December 16, 2009

BLT Orzo

Posted in Pasta: salad-like tagged , , , at 5:49 pm by jenniec00ks

This is a JENNIE original!  I was reading about BLT recommendations on twitter and I thought it’d be a great way to use up the leftover bacon in the fridge.  But alas, I didn’t have any bread or lettuce on hand so I worked with what I had and came up with this.  This recipe makes about 3 large dinner portions, so adjust to your liking.


~5 oz. fresh baby spinach
~10 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic, sliced
6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 pieces
5 cups chicken broth (to boil the orzo in, you can use water)
1/2 lb. (8 oz) orzo pasta

For the baby spinach and tomatoes, just get some package close to the weight suggested, a little more or less of either won’t hurt.  2 regular sized cans or 1 box of chicken broth equals about 4 cups, and I added an extra cup of water so the orzo didn’t burn or stick to the pot.

1. Boil the orzo in the chicken broth (or chicken broth+water or water) for however long the package says.  Mine was 8-10 minutes, I’ve used brands that were 6-8 minutes, so expect somewhere in that range.

2. Preheat a pan (mine was a regular frying one, about 12″) to medium high heat and slice up the bacon into 1/2 inch pieces if you haven’t already.  Then toss ’em in the pan once it’s hot.

3. Let them sizzle away, giving them a stir 2-3 times over the next couple minutes so they get crispy on all sides.  In the meantime, slice the cherry or grape tomatoes in half.

4. When the bacon is crisp to your liking, put it on a paper-towel lined plate on the side.  Then pour out any excess bacon fat from the pan.

5. Turn the heat down to medium-low and return the pan to the heat.  Toss the halved tomatoes in. Let them work a minute while you slice up the 1 clove of garlic, then add that to the tomatoes.  Let the tomatoes cook for about 5 minutes, or until they’ve softened up.  Move them around the pan so they don’t burn though.

6. Add the spinach to the bottom of a large bowl.  Then put the hot tomatoes/garlic pieces on top, and add the bacon on top of that.  Finally, drain the orzo and immediately pour it in the bowl while it’s still piping hot!  Else the spinach won’t wilt nicely!

7. Add the drizzle of olive oil (1 tsp) and then stir everything together and ENJOY!!  This recipe even tastes great at room temperature!  Haven’t tried it cold yet.


November 3, 2009

Roasted Mini Tomato Pasta in Photos

Posted in Pasta: salad-like tagged , , , at 2:48 pm by jenniec00ks

grapetompasta 020This pasta recipe is SIMPLE and is great for many reasons aside it’s wonderful flavors.  It’s very low maintenance (in contrast to the orzotto I made at the same time!)  Tastes great hot or cold, keeps well for lunch the next day, and doubles easily for groups.

*As for the quantities listed of basil and garlic, plus or minus a bit won’t hurt. Adjust to your liking, I grabbed what was in the fridge.

Serves 3.

1 pint of mini tomatoes (grape, cherry, whatever)
~8 fresh basil leaves* see note above
~8 garlic cloves* see note above
8 oz short pasta (1/2 box, I used shells)
1/2 bag of baby spinach (~3 oz, but it could have used more)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (I really used a parm/romano blend)

1. Crack the garlic cloves but don’t remove the casing. You can do this by laying it on a counter and pushing it down with your palm, or laying a knife across it and hitting the knife (carefully) with your fist as if you WERE trying to remove it from the case.

2. Foil down a baking sheet (preferably with sides so that the tomatoes can’t roll off) and start the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Spread out the mini tomatoes (I used grape, 12 oz for $2 on sale) and the cracked garlic on the foiled pan. Drizzle them with the 2 tbsp (estimate!) of olive oil, salt, and pepper to your taste. Give ’em a little toss with a spoon to make sure everything’s covered.

grapetompasta 0014. Pop them in the oven for ~18 minutes, the tomatoes will burst in the oven so don’t be alarmed.  Also get a pot of water boiling about now for the pasta, as it has to come to a boil and takes ~7-10 minutes to cook depending on the kind you choose.  Cook the pasta al dente, but reserve a  half cup of the starchy water.

5. After you pull the pan out, use tongs to squeeze the garlic out of the paper into a bowl.  Then take a fork to them and mash them as best you can.

grapetompasta 003grapetompasta 006

6. Add a ladle (1/2 cup) of pasta water to the garlic.

grapetompasta 0117. Then toss the roasted tomatoes in with all the wonderful oil and juices from the pan. Not all of mine are wrinkley and burst because I pulled them out too early (~15 mins, so I recommend about 18 mins).

grapetompasta 009grapetompasta 012

8. Take a fork again and mash up the tomatoes as best as possible, doesn’t have to be perfect, the whole dish has a slightly rustic feel to it.

grapetompasta 014grapetompasta 0189. Throw the cooked pasta and the baby spinach in and give it a toss to let the heat of the pasta wilt the baby spinach.  Then tear up the basil leaves (no knife necessary) and add to the mix.  The picture to the left is obviously missing the greenery in it.

10. Top with the shredded hard cheese – I used a Parmesan/Romano mix because it was cheaper at the grocery store and I think it gives a good punch of flavor.


grapetompasta 020

YUMMMMM & healthy too!