Category Archives: Pasta and Grains

Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl

The “new” craze right now is creating recipes and putting the dish in bowls. At first, I wasn’t really into the bowl idea but it didn’t take long for me to realize I kinda liked the idea. Placing breakfast, lunch or dinner in a bowl helped to cut down on the amount of food we actually ate. I put less in a bowl compared to  how much I put on a plate.

One of my first bowl adventures was my Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops. Not to brag too much but that recipe was a big hit with hubby. Now, he has another favorite. My Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl. This recipe was a little spicy with various textures and flavors that complimented each other. Although there are several components to the recipe, I think it is a very simple dish. Shredded spicy taco flavored chicken, crispy yellow rice, seasoned black beans and a mix of avocado and tomatoes. The hardest thing about this recipe is the wait time. Yeah, this one isn’t quick to make only because the chicken has to bake. While the chicken bakes about an hour all of the other pieces can easily be pulled together.

Even I couldn’t complain about having chicken again. Plus, I didn’t take the easy way out and make wingettes. Instead, I opted for chicken legs because they are meaty and you don’t have to take a long time to clean them like chicken thighs. Granted, I think chicken thigh meat is sweeter than chicken leg meat but it takes work to get thighs ready for cooking. Maybe the next time I make a Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl I’ll build in extra time and try it with chicken thighs. Whichever chicken part you choose (legs vs. thighs), I am confident you will enjoy my Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl. Healthy, Easy and Delicious!

Spicy Taco Chicken Bowl

Ingredients:

6 – 8 chicken legs washed

2 plum tomatoes diced

2 scallions diced

2 slices bacon diced

1 can black beans rinsed

1 avocado diced

1 pkg hot and spicy taco seasoning

½ stick butter melted

1 ½ cup water

1 ½ cup chicken broth

1 ½ cups white rice

1 ½ tbsp salt

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ tbsp ground black pepper

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cilantro

½ tsp dried parsley

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp Chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chicken in a large bowl. Season with 1 tbsp salt, black pepper, Chile powder and all but 1 tsp hot and spicy taco seasoning. Add melted butter and mix until chicken is well coated. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray then place chicken in one layer in the baking dish. Bake for 1 hour until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes then pull meat off the bone into chunks. Place chicken in a medium size skillet with ¼ chicken stock and remaining taco seasoning. Stir and let simmer for 5 minutes.

While chicken is cooking prepare the following:

Rice:

Rinse rice with cold water to remove some of the starch. Place in a microwaveable casserole dish with a pinch salt, turmeric, water and chicken broth. Place in microwave uncovered for 21 minutes until cooked. Remove from microwave and fluff up rice with a fork. Let cool for about 10 – 15 minutes. While rice is cooling cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp over medium high heat. Remove from skillet and drain on paper towels. Reduce heat to medium high and add rice and scallions to the bacon grease breaking up any clumps of rice. Let rice crisp up for about 3 minutes then stir and flip to crisp up the other side. Cook for an additional 3 minutes then toss in bacon and mix in thoroughly. Cook another 2 minutes then remove from heat.

Prepare Tomato and Avocado:

Place diced tomatoes and avocado in a medium sized bowl. Season with a little salt, ground black pepper, parsley and lemon juice. Gently toss with a spoon. Cover and set aside in the refrigerator.

Black Beans:

Place black beans in a small pot and add a little chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper, cilantro and onion powder. Cook over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Bowl Setup:

Place crispy yellow rice in the bottom of an individual bowl. Add chicken to one side of the bowl then add the black beans along with tomato and avocado mix. Enjoy!

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Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops

Recently, I received a wonderful surprise in the mail. New bottles of Gazebo Room Salad Dressing and Marinade. I immediately started thinking about the kinds of recipes I could create that incorporated the dressings. I didn’t want to just use them as a dressing on top of one of my regular salads. I wanted something new and exciting!

Bingo! I finally decided to make an Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops. I topped the Asian bowl with Gazebo Room Asian Vinaigrette Salad Dressing and Marinade. Yes, that is a mouthful to say and a delicious mouthful to taste. If you like tangy salad dressings, I think you will like this Asian dressing. I just would not put a lot of this dressing on a salad. A little goes a long way with this dressing because it is so flavorful.

Now back to my Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops. In my mind, this is a very simple dish to make and the Asian bowl is both colorful and nutritious. I kept it simple by combining just a few veggies, thin lo mein noodles and of course the lamb chops. I have to admit I developed this recipe based on the lamb chops. As I usually do on the weekends, I was perusing the meat aisle looking for something other than chicken. Remember, I have nothing against chicken. We just eat it often so I try to break up the week with another meat if possible so that we don’t grow feathers. I spied a lone package of lollipop lamb chops among the packages of bigger lamb chops and grabbed them before anyone else could. It is rare for me to find these little jewels so I was quite happy with this trip to the grocery store.

When I pulled the recipe together I wasn’t totally convinced hubby would be on board since I had never prepared a “bowl”. I wasn’t even sure he had heard of an Asian bowl but he surprised me and said “Sure, go for it”, which meant he was on board. Hubby did come into the kitchen a couple of times to see what I was doing and guided me on how he wanted me to “create” his bowl. Yeah, let’s just call him my assistant on this recipe. Anyway, we both enjoyed the final product. Hubby really enjoyed it because he ate the whole thing. Normally, he leaves a little food on his plate but not this time. All I saw were two chopsticks and lamb chop bones sitting at the bottom of his bowl. That is what I call a successful dish!

Asian Bowl with Lollipop Lamb Chops

Ingredients:

2 Roma tomatoes diced

2 scallions sliced

2 bunches romaine lettuce shredded or small Napa cabbage shredded

1 package (6 – 8) lollipop lamb chops

1 package thin lo mein noodles

1 small can water chestnuts drained

1 cup snow peas

1 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup crispy rice noodles

¼ cup Gazebo Room Asian Vinaigrette Salad Dressing and Marinade

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper

paprika

Season lamb chops with Worcestershire sauce, salt, black pepper and paprika. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat. Brown lamb chops on both sides approximately 3 – 5 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and place on paper towels to drain.

Add snow peas, carrots and scallions to frying pan and saute until slightly softened but still has some crispness. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Build Salad:

Place lettuce in the bottom of the bowl. Arrange veggies around the bowl. Add lo mein noodles, water chestnuts and diced tomatoes. Place three lamb chops on one side of the bowl. Drizzle with dressing then sprinkle with rice noodles.

Enjoy!

 

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Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Salmon is probably my favorite fish next to cod. Cod is my go to fish for frying because it is tender and flaky. Salmon tastes great when it is broiled or baked and dripping with butter and lemon. To compliment salmon I like to add a side dish of vegetables and pasta. On some occasions I like to combine everything into a single dish.

My Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta is one of those dishes that can be combined into a single dish. Beautiful curls of pasta topped with a tenderly broiled salmon fillet and a cascade of roasted tomatoes and fennel can only make your mouth water when you look at your plate of deliciousness. Okay, Seriously! This is a beautiful dish that tastes wonderful. The type of salmon used in the recipe will change the taste of the dish so use whatever your taste buds like. I am not a fan of sockeye salmon which has a deep reddish orange color and a strong flavor. I prefer Coho or Atlantic salmon which is lighter in color and has a much milder flavor than sockeye. No matter which type of salmon you choose you are sure to get a ton of Omega-3s.

Roasting tomatoes brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. Fennel is aromatic and has a sweet licorice flavor. Cooked fennel has a milder flavor than raw fennel so it goes well with the salmon and tomatoes without overpowering the dish.

So, if you are looking for a nice healthy flavorful dish to impress your family and friends try out my Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta. You cannot go wrong with this one.

Salmon with Roasted Tomatoes, Fennel and Pasta

Ingredients:

2 – 3 salmon fillets

6 -8 plum tomatoes cut into wedges

1 small bulb of fennel

1 shallot sliced

1 pkg campanelle pasta

¼ cup reserved pasta water

¼ cup shaved parmesan cheese

6 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp dill

paprika

Preheat 425 degrees.

Prepare pasta according to package reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water. Set aside.

 

Place tomatoes, fennel and shallots on a rimmed cookies sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss to coat veggies with olive oil and seasonings. Place in oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

Prepare salmon by placing on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt, black pepper and dill. Place 2 tbsp of butter on each fillet. Place in oven with tomatoes and fennel. Cook for 20 minutes. Set aside to rest while tomatoes and fennel finish cooking.

Remove tomatoes and fennel from the oven and pour pasta water over veggies. Spoon pasta onto a plate. Add a salmon fillet then spoon roasted tomatoes and fennel over the salmon. Garnish with shaved parmesan cheese.

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Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix

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During the holidays families often have to split time when their adult children are married. Our family is no different than any other family. Every year we share the kids with the in-laws. Last year my daughter-in-law came up with a great idea so that my hubby and I did not feel left out on Thanksgiving day since it was not our turn to host the family. Instead of having a big Thanksgiving celebration with all the kids and grand-kids, we had a big after Thanksgiving family leftovers celebration.

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All the ladies were charged with coming up with a dish using leftovers from Thanksgiving. Besides being able to spend time with my kids and mom I got a few new ideas to share on my blog. Nat created a tasty pasta dish from leftover steamed broccoli. This was a very simple dish but was packed with flavor from the garlic, white wine and parmesan cheese. I knew Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix would be a good recipe for my blog when my youngest grandson jumped right in and gobbled up the pasta. Who could argue with a pasta connoisseur like little Ant?

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Thanks Nat for creating a new family tradition and a way to still share the holidays with our kids and grand-kids.

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Nat’s Broccoli and Pasta Remix

Ingredients:

1 box gemelli pasta

4 garlic cloves chopped

2 shallots diced

1 small onion diced

1 lemon

3 cups leftover steamed broccoli or 2 lg broccoli heads cut into florets

1 cup white wine

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

4 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp salt

½ tbsp black pepper

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp thyme

Prepare pasta according to package then set aside in a large bowl. Reserve ½ cup pasta water.

Place 6 cups of water along with 1 tbsp of salt and bring to a boil. Blanch broccoli then drain. Place into a cold water bath to stop the broccoli from cooking. Reserve ½ cup of the broccoli water.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook 3 – 5 minutes until onions begin to soften. Add shallots and cook for 1 minute then add garlic. Cook until vegetables begin to brown stirring constantly so that garlic does not burn. Pour in white wine and cook for 1 minute. Add broccoli to the pan season with salt and black pepper. Stir to mix then remove from heat.

Pour broccoli mixture to the pasta along with broccoli and pasta water. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and gently toss together.

Optional: Red pepper flakes to add a little kick!

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Pearls and Black Eyed Peas

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A few weeks ago my hubby and I visited Washington, DC to get away and enjoy each others company. Because we really just wanted to relax and not do a lot of sightseeing we stayed close to the hotel. We also took most of our meals at the hotel. Fortunately, the main restaurant served some delicious food and gave me a few ideas for new recipes.

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One night I chose to have grilled salmon (my favorite fish) with a side of black eyed peas and Israeli couscous. I was interested in tasting the Israeli couscous because I had just purchased a box of it from Trader Joe’s and I wasn’t sure of how to prepare it. Plus, I liked the look of the box. I sometimes chose new foods to try based on how they look. I think it is a true statement that we eat with our eyes and presentation is important when serving a meal.

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The black eyed peas and Israeli couscous was absolutely wonderful. It was full of flavor and I liked the texture of the pearl sized couscous. Israeli couscous is larger in size than regular couscous and resembles tapioca pearls. The side dish also included lots of other vegetables like zucchini, corn, onions and mushrooms. As soon as I tasted the black eyed peas and couscous I knew I had found a new recipe to try using my box of Israeli couscous.

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Although I truly enjoyed the hotel’s version, I decided to put my own twist to the dish and used a few different ingredients that complimented the black eyed peas and couscous. Black eyed peas, Israeli couscous, roasted red peppers and mushrooms. Yummy! Once you have a bite you will be making this side dish over and over again.

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Pearls and Black Eyed Peas

Ingredients:
1 bag frozen black eyed peas
1 large or 2 small smoked turkey legs (optional)
2 cups cooked pearl (Israeli) couscous (prepare according to package)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sliced shitake or baby bella mushrooms
½ cup onions diced
½ cup green peppers diced
½ cup roasted red peppers diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp cayenne

If using smoked turkey in the dish, cook turkey in 6 cups of water until until meat is tender. If you are comfortable using a pressure cooker, it will speed up the process. Strain and reserve broth to use with black eyed peas in lieu of chicken broth. Slightly shred turkey.

Heat olive oil in a medium sized frying pan over medium high heat then add mushrooms, green peppers and roasted red peppers. Sprinkle with a little salt and cayenne pepper. Saute until mushrooms are browned and green peppers are soft.

Place black eyed peas in a large pot with 2 cups chicken broth or reserved smoked turkey broth. Add onions and remaining seasonings. Cook black eyed peas for 20 – 25 minutes until soft. Drain black eyed peas.

In a large bowl gently mix couscous, veggies and black eyed peas. Add a little broth to moisten if necessary.

Enjoy!

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Shredded Chicken and Pasta Soup

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Comfort food is good anytime of the year but fall calls for comfort soup. With slight breezes and the crisp sound of falling leaves, soup is a great way to warm up and snuggle. Chicken noodle soup is a very traditional comfort food which my family loves. But, I wanted to make a traditional chicken soup with a slight twist. That is why I decided to make a Shredded Chicken and Pasta Soup.

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When it came to choosing a pasta for the soup I didn’t want a noodle so I had to search for a type of pasta that would compliment the soup. Ditalini pasta turned out to be the perfect pasta for the Shredded Chicken and Pasta Soup. Ditalini looks like little tubes and they soaked up the chicken broth. Every bite offered an extra burst of broth and flavor.

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One thing I really liked about the Shredded Chicken and Pasta Soup was the fact that including the pasta made the soup very filling. A big bowl of soup makes a full meal with a nice chunk of crusty bread. If you want to have the soup with a meal I would suggest you only have a small cup so that you don’t get full too fast. Either way you will definitely have a smile on your face while eating the soup.

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Think about cooking up a big pot of Shredded Chicken and Pasta Soup the next time you feel a chill in the air. It will warm you up and put a smile on your face. Remember comfort food is good anytime of the year but fall and winter call for comfort soup.

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Shredded Chicken and Pasta Soup

Ingredients:
4 chicken thighs
5 quarts water
3 cups Ditalini pasta (prepare according to package)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onion
1 cup shredded carrots (rough chop)
3 scallions diced (green part included)
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp Adobo seasoning
½ tsp dried dill
¼ tsp thyme
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

Place water, chicken, ½ cup onions and all seasonings except for dill into a large pot. Cook chicken on medium high for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through and is tender. Remove chicken from the pot and set aside to cool for shredding. Once cooled, shred chicken with your fingers and set aside.

Strain chicken broth and place back into the pot. Skim some of the chicken grease from the surface of the broth. Reduce heat to medium. Add the additional cup of chicken broth, carrots, celery, green onions, dill and remaining onions to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken to the broth and simmer for another 10 – 15 minutes. You can either place pasta in individual bowls then ladle soup over the pasta so that the pasta stays al dente. Or, you can add pasta to the soup and remove from heat so that the pasta does not over cook.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

   IMG_0153_1The day I made Shrimp Spring Rolls I also made Shrimp Lo Mein. Most of the ingredients I used as the filling for the spring rolls was also used to create Shrimp Lo Mein. How great is that? Two meals and I only cooked one time.

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As I said in my Shrimp Spring Rolls post, my family loves Asian cuisine. We could eat it a couple times each week but I am sure that would get old as time goes on. We all need variety when it comes to food. At least I do. Anyway, Since I had quite a few extra ingredients I decided to make a quick Shrimp Lo Mein. The other thing my hubby and son love is pasta so Shrimp Lo Mein was definitely right up their alley. Thankfully, it did not take much to get them to agree to be my taste tester for this recipe.

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In case you didn’t know, there are all types of noodles used to make Lo Mein. I used Chinese noodles since that is what I used to make the Shrimp Spring Rolls. However, you can also used thin wonton noodles which are stringy and cooked in wonton noodle soup because they are light and delicate. Wide wonton noodles can also be used for Lo Mein. These noodles are often used in heartier soups like beef noodle soup. Of course you can just look for Lo Mein noodles which are thick and used in stir-fried noodle dishes made with a heavy sauce or gravy. In researching the variety of noodles used for my recipe I found out that Lo Mein noodles are probably the best choice when making a Lo Mein dish because they stand up better to reheating.

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Bottom-line. You can use whatever noodle you like to make Shrimp Lo Mein. In a pinch I think I would even use spaghetti noodles or linguine noodles if that was the only thing available. The most important thing to remember is add a little love to your recipe. It makes everything taste good.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

Ingredients:
1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 pkg lo mein noodles
1 pint snap peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
juice from ½ lemon

Prepare lo mein noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp, sriracha sauce and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir shrimp until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add carrots, snap peas and a little more salt and pepper (add cayenne pepper if you really like heat) to the frying pan. Stir and let cook for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce and mix with veggies until they are well coated. Reduce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Toss with lo mein noodles. Enjoy!

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Shrimp and Pasta Salad

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Pasta salads are one of the most versatile dishes anyone can prepare. A pasta salad basically consists of pasta and any vegetable, meat or seafood you can think of tossed with a nice dressing. Since there are such a variety of pasta noodles available it is easy to be creative. Even if you use the same basic ingredients when you prepare a pasta salad it can become new all over again by using a different type of pasta. Shells, gemelli, bow tie and cavatappi are a few of the pastas I like to use in cold salads. They have little ridges that absorb whatever dressing you use and most of them just have a cool shape.

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For my Shrimp and Pasta Salad I used small pasta shells because I wanted the pasta to cuddle some of the dressing and provide a subtle burst of flavor with every bite. The veggies I used with this pasta salad were meant to make the dish colorful with the deep green of the asparagus and the bright red of the peppers and tomatoes. The shrimp added a pretty pink hue that pulled everything together.

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Most of us are first attracted to a dish because of the way it looks. If a dish looks weird, we figure it will taste weird too. Although that is not always true it is human nature to judge certain things by the way they look. That is way it is important to add rich vibrant color to every meal. My Shrimp and Pasta Salad is both appealing to the eye and tasty on the tongue. Try it as a main course or side dish. Either way I think you enjoy this simple flavorful salad.

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Shrimp and Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
2 lbs ex-large shrimp peeled and deveined
2 boiled eggs chopped
1 bunch asparagus cut into 1” pieces
1 bag arugula
1 box small pasta shells
1 large tomato seeded and diced into cubes
1 shallot sliced thin
½ cup red pepper diced
½ cup black olives chopped (optional)
½ cup vinaigrette
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp cilantro
1 tsp old bay seasoning
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1juice from ½ lemon

Prepare pasta shells according to the package – al dente. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat butter with olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and lemon juice. Stir and then add ½ tsp salt, ½ black pepper and old bay seasoning. Cook until shrimp are pink. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Add veggies (except for tomatoes) to the same skillet and add remaining seasonings. Cook for 2- 3 minutes until veggies soften slightly but still crisp. Do not over cook.

In a large bowl add pasta, shrimp, veggies, arugula, eggs, tomatoes and olives. Drizzle with vinaigrette and gently mix. Serve with a nice side salad.

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Spiced Up Chick Peas and Couscous

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I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a new vegetarian side dish that was a little spicy and different from the “usual” side dishes we have at most meals. I say vegetarian side dish because I didn’t want to add bacon or any other meat product to enhance the flavors. I only wanted to blend together spices and the natural flavor of the veggies to create a wonderful tasting dish.

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I decided to use chick peas as my main veggie after searching my cabinets for an idea. I had not prepared anything with chick peas for a while so I figured it would be a nice change of pace to incorporate them into a side dish. I finally decided to make Spiced Up Chick Peas using spices similar to what I use in my Moroccan Chicken recipe. I guess you could say I made Moroccan Chick Peas but I’ll stick with calling them spiced up.

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To tell the truth, this dish could be a main entree as well as a side dish. The chick peas are very filling and coupled with couscous it really can be a full meal. Whether you use a fork or a spoon, I think you will want to catch every drop of this very flavorful dish.

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Spiced Up Chick Peas

Ingredients:
2 15 oz cans chick peas drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1 14 oz can pureed tomatoes
1 small onion diced
2 garlic cloves chopped
2 cups couscous
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
½ tsp cilantro
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ lemon zest
½ tsp mint chopped (optional)
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ground ginger

Prepare couscous according to package. Saute onion in olive oil until onion is softened and slightly browned. Add garlic and stir constantly so that garlic does not burn. Place chick peas and all other ingredients in a large pot and simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve over couscous.

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Gemelli Pasta and Tomatoes

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Since my hubby and kids love pasta so much I am always looking for new ways to fix it. I also like to use different types of pasta shells to give the pasta dishes a a new twist. The type of pasta you pick for a dish depends on what you want the pasta to do. If I am making a creamy pasta dish I usually pick pasta that will cuddle the sauce in the nooks and crannies of the pasta like shells or ziti. If I am fixing a dish that is lighter and the sauce just needs to coat the pasta, I will use angel hair, linguine or bow tie pasta.

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Gemelli pasta falls into both categories. Because of its shape gemelli pasta is a nice twist (yes, pun intended) for creamy or oil based sauces. When I first started formulating this recipe in my mind I was not sure what kind of pasta I would use. I did not want to use penne pasta because I have seen so many recipes with penne including my own. I was cruising the pasta aisle when I spotted the gemelli pasta. It had been a long time since I prepared any dish with gemelli so I got excited when the light bulb went off in my head to use gemelli as my pasta.

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I will admit that I cook a lot of dishes with tomatoes. Another thing besides pasta that my family really loves. For me, tomatoes just naturally go with pasta. Tomatoes add a savory sweetness to pasta dishes. Baking or roasting tomatoes really helps to bring out the sweetness which is how I prepared the tomatoes for this recipe.

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In the end, the combination of flavors from the tomatoes, cheese, spinach and gemelli made for a very nice pasta dish. On occasion, to elevate the flavors even more I brown andouille sausage and add it to the recipe to give the dish a kick of spiciness. Yummy!

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Gemelli Pasta and Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 pints cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 16 oz box gemelli pasta
1 10 oz bag baby leaf spinach
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup fontina
½ cup panko bread crumbs
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix panko bread crumbs, ½ cup of the grated parmesan cheese, parsley and oregano in a small bowl.

Spray a casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Add tomatoes to the casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, basil and olive oil. Stir to blend olive oil and seasonings then top with bread crumb mixture. Drizzle a little olive oil over the bread crumb mixture. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until bread crumbs are browned.

Prepare pasta according to package. Drain (do not rinse) and place in a large bowl. Drizzle pasta with a little olive oil. Add remaining grated parmesan cheese, fontina cheese, spinach and tomato mixture. Gently toss together until well blended.

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