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!

___________________________________________

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.

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate

A few years ago, I felt like every other word being thrown around in food world was “umami“.

From food critics, to journals, burger spots and heck—even soy sauce commercials. And it made me wonder, how the heck did we used to describe foods of similar taste profiles before?

Now, I highly doubt you’ll ever catch me using this phrase to describe foods, mostly because I don’t want to sound like a poser. But that’s not to say, I don’t love ingredients that are supposed to epitomize “umami“…..like mushrooms. Because y’all know, I am a mushroom fanatic.

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate

This little number is ALL about mushrooms and its earthy flavors. I used a mix of criminis, shitakes, oysters, and porcinis and then slowly cooked them down to create a rich ragoût. And holy SHITAKE—-it’s makes this mushroom-lovin’-gal HAPPY!

Ah heck…….it’s freaking deliciously umami!

_________________________________________

Mushroom Ragoût with Fettuccine Rigate
Serves 4

1 Pound Fresh Sliced Mushrooms (crimini, portobello, trumpet, oyster, etc.)
½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Cup Hot Water
½ Cup Red Wine
2 Cups Stock (vegetable, mushroom, beef, chicken, etc.), warmed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Cup Shallots, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 Tablespoon Flour
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, softened
¼ Cup Fresh Basil Leaves, chiffonade
½ Pound Fettucine, cooked according to directions
Kosher salt and Black Pepper

In a bowl, add the dried porcini to the hot water. Allow to reconstitute for at least 20 minutes.

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add garlic and red chili flakes and sauté for an addition 2 minutes. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté until softened—about 10 minutes. Add the porcini mushrooms that were reconstituted in water, saving the liquid. Mix and sauté for an additional minute. Add in red wine and cook until the wine has nearly evaporated.

Pour in the liquid that the porcini was reconstituted in––be careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Cook until the liquid has reduced to half. In a small bowl, mash the butter and flour together with a fork. Add in the butter/flour mixture to the mushrooms, stirring it in well to combine and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the stock and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened to desired consistency. Add in basil and season with salt and pepper.  Remove 1/3 of the mushrooms and toss in the hot fettucine noodles to the pan, tossing it in the ragoût evenly to coat the noodles. Plate the pasta and top with a spoonful of the remaining mushroom ragoût.

Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia

Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia

Okay, I confess. I didn’t really come up with this pasta dish on my own. It’s actually my interpretation of Pasta Pomodoro’s Penne Portobello which I just L-O-V-E.

Italian Sausage, chicken, mushrooms—all in a garlicky cream sauce. How could it not be Delizioso?

Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia

In addition to the criminis, I used porcini mushrooms and its liquor for an extra level of earthiness to the dish.  I also threw in fresh arugula leaves at the very end for a bit of freshness and peppery flavor. And although this is technically a cream sauce, you’d be surprised how light it all was.

Bon appetito!

________________________________________________

Penne di Funghi con Pollo e Salsiccia
Serves 4-5

Ingredients:

¾ Pound Penne Pasta
2 Links Spicy Italian Sausage, casings removed
1 Boneless Chicken Breast, sliced
2 Cups Loosely Packed Arugula
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Cup Hot Water
1 Cup White Wine
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
3 Tablespoons Shallots, chopped finely
3 Whole Garlic Cloves, diced finely
¼ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add salt and cook the penne pasta just shy of al dente.

Place the dried Porcini in a bowl with the hot water. Allow the mushrooms to reconstitute—about 10 minutes. Squeeze out extra liquid from the Porcinis (saving the liquid) and roughly chop them.

Heat olive oil in a very large heavy pan (or pot) over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add Italian sausage to the pot and use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces. Once the sausage is barely pink, add the chicken. Continue cooking until both are done. Use a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate covered with paper towels.

Using the same pan, lower the heat to medium and sauté the shallots until translucent. Add garlic, chili flakes, and both mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Stir in wine and liquid that the porcini was reconstituted in–being careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook the liquids until it is reduced by half. Stir in the cream and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Return the sausage and chicken to the pot and add the cooked penne. Stir until all the penne has been coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from the heat and toss in the arugula leaves. Toss until the leaves are just wilted. Serve and Enjoy!

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

 

In college, one of my dearest friends and I would often meander over to The Cheesecake Factory to grab some food, sip on a few cocktails, and catch up. We would always sit at the bar for our meal because let’s face it, no matter what time of day, the average wait for The Cheesecake Factory can be ridiculous! Why are they always so PACKED?!

But I digress…..

Despite their billion page menu, PB (as she will now be known) and I would always split an order of their Chicken Piccata. It was always tasty, a TON of food (even for two to share), and was well priced. Hey, we were college students on a budget after all :)

 

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta

 

After college when I finally got into my own kitchen, I began making my own version of Chicken Piccata. I love the light, lemony sauce with capers and how it pairs so well with the tender chicken. As an added bonus, you can get away with eating a huge plate of it without feeling too weighed down. Now that’s a Nguyen-Win Situation!

Quick, simple—and delicious.

And yes, PB. A very large plate of this Piccata will be waiting for you with an extra large Gimlet next time you come into town :)

Note: Up for seafood instead? Switch up the chicken for some scallops or a lovely white fish. Follow the same method and it will be just as delish!

_____________________________________________

Chicken Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1/3 Pound Angel Hair Pasta
1 Boneless Chicken Breast
½ Cup All Purpose Flour, plus ½ Tablespoon
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest, freshly grated
6-7 Lemon Slices, very thinly sliced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 Tablespoon Capers, drained
½ Cup Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1 ½ Cups Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Fresh Basil, chiffonade
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

Place ½ cup of flour in a shallow dish. Using a sharp knife, slice chicken breast in half. Place a piece of wax paper on top of each piece of chicken and pound with a kitchen mallet until it is about ½ inch thin. Season the chicken well with salt and pepper.  Take the chicken and roll it into the flour, using your fingers to assist in adhering it to the meat. Carefully shake off excess flour. Repeat with second piece of chicken.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Slide chicken into the skillet and sauté on each side until it becomes golden brown—about 3-4 minutes each side. Once chicken is done, transfer to a clean plate and tent with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Begin boiling the pasta.

Using the same skillet, add remaining olive oil and sauté garlic until it becomes aromatic but not browned. Add chili flakes, capers, lemon juice, lemon slices, zest, and chicken broth. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off the tasty brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Raise the temperature to medium high heat and allow the liquid to reduce by almost half. While the liquid is reducing, use a fork to mash together remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and butter in a small bowl.  Whisk it into the reducing liquid and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes. Be sure to whisk out any lumps of flour. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt/pepper accordingly. Remove from heat.

Drain the cooked pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the starch water. Toss the pasta in the lemon caper sauce, tomatoes, and basil–reserving a few spoonfuls of sauce. Add in a few spoonfuls of pasta water if you want a “looser” pasta consistency (optional). Check for seasonings and adjust with salt/pepper accordingly. Plate pasta and top each with a piece of chicken. Spoon extra lemon caper sauce over the chicken and pasta. Serve immediately.

Linguine alla Carbonara

Linguine alla Carbonara

 

I’d like to think that I was Italian in one of my former lives.

Truly, it would help explain my love and addiction for Italian foods and all pastas.

In fact, most people make sandwiches–or even quick stir frys when they want something fast or need to empty out their fridges. Nope–not me. I make pastas.

 

Linguine alla Carbonara

 

And when something is as quick and yummy as this Linguine alla Carbonara, how can you blame me? Rich, simple, delicious—and there’s BACON!

Oh those Italians. Just Brilliant.

_____________________________________

Linguine alla Carbonara
Serves approximately 2

Ingredients:

1/3 Pound Linguine (or other long pasta)
4 Strips Thick Cut Bacon, diced
3 Tablespoons Shallots, chopped finely
2 Garlic Cloves, diced finely
¼ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
2 Fresh Eggs, room temperature
1/3 Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
Kosher Salt and Pepper
Additional Parsley and Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and parmesan cheese. Once combined, mix in parsley. Set bowl aside.

Add bacon to a large pan and turn burner to medium heat. Slowly sauté the bacon until it becomes crispy and the fat has rendered down—about 10 minutes.  While the bacon is browning, begin boiling the linguine in a large pot of salted water. Once bacon is finished, use a slotted spoon and transfer it to a plate covered with paper towels. Reserve one tablespoon of bacon drippings in the pan and discard the rest. Sauté shallots in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional two minutes. Add chili flakes and cook for an additional minute. Transfer shallots/garlic mixture to a bowl.

Once cooked, drain the hot pasta and quickly toss it in the eggs/cheese mixture until the “sauce” has thickened. Add all but two tablespoons of the crispy bacon and shallots/garlic mixture. Continue to mix until all items have been thoroughly incorporated. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper accordingly. Plate the pasta and sprinkle with extra cheese, parsley, and remaining bacon.  Serve immediately.

Note: It is important to use the freshest eggs possible when making Carbonara. The heat from the hot pasta will warm the eggs but not thoroughly cook it. If you are wary of eggs that are not fully cooked, then Carbonara may not be the dish for you.

Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle

Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle


I love a great Bolognese. There’s something about that rich sauce over thick noodles that is just so darn good. Let’s not forget to mention that you can sneak a fair amount of veggies into the sauce from the “trito”—and we all can use a little more veggies in our tummies.

For this Bolognese, I followed a cooking method laid out by Cook’s Illustrated but took my own spin for the ingredients. And before I get scolded, I will wholeheartedly admit that this Bolognese Ragu is far from traditional. I used ground turkey meat as the base of the sauce and substituted the pancetta for spicy Italian sausage. Why Italian sausage? Well, I needed to some fat in the dish since the turkey was so lean…..and I just love the flavor of a good spicy Italian sausage. I’ve also added several herbs and tomato paste—something you don’t find in most traditional Bolognese recipes.

However, the key to any great Bolognese comes down to a low heat and slow cooking time of the sauce. We’re talking at least 3 hours—so it’s definitely a dish you shouldn’t try and whip together. And it’s because of this slow cooking that makes the sauce utterly rich and meaty.

It’s also important to chop the veggies quite fine so that it can break down into the sauce. But you can just throw them into a food processor if you don’t want to fuss with the chopping. As for me, I’m often too lazy to wash my Cuisinart and I find something oddly therapeutic about chopping veggies and practicing my knife skills. :)

And best yet– Not only is this Bolognese Ragu so heartily yummy, it also freezes really well—–So be sure to make a double batch next time!


Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle

 

————————————————————————–

Turkey Bolognese Ragu with Pappardelle
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Pound Ground Turkey
¼ Pound Spicy Italian Sausage
1 Cup White Onion, finely minced
1 Cup Celery, finely minced
1 Cup Carrots, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely minced
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ Teaspoon Dried Red Chili Flakes (or less depending on your heat preference)
2 Dried Bay Leaves
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
1 Cup Lowfat Milk
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Pound Pappardelle, cooked
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan Cheese

Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Saute until softened but not browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute. Add turkey, Italian sausage, and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Use a wooden spoon to crumble the meat and break into small pieces.  Once the meat is no longer pink, add thyme and bay leaves. Add tomato paste and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the milk and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the milk has evaporated and only clear juices remain—about 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering until all the wine has evaporated—about 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes with its juices and bring to a boil, then place the heat at the lowest setting. Continue on this very low simmer for 2 – 2 ½ hours, stirring every 20 minutes until you get a rich, thick meaty sauce. Check for seasonings and add kosher salt and pepper accordingly.

Toss the cooked pappardelle in Bolognese sauce and serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Garnish with Italian parsley and Enjoy!

Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi

Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi

 

There are days that I will happily labor for hours in the kitchen for a mere component to one dish. And then there are days that I can’t even look at the kitchen, let alone want to cook a meal.

But does that mean I should settle for something mediocre in taste?

HECK NO!

This delicious and full flavored Shrimp Scampi will have you in and out of the kitchen in 15 minutes. True Story.

With its bright citrus notes (from the lemon and parsley) to the succulent-garlicky shrimp, you’ll never need take out again.

ps. And if you’re still feeling a little indulgent from the Holidays….throw in some sweet halved grape tomatoes, use whole wheat pasta and replace the butter with olive oil. :)

—————————————————-

Quick and Easy Shrimp Scampi
Serves 2

Ingredients:

½ Pound Linguine
½ Pound Large Shrimp, cleaned and peeled
2 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, minced finely
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
½ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
¼ Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
*½ Cup White Wine (optional)
Lemon Slices or Parsley Springs for Garnish (optional)

Cook linguine according to the directions on the package, reserving a few tablespoons of the starchy pasta water.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chili flakes and sauté for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and lemon zest. Cook shrimp on both sides until they turn pink—approximately 1-2 minutes on each side. Add lemon juice and parsley. Toss in cooked linguine, adding a tablespoon at a time of the pasta water until you reach desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with additional lemon slices or parsley springs.

**If you would like a more saucy pasta dish, remove shrimp from skillet once they have turned pink. Add in ½ cup white wine and turn the heat to medium-high. Reduce the liquids for 4-5 minutes. Return shrimp to the pan and follow the rest of the recipe.

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle

The kitchen is a perfectly acceptable place for Do-Overs. You know, a chance to go back and remake/retry a dish.

When I first made Bobby Flay’s Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle, I was quite happy with the results. It was hearty and savory–comforting for the chillier months. There were, however, a few things that I wanted to change the next time I made it. And it was because of this that I called a “Do-Over“!

A few things that I did that I truly believe are a MUST include:

  • Constant skimming of the fat and oil
  • Addition of Red Chili Flakes
  • Shredding of the cooked meat to remove extra fat & gristle
  • Substituting Beef Broth for the Port

This recipe is not difficult to make but it does take time—especially with the extra steps I added (and trust me, those added steps were worth it). But once it’s in the oven for those 3+ hours, your house will be filled with such a lovely aroma that it’ll make you forget how much time you spent browning the ribs and chopping all of the mirepoix. :)

And on a random note, does any one else experience challenges when trying to snap photos in poor lighting, when you don’t want to use a flash, and when you need to do it quickly so that the food doesn’t become stone cold? My last few photos have suffered such issues and I debated on even posting the photos. But alas, photos are a better illustration than my words alone so they were included–overly yellow/orange cast and all.  Oh the trials of being a novice photographer…. :)

______________________________________________

Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle
Adapted from Bobby Flay


2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
4 Pounds Short Ribs, each about 2-inches long, cut flanken style, across the ribs
Salt and freshly Ground Pepper
2 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
2 Sprigs Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
4 Small Carrots, diced
2 Stalks Celery, diced
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Medium Shallots, diced
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
2 Cups Red Wine
½ Head Garlic, cloves separated and peeled
4 Cups Homemade Beef Stock
1 Pound Pappardelle
Chopped Parsley
Grated Pecorino Romano, for garnish

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place a 5-quart casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, and heat until it is almost smoking. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches if necessary, add short ribs to the hot oil. Cook ribs until browned on both sides. Remove ribs from casserole, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare bouquet garni: Place bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in the center of a square of cheesecloth. Bring edges together, and tie with kitchen string. Set bouquet garni aside.

Add carrots, celery, onion, and shallots to oil in the casserole, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add chili flakes and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste to the casserole, and stir to combine. Add ½ cup beef broth; stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan and the bottom of the casserole is clean. Add red wine, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Skim off any grease and discard. Add garlic, remaining beef stock, and the reserved bouquet garni.

Return browned ribs to the casserole. Bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Skim off any grease and discard. Cover the casserole, and place it in the oven. Cook until ribs are very tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the cooked ribs from the casserole. Set the casserole on the stove top over medium heat, and simmer to thicken sauce just slightly. As soon as the short ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, and shred into small pieces. Degrease the sauce and discard the bouquet garni. Return shredded meat to casserole, and simmer to reduce sauce by about half. Check seasonings and add salt/pepper if necessary.

Fill a large pot with water and add a few tablespoons of salt. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Salt well, and stir in pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta, and serve with short-rib ragu, sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with freshly grated Percorino Romano .

Fresh Gnocchi with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Fresh Gnocchi with Mushroom Cream Sauce

 

A few years ago, my office did a staff teambuilding retreat at Emile’s Restaurant in downtown San Jose. The Chef guided us through the process of creating a three-course meal from start to finish. It was quite fun to work in a professional kitchen that had all the bells and whistles but what I remembered the most was the Gnocchi. Soft, pillows of potato dumplings…..who knew it was so easy?

Yet here I am, years later, and I have still yet to create Gnocchi at home. I blame it on two things really—Laziness and Trader Joe’s. Why make it at home when their frozen Gnocchi Al Gorgonzola is so yummy and quick?

As luck would have it, I have had some time on my hands and thought this would be a great opportunity to give them a try. Many recipes for Gnocchi have you boil the potatoes but the Chef insisted that baking them yielded better results—less liquid and fluffier product. He also suggested breaking down the potatoes while they were still hot—though that is a tad easier said than done.

Speaking of breaking down the potatoes, it’s best to peel them after they’re baked and run them through a potato ricer. If you don’t have a ricer, you can also use a potato masher —being thorough to remove all the lumps. However, I found that cutting the potatoes in half (skin on) and using a fork to scrape the meat out works quite well, too.

And although the recipe I list below isn’t what we used years ago, it’s still just as easy and delicious. The quick mushroom sauce was a great earthy pairing for the gnocchi—simple and to the point. Since I didn’t have a gnocchi paddle (and wasn’t too successful using the tines of a fork), I went “rustic” and made straight cuts.

 

Fresh Gnocchi

 

YUM. Potato Pillows….seriously.

I guess I’ll be taking a break from T.J.’s Gnocchi. :)

 

Fresh Gnocchi with Mushroom Cream Sauce

_________________________________________________

Fresh Gnocchi with Mushroom Cream Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:
1 Pound Russet Potatoes
1 Egg, beaten lightly
½ – ¾ Cup All Purpose Flour (plus more for dusting)
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

Mushroom Cream Sauce:
2½ Cups Sliced Mushrooms (I used Brown & White Mushrooms)
1 Cup Vegetable Stock (I used Mushroom Stock)
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, diced
½ Teaspoon Dried Thyme
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1 Teaspoon Garlic, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Bake potatoes at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until tender when pierced with a knife. Remove from oven and cool just enough to handle but the potatoes should still be warm.

Peel potatoes and put them through a potato ricer.  Sprinkle in half of the flour and make a well in the center of the bowl. Add egg and salt. Fold mixture, adding more flour if needed. Texture should be like Play-Doh. Gently knead the mixture by hand a few times and form into a ball. On a floured surface, roll dough into long logs about ½ – ¾ inch in diameter. Cut the logs into 1 inch pieces. *I found it easier to cut the gnocchi using a pastry scraper versus a regular knife.

Cook the gnocchi in a large pot of salted, boiling water. This may need to be done in batches to not crowd the pot. The gnocchi will float to the top when they are cooked–approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place them into an ice bath. Continue until all gnocchi have been cooked. Drain the gnocchi from the water and lightly toss in oil. Set aside until sauce is ready.

Melt butter in a large saucepan with olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, chives, thyme and mushrooms and cook until tender. Add stock and heat on medium-high. Once the stock comes to a slow boil reduce heat and add cream. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Add gnocchi and heat until warmed through. Toss in cheese, ensuring the gnocchi is well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional chives and enjoy!

 

Gnocchi IngredientsHave these simple four ingredients on hand? Make some gnocchi! :)

Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Italian Sausage

Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Italian Sausage

 

 

I love making pastas—the possibilities are endless!

This little number combines a freshly made almond pesto (because I LOVE almonds in pesto) with Italian Sausage, Chicken Breast, and whole-wheat rotelle pasta. But SSSHHH! Don’t tell my brother-in-law I snuck in whole-wheat pasta into his dinner :)

The proteins I chose could be swapped out for anything you may have on hand including prawns or even grilled vegetables. Pastas, this one included, are a great way to clean out your refrigerator and pantry.

The end results are a savory and bright dish that is easy to make and even easier to gobble up. YUM!

Quick tips: Boil the pasta when you are browning the chicken and sausage. The heat from the freshly cooked pasta will help the pesto coat evenly. You can also add a few tablespoons of the pasta water as needed to “loosen” the sauce.

___________________________________________________

Almond Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Italian Sausage
Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients:

1 Chicken Breast, sliced and seasoned with salt and pepper
½ Pound Italian Sausage
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
1/3 Cup Chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes (preserved in olive oil)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Garlic, finely diced
¼ Cup Shallots, sliced
½ Teaspoon Dried Chili Flakes
1½ Cups Almond Pesto*
1 Pound Pasta, cooked al dente
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

*Almond Pesto
1½-2 Packed Cups, Sweet Basil (approximately 1 bunch)
½ Cup Unsalted, Roasted Almonds
2-3 Garlic Cloves, finely diced
½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
Approximately ½ – ¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare Pesto. In a food processor, pulse garlic and almonds. 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.

In a large and heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil from the sundried tomatoes. Add the sausage and sauté, crumbling, until golden but not cooked—about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove from pan. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until almost done. Using a slotted spoon, remove from pan. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and shallots to the skillet and sauté until tender. Return the sausage and chicken to the pan and add chili flakes. Continue cooking until all the protein is done.

Add the freshly boiled pasta to the pan and toss. Add pesto and toss to coat all items thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Optional: Serve with additional Parmesan Cheese and Chili Flakes

Enjoy!