Orzo Summer Pasta

OrzoSaladbyMayaOryan

Today feels like summer and all I can think off is a refreshing, healthy summer salad. An Orzo Salad wins the listed options hands down. It is simple, light and packed with lemony flavors (and contains pasta… what’s not to love about it?) 😉

I love Orzo (look for it on the pasta aisle), when tossed with Feta cheese, red onions and cucumbers it makes a beautiful hearty dish that keeps well in the fridge. It can be served as a side meal or it can be The Meal. Pull me a bowl out of the fridge on a hot day like that and I’m in heaven!

This whole scenario activated my drool glands; I rushed into the kitchen and like an artist in the making, I mixed cucumbers, red bell pepper, mukimame (shelled edamame), Feta and a touch of thyme leaves for fun.

Looking at my bowl and thinking you gorgeous creature, I’m so ready to dig in and enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1 cup mukimame, cooked
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves, picked and washed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

1. Cook orzo pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water

2. In a bowl, combine orzo, mukimame, cucumbers, feta, bell pepper, and thyme leaves.

3. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Stir gently until all ingredients are well coated.

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Pasta with homemade pesto and cherry tomatoes

I’m back to Beirut, but my heart is still in Toscana! I close my eyes and I see the flowing hills of vineyards. We were in the countryside and Gosh what a charming place. Captivating! I know that I’ll be back to visit again.

Meanwhile, this week I’m indulging myself with a lot of Italian food inspired from my trip.

Winter will come soon and freeze my basil plants, so I decided to pick the leaves off to make homemade pesto sauce.

Making your own pesto might sound extravagant, but in fact it’s super easy and will sure make you win your friends impression. If you like, it can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge, just make sure that it has a decent layer of olive oil on the surface to make it last for longer period of time. Pesto is not only tasty with spaghetti, but is brilliantly combined to Turkey Panini or grilled Chicken and many other dishes.

I enjoy more making the pesto myself when I know that the basil leaves have been freshly picked in my garden, the pine nuts are sourced from my mother-in-law –they have 20,000sqm of pine nuts trees around their house in Baskinta– the olive oil is from the south of Lebanon –39% of the regional distribution of olive groves in Lebanon comes from the South– and the Pecorino cheese is also homemade, a gift from Alessio, Serge’s Italian friend. He taught me to use half Parmesan and half Pecorino cheese in Pesto sauces. The outcome is fabulous! Grazie Signor:)

 

Ingredients

  • Spaghetti #7
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 400g cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Basil to decorate
  • Sea Salt

For the Pesto

  • 50g Fresh Basil (or 2 big handfuls of fresh basil), chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1tbsp pine nuts
  • 6tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper
  • 25g Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

Cooking Directions

  1. To make the pesto, in a food processor blend basil, garlic, pine nuts and Parmesan around 30 seconds or until you have a smooth paste (Though, if you like it coarse, using your food processor click the pulse button very quickly maybe once or twice). Add the olive oil to the mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you don’t have a food processor you can use a mortar and a pestle.
  2. Put a large pan of salted water on to boil and cook the pasta as instructed on the pack. You may like to add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of oregano in the water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cook over a medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally until tomatoes are soft and beginning to char.
  4. Drain the pasta. Add pesto sauce to taste (you might not choose to put all the prepared sauce), drizzle little olive oil and mix. Add tomatoes.
  5. Serve the pasta decorated with fresh basil leaves and more fresh shaved Parmesan.

Garlic Shrimp Pasta

I just got back from Tuscany and Italian food is all I think of. From the moment I woke up this morning I knew that spaghetti was going to be for lunch. I’m craving for something fresh and light but not a salad. This recipe uses fresh parsley and spring onions perfect for days when temperature reaches 32°C! It’s quick and easy to cook, yet so unbelievably tasty! Thank you Zeina S. for the inspiration since we tasted it at yours it became one of our favorite pasta dishes. Superb!

Garlic Shrimp Pasta 

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Spaghetti
  • 500g pre-cooked shrimps, deveined and tails removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Olive Oil, to taste
  • 4 sprigs of Spring onions, chopped
  • 200g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped roughly

Directions

  1. Cook spaghetti according to directions on package. I like to add salt, olive oil and oregano in the water.
  2. In a large skillet, sauté garlic and shrimps in oil for about 5-7 minutes or until shrimp turns pink. Add lemon juice and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and sauté the cherry tomatoes for about 2 minutes.
  4. Drain spaghetti and return to the saucepan and toss with a little oil. On a low heat, add shrimps and mix. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in spring onions for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and parsley and stir for 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a bowl, and serve immediately.

Everybody Loves Pasta!

My hubby is a pasta lover and our pasta recipes repertoire is one of a kind. For Serge “Just Pasta” is a feast for the Gods!! Therefore I keep in my pantry all shapes of pasta.

Among our favorite is Penne. It gives you many options on what to serve it with.

Many pasta recipes are easy and can be prepared with little notice. Ladies and gentlemen I present you “Penne with shrimps and asparagus. For last-minute guests, whip up this recipe and it’s a star meal!

It’s hearty and elegant. Eat happily!

Shrimp, Asparagus, and Penne Pasta

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked penne
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed (using a garlic press)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 10 spears fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 400gms medium shrimps, peeled and deveined
  • 3 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

 * Penne can be replaced with Spaghetti #7

Preparation

1.    Cook penne according to package directions.

2.    In large skillet, heat oil. Add onion and garlic, and cook until the onion has softened.

3.    Pour in the white wine, and simmer for 2 minutes.

4.    Add the asparagus and sauté for 5 minutes.

5.    Add the shrimp and orange zest, drizzle with the orange juice. Cook until the shrimp turns pink.

6.    Toss penne with shrimp mixture.

7.    Season to taste with salt and pepper.

8.    Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.