Orzo Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Roasted Tomatoes

orzo pasta I love the versatility of orzo pasta, it resembles large grains of rice and can be served alone as a main course, in soups, salads, pilaf style and tossed into casseroles. It’s also easy to serve up and eat, so therefore it’s a good pasta choice to have for a party.

This recipe has a few major components, the important ones being, roasted tomatoes, my beloved artichoke hearts, and creamy parmesan cheese and when combined with the orzo pasta and a couple of other things deliciousness occurs!

orzo pasta I really don’t know why I don’t cook up orzo pasta more often, I forget how good it is until I make this salad during the summer, which is another great use for it and a perfect dish for entertaining.

orzo pasta ingredients It’s not tomato season here in Chicagoland but this time of year I buy Campari tomatoes, bigger than a cherry tomato with a nice tomatoey flavor and even more so when you roast them like I did.

I was able to find fresh baby artichokes that cooked up nice and tender, which made me very happy.

You could also use frozen and defrosted artichoke hearts squeezed and drained of all liquid as well, but I would never recommend canned, sorry I just don’t like them!

orzo pasta

This is a great side dish, I served it with prosciutto wrapped shrimp and it was delicious together but actually this could stand on it’s own or act as a side to just about anything.

You can follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Orzo Pasta with Artichoke Hearts and Roasted Tomatoes
 
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Ingredients
  • 8 oz. orzo pasta
  • 8 Campari tomatoes, sliced and pre-roasted or double the amount of cherry tomatoes, pre-roasted
  • 7 artichoke hearts, preferably fresh and steamed or cooked til tender or frozen and defrosted squeezed of all liquid
  • 1 cup of freshly grated parmigiano or romano cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ of a medium onion
  • handful of chopped parsley, basil or both
  • reserved pasta water
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Pre-roast sliced tomatoes at 400 degrees on parchment drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little oregano until moisture is mostly gone and the sides look wrinkled.
  2. Cook orzo al ' dente and before draining reserve a cup of the pasta water.
  3. While pasta is boiling take a large saute pan with sides, drizzle the bottom with olive oil.
  4. Saute the onion and garlic then add the artichoke hearts, breaking some apart so the leaves can mix well into the pasta.
  5. Add half of the pasta water and cheese into the veggie mix, mixing well with a whisking motion to create a sauce.
  6. Toss in the cooked orzo pasta and If you need more pasta water add it.
  7. Pull pan off the heat and fold in the roasted tomatoes.
  8. Toss on chopped herbs, parsley, basil or both.
  9. Adjust to your liking adding a drizzle more of olive oil, cheese, salt and pepper or pasta water.
  10. Recipe can easily be doubled!

 

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Rainbow Carrots with Balsamic and Thyme on Baked Ricotta

rainbow carrots on baked ricotta I don’t know why carrots are so underrated I think we take them for granted, they’re the base for soups and stews, juices and even baked goods like cakes and muffins. You can boil them or eat them raw plus they have plenty of health benefits.

Taking center stage in this recipe are those beautiful rainbow colored carrots, the colors are so vibrant with their trio of purple, white and orange and I love the look of the longer, thinner bunches.

balsamic and thyme carrots

I like to roast them with olive oil and generous amounts of thyme, the flavors all meld together as they caramelize in the oven.

To finish them off a splash of rich balsamic glaze takes them to another level.

balsamic and thyme carrots on ricotta You could stop right there and honestly you would be totally satisfied, but we’re going one step further and placing them on top of a gratin filled with savory, garlicky, cheesy baked ricotta

rainbow carrots on baked ricotta

Oh my, the humble carrot never looked and tasted so good!

Follow me on Instagram you can see what I’m cooking up during the week.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Rainbow Carrots with Balsamic and Thyme on Baked Ricotta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of rainbow carrots, around eight, go for the thinner longer bunches
  • thyme, fresh or dried
  • 1½ cups ricotta (drained of liquid)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup of grated romano cheese (or parmesan)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced, smashed or grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • balsamic glaze (store bought)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a rimmed baking sheet add carrots, toss and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and a generous amount of thyme, fresh or dried.
  3. Roast til tender with still a little bite, not mushy.
  4. Remove and drizzle with balsamic glaze while still warm, set aside.
  5. Lower oven temp to 375 degrees.
  6. Olive oil a low profile baking dish something that will showcase the length of the carrots, I used a gratin dish.
  7. In a small bowl add the ricotta, garlic, egg, grated cheese, salt and pepper, mixing well by hand incorporating everything.
  8. Spread ricotta mixture onto your oiled gratin dish then bake for around 20 minutes until you see a light golden brown all around.
  9. Place cooked carrots on top adding a little more olive oil and balsamic glaze before serving.

 

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Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce, True Comfort Food

bolognese sauce It’s January, mid winter and the weather still calls for some comfort food, and I say a nice pot of bolognese sauce simmering on the stove is comfort food at it’s finest!

Bolognese sauce is a meat based sauce that originated from Bologna, Italy. A classic bolognese usually consists of a mixture of meats, some pancetta, a soffrito of aromatic veggies, tomato, wine and milk or cream, it also requires many hours of simmering.

Over the years I found you can put together a darn good bolognese pretty quick and easy and in a little less than an hour.

mirepoix One thing for sure, and is a must when making your bolognese is that you want to include these veggies, a soffrito of finely chopped carrots, celery and onions and sometimes I include finely chopped mushrooms, I eliminate the pancetta all together.

If you want to speed things up instead of chopping the veggies by hand just pull out your food processor and pulse them until they turn into a small dice.

bolognese sauce For this quicker version I use only one meat and it’s usually a grass fed beef and when combined with everything else it creates a thick rich sauce with many layers of flavor, I can’t tell the difference if it was simmered for one or three hours, it’s that good!

pasta bolognese

Just about any pasta shape complements this meaty sauce, so just pick your favorite!

spaghetti squash bolognese

If you’re trying to watch your carb intake after all the holiday goodies, no problem, because it’s equally delicious on top of spaghetti squash, I actually love it that way.

You might want to double or triple the recipe because it freezes really well and it’s nice to have some tucked away in your freezer when comfort food is calling your name!

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5.0 from 4 reviews
Quick and Easy Bolognese Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. ground beef, preferably grass fed or sirloin
  • 2 carrots, finely diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • ¾ cup mushrooms, finely diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes, (optional)
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup of whole milk
  • 1 28 oz. can of ground tomatoes
  • a few fresh basil leaves for added flavor
  • 2 tablespoons each of butter and olive oil
Instructions
  1. Dice up your vegetables into a fine dice either by hand or pulsed in your food processor.
  2. In a heated heavy bottomed pan add the butter and olive oil.
  3. Add all the veggies and garlic and cook until soft.
  4. Toss in the ground meat and cook until browned.
  5. Deglaze with the wine and let it evaporate.
  6. Pour in the milk and let it cook for a minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes plus salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook uncovered on a slow simmer stirring often.
  9. Should be done after 45 minutes or so.
  10. Serve with your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash.

 

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