones who enjoy a delicious Foodventure.

Cutting Board

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Ultimate Stuffed Shells
Serves approximately 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound hot Italian sausage, casings removed
½ cup diced shallots
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup minced baby portabello mushrooms
8 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese + 2 tablespoons, divided
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
½ cup fresh basil chiffonade (more for garnish)
kosher salt
black pepper
20 ounces marina sauce
20-24 jumbo pasta shells, boiled to just shy of al dente
4 ounces shredded mozzarella

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat while it’s browning. Once browned, remove the sausage to a plate that has been lined with paper towels to drain.

In the same skillet, cook the shallots over medium heat for 1-2 minutes until tender but not browned. Add in the garlic, pepper flakes, thyme, oregano and mushrooms. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the mushrooms become tender. Add the spinach, parsley, nutmeg and continue to cook for an additional minute until combined. Transfer to a large bowl and cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Once the mixture has cooled, fold in the ¼ parmesan cheese, ricotta, beaten egg and basil until just combined. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Pour approximately 2/3 of the marina sauce into a baking dish. Spread the sauce evenly to coat the bottom. Fill each of the shells with heaping spoonfuls of the cooled mixture and place them in the dish on top of the layer of marina. Continue until all of the shells have been filled and are placed snugly amongst each other in the baking dish.

Spoon the remaining marina sauce over the shells and then the remaining parmesan and mozzarella cheese.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet (in case anything bubbles over during baking time). Bake the shells for 25 minutes and then remove the foil and continue baking for 10 minutes until the cheese bubbles and slightly browns.

Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Prior to serving, garnish with additional basil chiffonade and enjoy!

Crispy Roasted Porchetta for Sunday Family Dinner

Porchetta

I was first introduced to Porchetta by the beloved San Francisco truck, Roli Roti. A regular at the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market, Roli Roti draws throngs of followers by the delicious scents of their slow cooked, free range rotisserie chickens. As the chickens spin on the rotisseries, the juices drip down on trays of roasted potatoes. Drools….

Bruschetta

And of course, they have the most mouthwatering Porchetta – an Italian pork roast scented with herbs and enveloped in crispy, crackling skin. They serve their Porchetta on rolls piled high with arugula leaves and needless to say, it’s heavenly.

Porchetta

We were feeling quite ambitious for last month’s Sunday Family Dinner and attempted our own version of Porchetta. We did have a little challenge deciding on which cut of pork to use as some recipes call for whole pork belly with the skin on and other recipes list boneless pork shoulders.

We ended up using both pork belly and pork shoulder rubbed with a TON of herbs and garlic. To cook the Porchetta we enlisted my sister’s rotisserie oven but were not able to fit all the pork in at once. As such, we cooked a portion of it in the oven. As I would imagine that most folks do not own a rotisserie, the recipe below lays out a traditional oven cooking method. The oven Porchetta really is delicious but if you can get your hands on a rotisserie, I would highly recommend it.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

The pork was extremely tender and the crackling—OH THE CRACKLING! Deliciously crispy and juicy! Just forget about your cholesterol for the day because it’s so worth it! We served ours on ciabatta slices with a ton of arugula and Italian pickled veggies. The peppery, slight bitterness of the greens with the tang of the veggies helped balance out the richness of the Porchetta. To accompany our Porchetta sammies we served a fennel salad with citrus and roasted potatoes.

For appetizers, my sis T whipped up some Bruschetta and my niece made her infamous Raspberry Chocolate Cake.

Sunday Family Dinner

We were definitely pleased with how everything turned out and Dad even gave his stamp of approval. And although I’m a little hesitant to admit it, we even had a bit of excitement with a small little fire that occurred in the rotisserie oven. But don’t worry, it was quickly contained.

After all, it’s not a Sunday Family Dinner without a little adventure. :)

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Crispy Roasted Porchetta

Ingredients:

1 cup fresh rosemary
10 sprigs oregano
10 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup Italian parsley
20 large garlic cloves
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
zest of 2 lemons
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil
5 pounds boneless pork shoulder (skin on) or pork belly with rib meat still attached (skin on)
2 pounds new potatoes, quartered
2 cups white wine or chicken stock

In a food processor, pulse together the rosemary, oregano, thyme, parsley and garlic. Add in red pepper flakes, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1/2 tablespoon black pepper and 1/2 cup olive oil. Pulse until a loose paste is formed.

If using pork shoulder, take a sharp knife and slice the pork open so that it lays flat. For both cuts of meat, score the skin of the pork. Heavily season the pork with salt and pepper. Rub the herb paste all over the inside of the pork, ensuring that you are able to get inside all the parts. Tightly roll up the pork and use kitchen twine to hold the roll together. Let the pork marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. In a large roasting pan, add the potatoes and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and then pour the white wine over them. Place a roasting rack on top of the potatoes. Rub the exterior skin of the porchetta with oil and season with additional kosher salt. Place the porchetta on the rack and roast for about 30 minutes until the skin becomes crispy and brown. Lower the heat to 375 degrees F, tent the the porchetta with aluminum foil and continue to roast for approximately 2 1/2 hours. Remove the foil, raise the temperature back to 425 degrees F and continue roasting the porchetta until internal temperature of the pork reaches 155-160 degrees.

Remove the porchetta to a cutting board and tent for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, turn on the broiler and roast the tops of the potatoes until they are crispy. Thinly slice the porchetta and serve warm with your choice of accoutrements.

Mushroom Calzones–Portable Goodness.

Mushroom Calzone

Know what one of the perks of having extra pizza dough in your freezer is?

Calzones.

Also known as “homemade hot pockets” in my book…..not just delicious but portable, too!

Just like pizza toppings, anything goes when it comes to filling calzones. Veggies, meat, cheeses—they can even be made into desserts. This time I opted for a mushroom medley which was perfect when dunked into marinara sauce.

Enjoy!

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Mushroom Calzone
Serves 2

Ingredients:

8 ounces Pizza Dough
1½ cups sliced assorted mushrooms
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 pinches red chili flakes
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
cornmeal, optional
1 cup marinara sauce
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil with the butter. Add in garlic and sauté for one minute. Toss in mushrooms, chili flakes and thyme leaves and sauté until the mushrooms are tender. Remove from heat and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Allow the mixture to cool.

On a floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to a circular shape and until it reaches ½ inch thickness. Fill one-half side of the dough with the mushrooms mixture and cheeses, leaving an inch or so border around the edge. Carefully fold the dough over itself. Roll the edges up and press to seal. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and slide the calzone on top. Brush the calzone with olive oil and lightly sprinkle kosher salt on top. Bake the calzone for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm with marinara sauce to dip.

Pasta e Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli

I’m kind of in love.

With this soup, that is.

It’s warming and fulfilling with tons of veggies, beans, sausage, and pasta. I also threw in some beautiful Swiss Chard at the end for some added texture and flavor— but any type of dark, leafy green could do the trick. Extra veggies never hurt a gal, right?

Depending on how you like the consistency of your soup, you can either add or limit the amount of chicken broth. I personally like mine on the soupier side so I can dunk some crusty bread in.

But one thing is for certain. No matter how you prefer it, this Pasta e Fagioli is the ultimate comfort food.

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Pasta e Fagioli
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Pound Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Cup White Onion, diced
1 Cup Celery, diced
1 Cup Carrots, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
1 28-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
1 15-Ounce Can Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth, or more depending on desired consistency
3-4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Dried Bay Leaves
¾- 1 Cup Macaroni Noodles, or other short pasta
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
3 Cups Swiss Chard, cleaned and roughly chopped
Kosher Salt and Pepper

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat olive oil over medium. Add sausage and use a wooden spoon to crumble up the meat. Continue browning until the sausage is barely pink. Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pot and sauté until the vegetables have softened. Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Pour in the tomatoes with its juices and Cannellini beans. Add chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves. Partially cover and bring the pot to a boil. Remove the lid and stir in the pasta. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until pasta is al dente—about 10-12 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme stems. Stir in the cheese and Swiss Chard. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

“I love Pasta…… I love Pasta…..I love Pasta…….Yea, yea, yea, yea!”

In case you didn’t get that….that was my “pasta song”.  I’m a horrible singer and I really don’t like karaoke.  But I just adore pastas so much that I just have to sing it out sometimes.

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

One day I came home from work to find a box sitting at my front door. And in that box, there were PASTAS!!!!!!!

Oh yes—it was a red letter day. :)

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

Thanks to , I had lasagna sheets and penne rigate at my disposal! They feature pastas that are lower in carbohydrates, high in fiber—and most importantly, delish!

Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls

I took this opportunity to make lasagna rolls filled with spinach and sausage. Rolls are a fun way to change up traditional lasagnas and since the edges are usually my favorite part (due to the extra crispiness) rolls are the perfect way to go.

And on that note…..

“I love Pasta…… I love Pasta…..I love Pasta…….Yea, yea, yea, yea!”

Yeah….I should just stick to cooking.

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Spinach and Sausage Lasagna Rolls
Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 lasagna sheets
¼ cup shallots, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ pound Italian sausage
1 (10-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes
¼ cup goat cheese
¼ cup cream cheese
3 cups marinara sauce
1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
kosher salt
olive oil

Soak the lasagna sheets in hot tap water for 8-10 minutes or boil the pasta sheets for 1/2 the time listed on the box.

In a skillet, heat olive oil and sauté shallots until they are translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add the sausage to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces.  Once the meat is no longer pink, add the spinach, thyme and chili flakes. Season with kosher salt. Remove pan from the heat and add goat cheese and cream cheese. Stir to combine.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and drain the lasagna sheets. Spread about one cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Set aside.

Spoon/spread about 3-4 tablespoons of the spinach-sausage mixture across each lasagna sheet. Carefully roll up each sheet and place the rolls, seam side down inside the baking dish. Cover the tops of each roll with a few spoonfuls of marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese.  Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

To serve, warm up the remainder of the marinara sauce. Add a few spoonfuls to the bottom of the plate and place rolls on top.

*** I received to sample, however, all views and opinions expressed are my own.***

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

I could eat pizza all of the time.

Which, lucky for me, is brilliant since I’ve worked for universities for the past 10+ years. And if you didn’t know it before, the most popular equation on college campuses is Pizza = College Students.

True story.

Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

In an effort to further explore the versatility of pesto, I turned to slathering pizza with this herbaceous mixture. And not just any pesto—-but Macadamia Nut Pesto! Thanks to an excess of macadamia nuts I had in my pantry (I was on a mac nut baking binge) I was able to create another version of pesto by substituting pine nuts with them.

The natural creamy rich taste of macadamia nuts was a perfect marriage to pesto and offers some solid health benefits, too.

I made my Macadamia Nut Pesto a tad on the thicker side since I knew I wanted to use it as a “sauce” for my pizza. But if you prefer a looser consistency, just stream in a tad more olive oil when processing it. I also was pretty heavy handed with the amount used for the pizza so adjust according to your preference.

And with college football gearing up this weekend, this unique spin on a pizza pie will be a sure fire win for any game day celebration!

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Macadamia Nut Pesto Pizza

Ingredients:

16 Ounces Fresh Pizza Dough
8 Ounces Grilled Chicken Breast, sliced
1 Cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1½ Cups Macadamia Nut Pesto*
8 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
¼ Cup Yellow Cornmeal
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Macadamia Nut Pesto:
2½ Packed Cups Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Macadamia Nuts, unsalted
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and nuts. Add basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

Place pizza stone or large baking sheet in the middle rack and preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly dust your surface area with flour. Take dough and stretch into your desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and brush with olive oil over top. Spread an even layer of pesto over the crust. Top with the chicken, mushrooms, and cheese. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Serve with additional parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.


Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

Pesto is one of those things that is so versatile and can be made a gazillion different ways.

By switching up the types of nuts used or greens/herbs, you can alter the flavor of the pesto—giving your old favorites a new makeover.

Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken

I happened to be strolling through my local farmers market the other week when one of the produce stands was getting ready to close up shop for the night. The vendor was selling the remainder of his produce for a ridiculously cheap price and I somehow managed to walk away with two HUGE bags of fresh arugula for only a dollar. A DOLLAR!!!!!

The arugula was so fresh and delicious but I couldn’t finish it all. Not wanting my arugula to go bad before I could use it up, I decided to throw some of it in to make a version of pesto for some pasta. DEE-LISH.

The arugula offered an additional peppery flavor to the dish— not to mention the extra Vitamin C and potassium I was getting by enjoying the dark leafy green.

In addition to using it in pastas, this pesto would be wonderful over grilled proteins, mixed in with hummus, or even over pizza.

Speaking of pizza and pesto— Watch out for my next post where I share another variation of pesto to make a delicious pizza!

Have a great week, Friends!

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Arugula Pesto Farfalle with Grilled Chicken
Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 Grilled Chicken Breast
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
¼ Cup Shallots, sliced
½ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
1 Cup Arugula Pesto
1 Pound Farfalle Pasta, cooked al dente, reserving a few tablespoons of the pasta water
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Arugula Pesto:
2 Packed Cups Fresh Arugula Leaves
1/2 Cup Sweet Basil
½ Cup Roasted Pine Nuts
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and pine nuts. Add arugula, basil, cheese, lemon juice, and salt/pepper. With the food processor on, stream in olive oil and blend until the pesto is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down sides in between steps. More olive oil can be added if a smoother, loose texture is desired. Refrigerate until ready to be used.

In a large and heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Saute mushrooms, garlic, and shallots until tender. Add chili flakes. Add the freshly boiled pasta to the pan and toss. Add pesto and toss to coat all items thoroughly. Add in a few spoonfuls of pasta water if you want a “looser” sauce consistency (optional). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Plate pasta and top with sliced chicken breast. Optional: Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese and Chili Flakes.

Whole Wheat Pizza with White Garlic Sauce

Whole Wheat Pizza with White Garlic Sauce

You’ll never hear me saying that I’m a “healthy eater“.

But I do like to believe that I’m a “balanced eater“.

Need some clarification?

Well, let’s say I stop by Fatburger for lunch (which, incidentally, is one of my FAVES!) and inhale a Baby Fat Burger with Bacon and an Egg. I’ll enjoy every bite and morsel without guilt because I know that night, I’ll fix up some type of grilled fish and veggies for dinner.

Balanced Eating.

Well, in my book at least.

And that’s how I see this pizza. I made a rich, creamy white sauce packed with roasted garlic and smothered it on top of a whole wheat pizza dough.

Balanced.

Or Delusional. Same difference, really. :)

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Whole Wheat Pizza with White Garlic Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Dough (From Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen):
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 packages dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 lukewarm water from the tap
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Flour for the work surface
Sprinkling of  cornmeal

White Garlic Sauce:
1/2 cup roasted garlic
3/4 cup milk, warmed
1 1/2 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 pinches dried oregano
2-3 pinches cayenne pepper, to preference
kosher salt

Toppings:
1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup caramelized onions
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonade
whole basil leaves
parmesan cheese
red Chili Flakes

Prepare pizza dough. Place flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixer fitted with a dough hook. While mixer is running, gradually add water and knead on low speed until dough is firm and smooth, about ten minutes. Turn machine off. Pour oil down inside of bowl. Turn on low once more for 15 seconds to coat inside of bowl and all surfaces of dough with the oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm spot until doubled in bulk, about two hours.

Preheat your oven to highest setting, 500° or 550°F. If using a pizza stone, place stone in oven on bottom rack, preheat oven one hour ahead.

When dough is nearly risen, begin making the sauce. In a pan, melt the butter into the olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour—combine and cook for a 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the heated milk, careful to not let any lumps form. Continue cooking and whisking for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened to desire consistency. Remove from heat and stir in oregano, cayenne, parmesan cheese, and roasted garlic. Taste and add salt as needed. Set sauce aside.

Punch pizza dough down, cut in half. On generously floured work surface, place one half of dough. By hand, form dough loosely into a ball, stretch into a circle or desired shape. Once the oven reaches its temperature, pull the baking stone/baking sheet out of the oven, and sprinkle cornmeal on the surface. Carefully slide the formed dough on top and bake for 5 to 10 minutes until the dough is lightly golden. Remove the crust from the oven and spread the sauce evenly over the dough, leaving a ½ -inch border around the perimeter. Top with the caramelized onions, sliced mozzarella and the chiffonade of basil. Return the pizza back to the oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until all the cheese has melted and pizza is golden brown. Serve the pizza with additional fresh basil leaves, parmesan cheese and red chili flakes.

Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

For a good chunk of my life, I didn’t like tomatoes.

I thought they were mealy and rather “bleh” in flavor. I’d pick them out of salads, burgers, well….pretty much out of everything.

And you know what the problem was? For the first 20+ years of my life, I was eating BAD tomatoes!

Because when you take a bite out of a gorgeous tomato at its peak in the season, it’s absolutely delicious! They’re sweet and juicy with the right balance of acidity. And last summer, I even found myself growing the most beautiful Early Girl Tomatoes via our Topsy Turvy. (For the record, the Topsy Turvy is awesome!)

Needless to say, I was missing out for so many years!

 

 

Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes are in Bruschetta. The simplicity of ingredients paired with the herbaceous basil  really highlights the true flavor of the tomato. On its own, it’s quite fabulous but I decided to add a spin by throwing in some smoked mozzarella cheese I stumbled on at my local specialty market. It was perfect!

And on warm summer nights like we’ve been having, I could eat Bruschetta every day! Mom would be proud that I’m eating my veggies :)

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Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
Serves 4 as an Appetizer or 2 for a Light Meal

Ingredients:

1½ Cups Tomatoes, diced
½ Cup Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, cubed
¼ Cup Fresh Basil, leaves torn
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced or grated
1 Tablespoon Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, cheese, basil, garlic, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Serve with your choice of flat bread or toasted baguettes.

Grilled Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto

 

Summers in San Diego are pretty awesome.

They’re filled with gorgeous sunshine, lazy days lounging at the beach, deliciously fresh produce, and warm afternoons sipping on chilled white wine. Perfection.

To pair with a lovely Chenin Blanc I had chilling in the fridge, I decided to make a tummy satisfying Grilled Shrimp Risotto. The wonderful light “crunch” texture from the shrimp balances so well with the creamy risotto. And although you may think otherwise, it’s surprisingly light making it a perfect summer time dish.

Leave it to me to decide on what dish to make based upon what adult beverage I’m drinking. :)

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Grilled Shrimp Risotto
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 Pound Large Shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
4 Cups Shrimp Stock*
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
½ Cup White Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Garlic, finely minced, divided
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
1 Cup Arborio Rice
½ Cup White Wine
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil, chili flakes, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon garlic, thyme and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Heat a grill pan to medium high and cover lightly with cooking spray. Grill shrimp until they turn pick about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and tent with a piece of foil.

Meanwhile, heat the shrimp stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and remaining garlic to the skillet. Cook until items are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque.  Stir in wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 20 minutes in total.

Gently fold the grilled shrimp into the risotto. Stir in Parmesan cheese and cook briefly until the cheese has melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon risotto into dishes and top with chopped parsley before serving.

*The Shrimp Stock is a key component in layering the shrimp flavor throughout the entire dish. It can be made by simmering 2½ quarts of water with shrimp shells, 1 onion roughly chopped, 2 carrots roughly chopped, 2 cups celery roughly chopped, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and a generous amount of sea salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain and use accordingly.