I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Barbecue Pasta Salad

My hometown of Memphis is known far and wide for barbecue. And we’ve found ways to barbecue-ize everything. Pizza, nachos, pimento cheese (yes, I did that). So when I was pulling together an outdoor picnic, adding a dose of barbecue to the spread seemed only natural, so I added a little Memphis kick to a lovely cold pasta salad. The results were a big hit, so I think it will become a staple in my summer side menu. It’s great with burgers and dogs, but also compliments a cold sandwich spread.

As is the case with dishes like this one, it is imminently customizable. I love using my house barbecue sauce, so I control the spice and sweetness, plus I end up with some extra sauce for burgers or grilling. But if you use a bottled sauce, I won’t tell. Use a mix of colored bell peppers, substitute green onions for the red. Add some cooked crispy bacon, or small cubes of cheddar cheese. Stirring some vinegar into the cooled pasta helps to add a salty flavor – it’s difficult to get the level right in a cold dish, so salt it after it has chilled.

Barbecue Pasta Salad
Serves 8
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For the Barbecue Sauce
  1. 1 ¼ cup ketchup
  2. 1 cup dark brown sugar
  3. ¼ cup sorghum
  4. ¼ cup cider vinegar
  5. ¼ cup water
  6. 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  7. 2 ½ teaspoons ground mustard
  8. 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  9. 1 teaspoon salt
  10. ½ teaspoon black pepper
  11. ½ teaspoon garlic powder
For the Salad
  1. 16 ounces small pasta
  2. 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  3. 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  5. ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  6. ½ cup barbecue sauce
  7. 1 cup mayonnaise
  8. salt and pepper to taste
For the Sauce
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and whisk to blend well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then lower the heat and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Leave the sauce to cool. This makes more sauce than needed for the salad, the extra will keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Salad
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and rinse with cold water. Rinse the pot with water to cool it down, then return the pasta to the pot. Add the vinegar and stir to coat the pasta. Toss the noodles with the onion, green pepper and parsley.
  2. Stir the barbecue sauce and mayonnaise together in a small bowl until completely combined, then pour over the pasta. Stir to completely coat the pasta. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to blend. The Salad can be kept covered in the fridge for up to two days.
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Zucchini Pasta Bake with Mint Pesto

A few years ago, on a family trip to Italy, we had an amazing meal prepared by a local chef that included handmade ravioli with a zucchini mint pesto sauce. It was one of the culinary highlights of the trip for me. I asked the chef how it was made, but my lack of Italian and his lack of English didin’t make for very good instructions. I have wanted to recreate that dish since then, but making ravioli by hand is above my patience level, and I never managed to get his pesto version just right. But with tinkering, I eventually managed to get a mint pesto that mimicked the lovely fresh taste I remembered. I toss it here with freshly shredded zucchini – and the real shortcut of pasta made by someone other than me. I nice dose of crème fraiche mimicks the creamy handmade ricotta filling of the original dish, and just ties the whole thing together.

This really is the taste of summer in one dish. Beautiful in season zucchini with a gorgeous garden mint pesto, which I always find artfully displayed at the farmers market. Keep the pesto recipe in your back pocket – it is great stirred into pasta on its own or spooned over grilled chicken or veggies.

Zucchini Pasta Bake with Mint Pesto
Serves 8
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For the Pesto
  1. 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  2. 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  3. zest of one lemon
  4. 4 cups loosely packed mint leaves
  5. 1/3 cup olive oil
For the Pasta Bake
  1. 1 pound tubular pasta like rigatoni
  2. 2 medium zucchini (about 1 ¼ pounds)
  3. 2 (8-ounce) containers crème fraiche
  4. 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  5. ¾ cup plain dry bread crumbs
  6. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  7. salt and pepper to taste
For the Pesto
  1. Put the almonds, garlic, lemon zest and mint leaves in the bowl of a food processor and process until chopped to a rough puree. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until you have a thick paste.
For the Pasta Bake
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water 2 minutes less than the package directions. Dip out about 1 cup of the pasta water in a measuring jug, then drain the pasta a rinse under cool water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Put the grated zucchini in a really large bowl, then add the crème fraiche and the pesto and generous pinches of salt and stir to combine. When the pasta has cooled, stir it into the zucchini. (If you don’t have a huge bowl, you can scrape everything into the pot you cooked the pasta in). Stir to coat the pasta with the creamy mixture. Drizzle in ¼ to ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to create a lighter sauce that coats the pasta.
  3. Scrape the pasta into a greased 13 by 9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the Parmegiano-Reggiano evenly over the top. Mix the breadcrumbs and the olive oil together in a small bowl. I start with a for, then use my fingers to rub them together until I have a mixture like wet sand. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the pasta.
  4. The dish can be cooled covered and refrigerated overnight. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Bake until heated through and bubbling, about 30 minutes.
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Squash Blossom Pasta Butter

I adore squash blossoms. A few local farmers market vendors sell them here, and I always buy as many as they have for sale. I make pesto, risotto, quesadillas, soup, and sometimes just lightly batter and fry them. I admit I have a little problem. I cannot resist buying them, and buying them in bulk. At the height of summer, I am in full canning mode, so I tend to bring home huge amounts of produce to put up. I often find that my love for summer finds outstrips reality. That is to say, I buy more than I have the time or energy to deal with. On one of those occasions when I found myself a little worn out after canning the bounty, but I still had a quantity of freshly picked squash blossoms. I knew I needed to use them, but felt a little overwhelmed by the idea of one more project. Inspiration struck suddenly for a way to make the most of the fresh flowers, but also save them for later use, a simple composed butter. That sparked my memory of one of my favorite summer simple tricks – pasta butter balls.

The end result of this buttery pasta dish reminds me of another favorite – cacio e pepe, simple linguine is tossed with butter, pecorino cheese, salt and lots of pepper. But this version has a special touch added by the squash blossoms, which also lends a lovely orangey-yellow color. And of course, you can use this butter any way you want – melted over a grilled chicken breast, tossed with vegetables (squash is an obvious choice) or spread on toasted bread.

Squash Blossom Pasta Butter
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cloves garlic
  2. 12 squash blossoms
  3. 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley leaves
  4. ½ cup grated Parmegiano-Regianno cheese
  5. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Drop the garlic cloves into the bowl of a small food processor and pulse to finely chop. Pull the yellow petals off the squash blossoms and tear them into pieces and drop in the bowl. Discard any green leaves and the stamens. Add the parsley, then pulse a few times to finely chop. Add the cheese and pulse to combine, then add the butter, cut into pieces. Pulse until the butter is well combined, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed. Add salt and grinds of black pepper to taste. Be generous with the pepper.
  2. Scoop the butter into a bowl, or roll it up in logs in waxed paper and refrigerate until ready to use. The butter logs can also be frozen for several months.
  3. To use the butter, cook your favorite pasta according to the package instructions. Reserve about a cup of the cooking water than drain the pasta. Melt some of the butter in a large skillet and whisk in enough of the pasta cooking water to coat the pasta. Whisk until the sauce is smooth and creamy, then toss in the cooked pasta.
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Baked Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Taleggio Sauce

We all need a little comfort sometimes, and I think a rich, meaty, cheesy baked pasta casserole always fits the bill. It’s the meal I often turn to, whether it’s an all-day cooking project or a simple thrown together quickie. Pull one of these hot, melty creations out of the oven on a chilly winter night and gather round the table. Everyone will be ahppy. This is the perfect family meal, but is a wonderful way to entertain as well. Adults and kids alike will dig into this – add some garlic bread and a salad and you’re ready to go. This version is layered with strong flavors for lots of oomph and interest.

Taleggio is one of my favorite cheeses. It’s pungent, rich and creamy and now readily available at good cheese counters. It adds such a punch to this otherwise pretty simple dish. Orcchiette are little ear shaped pasta – that’s what the name means – that perfectly hold the sausage and sauce like a little bowl. You could use a couple of slices of bacon instead of the pancetta and vary the herbs, using basil and oregano. But I think the sage and marjoram add an interesting, woodsy note that perfectly complements the taleggio. I hope this is a meal that comforts you as much as it does me.

Baked Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Taleggio Sauce
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces orecchiette pasta
  2. 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  3. 4 ounces diced pancetta
  4. 1 pound Italian sausage meat
  5. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  6. 1 cup finely diced onion
  7. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  8. 1/2 cup red wine
  9. 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  10. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  11. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram
  12. 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  13. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  14. 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  15. 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Taleggio Sauce
  1. ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  2. ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  3. 2 cups whole milk
  4. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  5. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  6. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  7. 6 ½ ounces taleggio cheese, weighed after the rind is removed
  8. ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
For the Pasta
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the orecchiette according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet and add the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta is browned and crispy, then remove it with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Crumble the sausage into the pot and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a spatula as it cooks. You want small pieces of sausage. When the sausage is no longer pink, remove it with the slotted spoon to the paper towel lined plate.
  3. Pour off all put 1 Tablespoon of fat from the pan, then sauté the onions over medium high heat until they are soft and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute, then pour in the wine. Bring the wine to a bubble and cook until it is almost completely evaporated, just a little glaze on the now purple onions. Pour in the tomatoes and stir well, then add the sage and marjoram, sugar, salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir well. Let simmer over medium low heat for 5 minutes, then use an immersion blender to puree the sauce to a smooth consistency. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and cool. (Alternatively, you can simmer the sauce for the full 10 minutes, then puree it in a blender and leave to cool).
  4. Stir the pancetta and sausage into the tomato sauce until well combined and evenly distributed. Add the pasta and stir to coat with the sauce, then scrape the lot into a greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish. (If your skillet isn’t big enough to fit the pasta, scraped everything into the pasta pot to combine).
For the Taleggio Sauce
  1. Wash and dry the skillet and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth, and cook for a few minutes until the mixture is pale and thickened. Whisk in the milk and bring to a low bubble. Cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth, then stir in the sage, salt and nutmeg. Lower the heat to low, then stir in pieces of the taleggio a bit at a time, stirring until each addition is melted before adding the next. Stir in the parmigiana until melted and the sauce is smooth. Taste and season with salt if needed. Pour the sauce evenly over the pasta in the baking dish. You can sprinkle a little extra grated parm over the top of your like. At this point, the dish can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for a day.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350. Remove the dish from the oven while the oven is preheating, then bake the dish uncovered until heated through, bubbling and lightly browned on top.
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Creamy Gorgonzola One Pot Pasta

The one pot pasta trend has been all over the internet for a while now. The idea is appealing – just one pot to clean with a complex pasta result. I’ve had some hits and misses, but landed on this as a delicious, creamy treat packed with tangy flavor. These recipes are often touted as quick, hands off meal. I don’t find that to be particularly true. You need to stir the pasta frequently, or it sticks into a gummy mush on the bottom of the pot. It’s still remarkably easy, but it does need some attention.

The combination of cheeses in my version creates the perfect balance of tangy, creamy and salty. And I think sage is the perfect foil for blue cheese of any kind. I find all the cheeses at the counter of a large grocery store, and ask the folks at the counter to cut pieces to size. Any little extra bits can be added to the top of the pasta or served as a snack beforehand. I have also made this recipe using bits of cheese leftover from a party cheese board, which makes a great post party meal.

Creamy Gorgonzola One Pot Pasta
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 9 ounces short pasta, like cavatappi
  2. 3 ½ ounces gorgonzola cheese, plus some extra for topping
  3. 2 ounces creamy goat cheese
  4. 3 ½ ounce emmental cheese, grated (or Jarlsberg)
  5. 5 ¼ ounces mascarpone
  6. 1 large clove garlic, minced
  7. 1 sprig fresh sage leaves
  8. 1 Tablespoon snipped fresh chives
  9. 2 teaspoons salt
  10. 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  11. 1 cup white wine
  12. 2 ¼ cups water
  13. chopped fresh sage for topping
Instructions
  1. Place pasta, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper in a large saucepan in the order listed, then pour over the wine and water. Bring to a bubble over medium heat, stirring frequently, and cook for about 20 minutes, until the pasta is al dente and coated with a creamy sauce. Stir a lot at first to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Remove the sage sprig and leaves. Season to taste with extra salt and pepper. Serve immediately topped with crumbled gorgonzola and chopped fresh sage.
  2. Serve 4 as a side, 2 as a main
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Fennel and Italian Sausage Pappardelle

Fennel and Italian Sausage Pappardelle

I love recipes like this. Quick and simple, but full of flavor. There’s a little twist here – the ingredients are few and straightforward, but a little out of the ordinary. Pork and fennel are a classic combination, frequently in slow-cooked roasts and braises, and fennel seed is a key ingredient in Italian sausage, so using the fresh fennel just amps up the flavor. But this recipe weeknight cooking at its best. Fennel is such a bright flavor that shines next to the rich pork sausage. This takes no more time to make than a basic meat sauce (a little less in fact) but is a makes for an interesting change-up in the pasta dinner rotation. That being said, it is perfectly suitable for company, and can be doubled or tripled as needed.

I like to use a good, fresh Italian sausage from a local producer, but any version made with fennel seed works. Pappardelle noodles are wide and hearty and really stand up to the sauce. I find it pretty regularly at the grocery, but if you can’t, any wide noodle will do, even those curly ones in the bag.

Fennel and Italian Sausage Pappardelle
Serves 2
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Ingredients
  1. 2 medium fennel bulbs, the bulbs weighing about 10 ounces, with some fronds reserved
  2. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  3. 10 ounces Italian sausage, bulk or links with casings removed
  4. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh fennel fronds
  5. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  6. 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  7. ½ teaspoon fennel seed
  8. 1 cup chicken broth
  9. ½ cup whipping cream
  10. 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  11. salt to taste
  12. 8 ounces papardelle pasta
Instructions
  1. Remove the stalks and fronds of the fennel bulbs and set aside. Cut the fennel bulbs in half and cut out the tough center core. Very finely slice the fennel bulb, using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
  2. Coat a sauté pan with the oil, then add the fennel and the sausage meat. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the sausage with a spatula, until the fennel is soft and the sausage is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir in the chopped fennel fronds, oregano and rosemary and cook a few more minutes. Pour in the broth and bring to a bubble, then cover the pan and cook until the fennel is soft and the broth has evaporated, about 6 – 8 minutes, stirring a few times.
  3. While the fennel and sausage is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pappardelle according to the package directions. Right before the pasta is al dente, stir the cream into the sausage mixture and bring to a low bubble, just until heated through. Grate over the lemon zest, taste and add salt as needed. Drain the pasta and add to the pan with the sauce, tossing to coat.
  4. Serve immediately.
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Italian Chicken, Pasta and Tomato Bake

Italian Chicken, Pasta and Tomato Bake

I’m not presenting here a recipe that is going to change lives or set the culinary world on fire. But this is the time of year for basics, as we move from the easy days of summer to the frantic start of a new school year and as the fresh summer produce fades before the autumn bounty begins. It’s a great time to gather around the table for a satisfying meal, but not such a great time to spend hours in the kitchen or doing the dishes. A cutting board, a pot and a baker is all you need to put a meal on the table that anyone can enjoy. Fresh with spinach and herbs, hearty with pasta and chicken, rich with tomatoes and cheesy with mozzarella, this is a great, lighter make-ahead meal.

You could easily substitute Italian sausage for the chicken, or add more herbs or some red pepper flakes for a little kick. Whole wheat pasta works well and frozen chopped onions are a simple way to cut a little work from the recipe. Keep these ingredients handy and your close to a cozy family dinner anytime.

Italian Chicken, Pasta and Tomato Bake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 12 ounces cavatappi or fusilli pasta
  2. 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  3. 3 chicken breasts
  4. 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  5. 1 small white onion, diced
  6. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  8. 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  9. ¼ cup finely chopped basil
  10. 2 Tablespoons finely chopped oregano
  11. salt and pepper
  12. 1 (about 4 ½ ounce) ball fresh mozzarella
  13. 1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of well salted water according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander, then stir through 1 Tablespoon olive oil to keep the past from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken into small bite sized pieces. Put the thawed spinach in a clean tea towel and ring out most of the moisture. When the pasta is done, return the pot to medium heat and pour in 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion, and when it begins to soften and turn glossy, add the chicken and cook, stirring, until it begins to turn opaque. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, then pour in the tomatoes and add the tomato paste, spinach, basil and oregano. Stir until everything is combined and well distributed (pay particular attention to the spinach – it tends to clump together). Cover the pot and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the drained pasta, about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt and generous grinds of black pepper until the noodles are coated and everything is well distributed. Spread the pasta in a well-greased 9 by 13-inch baking dish and leave to cool slightly.
  3. When the pasta has cooled, tear the mozzarella into small pieces and tuck it down into the pasta evenly throughout the casserole and leave some peeking out of the top. Sprinkle over the grated parmesan. The casserole can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point up to one day.
  4. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the casserole until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
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Greek Inspired Shrimp and Feta Spaghetti

Greek Inspired Shrimp and Feta SpaghettiThe Greek flavors of a shrimp, tomato and feta are a favorite of mine, and always remind me of summer, and a trip to Greece and the island of Mykonos one summer many years ago. Our favorite dish was Shrimp Saganaki, a rich tomato sauce with shrimp nestled in, covered in a blanket of fresh feta cheese. None of my travelling companions or I knew much about Greek food at the time, and when we discovered this, we were glad to see it on almost every menu. I am sure we ate it every day of our trip, possibly even twice a day. This particular dish is also inspired by one of my favorite summer pastas, the Tomato, Herb and Brie Pasta I unknowingly laid claim to as my own creation for years. The idea of leaving ingredients to steep and soften before tossing in hot pasta struck me and I have used the technique in many ways, but this is a great version and perfect for a quick summer meal.

Feta cheese doesn’t melt like the brie in the original dish, but the small crumbles will cling to the pasta and the shrimp. While the sauce mixture is sitting, the tomatoes soften and release some juice and the herbs and lemon meld together, making for a really bright and fresh dish. Feta cheese is salty, so season lightly at first, then adjust at serving.

Greek Inspired Shrimp and Feta Spaghetti
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 4 plum tomatoes
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. ¼ cup chopped oregano
  4. zest and juice of one lemon
  5. 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  6. ¼ cup olive oil
  7. salt and pepper
  8. 1 pound spaghetti
  9. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  10. ½ cup white wine
Instructions
  1. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes, finely dice the flesh and place in a bowl big enough to hold all the pasta. Put the garlic through a press, or finely chop it, sprinkling a little salt over it during the process.  This helps mellow the garlic - you don’t want big chunks. Add the lemon zest and juice, the oregano and feta cheese to the bowl and season lighlty with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and stir to combine. Leave to sit for at least an hour, but up to three is fine.
  2. When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the package instructions, about 12 minutes. While the pasta is cooking, bring the wine to a boil in a medium skillet and add the shrimp. Continue cooking until the shrimp are pink and cooked through and the wine is reduced to just a couple of Tablespoons.
  3. Put the cooked shrimp and reduced wine in the bowl with the other ingredients, then drain the pasta and put it on top. Cover with a towel and let sit a few minutes, then toss everything together and serve immediately.
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Greek Shrimp and Orzo Bake with Lemon and Dill

Greek Shrimp and Orzo Bake with Lemon and Dill


A good casserole is pure comfort food. And there are, I know, a million versions of casseroles out there, so coming up with new and unique versions is a welcome challenge for a recipe developer. So here’s my process for creating a recipe like this. I wanted to do something different – still a rich, creamy casserole, but with a twist. First I thought rice or noodles? Which led me to orzo, the small rice shaped pasta. Orzo, for some reason, always puts me in mind of Greek and Mediterranean food, and that made me think of lemons, much like one of my favorites, Greek Lemon Rice Soup. And of course, keeping with the Greek theme, feta cheese was an obvious ingredient. So I started to work out in my mind a recipe with orzo, lemon, feta cheese, herbs and chicken. Frankly, I had just finished my testing on another chicken casserole (recipe coming soon!), and didn’t really want to repeat myself, then the idea of using shrimp popped into my head. And with shrimp, I thought dill would be a bright herbal addition in keeping with the sunny Mediterranean profile. A quick shuffle through the ingredient library in my head led me to capers, to add a salty, briny note and a bit of texture.

That’s how these things work out with me. I wanted to create a creative casserole perfect for family meals or entertaining, and one thought led to another. And I am very pleased with the results, I think this dish meets all my points, unique, comforting packed with flavor and a change-up from the standards.

Greek Shrimp and Orzo Bake with Lemon and Dill
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cups orzo pasta
  2. ¼ cup butter
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  4. zest of two lemons, divided
  5. ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  6. 3 ½ cups whole milk
  7. 8 ounces crumbled feta cheese, divided
  8. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  9. salt and pepper to taste
  10. 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  11. 1 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  12. 3 Tablespoons capers, drained
  13. 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  14. 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen (18 - 20 count)
Instructions
  1. Cook the orzo according to the package directions, reducing the cooking time by one minute. Drain and rise thoroughly with cold water.
  2. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat, then add the minced garlic and the zest of one lemon. Cook for two minutes until fragrant, then sprinkle over the flour. Cook stirring, until the flour is pale and smooth. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking all the while, and cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Whisk in the nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in half of the feta and remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the remaining lemon zest, dill and oregano. Add the capers and the lemon juice and stir until well combined. Stir in the cooked orzo until it is completely separated and coated in the sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Rinse the shrimp and pat them dry with paper towels then add to the warm sauce. Stir until everything is combined and well coated with sauce. The shrimp will just begin to turn pink in the warm sauce.
  5. Spoon the casserole into the prepared dish and sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over the top. The casserole can be cooled, covered and refrigerated at this point for several hours.
  6. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350° and bake until heated through and bubbling around the edges, about 30 minutes. Turn on the broiler for a few minutes to brown the feta cheese on top if you would like
Notes
  1. Personally, I prefer leaving the shrimp whole, but you may cut them in half before adding to the casserole if you prefer.
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Tomato Gorgonzola Butter Pasta Sauce

Tomato Gorgonzola Butter Sauce

I love a recipe that combines weeknight elegance and weeknight easy. And this sauce takes very little time to whip up with results that are unique and packed with flavor. The combination of tomatoes and blue cheese for that tang of cheese and sweet- tart edge of tomato is an absolute winner. Pasta enrobed in this rich sauce makes a great family meal, or an impressive dish to serve to company. You can even make the sauce a little ahead, and toss it all together right before serving.

Blending the cheese with butter adds a silky richness to the sauce that sets it apart, like the finest French sauces finished with butter. Use a pasta with crevices to catch the wonderful sauce. A salad with a light vinaigrette and nice, crusty loaf of bread round out the meal.

Tomato Gorgonzola Butter Pasta Sauce
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  2. 6 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  3. 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  4. ½ cup chopped onion
  5. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  7. 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram or oregano
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. 16 ounces short pasta like penne or cavatappi
Instructions
  1. Mash the butter and Gorgonzola together in a small bowl using a fork and set aside.
  2. Sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute, just until fragrant. Pour in the tomatoes, then swish out the can with ¼ cup of water and add it to the sauce. Stir in the chopped marjoram and cook until the sauce is quite thick, about 10 - 12 minutes.
  3. You can prepare the recipe up to this point about an hour ahead.
  4. When ready to serve, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package instructions. Drain well. While the pasta is cooking, bring the tomato sauce up to a low simmer, then whisk in the gorgonzola butter bit by bit until melted and smooth. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and toss with the sauce until well coated.
  5. Serve immediately.
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