Spinach, Lima Beans & Crispy Pancetta Pasta by Eating Well!

Spinach, Lima Beans & Crispy Pancetta Pasta by Eating Well!

Continue reading “Spinach, Lima Beans & Crispy Pancetta Pasta by Eating Well!”

[ r e c i p e ] Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil!


This recipe is too good to be true! A perfect combination of healthy ingredients, chicken sweet Italian sausage, fresh spinach, fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, fresh basil and white wheat pasta… these ingredients together with a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar will make you so happy… W A R N I N G :  You may crave this after you’ve made it once. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Print the recipe below, minus all the photos… by clicking on the red link…

Pasta with Italian Sausage, Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil

1 – 12 oz pkg white wheat pasta (like Barilla)

1 pkg Chicken Sweet Italian Sausage (like Al Fresco), skins removed, cut into small pieces

1 container of FRESH Mozarella, cut into fairly small pieces

1 large container (or 2 small) Grape Tomatoes, cut in half

Fresh Basil (to taste)

⅓ – ½ cup Olive Oil

⅛ – ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar




In a large nonstick frying pan add a small amount of olive oil. Cook cut up sausage until browned. Remove from pan and place on a plate that has a few paper towels on it.


Start a large pot of water to boil the pasta, while you’re waiting for it to boil,…


Cut the grape tomatoes in half, set aside.

Wash the basil and chop it up, set aside.

Cut the mozzarella into small bite sized pieces, set aside.

DSCN2459  DSCN2461

In a large bowl, add the balsamic vinegar. I never measure, I just eyeball it to see what I will need to coat the pasta well, it’s ok if it’s more on the heavy olive oil side, you’re going to put this salad on top of fresh spinach, so you will need it! Slowly whisk in ⅓ – ½ cup of olive oil. If you whisk it slowly it will emulsify (become one where it won’t separate). Add some pepper. Go ahead and toss in your cut up tomatoes into the olive oil/balsamic mixture so they can be absorbing those wonderful flavors!


Once your pasta has finished cooking to the al dente stage (firm to the bite), drain it well, and place it in the large bowl with the oil/vinegar. I give it a quick stir to coat the pasta well and then I cover the grape tomatoes with the hot pasta and let it sit for a few minutes.


After a few minutes add the fresh mozzarella, the cooked sausage and the fresh basil. Stir to coat.

You can eat it like it is, or wait until it’s chilled. I usually will take it out of the fridge for 5-10 minutes so that the olive oil will have a change to un-congeal… Place several large handfuls of fresh spinach and then a few large scoops of pasta salad… it melds together wonderfully! Enjoy!


O N E   Y E A R   A G O…  Sonoma Plein Air Event… October 1-6, 2012

T W O   Y E A R S   A G O… Approaching Mackinac Island, MI – Island Inn Hotel and the East Bluff!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Recipe for Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes and Basil… You’re going to thank me!

Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes and Basil

Recipe/Image from Cooking Light Magazine and www.myrecipes.com

Ok, I’m going to be a real friend to you right now… I’m going to pass on a recipe that is so good, I’m telling you that your eyes WILL roll into the back of your head when you taste it. You won’t be able to help it. You are going to thank me. Seriously, this recipe is out of this world, and for all the whining that you may do because you have to stir for 20 minutes or so… just know… IT. IS. WORTH. IT! You will be rewarded with the most scrumptious dinner ever. This is nice paired with a simple salad and maybe a baggette. The ONLY thing that I change is that I use about twice as much balsamic vinegar, mine seems to disappear after it’s reduced. And truly try to give it the time to cook until it’s a little thicker. You will not believe how sweet this is, and how much it adds to the dish! I find that when I boil the balsamic viniagrette  in the beginning (as the recipe calls for) it seems to almost evaporate, so I cook it closer to the time I serve… OK folks, this recipe comes from Cooking Light magazine (see, it’s not even bad for you), I hope you enjoy as much as we do! Check out the http://www.myrecipes.com website when you get a chance, always great recipes from some of your favorite magazines (Cooking Light, Southern Living, Coastal Living, Food & Wine, Health etc.).

Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes, and Basil


  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups chopped leek
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or other medium-grain rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 5 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, finely diced


  1. Place vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 tablespoon (about 4 minutes). Set aside. (Barbara note: this is the step that I do closer to when the risotto is ready to serve).
  2. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add leek to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Stir in 1 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total). Stir in half-and-half, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow serving bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic syrup and 1/2 teaspoon oil.

Mary Alayne Long, Vestavia Hills, Alabama, Cooking Light

Bon Appetit! Catch you back here tomorrow!

Farm Fresh Tomatoes, Pasta, Italian Sausage & Molly’s Basil = DELICIOUS!


We have been getting THE BEST tomatoes this year. I was inspired to create something new, not the typical spaghetti sauce I usually make, but something fresh and delicious where the tomatoes were the star and I think I did it…

There is no real recipe, use whatever quantities you like. The first time I made this (photo above) I used six large tomatoes. The last time I made it, I made enough to freeze, I used at least 11 tomatoes, big juicy fresh tomatoes from Boone Hall Farms, located in Mount Pleasant, SC. Also, the first time I made it I used penne pasta, which was a good fit, because this is NOT a thick sauce, so the tomato, garlic and onion juices got all wrapped up in the penne quite nicely. The last time I made this I used white whole wheat pasta which has more fiber, and tastes just like white (Barilla is the brand I used)… this sauce is so good we both think we can use it on whole wheat pasta with no problem. So, being the adult that I am, I bought some whole wheat pasta, so next time, we will give it a whirl…

A special THANK YOU to MOLLY WEAVER for the BEST. BASIL. EVER. She grows the sweetest basil I’ve ever tasted and she’s been incredibly generous to share it with me!



Fresh tomatoes, at least 6-8 large tomatoes, or as many as you like!

Onion, chopped

Garlic, chopped (or I use a microplane, it’s much faster!)

Fresh Basil, chopped

Olive Oil

Pasta of your choice (my favorite so far was the Barilla white wheat mini penne)

Italian Sausage (I use Al Fresco, Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, no nitrates!)

Wash, core and chop the tomatoes. Put in a big bowl so they’re ready to go…

Chop the onion (as small or large as you like), grate or mince the garlic (the smaller it is the healthier it is for you).

In a large stainless pan (I use a heavy pan, less likely for the garlic and onion to burn), drizzle some olive oil. Enough to keep onions and garlic from sticking to pan.

Once oil is warm, toss in the onion, once they begin to get translucent, make a little well in the center and toss in the garlic (make sure you still have olive oil, if not add some), cook for ONE MINUTE or until fragrant (on medium heat).

Now toss in the tomatoes… and stir it all around, get the onions and garlic mixed in with those tomatoes and wait until you start to see some bubbling. Then you can turn the flame down to low/med low and put a lid on the pan. (I do not leave the kitchen during this step in case they start to boil over). Let them cook for about 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and it will look like you have tomato soup! Take a handheld potato masher and slowly and carefully mash the tomatoes into the juice (you can omit this step if you prefer). Now let it cook with the lid off until it reduces at least an inch… right when it’s about there add the fresh basil, salt and pepper.

Cook your pasta according to package directions… about the same time, throw your Italian Sausage on the grill (I use chicken Italian sausage, oh is it ever delicious!) until done. Then slice thinly. (Note: if you don’t want to mess with the grill you could use scissors and cut the pasta and saute it, but I think the grill adds a nice crispiness to it that goes so nicely with this sauce.)

Scoop out some pasta, add some sauce, top with the Italian sausage and some parmesan cheese.


Catch you back here tomorrow!

UPDATE: I’ve made this again since I wrote the original post. I used Barilla Whole Grain pasta (51% wheat), and it was delicious! Thought I bought whole wheat because it was so dark, but noticed when I got home it was whole grain… NEXT time will try whole wheat!

Also… since tomato season is winding down, I’ve been making this and freezing it in batches. I don’t have a lot of freezer space, so this is how I do it.

Chill the sauce in the refrigerator. Then scoop enough (for the two of us I use 3-4 ladles) for one dinner into a labeled quart freezer bag. Put the bags on a cookie sheet and make sure they’re nice and flat. Once frozen, remove cookie sheet. You can store them standing up (like a file) or store flat. When it comes time to defrost, I just set out on the counter OR run under cold water for a few minutes. Because it’s not thick it defrosts quickly. Snip off one of the bottom ends of the ziplock and squeeze contents into a pan to heat. Toss the bag. Easy, right?

Roasted Shrimp and Tomato Orzo with Feta… Cool on a hot day!

I am about to make you a very happy camper… I’m going to share with you a recipe that is OUT OF THIS WORLD DIVINE! This salad is refreshing on a hot summer day (hot is an understatement, I do believe the tires on my car are melting as I type this)… You can throw this together in the morning and have it for lunch or dinner… it’s a great light dinner. You know what Dr. Oz says… Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Meaning to eat your biggest meal first and lighten up from there. I know. I don’t like to eat breakfast either… but… Dr. Oz said so…! We try to do that when we can, it’s not always possible, but once in a while we get it right…

Ok, onto the reason I’m going to make you so happy… I’m going to share a recipe with you that I have made so many times… I have it perfected… It’s a combination of a few different recipes with my own twists added in… so here goes.

Salad Ingredients

Dressing Ingredients

Pans Prepared with Tomatoes and Shrimp to put in oven to roast… (BEFORE pic), I love before and afters, don’t you?

Tada! What the tomatoes and shrimp look like after roasting. Note: I cut the tomatoes in half (as shown in foreground), be careful, contents are hot and they spit, BIG TIME! I also cut the shrimp in half, you do what you like…

After you whisk together the lemon juice (FRESH lemon please! Red wine vinegar (or whatever you’ve got), salt, pepper and dill. Fresh if you’ve got it, dried if you don’t. Mix it up then slowly drizzle in the olive oil this will make it emulsify (it helps make it cohesive, keeps the oil and vinegar from separating). Pour it onto the orzo and stir to coat.

Add the tomatoes to the orzo mixture. Make sure you add all that wonderful sweet juice as well! It only makes it better!

Then toss in those wonderful roasted shrimp. By now you’ve got to be going crazy to taste the final product, eh? Hee. This isn’t the clearest shot, but it’s COOL, look how I’ve captured the shrimp literally  jumping into that bowl… a true action shot!

Next… add the cheese, also, not pictured are the olives and cucumbers… I usually throw a splash or two of olive juice as well, but that’s a secret so keep it to yourself, ok? Also, the cucumber I usually add right before serving. I love cucumbers, but they can get weird, which rubs off on everything else, you don’t want weird orzo shrimp tomato feta salad do you? Then trust me on this… add it before serving…

Now with all my bossy comments about what to do just know, you can do what you like, add however much of an ingredient you like. Sometimes I don’t have cucumber, so I don’t add it (*GASP*), this time I had a leftover banana pepper, so I used it and it was AWESOME!  Hey, if you make this, let me know. It will most certainly become a staple, especially during the hot summer months!


Salad Ingredients:

1 cup orzo

3/4-1 lb. shrimp

4 green onions, chopping, including green

Big handful of pitted Kalamata olives

6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and dried

1/2-1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded (or an English cucumber with skin)

Dressing Ingredients:

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Fresh or dried dill

1/3 cup olive oil

1.  In a large pot of boiling water (you do need a large pot, I tried with a smaller pot and it didn’t work), cook the orzo according to package directions (mine said 9-11 minutes, I cooked it for 9). Drain thoroughly. I used a sieve otherwise with my colander the orzo would have gone through the cracks… not good.)
2. In a bowl whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and dill. Slowly add the olive oil while constantly whisking to emulsify).
3. Heat the oven to 400. Pat the shrimp dry and toss with olive oil, spread on a baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil (to ease cleanup), sprinkle with S&P. Roast for about 6-7 minutes or until shrimp are done, DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. Toss the dried grape tomatoes in a bowl with a little olive oil (you don’t need much), spread on a baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil, sprinkle with S&P, roast for 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes just start to get wrinkly and maybe one or two does burst. Remove from oven and set aside.
NOTE: if you have a convection oven, here is where you can save some time, put it on convection bake, and you can put them both in at the same time. WOOHOO!
5. Add the orzo to a large bowl.
6. Stir in dressing to coat.
7. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, green onions, olives and feta – I usually wait to add the cucumbers until right before serving (they can get watery).
You can eat it right away (room temp) or chill it first.

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Recipe for fabulous Mediterranean Bowtie Pasta Salad – Perfect for hot weather!

Ahhh, another cold salad that is to-die-for-good and is perfect for this oh-so-hot-weather we’re all having! (What’s with me and all the hyphens I wonder?) This is something you can whip up in the morning and have in the fridge for dinner later in the day. You can customize it to what you’ve got or what sounds good to you. Same with the quantities. Since there are just two of us I only used a half of a box of pasta, but if you have a gaggle at home for dinner, then by all means, double the recipe, no worries!

This is what I had in my pasta salad, remember, there are no rules! I only used a little red onion because I didn’t want it to be too strong. I happened to have 3/4 of a banana pepper left and let me tell you it was tasty in this pasta salad!

This is what I had in the dressing… I’ve also made it with just olive oil, and with olive oil/balsamic vinegar… I have to say I like today’s recipe the best!

This is what the tomatoes should like like when you’re done roasting. Just until one starts to burst or get wrinkly. At this point they’ve achieved the sweetness that you oh so desire (trust me, you do!).

M E D I T E R R A N E A N    P A S T A   S A L A D

1 container grape tomatoes (or tomatoes of your choice)

Pasta of your choice, I used the mini bowtie pasta. I used 1/2 box. If you use a full box, double the recipe for the olive

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard


Vegetables to add to salad – anything goes! Whatever quantity you like.

I used 3/4 of a banana pepper and about 1/4 cup (or less) minced red onion

Feta cheese 2-4 oz.

Basil (fresh or dry), washed, chopped, I used a few sprigs (maybe 15 leaves).

Olives! (Forgot those in the photos) – I used Kalamata, the big dark black olives, you can use a teaspoon or two of juice as well.

Preheat oven to 400 F

Boil water for the pasta. While the water is boiling wash and dry the grape tomatoes. (Yep, dry em… wash them well, then gently place on a clean towel, roll them around and they will be dry!)

BIG NOTE: Often times I SKIP ROASTING THE TOMATOES (especially when it’s hot outside) and simply slice, and place in the large bowl with olive oil/vinegar/mustard – then dump the hot pasta on top and let it sit a few minutes before stirring to incorporate. But it IS delish, so if you want to roast, here are the directions: Toss the grape tomatoes into a bowl with about a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Using your hands stir them around so that they’re all coated with the olive oil. Now using your olive oil hand, grease the cookie sheet (I use one with a lip so that they don’t go rolling off into your oven!), if you need a wee bit more olive oil go ahead and get some, but you only want to LIGHTLY oil the cookie sheet, otherwise you will have stinky deep fried smelling tomatoes and who wants that? Once tomatoes are coated slide them onto the cookie sheet.

By now your pasta water should be boiling, toss in the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain in a colander once pasta is cooked.

Check your tomatoes, you just want them to start to get crinkly. It’s not horrible if they totally fall apart, but then you’ll have little tomato pieces instead of more sturdy pieces. Roasting the tomato gives it sweetness you cannot begin to fathom. Seriously! When they’re done, cut them in half. You don’t have to but sometimes they can be kind of big in a salad.

Mix together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk and then pour over cooked pasta that you have placed in a large bowl. Stir it until pasta is coated well.

Now for the fun part… I added banana pepper and red onion. Add what you like, as much or as little as you like! Add it to the pasta, stir it in.

Add 4 oz. of feta and mix it in. Remember you can always add it on top, so don’t add too much. Been there. Done that.

Add fresh chopped (or in my case snipped with scissors) basil and thyme (again, stripped from the stalk).

Chill (but go ahead and try some now… try to leave some for everyone else. It’s that good, yep! – Yield approximately 4 servings.

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Pasta with zucchini and onions from the Farmer’s Market… delish!

Aren’t these just the sweetest baby yellow squash, pattypan squash and zucchini that you’ve ever seen? Here is a quick and easy meal to prepare that will make you want it again and again and again… you don’t have to use baby zucchini/squash, you can use regular. However, if you can find the baby, it’s a treat, we got this at the Farmer’s Market (Charleston, SC)…

This time I decided to try Trader Joe’s Spinach and Chive Linguini… it was tasty! I didn’t have any strong flavors in this pasta, so the chives and spinach flavor were a nice touch… You can use whatever kind of pasta you like… often times I cook whatever kind strikes me, cappelini (Angel Hair), Linguini, Spinach pasta of any type, whatever sounds good to you!

Cut up the zucchini and onion… if you have anything else to add, go ahead, it only gets better… red pepper, mushrooms, tomato. Sauté in olive oil (or canola oil) on medium high heat until zucchini starts to brown and onions are translucent… Cook your pasta, drain, and add to the pan with the veggies… stir around, dish up and sprinkle with copious amount of parmesan (ok, so my ‘copious’ and your ‘copious’ may differ, I get my parmesan cheese “habit” from my mom…) and TADA… dinner is ready in no time and it is KILLER! Fresh and tasty…

Here’s the “recipe” which as mentioned above can be changed however you like! All measurements are approximate, you can’t mess this up… well… for the most part!


1 medium zucchini (or an equal amount of baby squash)

1 small yellow squash, pattypan squash, etc.

olive oil

pasta of your liking

parmesan cheese

salt, pepper

In a large pan, boil water for the pasta. Depending upon the cooking time for the pasta, start the veggies… give them about 10 minutes.

Cut up the squash. I don’t peel (especially baby squash) but if its tough (or not organic) then go ahead a peel it, it has good vitamins in the skin, so I try to eat it… dice the onion.

In a nonstick frying pan add 1 Tablespoon (roughly, if it needs more, add it) of Olive Oil… (If using a regular pan you’ll need more oil)

Once the oil is hot, toss in the chopped squash and onion. Don’t stir around too much, if you can let it sit for a bit before stirring it will brown nicely. Don’t let it brown too much… just some crispy edges are nice…

Once the pasta is done, drain in a colander. When the veggies are done you can turn the heat to very low and add as much pasta as you think you’ll need (it’s hard to judge when cooking pasta, but when you put it in the pan you can tell if you have way too much pasta for the amount of veggies). Stir it around to coat the noodles (add a splash of olive oil if necessary if it appears to be dry). Dish up the pasta and sprinkle with S&P and parmesan… and ENJOY!

Variations: sometimes I cut up fresh tomato and add it after it’s on my plate… also wedges of avocado are so nice… sometimes I will dice up some banana pepper and add that with the zucchini and sauté it… it adds a nice flavor!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Med Pasta (shrimp, feta, spinach pasta, artichokes) so good it’ll make your eyes roll back in your head!

Med Pasta with Shrimp

My husband and I made THE BEST pasta dish the other night… it came together and it was OUTSTANDING… quick and easy too! We used spinach spaghetti (Whole Foods), you can use fresh spinach pasta, spinach linguine, or I’m sure regular pasta will do just fine… keep in mind there is also the quinoa pasta available… might be tasty? We’ve made this several times and we get between 1/2-3/4# fresh large shrimp. Frozen shrimp will work just fine. Just run them under cold water to thaw. I’ve used both frozen and canned artichokes, both work fine, as long as they’re thawed/drained. The feta and olives add the perfect touch. I made it for the two of us, adapt the recipe below to suite your needs, add anything else that sounds good to you! Hint: I often will buy some of the veggies (red onion and red pepper) at the salad bar or the bulk veggies cut up at Whole Foods if I know I don’t need the entire pepper/onion… Last time I think the red onion/red pepper was sixty five cents!

Click HERE to print just the recipe…

MED PASTA – serves 2

Spinach Spaghetti (or any pasta, spinach is especially good in this recipe)

Olive oil for sautéing

1/2- 3/4 lb. shrimp (I bought fresh, large, deveined shrimp)

Red pepper (about 1/4 of a pepper)

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 red onion, chopped

Artichokes, chopped small (I used either one can, or about 8-9 frozen and thawed artichokes) – drain in either case…

Feta (a few spoonfuls for each plate)

Kalamata Olives (a spoonful for each plate)


Splash of white wine or pasta water

I used a stir fry pan, I heated some olive oil (about 1/2-1 tablespoon, add more if you need it), once the oil got hot and was dancing around I added the shrimp and cooked until pink and they were done, about 3 minutes, then add a few cloves of minced garlic, cook this for one minute. Holy cow does that ever smell good! Then put this shrimp/garlic mixture into a bowl while you do the next step… (Make sure your shrimp is done, but not OVER done… when shrimp turns pink and opaque, or you see the ends curl up, that means its done)…

Add a little more olive oil to your pan (1/2-1 tablespoon), when hot, sauté the onions and red pepper. When onions start getting translucent add the artichokes and cook for a few minutes (until hot), and add the shrimp back in. Now I have brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan (yippee), time to deglaze the pan. I used a little white wine, but you can use water, broth, etc. Literally a few tablespoons, just enough to be able to stir the brown goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan and turn it into heavenly taste for the pasta dish… Add the cooked and drained spinach pasta to the veggies. Toss to coat, add more olive oil if necessary. Using tongs (to pick up all the little veggie pieces) put some of this fabulous mixture on a plate (we use a low rim soup bowl that works perfectly as a small pasta bowl). Sprinkle feta and olives on top. Grind a little pepper and you’re ready to go!

Your eyes just rolled back in your head didn’t they? Too good! Catch you back here tomorrow!

Quick and delicious! Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo by Cooking Light magazine…

Image: MyRecipes.com

I’m sharing with you a great recipe from Cooking Light magazine… This is a relatively quick and easy meal. Each recipe makes 2 servings and believe me, the servings are generous. I pretty much followed the recipe, except I like to use grape tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes… If you have dinner for four make two packets then slide it into a pretty dish. Gorgeous, tasty and without the guilt… then you can indulge in dessert! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do! Catch you back here tomorrow!

Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo


  • 1 regular-size foil oven bag
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided 
  • 1 cup diced tomato  (I used grape tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Coat inside of oven bag with cooking spray. Place the bag on a large shallow baking pan.
  3. Cook the pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon oil and next 7 ingredients (1 teaspoon oil through pepper). Place the orzo mixture in prepared oven bag. Combine shrimp and basil. Arrange shrimp mixture on orzo mixture. Fold edge of bag over to seal. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until the shrimp are done. Cut open bag with a sharp knife, and peel back the foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.

Yield: 2 Servings

Cooking Light
MARCH 2000

Meatless Monday: Giada’s Pasta Ponza!!

Image: GiadaDeLaurentiis.com

If you’re on the Meatless Monday bandwagon, you don’t have to feel deprived. LOOK at this dish. This recipe is all good! Fresh simple ingredients, quick to throw together, not using many pots/pans. You’re simply roasting the tomatoes, cooking the pasta and mixing! This pasta paired with a nice fresh salad sounds TASTY! I’m going to serve mine on a salad plate to help trim calories. Our dinner plates these days I swear used to be platters back when I was young. You can load a lot of food on a modern plate… back to the salad plate for me! This recipe came directly from Giada’s website. ENJOY!

Pasta Ponza

Total Time:  23 min 
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Level: Easy


  • Butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Print Recipe

Pasta Ponza is from Giada’s cookbook “Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California” available at booksellers everywhere! She’s got an amazing website as well, click HERE to check it out!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Can’t get a good dinner quicker than this!

A quick and easy dinner - ready in no time!

Ooooh, Wild Alaskan Coho Salmon, Shells with Brie and Asparagus along with Martha’s Tomato, Basil and White Bean Salad. A delicious dinner that was quick to prepare. I had made the bean salad a little earlier in the day. It’s so easy and the taste is beyond belief (as I mentioned in Monday’s post), but the longer it sits the tastier it is! The salmon and the shells with brie/asparagus came directly from Trader Joe’s freezer section. AND the salmon is boneless and skinless as well. Fred cooked the salmon. I know a lot of people like it rare’ish… I like mine crispy with no chance of flipping around… this just had a little butter on it, then was sautéed in olive oil, with salt and pepper and a little squeeze of lemon juice toward the end. The frozen shells with brie I wasn’t sure about. It sounded good at the time, but hmmm, you never know. It was good! It’s a small package and says serving size is 2 and it was PLENTY! This is an example of a good dinner put together in no time! What are some of your favorite “quick to throw together” meals?? I’d love to know!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Meatless Monday recipe… Penne with Spinach, Feta and Olives!

Image: MyRecipes.com

Here is a recipe that will make you flip. It’s so easy. It’s healthy. It’s QUICK and DELICIOUS. This is another good one from Cooking Light Magazine! If you need a meatless Monday meal, here it is! It’s great paired with a small salad… enjoy, it’s one of my favorites! Click HERE to go directly to the MyRecipes.com website so it’s quick and easy to print, or see below!

Penne with Spinach, Feta, and Olives


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 cups hot cooked penne (about 12 ounces uncooked tube-shaped pasta)
  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled feta cheese


  • Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Add pasta, spinach, olives, capers, and cheese; toss well.

Cooking Light
MAY 1998

I said it was easy, didn’t I? Can’t get any easier than that! Catch you back here tomorrow!

Giada’s Carbonara… oh! What could be better for a meatless Monday?

Image: GidaDeLaurentis.com

OHMYGOSH. Does this ever look good! Perfect if you’re trying to skip meat one day a week. Have you noticed the latest trend where eggs are appearing on top of all kinds of dishes, salads, pasta, etc… very different indeed!  I think it’s worth trying for sure! It’s not a light recipe, but great for a special occasion! To get directly to the recipe on Giada’s website click HERE). I pulled this recipe up on the Food Network’s website as well, I wanted to see what kind of reviews it received… EXCELLENT! All comments were out of this world good… Gotta love Giada AND the view out of her kitchen window! (Those who have watched her show know exactly what I mean!)…

From the book GIADA’S KITCHEN: If you’re looking for a low-fat dish, move on. My brother and sister and I craved this dish so often as kids that we finally learned to make it ourselves – it is actually one of the first dishes I ever made for myself. These days I consider it special occasion food, not everyday fare, and it’s especially good for Sunday brunch. Add champagne and a fruit salad and you’re done. The Basil Aioli keeps for up to a week in the fridge and it works as a dip for veggies, on eggs, or as a sandwich spread, too.

giada’s carbonara


Makes 4 to 6 servings

Giada’s Carbonara
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, rubber band left on
1 pound linguini
1 cup Basil Aioli
1 cup shaved pecorino, about 4 ounces
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
4 to 6 large eggs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil Aioli
1 garlic clove , minced
2 large egg yolks (see Note)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil


Giada’s Carbonara
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus bundle and cook for 3 minutes Use tongs to transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool, about 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus, remove the rubber band, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the same pot of salted water used to cook the asparagus and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. Add the basil aioli, asparagus, shaved cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and turn out onto a serving platter. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggs, sprinkle with salt and pepper, fry to your liking. Place the eggs on top of the pasta and serve immediately.
Basil Aioli
Combine the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and run the machine to mix. With the machine running slowly drizzle in the vegetable and olive oil. Basil Aioli can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
There are some dangers associated with eating raw eggs, especially for those with compromised immune systems. To reduce the risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness, use only fresh, properly-refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells

I know I’ve bought PASTURIZED eggs for a recipe long ago, I’m going to check to see if they’re still available…  but if not, I’m throwing caution to the wind, ha ha… getting risky in my old age… I’ve GOT to give this recipe a try!

A peak out of Giada’s window… the ocean… that would be sweet! Although I probably wouldn’t get a lot of cooking done, ha ha…

Image: GiadaDeLaurentis.com

Enjoy! Catch you back here tomorrow!

What to do with your garden’s bounty? VEGGIE PASTA! Dinner this eve…

The stars of the show...

Are you wondering what to do with a garden full of fresh veggies? Here is one quick and easy idea. What’s better is that this can be made with whatever you have on hand each day, so it’s completely different! Mushrooms, celery, walnuts, chicken, shrimp, hey… whatever you have will work! For this evenings meal, I have a zucchini, part of an orange pepper, some cremini mushrooms and some onion. Like I said, use what you’ve got…

Throw on a pot of water while you cut up the veggies. I like them cut small, my mom cuts big, it really doesn’t matter, do what you like (isn’t that liberating??)… Heat a skillet (you can use non-stick, I prefer a regular skillet or a cast iron skillet) with some olive oil, enough to lightly cover the bottom (don’t be too chintzy, you’ll need it to coat the pasta), toss in the cut up veggies (once you hear a SIZZLE when you slide a piece into the pan, cook it on medium high until it starts to get lightly brown… owwwwieee. you’re getting close to heaven now… won’t be much longer. Go ahead and toss the pasta into the boiling water. I usually use angel hair (capellini) because it cooks so quickly! Once the pasta is done, drain it well then toss it into the pasta and stir around. Turn the skillet off. I use tongs to coat the pasta with the oil and veggies. I realize I’m not giving amounts here, use what you like and whatever amount you like. You see what I used and that was for two people. I probably use about 1/3+ of a package of capellini… then sprinkle with PARMESAN… woohoo… you can also add fresh basil or any other herbs along the way. It’s hard to mess this up. It will become a go to meal when you can’t think of anything else to make (or don’t have time).

Tada... Dinner is served!

And there you have it… dinner is READY! As you can see in this picture I added a fresh cut up tomato.

Another option to change things up a bit… once the veggies are done, add the cooked/drained pasta, then add a few spoonfuls of PLAIN REGULAR yogurt (flavored is weird and Greek yogurt is too thick), stir it in with the veggies and pasta, then (hold on to your hat, this is the best part…) grate some pepper jack cheese over the top… throw a lid on top of the skillet just until the cheese melts… oh heavens. Tasty!

Catch you back here tomorrow!!