Tag Archives: Peas

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad

Post # 200.

Amazing–it feels like just yesterday that I decided to make an apple pie (well, two–I’ve never been the type to do things by halves) and then blog it!  But, 200 posts later, I’m still loving the blogging world!

I also added a new page to the blog today–called “Top 100”.  It’s a list from the New York Times naming the top 100 novels from 1923–present.  I’ve started using it as an inspiration when I want to combine what I’m reading by chance (read: books I choose based on their titles and covers alone) with something that will definitely enrich my selection and hopefully make me a little smarter, too.  And nerdier?  Definitely.  So check it out and let me know if you’ve read any of them, and which ones you think I should tackle next.

In last week’s CSA box we received a head of radicchio, which I had never tried before.  When I googled it and discovered that is it very bitter, I got a little nervous.  I am frankly just not a fan of bitter greens, so I knew I’d have to cook this to make it palatable.

And of course I was also hoping to somehow make it beyond palatable into something more delicious.  I adapted this pasta salad recipe from Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes, from Laura Pensiero’s Hudson Valley Mediterranean.  Her mantra is:

Eat healthy, enjoy food, live well, and never sacrifice flavor.

Now that is a mantra I can get behind.

Chicken & Radicchio Pasta Salad Printable Recipe Card

  • 8 oz dry whole-wheat pasta (I used macaroni)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 small head radicchio, shredded (for a shredding tutorial, go here)
  • 12 oz chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 C frozen peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1/2 t dried garlic)
  • 1 1/2 t mustard (I used Trader Joe’s Hot and Sweet Mustard–mmm)
  • 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain and place in a large bowl–this is where the entire salad is going to end up, so make sure there’s enough room.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and saute the onion until translucent and beginning to brown.  Add the radicchio and saute for a few more minutes until it cooks down, but not until it’s totally limp.  Add the onions and radicchio to the pasta bowl, and mix.  Now is a good time to add the frozen peas, too–the hot pasta will defrost ’em.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and add the other tablespoon of olive oil to the (now empty) skillet.  Cook the garlic until fragrant (30 seconds or so), and add the chicken, saute until golden brown and cooked through.  Add the mustard and chicken broth, and cook until the broth reduces volume by half.  Lastly, pour in the Parmesan cheese and stir until it melts and forms a nice, thick sauce.

Add the chicken mixture to the macaroni bowl.  Mix.  Taste.  Be surprised that the radicchio, though bitter, isn’t bad.  Taste again.  Salt and pepper to taste, toss it one more time, and steal one more taste.

Yum.  Serve either warm, at room temperature, or cool.  It is totes up to you.

I really enjoyed this pasta dish–definitely an entrée and not a side, and full of different textures.  The radicchio was still bitter, but not overwhelming.  I had this for lunch today with half of a grilled zucchini and a roasted beet: vegetable city.

For people who don’t need to use up their CSA veggies and don’t like bitter greens, you can make this recipe with spinach or Swiss chard, too.  But if you can, give radicchio a chance (because it’s always good to add some variety in your diet!).

Speaking of CSA boxes, say hello to week seven:

And say hello to radicchio number two–guess I’ll have to find another cooked radicchio recipe for this week, too.  Any suggestions?

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Filed under Entrees, Salads

Summertime Farrotto (Farro Risotto)

Ugh, this week kinda stinks.  Even though I only have three days of classes, I have two tests and I definitely didn’t study at all over the long weekend.  So, it’s a little bit stressful but it’s also my fault and I know it, and that’s the worst combination.

So in times of stress, what do I do?  Yep.  Try new recipes.

I’ve had some farro in the cupboards for a while now, and with the fresh carrots from the CSA box, and frozen peas from my parent’s garden, I knew there was something magical to be made.  As I was sitting in class, thinking about how much studying needed to happen tonight, a wisp of an idea took flight.  Farrotto.  Farro.  In risotto form.

Summertime Farrotto (serves 4-6)  Summertime Farrotto Recipe Card

  • 1 C dry farro
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, or 4 small carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 C frozen peas (I actually had 1 1/4 C of peas, so I just used ’em all)
  • 4-5 C broth (I’d suggest using half water and half broth so it’s not too salty) 
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (1 t fresh leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, heat the broth and water combo in a small saucepan over medium heat–you can bring to a boil and then turn down to just below a simmer.  The key for cooking a risotto (or a farrotto, in fact) is to keep the broth hot at all times, but to not boil it off, either).

Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan, and add the onion, carrots, and peas.  Saute until softened.  Add the bay leaf and thyme, and cook another minute.  Meanwhile, I’d suggest giving the farro a quick whirl in a food processor just to break up the big grains a bit–not too much, just to crack most of ’em.  Once the veggies are softened, add the farro and stir around for a minute or two just to toast ’em.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the broth half a cup at a time, allowing all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.  Also make sure you keep that farrotto stirred up–you don’t want a crust on the bottom, like a paella.  Once the broth is absorbed, add another half a cup.  Keep adding it until the farro reaches the creamy and soft consistency you want.  I used all five cups, but you could stop at four if you wanted.

Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

We served this with a gorgeous steak (thanks, Dad!) that had a dill and chili powder dry rub on it, grilled to perfection by the grill master himself (hi Fritz!).  On the side we each had half of a small zucchini that was spritzed with olive oil and dusted with smoked paprika before being grilled facedown.

Heaven.

I couldn’t decide which part of the meal I liked best–the farrotto, the zucchini, or the steak.  So yummy.  It’s also nice to have the rest of the meal be so easy because risotto-style cooking requires you to stand by the oven for a while.  With the dry rub already made in the cupboard, all I had to do was hand the meat and veggie part of dinner over to Fritz.

And for dessert we watched an episode of Real Housewives of Orange County because, let’s be honest, we all crave junk sometimes!

I’m off to make vast quantities of tea and stay up late studying.  Wish me luck–lots of it.

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Filed under Side Dishes

Cheesy Peasy Couscous

Today was just one of those days.  One of those days when you feel a headache starting off as soon as you wake up, when class seems to take twice as long as normal, when the erratic driver in front of you on the drive home makes you want to cry rather than laugh, when you come home needing a simple and quick comfort food.

Just one of those days.

I needed the ultimate comfort food–one that contains the dairy trifecta: milk, cheese, and butter.  And because dairy does not equal “unhealthy”, you can use all three of those in some delicious moderation and eat comfort food that can still make you feel good.  ‘Cause on days like these, guilt is the last thing you need on your plate.

Cheesy Peasy Couscous (Printable Recipe Card)

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 C broth (I used one chicken bouillon cube and 1 1/2 C water)
  • 1 C frozen peas, defrosted and drained
  • 1 1/2 C dry couscous
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C Gruyère cheese (or other cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 t smoked paprika

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas and the broth (or bouillon and water). 

Bring the whole mixture to a boil and take off the heat.  Pour in the dried couscous and cover with a lid or plate, and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it absorbs all the broth and gets nice and fluffy.  Place the couscous into a casserole dish and get ready for the cheesy magic.

While you are waiting, make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the flour, milk, and cheese until a nice, smooth, thick sauce forms–it should only take a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the couscous mixture and mix it in.

Lookin’ good!  Add a bit of salt and shake the smoked paprika over the top.  Smooth the mixture out, and place under the broiler until a nice golden brown crust forms, about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!  Salt and pepper your serving to taste and eat right away.  It’s kind of like a cross between mac and cheese and a casserole.  I bet this would be even better with pearled couscous, ’cause it’d be even closer in texture to standard macaroni. 

Fritz walked in as I was taking pictures of the finished product, and he was super excited to see this–he grew up with a lot more casserole-type dishes than I did, and he loves seein’ them come out of the oven.  Spoon it all into a big dish, and let that comfort just roll over ya.

It’s okay if you want to add a little extra smoked paprika.  I’m going to need to join Smoked Paprika Anonymous if things keep heading in this direction.

I also did a little work in the garden a few days ago and harvested a bunch of lavender.  Since it seemed like a waste to hang them up to dry in the closet (far away from my eyes and nose), I put a few stems each into a bunch of glass jars and let them dry as a centerpiece for the table.  They looked beautiful, smelled great, and only took a few days to dry.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with them–lavender eye pillows? Lavender salt?  Lavender ice cream? 

So many ideas, so little time!

Have you ever made anything with dried lavender?  Any ideas for me?

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Filed under Entrees