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Feta Orzo with Roasted Chicken & Cauliflower, Capers and Green Olives

Often a satisfying meal can be pulled together from many things already had in your pantry and/or fridge. Such was the case with this lunch at WestWard yesterday. We had our friend Adrienne coming over and we knew we just wanted to sit and chat with the fire going, so I wanted to make something in a bowl that we could easily eat while sitting on the sofa talking away. We had a box of orzo pasta, green olives and a head of cauliflower. TPS made a quick run for a few other things, and lunch was in the works.

Put on a large pot of water to boil, add a tablespoon of salt once it begins to boil. Pre-heat oven to 400 while you begin prepping things. He picked up two chicken breasts with the skin on and the bone in. Skinless, boneless chicken breasts would work great for this too. On a sheet pan add the chicken breasts and coat liberally with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper. Get into that hot oven. Check the internal temp of the meat with a meat thermometer at 45 minutes. You want it to be 160. While that is cooking away put an entire box of orzo in the boiling water and cook to the time instructions on the box. Once done, drain, put in a large bowl, salt the pasta, add pepper, give a good glug of olive oil, and add the juice of one lemon, stir. Break up half the feta into the orzo while the pasta is still warm. Stir again. Then let sit while everything else cooks away. This is a room temp meal, so no need to worry. 

While the chicken cooks away, cut up a whole head of cauliflower. Break up the florets so they are quite small. Think less than bite sized. Add all to another sheet pan, add a good amount of olive oil, salt & pepper. Mix all around until coated. Then cut up a handful of pitted green olives, adding that to the mix. To that add a generous spoonful of capers. Mix all around and add to the hot oven where the chicken is cooking away. Stir several times in the cooking process. Take out when the cauliflower has started to brown a bit. Add the entire contents, oil and all to the bowl of orzo and feta. All the extra olive oil from this and the chicken help coat the orzo, add a ton of flavor, and create a bit of a sauce when melded with the lemon juice. Almost there!

When the chicken is done, take out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let it sit for 10 minutes to rest. Once ready, either cut up or pull the meat from the bone and add all to the excitedly awaiting bowl of orzo/feta/cauliflower/green olives/caper goodness. I took the skin off and did not add to the mixture, but by all means, do if you would like. Any juices that have formed on the pan with the chicken for sure add to the pasta. We want every bit of flavor. Mix up everything now that the chicken has been added. Now add the other half of the feta and another bit of pepper. Stir. Lastly, add the juice of another lemon. Stir. Take a taste. Add one final bit of salt if you think it is needed. Lunch is served.



 

 

Summer In a Bowl

20140826-062416.jpg This is just the simplest thing to make this time of year when tomatoes are most plentiful and are at their peak taste & flavor wise. TPS made this the other evening and I made it the week-end before last in New York when our niece Emma came to Hawthorne for a visit. We could make and eat this weekly during the season it is so tasty. It is a one bowl meal that could not be easier. Here we go.

Preheat oven to 400 while you get things ready. In a baking dish put in small tomatoes whole. Sprinkle them in the dish with extra virgin olive oil and salt. Then add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and a good amount of torn basil. That is the image below. Roast/bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes have begun to pop and open. This is needed as the juices mix with the olive oil to make the sauce for the dish. At the 15 minute point, with a spoon mix things around a bit.

While the tomatoes are cooking away, start a big pot of salted water to boil. Choose whatever type of small pasta you like. Ted really likes bow tie shaped pasta, so that is what he used the other night. Cook pasta.

While those 2 things are cooking away brown a package of the best ground sausage you can get your hands on. Simply put a bit of oil in a pan, break up the meat and cook away until cooked through. If you want a meatless or vegetarian meal, omit the sausage. We do this often and the dish still rocks without the meat.

In a large bowl combine the roasted tomatoes, the cooked pasta and the browned sausage. Mix together. To all of that take feta and crumble about and mix again. Once you have served up things on a plate or in a bowl, top with another bit of feta for the top of the dish. So yummy, so satisfying, so easy. Summer in a bowl. Enjoy!

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Watermelon Salad with Feta

20130921-052205.jpg Actually, make that a watermelon salad with crumbled feta, extra virgin olive oil with a pinch of fleur de sel. That was just tough getting to fit in the above heading. As the Summer season draws to a close, we have been trying to enjoy as much watermelon as we can. Even as we head into Autumn, I want to make this salad every chance we can, if the watermelon are looking good at the grocer. This is really a composed salad with just a few simple ingredients, so use the best you can get your hands on. If you don’t have French fleur de sel, any chunky flaky salt with do.

Cube watermelon and arrange on a plate. Add a small sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil to the cubes as well as a pinch of salt. Add crumbled feta. Done. There is just something about the earthiness of the oil added to the juices of the watermelon mixed with the salt and the saltiness of the feta that just makes this divine. Enjoy!



 

 

Roasted Beets with Walnuts & Feta

20130626-074142.jpg Many of the farm stands have had beets as part of their offerings. This is a simple salad that is hearty and I think looks so cool with the contrast of the deep hue of the beets and the white of the smattering of feta. Beets can be intimidating and messy. Here is how I cook them to try and avoid both.

Turn oven to 400. Snip the green from the beets. Wash and dry with a paper towel. Put all the beets onto a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until the beets are somewhat soft to the touch. This will vary greatly depending on the size. Once done, take out of the oven and set aside to cool completely. Scatter a handful of walnuts onto another baking sheet and put into oven. Every few minutes shake the sheet to move the walnuts around. You are really just wanting to get them to release their natural oils, so stay with them and take out of the oven when they start of get added color. 5 to 10 minutes max. Set aside. Once the beets have cooled, now you get to cut away the wrinkly skin. I like to do this on a plate, as beets with stain the heck out of cutting boards. With a sharp knife, cut away all the skin of the beet. Then half or quarter beet and put into a large bowl. Do this with the rest of the beets. Once done, add a bit of the very best extra virgin olive oil you have. Add salt and pepper. Mix. Put this mixture onto a plate or platter. Take cooled walnuts and break up a bit and scatter on top of beets. Do the same with good feta. Kind of like snow falling. I like the combo of tiny pieces and large pieces. Lastly, add a few pinches of fresh cracked black pepper to the top. Done. Enjoy.



 

 

Farro with Butternut Squash, Hazelnuts, Cherries, Pickled Shallots & Feta

20130128-053738.jpg Farro is the oldest cultivated grain in the world. The hearty kernel also makes it a substantial base for a healthy salad. Saturdays are days I quite often make something to bring to the shop for lunch, as it is such a hopping day. We had a butternut squash in the fridge, so I thought I would roast that up, get a little creative, and see what I could come up with. I love salads where you can mix & match, using things that work well together. Here is what I added to the farro to make a filling lunch for a busy day.

Cook farro to the instructions on package. I like it not so crunchy, so I tend to cook it a bit longer than the norm to get a tad softer. Roast cut up butternut squash at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper until soft and a bit golden. Set aside. Cut up a shallot into small pieces and add to a bowl with 3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar and a pinch of salt. Let that sit and pickle for a bit. The longer the better. At least 30 minutes is best. While the farro is cooking and the shallots are pickling, take a small pan and dry roast a handful of hazelnuts until warm. This helps bring out the natural oils of the nut, really helping bring out the full flavor of the hazelnuts. Set aside. Once the farro is cooked, take off of heat and add half of the shallots and half of the rice wine vinegar they were sitting in. This will infuse into the warm farro and add quite a bit of flavor. Add a few good pinches of salt and pepper at this stage too. Let cool. Once cooled, add the butternut squash pieces, the remaining shallots, the hazelnuts, a handful of dried cherries, and finish with a good amount of crumbled feta. Mix all together. Taste. Season with more salt if you think it needs it. Also add the remaining vinegar that you pickled the shallots in, if you desire more. Done. A quite healthy and visual lunch.

A happy Monday and start of the week to you all!