Shiitake Mushroom and Pesto Linguine with Spinach

I love mushrooms so much, that this recipe uses two kinds in this dish: your workaday standard creminis and somewhat-exotic shiitakes. These umami vessels are joined by healthy spinach, savory sun-dried tomatoes, and herbaceous, flavor-eous pesto. It’s all twirled together with pasta that makes for an easy-peasy, maximum flavor meal just when you need it.

 

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 oz. Cremini Mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch
  • 3 oz. Shiitake Mushrooms, stemmed and sliced 1/4 inch
  • 1 Shallot, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • 4 oz. Baby Spinach
  • 5 oz. Linguine
  • 1 oz. Julienned Sun-Dried Tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Basil Pesto (See Cook’s Notes. Recipe Follows Below.)
  • 1 small plum or Roma tomato, sliced
  • 1 oz. Shredded Asiago Cheese
  • Salt  and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

 

Directions:

Bring 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a medium pot. Once water is boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente, 9-11 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta in a colander. DO NOT RINSE THE PASTA. Set aside.

While pasta cooks, brown mushrooms. Place a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cremini mushrooms, and shiitake mushrooms to the hot pan. Stir occasionally until well-browned, 4-5 minutes.

Add shallot to pan. Stir occasionally until tender, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the spinach reserved pasta cooking water, sun-dried tomatoes, a pinch of salt salt, and ¼ teaspoons black pepper. Cook until spinach wilts, 2-3 minutes.

Add the pasta and pesto to pan and stir to combine.

To serve, add the finished pasta to a large bowl, garnishing with Asiago and sliced tomatoes.

 

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

Cook’s Notes:

Pesto is a mouthful of bright brightness. You can buy it in a jar , found in  the refrigerator section of your grocery story, but there is nothing better than making it yourself. Fresh basil can be found in abundance at farmers’ markets in the summer. Just clean, take the stems off and throw the leaves in a food processor with nuts and garlic. Dribble in the oil and you’ve got a versatile sauce for pasta, chicken or fish.

Yields 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (no stems)
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Combine basil leaves, pine nuts or walnuts and garlic in a food processor and process until very finely minced.
  2. With the machine running slowly dribble in the oil and process until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add the cheese and process very briefly, just long enough to combine. Store in refrigerator or freezer.

 

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Feta Stuffed Pork Chops

 

This recipe makes for pork chops that a are flavorful, juicy, and tender. This oven-baked technique will ensure that your pork has a delicious crust and a perfectly cooked interior. Just follow these simple tips below and prepare yourself to reconsider everything you know about this weeknight-friendly cut. The recipe follows.

Tips on Cooking the Perfect Pork Chops

1. Buy the pork chops bone-in and thick.
Typically, bone-in pork chops are thicker than those with the bone removed. A thin pork chop is difficult to cook perfectly with this method, because of the hard sear you give both sides before it goes in the oven. If a chop is too thin, by the time you’ve seared both sides, the thing is practically overcooked! Choosing a thick chop allows you to get a nice golden sear on both sides and a perfectly cooked tender center.

2. Get your skillet HOT.
The goal of this initial sear is to get a golden, crisp crust on your chop without really cooking the center. I find that using a cast iron skillet is the best for cooking pork chops. A hot skillet is so CRUCIAL. Let your pork chops cook a couple minutes undisturbed, then take a peek and see how that golden crust is forming. When you are pleased with the desired golden sear, flip the chops over and brown them again, to get golden on the other side.

3. Brush with butter.
This classic restaurant trick—basting with butter while cooking—makes a great dish worthy f five stars. However, if you are trying to keep it healthy and watch the cholesterol, this step isn’t required, but it will definitely make the pork chops extremely delicious though. For the recipe below, you will be brushing a garlicky rosemary butter on the chops.

4. Use a meat thermometer.
Yes, many parofessional and home cooks will say that you will known the meat is done by instinct, but let’s be real, that takes years of experience by being the kitchen. But if you are not familiar with the “doneness” of your proteins, using a meat thermometer will make your life just a tad bit easier. I know, I know. This is the extra step that often seems fussy, but trust me, it’s worth it. Using a meat thermometer takes the guess work out of cooking pork chops, and that’s “a good thing.” The temperature you pull your chops at is totally up to you, but here’s a quick guide to choosing the right temperature for your taste. As always, give the meat some time to rest before digging in. Five to ten minutes should do the trick.

  1. 120°-130° F: This is comfortably at medium rare. Warning! You will see pink, and that’s is perfectly fine (See the USDA tips for cooking pork). The pork chop will be rosy-pink on the inside and super juicy.
  2. 130°-140° F: For those who are not comfortable with pink pork, this might be the right temperature zone for you. There will be a touch of pink in the center, but for the most part the flesh will be white. The meat will still be nice and juicy.
  3. 140°-145° F: No pink here! The meat will be completely white all the way through. Pork chops at this temperature will still have the potential to be juicy, just be sure to pull them from the oven on the lower end of this spectrum, as the chops will continue to cook even after they’re out of the oven. Anything past 145° F is the danger DRY zone, so keep a close watch.

Other than that, good luck and happy eating!

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the Feta Cheese Filling:
3 tablespoons feta cheese (crumbled)
2/3 cup diced sun dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Pork Chops:
4 bone-in pork loin chops
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, taste

For the Glaze:
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.

Mix feta cheese, tomatoes, parsley and olive oil in a bowl. Use the tip of a sharp boning or paring knife to cut a 3-inch slit in the side of each pork chop, 2 inches deep and 1/4-inch away from the bone, to make a pocket for stuffing. Stuff pork chops with feta cheese filling and secure with toothpicks.

Season pork chops with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl mix together butter, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

In cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium-high heat, heat olive oil then add pork chops. Sear until golden, 4 minutes, flip and cook 4 minutes more. Brush pork chops generously with garlic butter.

Place the skillet in oven and cook until cooked through, 10-12 minutes. Serve with more garlic butter, if desired.

pork-chop-verticalPhoto Credit: Ethan Calabrese, 2018.

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Pumpkin Rigatoni

Like Linus of Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts” comic strip….I think pumpkins are GREAT!

linus 2

And once again, plated.com has brought another amazing pasta dish, which is perfect for those “Meatless Mondays” and is affordable enough to make on your own.

Rigatoni is a popular pasta in Southern and Central Italy. Given its ridged and tubular shape, these features enables the pasta to hold just about any kind of sauce very well. Typically, a tomato based sauce is used with rigatoni, but in this dish, a pumpkin puree is the vegetable of choice for the sauce.

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Pumpkin can be tricky and heavy in sauces. If your sauce becomes too thick while cooking this dish, use the reserved pasta cooking water to thin it out. Not only will this little trick improve the consistency of your sauce, but the starchy cooking water will also help the sauce cling better to the pasta.

This dish also features Pecorino cheese, an Italian sheep’s milk cheese similar in texture to cheeseParmesan with a salty, sharp flavor, which adds a nice counterpoint to the creaminess of the pumpkin sauce and pasta.

Overall, this dish was easy to prepare in under 20 minutes. And it was only 740 calories per serving. A great dish for a light lunch on the weekends or a light dinner during the weekday. This dish is easy enough to expand the ingredients to serve more guests.

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Creamy Pumpkin Rigatoni

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Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
10 sage leaves, finely chopped
1/4 bunch chives, finely chopped
8 ounces rigatoni pasta
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese, divided
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. When water is boiling, add rigatoni ad a generous pinch of salt. Cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside.DSC05600

Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until sot and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, sage, and crushed red pepper. Cook until fragrant for about 1 more minute. Add pumpkin puree and 1/2 cup water and stir to combine.

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Simmer sauce over medium heat until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Add heavy cream and half of the grated pecorino cheese and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

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Add the rigatoni to the skillet with sauce and stir to coat. Add reserved pasta cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.

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To serve, divide the rigatoni evenly between 2 pasta bowls. Sprinkle over chives and remaining grated pecorino cheese.

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

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