Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Chickpeas

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Feta

I could cook pasta every night of the week and make everyone happy. But at the same time I like to make a meal that falls under my definition of “healthy” and “delicious”.

Orzo is familiar as a side dish or floating in soup, but I find that toasting it first and mixing it with lots of vegetables makes it ten times more complex and interesting.

I’ve played on the Greek heritage of orzo in this recipe and borrowed from the Mediterranean pantry by using chickpeas, cumin, lemon and tangy feta cheese. I would serve this on a pile of arugula and call it lunch or dinner.

Toasted Orzo Salad with Lemon and Chickpeas

Serving Size: serves 4

Ingredients

1 cup orzo pasta

2 tablespoons butter

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup canned chickpeas, drained

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

¼ cup chopped fresh dill

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup chopped seedless or Persian cucumber

Baby arugula greens

Instructions

  1. Warm a dry 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat; add the orzo and toast until golden brown and nutty-smelling, about 10 minutes, tossing the pan frequently. Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. Bring 3 quarts salted water to a boil and cook the orzo until al dente. Drain and transfer to a bowl along with the butter, stirring until butter melts completely.
  3. Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper; pour over the orzo. Add the chickpeas, pine nuts, dill and cucumber to the bowl and gently toss together. Top with the cheese and serve over the arugula.
http://familystylefood.com/2012/05/toasted-orzo-salad-with-lemon-and-chickpeas/

Strawberry Mascarpone Crostata

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I’m in love with this dessert; strawberries piled on top of a simple Italian-style crostata. It has a creamy vanilla mascarpone cheesecake filling baked into pasta frolla, a crumbly, shortbread-like cookie crust.

strawberry mascarpone crostata

Any kind of seasonal fruit would be delicious on this tart. I’m thinking lightly sweetened berries, figs, peaches or nectarines in the summer and sauteed apples, pears or poached dried fruit during fall and winter.

strawberry mascarpone crostata

Strawberry Mascarpone Crostata

Serving Size: 8 servings

Ingredients

For crust:

2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

¼ cup whole milk

For filling:

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 quart strawberries, hulled and sliced

Sugar to taste

Instructions

  1. To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a food processor 3 or 4 times to blend; scatter the butter over the flour and process until the mixture looks sandy and you can’t see any butter chunks.
  2. Whisk together the egg, yolk and milk; add to the flour mixture and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to come together (but not until the mixture forms a ball over the blade which will toughen the dough). Add some ice water drop by drop if it seems dry. Remove the dough from the workbowl and knead it gently to form a ball. Flatten it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator about 1 hour until firm but not hard. If the dough gets too cold and seems hard, leave it out for 15 minutes until it’s workable.
  3. Lightly dust the dough with flour and put it on a lightly floured surface (a smooth countertop is ideal). Cover with a large piece of plastic wrap or parchment and roll the dough out to a 12-inch diameter circle. Carefully peel off the plastic wrap, roll the dough onto the rolling pin and unroll over a 9-inch round or square tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and up the sides, trimming the top edges of the dough flush with the pan by running the rolling pin over the top. Put the pan into the refrigerator to chill while you make the filling.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Beat the mascarpone, yogurt, eggs, vanilla bean, sugar, flour and salt in an electric mixer or by hand with a whisk until smooth. Scrape into the tart pan, place the plan on a baking sheet and bake until the filling no longer jiggles in the center, 35 – 40 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack then place in the refrigerator to chill 2 – 4 hours.
  6. Just before serving, toss the strawberries with sugar to taste and either arrange over the top of the tart or pile them up for a more rustic presentation
http://familystylefood.com/2012/05/strawberry-mascarpone-crostata/