One Pot Pasta Alla Puttanesca with Chickpeas & Artichokes

alla-puttanesca

So this spicy, red pasta dish is a favourite for those that like spicy, briny, salty dishes. While the meaning of the name can denote different things, depending on which part of Italy you come from, in the end it is a delicious, hearty meal that is sure to please. While some recipes call for the use of anchovies, this recipe, in its one-pot format, does not. It also does not call for cheese, however a sprinkling of parmesan over top at the end is always a hit in my book.

Two items to note in this recipe for 6, the artichokes and the amount of broth needed. There is great debate over the use of artichoke bottoms or hearts in the kosher community. Some lucky cooks can find canned artichokes with reputable hechshers, but for the rest of us, I find using the bottoms found in the frozen section a good substitute. With regards to the type of pasta used, you may find that you have to add more broth when using whole wheat compared to regular pasta. I say start with the lower amount, and as it’s cooking, you can add more if needed. Please note though if you add more broth, make sure it’s hot, so that it doesn’t delay the cooking time of the rest of the dish.

Ingredients:

1 (500g) box whole wheat or regular long noodle pasta
½ – 1 cup sliced black olives, such as Kalamata
1 ½ bags frozen artichoke bottoms, mostly defrosted and chopped (total amount of 21 ounces)
¾ (540ml) can canned chickpeas, low sodium
3 tablespoons capers
1 medium white or yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¾ (796ml) can diced tomatoes, low sodium
1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes (reduce to ¼ teaspoon if sensitive to heat)
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper (reduce to 1/3 teaspoon if freshly ground)
4 ½ – 6 cups vegetable broth (you may need to add more broth depending on what type of pasta you use)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions:

In a large pot, add the pasta noodles, breaking them in half if needed to fit, and then the rest of the ingredients, pouring the broth over everything last. Drizzle the olive oil over the whole dish.

Cover your pot and bring the contents up to a boil. Once you’ve reached a boil, remove the lid and give the contents a good stir, to help keep the pasta from sticking together. Return the cover and reduce the heat to a steady simmer (medium to medium-low heat). Cook for an additional 8-10 more minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until the pasta is cooked through and al dente.

If you find that there is a bit too much liquid in your dish, let the pasta sit for a little bit off the heat, and the pasta will absorb the excess liquid. If you have leftovers, I suggest tossing them with a little olive oil before storing in the fridge.

Quinoa, Bulgur and Bibb Salad with Feta

Quinoa & Bulgur Salad

So a co-worker of mine was recently asking for some recipes for grains, things like quinoa, bulgar and couscous (yes, I know it’s not an actual grain). I looked up a few for her, but then she suggested a week on alternative grains. So Judy, this one’s for you! Today’s recipe is a 2-for-1, in that it contains both quinoa and bulgur, two great grains that are easy to prepare and adapt well to a variety of flavours. As always, you can change up and adjust this recipe to fit your family’s tastes. If they’re not crazy about olives, leave them out. You can switch the feta for goat cheese, shredded cheese, or leave that out as well, and make the salad pareve. The lettuce can be changed up with salad greens, arugula or even romaine. The choices are endless! No matter what you use though, the recipe below will serve 6-8 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

⅔ cup quinoa
8 cups water
3 teaspoons salt, divided
⅔ cup medium bulgur
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 ½ teaspoons dried mint, crumbled
½ teaspoon black pepper
8 brine-cured black olives, such as Kalamata, pitted and cut into slivers**
4 radishes, quartered and thinly sliced*
4 ounces feta, coarsely crumbled (about 1 cup)
2 heads Bibb/Boston/Butter lettuce, cut into ¼ -inch strips (about 8 cups)*
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

* Click here to learn how to clean radishes and Bibb/Boston/Butter lettuce.
** Click here for my tips on pitting and slicing olives.

Directions:

Add the quinoa into a large bowl and fill with cold water. Using your hand, agitate the water so that the quinoa gets rinsed well. Drain using a sieve or colander. Repeat this process 3 times, using fresh water each time.

In a medium to large sized saucepan, add the washed quinoa, 8 cups of water, and 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt. Simmer, uncovered until the quinoa is just tender and the germ starts to separate from the grain, about 20 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

While the quinoa is simmering, in a small bowl, add the bulgur and cover it with warm water by 2 inches. Let the bulgur soak until tender and chewy, about 10 minutes. Drain well, and then stir into the drained quinoa. Cool grains completely, about 20 minutes.

While the grains are cooling, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mint, pepper, and remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt in a small bowl and let stand 15 minutes, then stir into the grains along with the olives, radishes, feta, lettuce and tomatoes. Serve immediately.

Greek Orzo Salad

Greek Orzo SaladSo to end off pasta salad week, I thought I’d do one of my favourites. I love the tang of the olives, feta and artichokes, along with the kick of briney heat from the pepperonicini! For those of you that don’t like heat, you can reduce or even eliminate the use of the pickled peppers. For those that want a little bit more heat running through the salad, and not just on the bites that have bits of pepper, try adding some of the brine from the peppers to the dressing, swapping out for some of the vinegar. This is another salad, like most pasta salads, that gets better with time. This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups uncooked orzo pasta
2 (6 ounce) cans artichoke bottoms, drained and roughly chopped*
2 tomatoes, diced (or about 20 cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 large English cucumber, diced
1 green pepper, diced
½-1 red onion, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup black olives, preferably Kalamata, roughly chopped
3-4 pepperoncini, sliced thin (optional)
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley*
2 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
salt to taste (if needed)

* Click here to learn about artichokes and parsley.

Directions:

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add Orzo and cook for 8 – 10 minutes (or according to box instructions); drain.

In a large bowl combine the orzo, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, onion, feta, olives, pepperoncini and parsley. Toss to combine.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the flavours as needed. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Chill for an hour in the refrigerator and then serve.

If you are preparing the salad a day ahead, do as detailed above, but leave out the tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper and feta, adding these ingredients right before serving, so they don’t become soggy.