My wonderful friend Andrea introduced me to this meal when I was visiting her and her husband in DC last summer. It was love at first bite. She also introduced me to my first food blog (Smitten Kitchen), so I really have a lot to thank her for. This recipe also happens to be from Smitten Kitchen (did everything just come full circle?).
This meal is one of my all-time favorite summer time dishes. The ingredient list and instructions might look a bit long and daunting, but once all the chopping and slicing is finished, it’s pretty easy to get together. I will be quite honest and admit there are a few things in here that I would never be caught eating by themselves (I’m looking at you cucumbers!), but put them all together with some peanut sauce, cilantro, and lime, it’s hard not to like everything in this meal.
Despite my reservations about cucumbers (and bell peppers too), I left the recipe nearly all the same, except for using chicken breasts and all gluten-free ingredients. I also used more cilantro than mint and basil, but that’s just because I love cilantro (I’m lukewarm on basil and barely acquaintances with mint). Luckily, just about everything in this recipe can be adjusted to every individual taste. When you serve this delicious meal up, it’s kind of like a noodle-taco bar scenario. Everything is prepared separately and you get to pick and choose what you do and don’t like, which makes it good for a small crowd. And I am happy to report that this meal is one that gets better with age. The leftovers are even better than the original meal!
Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken
Make the dipping sauce:
- Whisk ingredients in a small serving bowl, making sure to dissolve the sugar. Leave to ripen for 15 minutes. Refrigerate any extra and use within a few days.
Make the peanut dressing:
- In a blender or food processor, puree all ingredients to a smooth sauce, about the thickness of heavy cream. Pour into a serving bowl.
Marinate the chicken:
- Stir together 1/2 the dipping sauce and 1/3 the peanut dressing (you can eyeball this) in the bottom of a low-sided bowl or dish. Add the chicken to the mixture and toss to coat. Let marinate at least 15 minutes.
Cook the noodles:
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil, then turn off the heat. Add the rice vermicelli and soak for 7 to 8 minutes. (Package directions may vary; check for doneness by tasting.) Drain when noodles are al dente, and cool under running water. Fluff and leave in strainer to drain well.
Cook the chicken:
- Grill the chicken on an outdoor grill, a stove-top grill pan, or run under the broiler until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes a side. Let cool slightly, then chop roughly into 3/4-inch pieces.
- At this point, you can place everything on a large serving platter, with piles or small bowls for noodles, vegetables, chicken, the dressing and marinade and toppings (peanuts, herbs) and let your family and friends put it together in their own bowls as they wish.
- Or, you can assemble it for everyone as suggested:Toss vegetables with 1 tablespoon dipping sauce in a small bowl. Divide the cooked noodles among 4 to 6 bowls. Top each bowl equally with vegetable mixture and chopped chicken. Toss each bowl with 2 teaspoons of each the dipping sauce and dressing, or more to taste (we wanted more). Add the herbs, peanuts and scallions to each bowl and serve with additional dressing and dipping sauce on the side.
If you don’t like gorgonzola, just stop reading now. I won’t take it personally. If you do like gorgonzola, this might be one of the best things you have ever tried. When I was living in Florence, my favorite hole in the wall neighborhood restaurant made the best gnocchi I have ever had. Every time we went to dinner there, I already knew I was going to have the gnocchi, but I was always faced with an impossible decision; gnocchi with walnut pesto or gnocchi with gorgonzola. It was like the Sophie’s Choice of pasta sauces. One evening I was expressing my dilemma to my favorite waiter, he walked away with our order before I had made my decision and when he returned with our meal, my gnocchi had both walnut and gorgonzola sauce. My mind just could not comprehend what it was seeing on my plate. Then I took my first bite and all was right with the world.
For some reason I remembered this magical gnocchi the other day and decided I must attempt to make it. This is not an exact replica of the recipe, but pretty close. In the original, the walnut part of the sauce was more of a pesto, blended and smooth. I was in a hurry to watch The Real Housewives of Orange County, so making pesto just wasn’t going to happen. Priorities, I have them. The chopped walnuts did give a nice texture to the whole meal though. Gnocchi with a cheese/pesto sauce could be kinda boring texture-wise, especially since the gnocchi was kinda chewy. My onions kinda, sorta got a little browner than they should have, so the sauce is a bit darker, but it had no impact on the taste.
Now, true confessions time. I totally didn’t make this gnocchi, just the sauce. The other day while I was walking about Whole Foods, I saw a gluten-free sign on their fresh pasta case. Gnocchi is pretty much the only pasta I like, since it usually potato/not wheat based, so this definitely caught my interest. Pre-made gnocchi also helped make a quick meal. From onion chopping to plating, all this took about 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the gnocchi wasn’t amazing. It was pretty good, but kinda sticky and chewy. I definitely preferred my homemade attempts
, but in a pinch this could do.
Gnocchi with Gorgonzola and Walnut Sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 4½ ounces (125 g) Gorgonzola cheese
- 1 package fresh or frozen gnocchi
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onion, and cook gently for about 5 minutes until soft. Now add the walnuts, and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the flour, then add a little milk. Return to the heat, and add the remaining milk, stirring constantly for 4-6 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Remove from the heat again, and stir in the Gorgonzola. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a separate saucepan, cook the gnocchi as the package directs. Drain well. Add to the sauce, stirring gently to coat.
Pumpkin is pretty gross looking. The look and smell definitely do not appeal. I’ve actually only had pumpkin once before. It was also gnocchi form. It was pretty delicious. Since pumpkin seems to be absolutely every where this time of year, I decided to give it a whirl. This recipe was also absolutely delicious.
I must say that homemade gnocchi was not as difficult to make as I thought it would be. Not that it’s a meal to make every night, but it definitely seems a lot more daunting than it really is. The most time consuming part of the whole thing, was waiting for water to boil.
The recipe for the gnocchi will generously serve 4 people or 2 with plenty of leftovers for a whole other meal.
Now I just need to figure out how to use up the rest of this pumpkin…
Gluten Free Pumpkin Gnocchi with Sage-Brown Butter Sauce
- 1 pound/450g of potatoes (around 3 medium russet potatoes)
- 1/3 cup/75g pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup/160g flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All Purpose Mix)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 5-6 sprigs of fresh sage
- Bring small pot of salted water to a boil. While water is heating, peel potatoes, cut into pieces and add to boiling water. When cooked, drain from pot and allow to cool slightly. When cooled, press potatoes through ricer or mash until smooth in a large bowl.
- Add pumpkin puree, flour, nutmeg, salt and egg to bowl. Mix together until sticky, but clean to the touchy (ie, doesn’t stick to you).
- Divide dough into four. On a clean, well floured surface take one section of dough and roll out into long skinny ‘snake’ about one inch thick. Cut dough into 1-inch pieces. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add in gnocchi (you might have to work in batches). Gnocchi will rise to the surface and allow to boil for 2-3 minutes. When done remove from water with a slotted spoon and allow to drain.
- In a large pan melt butter over medium-high heat. When melted, add gnocchi (you might have to work in batches or use multiple pans) and allow to crisp. Flip to crisp on other side. When done, add another pat of butter, melt and allow to start to brown/caramelize and chopped sage. Cook sage until crispy.
- Put gnocchi on plates, top with sage-butter sauce and top with grated parmesan and freshly ground pepper.
- Serve and enjoy!
Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Gluten-free, Pasta, Recipes, Thanksgiving, vegetarian
Tagged dinner, food, gluten free, gnocchi, italian, Pasta, potatoes, pumpkin, recipes, vegetarian
After spending nearly 4 hours in traffic on my drive up from work, I wanted a dinner that would be quick, fast and tasty. After a quick and fruitless Google sesh, I decided to get serious and go to a site that has rarely let me down: Real Simple. On their website, Real Simple has a ‘Dinner in 15 Minutes Flat‘ page, which is pretty much awesome, especially when you are short on time. The only thing that I found annoying about the recipe was the fact that it called for a rotisserie chicken… that would be fine and dandy, but when you get home and are looking for a quick, last-minute recipe, I highly doubt you have a rotisserie chicken lying around or that you want to head back to the store to pick one up. Instead of dinner in 15, it was more like dinner in 30 since I had to roast chicken, but it was worth it.
I’m not really a fan of pasta, like I kind of hate it, which apparently makes me a crazy person according to most. I am of the school of thought that potatoes are where it’s at. Despite my misgivings about pasta, this recipe still appealed. I actually think that with a bit more broccoli, this could be served as a meal by itself without pasta and still be just as satisfying. The other good thing about this recipe, which might have been a by-product of using more pasta that the original recipe called for, was the fact that there were tons of leftovers. If I had been going to work the next day, it definitely would have made for a great lunch.
Roasted Chicken Breasts
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- garlic powder
- unsalted butter
- extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 lemon
Easiest roast chicken ever! The chicken definitely could have been served as is when it was done in the oven. It was very tasty by itself.
Heat oven to 400. Prepare the chicken breasts. Sprinkle with garlic powder on each side and place in baking dish. Top with a patty/slice of unsalted butter then lightly drizzle with olive oil. Top with kosher salt and generous grind of pepper. Squeeze one lemon over chicken. Cook chicken for 20-25 minutes.
(Gluten-free) Chicken Broccoli Mac & Cheese (adapted from this recipe)
- 8 oz. dried pasta of choice (I used a 12 oz. box of gluten-free elbow pasta)
- 2 cups of fresh broccoli florets
- Roasted chicken breast
- 1 5.2-oz. pkg. semisoft cheese with garlic and fine herbs (aka Boursin)
- 3/4 to 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and snipped
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, optional
In large saucepan cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli florets during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. While pasta is cooking, remove meat from roasted chicken. Coarsely chop chicken. Drain pasta and broccoli; set aside.
In same saucepan combine cheese, the 3/4 cup milk, tomatoes, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta mixture and chicken. Heat through. If necessary, thin with additional milk. Sprinkle fresh parsley. Makes 4 servings.
Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Food, Gluten-free, Pasta, Recipes
Tagged broccoli, chicken, cooking, dinner, food, gluten free, recipes, tomato
With winter and its freezing* cold temperatures still looming outside, today’s dinner had to be warm and comforting. I’m not really a pasta fan, like I kind of hate it (potatoes are a totally different story…), but I saw this recipe and was intrigued. It contained several of my favorite ingredients; onions, mushrooms, 2 kinds of cheese, red wine, how could this be bad? After a day of errands and grocery shopping, I got home and realized that I was still without some of the ingredients so a few quick substitutions, lasagna was out and a penne pasta bake was in.
(* – It did not get above 60/15 (it was 52/11 to be exact) today, therefore everyone in Southern California reserves the right to complain profusely about how cold it is and wear any amount of ridiculous layers and ‘winter’ clothing as they see fit. The fact that there was snow forecasted for much of the state totally justifies any and all complaining.)
I started making this earlier in the day, caramelizing the onions while I made lunch, but the rest of the meal came together surprisingly fast despite the seemingly daunting list of ingredients and directions. I think making this a bake, as opposed to a real lasagna, definitely helped speed things along.
I’m fairly certain I would make this again, but there are a couple of things I would want to change. Mainly the ricotta and spinach mixture. The original recipe called for salt, but in interest of cutting down sodium, I left it out. I had no idea how incredibly bland ricotta is. I think some garlic and a pinch of salt would fix all that. The smell of the mushrooms and red wine, however, was absolutely amazing. I would have been more than happy to eat the mushrooms and onions by themselves. They definitely could be used as a pasta sauce or on top of a baked potato.
Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Penne Bake
Inspired by this Eating Well recipe.
- Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.
- Cook pasta in salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain. Return to pot and cover with cold water.
- Onion Mixture: Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are starting to caramelize. Stir in mushrooms and cook until just beginning to soften. Stir in wine and 1 teaspoon salt and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in pepper.
- Spinach Filling: Place spinach, ricotta and basil in food processor and process until smooth.
- White Sauce: Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add flour and stir until bubbling whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Cook, whisking, until the sauce has the consistency of thick gravy (it will be slightly thinner if you're using non-fat milk). Add Gorgonzola and gently whisk until it is melted. Remove from the heat. (The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.)
- Drain noodles again and dry on towel.
- Mix noodles, onion mixture and ricotta mixture in large bowl.
- Coat large baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer pasta.
- Pour white sauce over pasta and top with walnuts.
- Bake until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve and enjoy!
I enjoyed my penne bake with a glass of my favorite Santa Barbara Winery blend ZCS (Zinfandel, Carignane, Sangiovese). It definitely made the meal.
Now I’m off to cuddle with puppies and watch some Dateline Mysteries…
Posted in Gluten-free, Pasta, Recipes, vegetarian
Tagged cooking, food, gluten free, gorgonzola, mushrooms, onions, Pasta, recipes, vegetarian