Pasta

Diane’s Orzo Pasta Salad

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My stepmom’s orzo pasta salad is a delicious regular at all our family barbecues. It has a great combination of ingredients with the saltiness from the feta cheese and the sweetness from the bell peppers and grape tomatoes. Also whole olives which olive lovers enjoy and non-olive lovers rejoice that they can easily pick them out and plop them on their fellow olive lovers’ plates.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

The best part is the orzo tossed in the simple vinaigrette. What is orzo? Although it may be shaped like rice pilaf, orzo is a pasta. It is typically made with semolina flour, which is denser than white flour and helps the orzo keep its shape and bite after being cooked. This makes it the perfect choice for a make ahead pasta salad since most traditional pasta can get mushy from sitting in a vinaigrette overnight. Not this dish!

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

My stepmom has been making this exact winning combination of ingredients for the Greek orzo pasta salad for years so it would be ill-advised to mess with the best.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

However, as with any pasta salad one of the beauties is that with a good base and vinaigrette you can mix and match according to your own tastes and preferences.

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Not a feta fan? Swap in some goat cheese. Not big on bell peppers? Toss in some sliced snow peas. The possibilities are endless! But make sure you try this possibility first :)

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Diane's Orzo Pasta Salad
 
Yield: 8-10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound box orzo, cooked as directed being sure not to overcook
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into ¼” by 1” pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 4-5 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 can large black olives, drained
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. In a large bowl combine the cooked orzo with the olive oil until completely coated. Add the bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mix until combined.
  2. Mix in the feta cheese. Adjust salt and pepper according to taste. Refrigerate until serving, making sure to mix well before serving.

 

Crisp Gnocchi Salad with Shiitakes and Asparagus

My brother gave me one of the most thoughtful Christmas gifts last year: a copy of this beautiful Tasting Colorado cookbook. Every recipe is a popular dish from a Colorado restaurant, covering everything from fluffy biscuits to local mouthwatering steak. Not only did I wish I could stuff my face into every picture and eat the contents, but I’ve actually been to a few of the restaurants!

Although he’s a Boston native, Colorado stole my brother’s heart 10 years ago and he’s lived there ever since. I get a chance to visit him once or twice a year and for those of you who have never been add it to your bucket list. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited and I’ve had some of my favorite dishes there.

While flipping through the cookbook and mopping drool from my mouth I was so excited to stumble upon this recipe from the restaurant Six89. Six89 closed in 2012 and their gnocchi salad disappeared along with it. Until now.

I cannot properly express in words the deliciousness of this dish. The crispy gnocchi together with the savory shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and nutty Parmesan is enough to have you going back for more. But when you add the shallot vinaigrette and leafy greens this meal becomes irresistible.

You can certainly use store-bought gnocchi to make this dish, but I highly recommend taking the extra time to tackle homemade gnocchi to experience the full potential of each mouthwatering bite.

Gnocchi Salad with Shiitakes and Asparagus
 
Yield: 4 appetizer servings
Ingredients
for the gnocchi
  • 2 cups gnocchi
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups asparagus, blanched and cut into 1” pieces
for the vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 4 cups baby field greens
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan, for serving
Directions
  1. Boil the gnocchi in a medium saucepan until they float to the top and are heated through, about 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the gnocchi until crispy and lightly browned.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium then add the shallots and sauté until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 more minutes. Add the asparagus slices and sauté until warmed through then remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
for the vinaigrette
  1. Combine the shallots, mustard, oregano and white wine vinegar. Whisk together well with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the gnocchi with 4 tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Plate the gnocchi.
  2. Toss the baby field greens with some of the vinaigrette and place over the gnocchi. Top each plate with a generous serving of fresh grated Parmesan.

Recipe from Tasting Colorado:  Favorite Recipes from the Centennial State.

Homemade Goat Cheese Gnocchi

Making homemade gnocchi had been on my bucket list of things to conquer in the kitchen for quite some time now. These delicate pillows of pasta are one of Matt’s and my go-to orders while out to eat, but I was putting off making them from scratch.

Giada had assured me countless times how simple gnocchi are to create. I would watch Giada quickly whip up a perfect batch in her gorgeous, sunny kitchen and think to myself, “Giada even pronounces gnocchi perfectly, of course she thinks it’s simple!”

Well, my friends, I am here as a novice gnocchi-pronouncer and gnocchi-creator to let you know that in fact it is that simple. Sure there are fair amount of steps between the boiling, mashing, cooling, kneading and what-not, but once you have the process down you’ll have fresh gnocchi on the table in no time.

The most difficult part was the shaping with the fork tines, but I never have much patience for beautifying foods so I decided to leave them as is. I’m here to eat it not take a picture! Actually, I am, but I much prefer the eating part.

So conquer your kitchen fears and give homemade gnocchi a try! What are some things on your kitchen bucket list?

Homemade Goat Cheese Gnocchi
 
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds potatoes, preferably Russets
  • 11 ounces goat cheese
  • ½ cup Parmesan, grated
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano (or ½ cup fresh, chopped)
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 cups cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.
  2. Scrub and dry the potatoes then pierce each potato with a fork 5-6 times. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45-60 minutes. The potatoes are done when you can easily pierce with a fork or knife. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel then grate them into a large mixing bowl. Alternatively, you can accomplish this with a potato ricer.
  3. Add the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, eggs, flour, salt and pepper to the large mixing bowl and mix until the dough starts to come together.
  4. Lightly flour a cutting board or smooth surface and knead the dough until it is smooth. Shape the dough into a large ball or mound and place a kitchen towel overtop. Let rest for 30 minutes.
  5. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile start shaping the gnocchi. Using about ¼ cup of dough at a time, and leaving the kitchen towel over the rest, shape the dough into a long rope about ½” thick, as pictured above. Using a sharp non-serrated knife or an icing spatula, cut the dough rope into 1” pieces. Place the pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  6. When you have a small batch ready to be boiled (I boiled about ½ cookie sheet worth at a time), carefully place the gnocchi into the prepared boiling water. When they float to the top, about 3-5 minutes, remove with a large slotted spoon and serve.
Notes
*If you don’t have cake flour, for each cup you measure out of all-purpose flour remove 2 tablespoons before putting in the recipe.
*I simply pressed the gnocchi instead of the traditional ridge shape, but a quick Google search of shaping gnocchi will lead you to plenty of videos showing the traditional technique.
*If you are not eating the gnocchi right away, follow these instructions after placing in the boiling water:
1. When they float to the top, about 3-5 minutes, remove with a large slotted spoon and place in a bowl of cold water. Drain into a colander and let cold water run over the gnocchi in the colander. Let drain.
2. Remove to a large container and lightly toss with olive oil to keep them from sticking together. Repeat with the rest of the gnocchi until they are all cooked. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Recipe from Spring 2008 issue of Edible Aspen.

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms and Artichokes

I am shocked and I hope you are utterly disappointed in me. This is only the third pasta recipe that has been posted on Lemon & Mocha. The nerve of me! Pasta is one of my all-time favorite foods. I certainly can’t pick a single favorite because that would be like choosing between children or classic Nickelodeon shows, but pasta is way high up there on the list. So it is only fitting that this post featuring Lemon & Mocha’s second ever pasta recipe is also commemorating another special day: Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and I wanted to do something special. I am a firm believer in thinking positive, looking for the good in the bad and trusting life’s course. So I can only say that I am both lucky and blessed to have, and have had, three amazing mothers in my life.

Today I am posting this savory linguine with chicken, mushrooms and artichokes dish to celebrate my wonderful stepmom. As you learned back on her birthday, many of my favorite foods and ingredients are the result of my stepmom and her determination to have me eat something other than macaroni and fish sticks for the rest of my life.

This dish is my interpretation of one she used to make to get us to try new things. I know you probably think I’m being ridiculous, but my dad, brother and I were not initially familiar with shredded chicken in pasta and mushrooms on our plate. The original dish had olives, but I substituted artichokes, another food my stepmom opened my eyes to. I am so thankful to have such a great supporter, caring person and friend in my life. Sometimes the best mothers in your life are the ones that don’t go by “mom”, but love you just the same.

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms and Artichokes
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound split skinless chicken breasts, bone-in
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 12 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 26-ounce jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, about 4 leaves
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ½ pound cooked linguine
Directions
  1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown it, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium on the stockpot and add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Push the mushrooms to the side so that there’s room on the bottom of the stockpot and return the chicken to the pot.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and sugar. Lightly stir then bring the pot to a boil before covering and reducing to a simmer on medium-low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. Keeping the sauce warm, remove the chicken, shred off the bone with 2 forks, then return to the sauce. Add the artichokes, basil and Parmesan to the sauce. Add the linguine and stir to coat. Serve topped with fresh Parmesan, if desired.

 

Beef Bolognese Sauce

This is not your momma’s meat sauce. Well it might be, but the possibility of that is highly unlikely. This is certainly not a marinara sauce with some meat casually tossed in. This is a rich, creamy and satisfying beef bolognese sauce. There are a couple differences between this deliciousness and your average meat sauce. The beef bolognese here before you includes rehydrated porcini mushrooms along with their soaking liquid, which becomes a light mushroom stock. We learned from the mushroom overload cheddar burgers posted earlier this week that these babies are mushroom gold when adding a decadent earthiness to beef.

Second is that the milk added cuts the acid of the tomato base and brings a great creaminess to the sauce without overloading it with fat like a traditional cream sauce. Finally, all the different steps- the processing, the sauteing, the eating-with-a-spoon-but-someone-needs-to-taste-test-it-ing- may seem like a lot of work, but once you ravishingly start into that first bite of bolognese coated pasta it will all be worth it. The original recipe calls for using a meatball mixture, typically consisting of beef, pork and veal, but feel free to use whatever you prefer. Or is readily available in your grocery store as was my case.

Beef Bolognese Sauce
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1¼ cups white wine
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1¼ pounds ground beef
  • 1½ cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Microwave the water until hot. Add the dried mushrooms and let rehydrate for 10 minutes. Using a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl drain the mushrooms making sure to reserve the liquid. Set aside.
  2. In a small skillet over medium heat cook the wine until it has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
  3. While the wine is reducing use a food processor to finely grind the rehydrated porcini mushrooms. Add the carrot and pulse until the carrot pieces are smaller than a chop, but larger than a mince. Add the onion and pulse until combined.
  4. Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Melt the butter then stir in the mushroom, carrot and onion mixture. Cook until the vegetables are soft.
  5. Add the sugar and minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and cook for 1 minute, making sure to break apart the meat with a wooden spoon. Stir in the milk and continue breaking apart the meat. Once the milk begins to bubble, reduce to medium low heat.
  6. Continue to cook the ground meat, making sure to break up the meat often, for 20 minutes. Once the meat has begun to sizzle, stir in the tomato paste to combine. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, reserved mushroom liquid, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.
  7. Cook for another 15 minutes then stir in the reduced wine. Cook for a couple more minutes then remove from the heat. Serve hot over pasta or store in the fridge for 2 days or the freezer for 2 months.