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. 1 cup orzo pasta
  2. 2 tablespoons butter
  3. Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  4. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  6. ½ teaspoon salt
  7. Freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
  9. 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  10. ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
  11. 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  12. 1/2 cup chopped seedless or Persian cucumber
  13. 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/

Lemon Polenta Cake

lemon-polenta-cake-recipe

had a lot of pots on the fire this week and I was hoping to share some of the contents with you. And I will… but today I want to keep it simple. So here’s a favorite dessert recipe from my file. It’s a rustic Italian cake made with lots of lemon and crunchy stoneground cornmeal –  polenta.

It’s the sort of peasant-style dessert I love. You could cut it into squares and eat it with your hands like a bite of coffee cake, or sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve alongside a generous pile of whatever summer fruit is the sweetest at the moment.

lemon-polenta-cake-recipe

Lemon Polenta Cake

Serving Size: serves 8 - 10

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup polenta, or coarse-ground cornmeal
  2. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 egg whites
  8. 1/4 cup olive oil
  9. 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  10. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  11. 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan or standard loaf pan with lightly oiled parchment paper to fit.
  3. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs, egg whites and sugar in a heavy-duty stand mixer until pale and creamy. On low speed, mix in the oil. butter, yogurt, lemon zest and juice.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients until just blended. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 - 40 minutes, or until the top feels firm (not hard) and a toothpick inserted in the center of cake come out clean. Cool completely before serving.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/06/lemon-polenta-cake/

Marry Me Roast Chicken – A Recipe For Every Girl (& Guy)

Marry Me Roast Chicken

Glamour Magazine’s cult recipe for Engagement Chicken made the rounds over the past few years, but I just got around to seeing it the other day.

I saw a promo for the new book, 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know, which includes this “iconic” roast chicken; reputedly the impetus for dozens upon dozens of proposals as well as what I’m guessing is an infinite number of unreported but nonetheless passionate, chicken-fueled moments.

Kimberly Bonnell, a former editor at Glamour, takes credit for the popular dissemination of the recipe.

Here’s the thing: I noticed right away that the recipe was almost the exact replica of an unbelieveably simple, ultra-classic one from the Italian cooking teacher and author, Marcella Hazan. I first came across it in 1992, when it appeared in the Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a book I’d most certainly grab on the way out of my house if it was burning down.

I cut my chicken-roasting teeth on Marcella’s foolproof chicken. It’s undergone an evolution in my own kitchen; still very true to the basic original but tweaked to my taste.

Over the years, I’ve added garlic and handfuls of fresh herbs to the chicken, and reversed the oven temperature steps: Marcella starts her chicken in a preheated 350 oven, but I like to get my bird nice and hot right away to ensure crisp, golden skin – 425 degrees – before turning it down to finish roasting.

The smell that comes out of the oven while this little bird is cooking will draw everyone into the kitchen- if not begging for your hand, than at least drooling for a bit of juicy leg.

Marry Me Roast Chicken

Yield: Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers

Ingredients

  1. 1 (3-4 pound) whole chicken
  2. 5 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  3. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  4. 1 small head garlic, sliced in half
  5. 1 small lemon, punctured about a dozen times with a skewer
  6. 1 handful mixed fresh herb bunches - rosemary, thyme, tarragon and/or lavender are good

Instructions

  1. Pat the chicken dry with towels and place on a small rack on a shallow casserole or roasting pan. I use a quarter-sheet pan, which is the perfect size.
  2. Put 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 the pepper, garlic, lemon and herbs into the cavity. Rub the remaining salt and pepper all over the skin; front, sides and back. Tie the legs together firmly with a piece of kitchen string.
  3. Turn the chicken breast side down, and let it sit out at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 425 degrees, for at least 20 minutes.
  4. When the oven is hot, put the chicken in and roast for 25 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and carefully turn it so the breast is facing up. Put it back into the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 and roast for about 25 more minutes. The chicken will be sizzling and spitting, the legs joints will wiggle and skin should be golden and crisp. You can take its temperature if you're unsure - 160 -165 degrees before resting is my preference.
  5. Take the chicken out of the oven and let it rest, loosely covered with a piece of aluminum foil for 15 minutes. Carve and serve with reserved juices from the pan and the inside of the chicken.
http://familystylefood.com/2011/05/marry-me-roast-chicken-a-recipe-for-every-girl-guy/