Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasThe first time we used pasta Orecchiette was around 2009. We had seen a recipe in a food magazine using the pasta, so to the store we went. We had a hard time finding it, but our local co-op (sell’s all natural – organic foods) had the pasta. When we described the pasta (as we had forgotten the name) the sales lady new right away what we wanted. She referred to the pasta as little pope hats. Ever since Orechiette has become a staple in our pantry.

About.com talks on Italian food and describes Orechiette as a distinctive Puglian type of pasta shaped roughly like small ears, as orecchio in Italian means eat, and Orecchiette means little ears. The pasta is roughly 3/4 of an inch across, slightly domed, and the centers are thinner than the rim of the pasta. The pastas texture is soft in the middle and more chewy along the rim or outside of the pasta.

Barilla (store brand that sells Italian products) says that Orecchiette is the signature pasta of Puglia, describing Puglia as a humble farming land situated along the southeastern coast of Italy.

Here is a video posted to You-Tube of Italian women in Italy making fresh Orechiette pasta.
Now for our featured recipe: Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas, and here is what you will need.

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small shallots, chopped

3/4 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups chicken broth

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed

12 ounces Orecchiette

Garnishes:

Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Finely grated Parmesan and lemon zest

cooking Mexican chorizoHeat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute, stirring often, until beginning to brown and smell fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add chorizo to pan and break up with a spoon, and cook meat until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.

adding chickpeas to meat sauceNext add tomato paste and red pepper flakes to meat mixture and mix in. Next add the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened a bit, about 15-20 minutes. Next add the can of chickpeas, and mix in, cooking 2 minutes more to heat the chickpeas through.

adding orechiette to meat sauceMeanwhile, cook pasta according to packaged instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Next add the pasta and 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid to meat sauce. Continue to cook until sauce thickens and coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Add the pasta liquid as needed. You might use the whole cup, and possibly less.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and Chickpeas in the panServe pasta topped with cilantro or parsley (your choice), Parmesan, and lemon zest.

Orecchiette with Chorizo and ChickpeasWe have had this for left overs a few times, and each time we add cilantro, cheese, and lemon zest. The zest adds great flavor to this dish. Be sure to use it.

For the side salad using candy cane beets, see our recipe here: Shredded Candy Cane and Green Apple Slaw with Pecans.

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Gluten Free Penne with Smoked Bacon and Butternut Squash

Gluten Free Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Butternut squash and also refereed to butternut pumpkin in Australia and New Zealand, is a winter squash. It has a sweet, nutty taste similar to pumpkin.

Butternut_squash

The value of the nutrient content increases when cooked

According to Specialty Produce the butternut squash was developed in Stow, Massachusetts in 1940 by Charles A. Leggette.

The squash is a member of the gourd family and is the most widely grown winter squash. In the United States, Florida is the largest squash-producer with California ranking second.

Butternut is rich in fiber, and low in calories. It also is a good source of minerals, including magnesium and potassium. Those who have asthma or breathing problems, this squash can help, because of its magnesium, and vitamins A and C content.

Medical studies since 1994 have reported that low magnesium intake is linked to asthma and chronic obstructive airways. Many studies also have noted that drugs used in the treatment of asthma causes loss of magnesium in the body (The Link Between An Asthma Attack and Magnesium).

Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, who authored the book, “The Magnesium Miracle,” states that magnesium has a calming effect on the muscles of the bronchial airways, as well as the whole body (Treating Asthma With Nutrition).

Let’s breath easier, and get that all over calming effect as we present our featured recipe: Gluten Free Penne with Smoked Bacon and Butternut Squash, and here is what you will need.

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch pieces, cooked in a steamer (optional to roast)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound gluten-free penne pasta

1 large yellow onion, diced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper corns

1/2 pound smoked bacon, cooked, but not crispy, your preference in flavor, we used a apple-bourbon smoked bacon

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Cook pasta according to package instruction. Save one cup of the pasta water before draining pasta. Set aside.

sauteing onions Over medium heat in a large ceramic coated frying pain, add oil and diced onion, red pepper flakes and crushed pepper corns, and saute until onion are slightly browned, about 6 to 7 minutes.

adding squash and pastaNext add past, squash, and bacon. Mix until well incorporated. Next add cheese, and slowly add the reserved pasta water. The amount you add determines if you want the dish creamy or not.

Gluten Free Penne with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked BaconPlate and serve.

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Asparagus and Bacon Cream Pasta

Asparagus and Bacon Cream PastaAccording to Food History asparagus has a long history as far back as the first century. There are records of it growing in ancient Greece and Rome. History even records Egyptians over 2,000 years ago cultivated asparagus for medicinal reasons (Kitchen Project)

Of course most eatable plants were first discovered growing wild, and asparagus is no exception. A wild asparagus has thin shoots thinner than a pencil and is much different than the asparagus that we find in the market.

Nutrition facts asparagusThrough selective breeding and growing techniques, a modern non wild asparagus has a thicker stem with more edible flesh.

Asparagus is even a low carbohydrate food, and a 15 on the glycemic index, which is the rating of plant food and how it effects your blood glucose or insulin in the body (0-35 is low).

Now for our featured recipe, and here is what you will need.

 

8 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped

1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb pasta (your choice)

2 cups Alfredo sauce (homemade or your favorite store bought brand)

Himalayan salt

black pepper

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water before draining. Return the pasta to the pan that you cooked it in, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the bacon until browned, but not crispy. Remove and place on paper towel lined plate to drain.

Remove all but 2 tablespoons of grease from the skillet, and return to the stove. Add the chopped asparagus to the pan, stirring occasionally. Cook until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic to the skillet, and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the cooked asparagus, garlic, bacon, and Alfredo sauce to the pot of cooked pasta. Toss to combine. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the saved pasta water to thin it out. Season to taste with Himalayan salt and pepper before serving (optional).

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Gluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Gluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Fresh sage has high antioxidant abilities, and you don’t want to miss out. Because it can help protect your body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals, which most often results in cell death, impaired immunity, and chronic disease (Link here to consider: Helping Your Immune System Function Smarter).

Medical studies using sage extract with Alzheimer suffers, showed an improvement in cognition as well as less agitation compared to the placebo group. Other studies have reported that sage can improve memory in young, healthy adults also.

Another medical study using forty volunteers who had diabetes and high cholesterol. The patients were given sage leaf extract for 3 months, and at the finish of the study, the participants had lower fasting glucose, HbA1c, total cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL (bad cholesterol), and the HDL (good cholesterol) had risen.

Sage, as well as many other herbs, has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antimicrobial effects.

Those are just some of the great reasons to enjoy making: Gluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon, which involves fresh sage. This meal cooks in about 30 to 40 minutes.

Here is what you will need:

2 cups butternut squash (about a 1 3/4 pound squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

gluten free penne rigate12 oz. Penne Rigate, gluten-free pasta (our favorite brand to use is Jovial – bought at Whole Foods Market)

4 to 5 thick sliced Apple Wood smoked bacon, cut into 1/4-inch slices

2 shallots, thinly sliced

12 fresh sage leaves, torn

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving

In a pot of boiling water, cook the gluten free pasta according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and rinse, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Most Jovial pasta instructions do not say to rinse, but we do, so the pasta will not stick, while it sits waiting to be used.

roasting butternut squash on the BBQ

Now you can roast the butternut squash coated with olive oil in a preheated 425 degree oven (that’s great for colder weather) or you can do what we did and roast the diced squash coated with olive oil (1 tablespoon) on a hot BBQ grill using a BBQ basket. Just add the squash to the basket and close the lid for about 15 minutes or until the squash is browned and tender (but not to soft or mushy).

roasted butternut squash

When butternut squash is brown and tender, remove and set aside.

adding fresh sage

Heat on the grill remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ceramic coated skillet (or skillet of your choice), and add the smoked bacon and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Next add the shallots, crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of black pepper and mix in. Next add the sage, mix in and cook until the shallots are soft, about 4 minutes.

a large ceramic coated pan on the BBQ  making Gluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Next add the squash, rigate, and the reserved cooking water and cook over heat, tossing gently, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes.

adding Pecorino chesse to Gluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon

Next add and mix in the 1/2 cup of Pecorino cheese.

sitting and enjoying Gluten Free Rigate with Roasted Butternut Squash and Smoked Bacon - Topped with some more Pecorino cheese

Plate and serve, passing extra Pecorino cheese at the dinner table, or enjoy out on your back patio during a warm summer evening.

 

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Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto Chipotle Sauce

Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto
Using Italian ingredients makes for a delectable meal, and pasta orecchiette is no exception. Orecchiette according to Recipes Wikia, is a pasta typical of the Apulia (Italian: Puglia) region of Southern Italy.
Orecchiette Pasta - uncooked

The shape of the pasta is what gives it, its name. The pasta resembles a small ear.

In Italian, the word “orecchio” means “ear”, and the suffix ‘etto’ means ‘small’. The pronunciation of Orecchiette is : ohr-ay-KYEHT-ee.

In another article we noted that Andouille Sausage is thanks to French cuisine. The sausage is double smoked pork, that is once the meat is prepared it is smoked, then put into a sausage casing and smoked again.

Our featured recipe is actually a mix of two pasta recipes, which are Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage and Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccine (click links to view recipes).

Now for our featured recipe Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto Chipotle Sauce, and here is what you will need.

16 ounces of cooked orecchiette

2 Andouille sausage links, about ½ pound, sliced

3/4 cup fresh basil pesto (link here for recipe – History of Pesto Sauce)

2 teaspoons chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

15 symphony cherry tomatoes (about), sliced in half to measure 1 cup

1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut in half

Prepare basil pesto, and add the 2 teaspoons of adobe sauce to one cup of the pesto (get ingredients by following link above). Or if you are using your favorite store bought brand (preferably in a jar) remove one cup and mix in the adobe sauce. Set prepared pesto aside.

If you have any left over basil pesto sauce, store in a glass jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil over top of pesto to keep it from browning, and place a lid on jar and tighten. The pesto should keep in cooler for 7 to 10 days. Pesto sauce makes a great spread for sandwiches as well.

fresh green beans and cherry tomatoesPrepare green beans and symphony of cherry tomatoes and set aside.

adding greens beans to pot of  boiling water with Orecchiette pastaCook pasta according to package instructions. Last three minutes of cooking time for pasta, add prepared green beans.

cooked Orecchiette and green beansDrain, but do not rinse. Set aside.

adding Andouille to pastaSlice sausage into 1/2 inch slices. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, add meat and move about until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

In the same large skillet, add the pasta green bean mix, the cup of pesto, sausage, and mix until coated with pesto chipotle sauce.

Orecchiette with Andouille Sausage and Pesto

Plate and serve.

 

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Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccine

Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccine

I like going to the Kona Grill here in town. They make the best Apple Walnut Bread Pudding and a wonderful Macadamia Chicken Salad. My favorite though is their Basil Pesto Linguine. I did adventure into the kitchen and used my cooking skills to try and mimic the dish (I posted it here: Basil Pesto Linguine). It came out pretty good, though it still needed something. So back to Kona Grill I went.

This time I was fortunate, as the manger came by my table and asked how our food was. I told her that I had tried my hand at making this dish, but it still needed something. She told me the pesto sauce contained chipotle peppers in adobo sauce as well. Then she said that is all she could say. But for me that was enough.

Play the video to get a glimpse at the finished dish. Though we did forget to put the small cherry tomatoes, we did even miss them, As the recipe had the same flavor as the Kona Grill. This time though I used gluten free fettuccine pasta.

Here is what you will need for the featured recipe.

16 ounces of cooked gluten free Fettuccine

1 lb. of chicken breasts, about 2, skinless and boneless

2 Andouille sausage links, about ½ pound

Can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce½ cup fresh basil pesto (link here for recipe – History of Pesto Sauce)

1 teaspoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1/3 cup heavy cream

15 cherry tomatoes (about), sliced in half to measure 1 cup (optional)

Cook gluten free fettuccine according to package instructions.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Meantime, while chicken is a little frozen, slice chicken breasts horizontally 2 to 3 times, depending on thickness of the breast meat. Cut slices into 1-inch chunks. Place cut chicken onto a baking sheet and place in heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is oblique in color and no longer pink.

Next add pesto to a small bowl and mix in adobo sauce and heavy cream, and set aside.

Cooked chciken and andouille sausage with creamy pesto

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Next slice links down the middle and remove meat from casings and place into pan and start moving meat around with a spatula, so meat falls apart into small chunks.

Now add cooked chicken, and mix in with sausage. Next add pesto – chipotle sauce and mix in.

Prepared Gluten Free Creamy Pesto Fettuccini in a large ceramic coated  pan

Next add cook gluten free pasta, and mix till well incorporated.

Gluten Free Creamy Pesto FettuccinePlace pasta onto a serving platter, then plate and serve.

 

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Basil Pesto Linguine

Basil Pesto Linguine - plated

This recipe uses an Andouille sausage, which has its origins in Brittany, France. It is a smoked meat using pork. It is a sausage that is used in the Louisiana Creole culture. It is a sausage much like the Mexican or Spanish chorizo, as some Andouille sausage makers also use the gastrointestinal system of the pig,

Andouille is made from smoked pork, garlic, pepper, onions, wine, and seasonings. Most Andouille is made from a Boston Butt roast. The sausage is doubled smoked, as once the casing is stuffed, it is smoked again. Andouille is not a high fat sausage, with lots of pepper flavor, though it has a slight heat to it.

We used an all organic Andouille, fresh stuffed casing, purchased at our local Whole Foods Market. Let’s get started with preparing our featured recipe: Basil Pesto Linguine and here is what you will need.

16 ounces of cooked linguine

1 lb. of chicken breasts, about 2, skinless and boneless

2 Andouille sausage links, about ½ pounds

½ cup fresh basil pesto (link here for recipe – History of Pesto Sauce)

15 cherry tomatoes (about), sliced in half to measure 1 cup

Cook linguine according to package instructions.

Meantime, slice chicken breasts horizontally 2 to 3 times, depending on thickness of the breast meat. Cut slices into 1-inch chunks, set aside.

cooking andouille sausage

Place a large frying pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. Next slice links down the middle and remove meat and place into pan and start moving meat around with a spatula, so meat falls apart into small chunks.

sausage, chicken meat with basil pesto

Now add chicken, and continue to cook, until both meats are cooked, and chicken is no longer pink, but oblique. Next add basil and mix in.

meats and cheery tomatoes

Now add tomatoes and cook until tomatoes skins start to wrinkle, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Basil Pesto Linguine - close up

Add cooked linguine and mix meat and pasta together.

Basil Pesto Linguine - plated

Place pasta onto a serving platter, then plate and serve.

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