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Friday, April 9, 2010

Caprese and Meatball Orecchiette Pasta

The name of this pasta is SO difficult to pronounce: "oh-reck-ee-et-tay." It means "little ears" in Italian, which I thought was cute :)  I was intrigued to make it because everything that goes into it is small and round, which sounded so adorable. I didn't realize that I would set out on a year long search in order to find this pasta. Funny how when I didn't have an interest in using it, I always saw it at the markets, but when I sought it out, suddenly it disappeared. If it is difficult to locate where you live, please be more mature than I was and replace it for pasta shells or bow-tie pasta :)

I love anything well seasoned and with plenty of sauce, two things this recipe does not include. However, it is --much to my surprise-- still very tasty because of the freshness of the ingredients and the enjoyable flavors of the fresh mozzarella and basil. It would have been a shame to disguise their flavor with a sauce. The meatballs provide a lot of flavor, so take care to season them well. The chicken broth is also well seasoned and adds a bit of salt, so be careful not to over salt this.

This is loosely based on a Giada recipe and it serves 4 adults.

-1 1/2cups boccini, halved (mini sized fresh mozzarella balls)
-I 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used half yellow and half red tomatoes)
-1 pound orecchiette pasta (or shell shaped pasta)
-1 pound meatballs (ready or homemade)
-2 cups chicken broth
-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
-3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
-1/2 cup fresh parmesan shavings

-Boil the pasta according to package instructions, al dente.
-Prepare the meatballs. A tip for cooking these is to bake them in the oven instead of in batches over the stove. Although I haven't included these ingredients above, I make my meatballs using 1 pound ground beef and throw random things in like marinara sauce, pesto and crushed red pepper.
-Simmer the cooked meatballs with the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and chicken broth for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to half.
-Toss the meatballs, tomatoes and sauce with the pasta, fresh mozzarella and basil. Serve hot with parmesan shavings on top.
-Enjoy and leave a comment :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Greek Pizza

This is a total copy-cat recipe from the California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) restaurant. It really wasn't too hard to copy because all the ingredients were layered in plain sight to be seen...and eaten. Using fresh vegetables and baking it to the right temperature (cooked crust but not soggy cooked cucumbers) is what makes this pizza fresh and crispy. Imagine eating a yummy Greek salad on a warm crust...and that's the pizza!

I've made this several times. In the pictures I'm posting, it was the first try and I made it (as the restaurant does, with chicken) and I layered the yogurt sauce like a traditional sauce for pizza: after the crust and before the pizza. When it cooked, I wasn't too happy with the warm yogurt, so the next time I made it I drizzled the sauce on top after the pizza was cooked and it tasted more like CPK's.  I also made it without chicken (you can add avocado instead) and I personally liked it more that way...

This is really easy to make because the crust is the refrigerated kind and all that its left is some chopping of veggies!

Easily serves 6.

-1 pizza crust
-1 cup mozerella cheese
-1 large tomato (or 2 medium ones) chopped
-3 Persian cucumbers, chopped
-1/2 red onion, finely chopped
-1 cup kalamata olives, chopped
-1/2 cup pepperchinis, rinsed
-1 cup feta cheese
-1 cup cooked and cubed chicken breast pieces (optional)
-1 cup diced avocado (optional)

-1 1/2 cups yogurt
-1 tablespoon dried oregano
-1 tablespoon dried dill
-salt to taste
-2 cups cilantro and chive yogurt dip from Trader Joes

*Optional: Drizzle buffalo sauce for a spicy kick

-Bake the pizza crust for 8-13 minutes.
-Remove from oven and spread half the sauce. Sprinkle with cheese, layer all other ingredients and return to oven for 5 minutes.
-Remove from oven and drizzle remaining sauce over the pizza and serve.  Drizzle buffalo sauceThis tastes good hot or cold.
-Enjoy and leave a comment :)