Just made one of my favorite pasta dishes for Lark & Linen and will be posting every now and then over on her beautiful site giving my recommendation for quick weeknight dinners! Here’s my first one – enjoy!
Pasta in one form or another tends to make its way often into our dinner rotation. After a long week, I crave its comforting powers and the overload of carbs! It’s not often that I repeat recipes over long periods of time, but this one seems to keep making its way back into the kitchen.
One of my good friends was so kind to teach me this recipe from his hometown in the south of Italy. It’s a typical thrifty meal that was invented in the times of the war, making do with the little ingredients that were on hand at the time. The good thing with little ingredients is that this pasta dish is so quick and easy to whip up and has a surprising amount of flavor.
When there’s time, I love to make my own Orecchiette but in a pinch, either store bought fresh or dried will work perfectly fine. I prefer the sun dried tomatoes that are dried and preserved in salt rather than oil. Change up your weekday routine and give this pasta try!
Sun Dried Tomato and Chili Orecchiette
- 8 oz fresh or dried orecchiette
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp crushed red chilies
- 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 1/2 cups day old bread crumbled*
- handful of basil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When ready cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan on medium high. When shimmering, add the crushed red chilis and let cook for 30 seconds making sure not to let them burn. Add in the sliced sun dried tomatoes and cook for another minute stirring often. Then add in the bread crumbs and stir to coat. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes until a bit crispy. Add in the cooked orecchiette and a couple tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes until everything is well coated and starting to get crispy. Toss with basil and serve immediately. Serves 2.
*I like to use a day old white bread loaf, the kind from the bakery not sliced bread. Cut off the crusts and just rub the bread between your fingertips to get large chunks of bread. Don’t worry about it being fine – the chunkiness adds texture!
If you haven’t already, check out the beautiful Lark and Linen and some of my favorite weeknight meals on the blog!
I love having people over to my home for drinks and often dinner and after flicking through magazines and browsing through blogs, I always have grand ideas of what new recipes to try. However, when it comes down to it, the last thing I want to do right before people come over is spend half the day in the kitchen. The evening is just not as fun when you’re exhausted and dreaming of your bed!
So I’m always excited when easy to prep recipes come about – especially appetizers. And no I’m not talking about the straight from the supermarket to oven type appetizers – though these take minimally more work. The salsa is lovely and tangy with a slight kick which goes great with all the herbs. It is the perfect accompaniment to cocktail shrimps which can be quite bland and boring. And best of all, you can make all the parts ahead of time and just assemble right before people come over! Just how I like it, quick and simple!
Cilantro Apple Salsa & Shrimp Squares
- 30 precooked cocktail shrimp
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- 1 beaten egg (optional)
- 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and quartered
- 1 orange segmented
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 long red chilies, deseeded and finely minced
- 4 tbsp lime juice
- 8 stalks of cilantro
- 8 stalks of mint
- salt to taste
- finely chopped cilantro to garnish
In a medium bowl, add the cocktail shrimp, lime juice, garlic, cumin and 1/4 tsp of salt and set aside to marinate for atleast 30 min.
Preheat the oven to 425°F (or according to package directions). Roll the puff pastry to about 10×12 in and cut into 2 inch squares. Score a slightly smaller square into into each one and prick the inner square with a fork to prevent it rising too much. Lightly brush with the egg wash if using and bake on a piece of parchment paper for about 7 minutes or until just golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, make the salsa. Place all remaining ingredients in a blender and blend until very fine.
To assemble, place a teaspoonful of salsa on top of the puff pastry square and top with a shrimp. Garnish with a bit of cilantro sprinkled on top. Serve immediately. Makes 30.
Growing up in England, I had my fair share of deliciously airy chocolatey eclairs. Though the English have a well known hatred of all things French, it seems as though the decadent pastries passed the test and are beautifully displayed in most bakeries. Unlike other Brits, I have a soft spot for all things French and Paris is one of my absolute favorite destinations. There’s nothing like enjoying an eclair and a cafe au lait in a cute little Parisian cafe.
After a recent visit and being inspired by the delicious pastries Paris has to offer, I decided to try something a bit on the savory side with these parmesan eclairs. You get the eggy airy goodness of the eclair which everyone loves and the added benefit of some equally tasty fillings. The best part is you can mix and match as you please to your tastes. These are quite easy to make and can be made a day ahead of a brunch if need be. Sandwiches will never be the same again!
Get the recipe here at Sugar and Charm!
I’m super excited to be contributing regularly to Sugar & Charm and this is one of my first recipes! I love going out for brunch on the weekends but sometimes staying home enjoying food with your closest friends or family often feels a bit more indulgent. Eggs en Cocotte are so easy to make and perfect to serve for a weekend brunch. Head on over to Sugar & Charm to see more pictures and get the recipe!
I’m super excited to be guest posting for Lark & Linen today and I’ve been waiting to share these delicious Toasted Coconut Ginger Shortbread with you!
Teatime is a bit of a tradition in our household. I love that we can all come home in the evening and share our days with each other over a cup of a tea and most importantly a bite of something sweet to eat. So I’m always on the lookout for something new to try. Coconut is one of my most favorite flavors – whenever coconut is an option all other choices don’t stand a chance. Coconut pairs nicely with a whole variety of cookies but exceptionally well with the more traditional shortbread and a touch of ginger adds adds a little kick! I think they go perfectly with a cup of tea! Enjoy! Teatime is not teatime with out the treats!
Head on over to Lark & Linen for the recipe!
I have to admit that polenta and I have had a rocky past. Whenever I make a batch, it always seems to lack some flavor or inadvertently becomes a frying pan failure. No one likes oil soaked polenta crumbs now do they. So out of frustration or perhaps the desire to perfect this seemingly delicious food, I spent some time experimenting a bit. I learned that a touch of fat is your friend when getting a silky texture out of your polenta and also that polenta loves cheese. In order to avoid the unhealthy and disastrous frying pan route, I decided to try and broil it to crisp things up. I found that cooking it like this is the perfect way to get a deliciously crisp outside and a creamy smooth inside. With a few of the kinks worked out, this is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine.
It turns out the whole process is quite easy and that’s why you should definitely make these polenta squares. The lemony ricotta is deliciously creamy and the pecorino brussel sprout slaw is perfect on top. They make the perfect appetizer or mid afternoon snack. Enjoy xx
Broiled Polenta, Lemon Ricotta and Pecorino Brussel Sprout Squares
- 1 cup instant polenta
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded brussel sprouts
- 1/2 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the polenta according to package directions. Cook until thick and coming away from the sides, add in the butter and pecorino cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Pour out into a 10 x 7inch sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Smooth out to the edges with a spatula and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.
Meanwhile prepare the toppings. In a small bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and season to taste.
In another bowl, combine the brussel sprouts, olive oil, lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oven to broil. Slice the polenta into 2 inch squares and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil for 4-5 minutes on each side until crispy to the touch.
Once the polenta has cooled, top with a teaspoon of the ricotta cheese mixture and a pinch of the brussel sprouts. Top with a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Makes 15 squares.