Garlic and Herb Pasta with Chicken, Shallots, Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese

Last weekend I stumbled upon a cute little farmers market in my area.  One of the vendors was called Pappardelle, who specializes in homemade pasta.  They sell pasta in all different flavors; ranging from chive and lemon to sun-dried tomato.  We picked up a simple ‘garlic and herb’ linguine, and have been anxious to try it out ever since.

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Aren’t the hooks so cute!?

It was hard for me to find a true “recipe” to use this pasta in because the pasta already has so many flavors- garlic, thyme, rosemary- in it.  So, I actually did something I rarely do and made my own concoction.  I am obsessed with onions and cherry tomatoes, and the Liberty on Less blog inspired me to add feta cheese.  Really, how can you ever go wrong by adding cheese?

I heated minced shallot and ginormous, plump cherry tomatoes in a little EVOO on low heat for about 15 minutes, until the cherry tomatoes were just about to burst.

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Thank you Fresh Market for these beauties.

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As that was heating, I boiled the pasta and grilled some chicken breasts seasoned with rosemary and crushed black pepper.  I then topped the pasta with the warm tomato mixture, grilled chicken, and sprinkled in some a ton of feta cheese.  I actually meant to drizzle some more olive oil on the finished product but forgot to.

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The verdict?

Eh.

I was very pleased with the flavor combination of chicken/tomatoes/feta/shallots, and my improvisation of ingredients.  Yay me.

However, I was very unimpressed with the pasta.  I’m sorry but $5-$6 for 8.oz of pasta is insane as it is, but this “flavored” pasta was BLAND!  I was so really hoping that this pasta would be a farmers market “gem” of mine, but it definitely was not.  I certainly would not recommend this pasta, or at least this flavor, to anybody.  Bummer.

2 morals to this story:

1. Save your bucks for uber fresh produce at Farmers Markets and stick to good ol’ supermarket pasta.

2.  Feta and tomatoes are amazing together,and make any meal better.

Disclaimer: I booked two (yes two!) vacations last night, both in the month of May.  Translation: time to get in shape!  So, don’t be surprised if the food featured on here gets kicked up a notch on the health scale.  (Even though I try to be healthy anyways)

I hope everyone is having a great week and your meals are turning out a bit more satisfying than mine.

xx

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Food Fail: Mustard Herb Salmon Gone Wrong

Hello again blog peeps.

I am saddened to report that tonight was a night of failures; on both the food and fitness front.  For now, let’s discuss food failures.

Inspired by awesome success with last weeks dijon crusted halibut, I decided to try a new salmon recipe for once.  I turned to my super reliable and trusty friend Giada de Laurentiis who rarely lets me down, and chose her herb and mustard broiled salmon.

This was the first time I used my broiler in this particular oven, and I have a feeling that it wasn’t fully heated when I put the salmon in.  The result was that the top of the salmon cooked way faster than the rest; the top was already cooked while the middle was still raw.  Ultimately, the salmon turned out EXTREMELY dried out, right down to the mustardy spread on top.  The mustard practically browned in the same way cheese would while baking in the oven (good for pizza, not for fish).  In all fairness, the actual flavor of the topping was very good.

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Random side note: how in the world is one supposed to chop fresh thyme without the sprigs getting in the way?  The thyme was not like rosemary where the herbs just fell right off.  This step was beyond frustrating for an already doomed meal.

To make matters even worse, I made this with lemon green beans and shallots (idea from Two Peas & Their Pod blog).  Seriously, this side includes three ingredients- how did I screw this up?  I’ll tell you how:  I used the amount of lemon called for in cooking the whole recipe even though I reduced the serving size drastically.  The result was overly lemony, under shallot-ed green beans.  Fail.

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The best part of this meal was contributed by good ol’ Uncle Ben.  Seriously, Uncle Bens instant brown rice and quiona mix with garlic is very tasty.  I highly recommed it for a healthy grain dish in a pinch.

And that is the sad truth- the best I can offer you from this meal is a thumbs up to Uncle Ben’s brown rice and quinoa mix.

Giada’s salmon may be worth a shot if you are confident in your broilers ability to work.  After tonight’s experience though, I think I will stick to grilling and baking my salmon instead.  While the mustard sauce was really good, it didn’t measure up to the simple blackening mix I usually use, which happens to be way less complicated.

Tonights adventures were a disappointment on all fronts.  I am sure the problem rests with me and/or my appliances so if any of you try out these recipes and have success, please let me know!

Since this post is filled with enough negativity already, I will save my rant about what happens when you try out a new workout and hate it for another day.  Also, to lighten up the mood a little, I have included a picture of my incredibly cute dog, Macy.  I always say she looks like a little burrito when she’s nestled in my covers like this, so technically she does belong in a blog post about food :)

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Boyfriend-Approved Meatless Monday Recipe: Emeril’s Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

The Challenge: introducing Meatless Monday to a meat-loving boyfriend.

I have recently been loving the idea of Meatless Monday, as it forces me to be creative in the kitchen.  My boyfriend, however, is a hard core meat lover.  I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the TV show Parks and Rec, but my boyfriend shares the same food attitude as Ron Swanson.  Anyway, the point being that Meatless Monday is something I kind of slowly snuck into his diet without him knowing.  I simply prepare a delicious meal on Mondays, don’t use the word meatless around him, and we are good to go.  The challenge here is that the meal has to be really tasty, otherwise my cover will be revealed!

Homemade sauces are an easy and healthy way to be meatless, which is boyfriend approved because the meal is so filling once combined with pasta.

I loved the caramelized onion and cherry tomato sauce I made last week, but I wanted to try something a little different.  I got this recipe from the Food Network website, and we really loved it.  So, I wanted to share the recipe and my thoughts/tidbits with you.

I apologize for the poor photo quality.  This sauce was not oily or glistening as the picture makes it seem.  I think it may be time to start saving money for a good camera…

Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Spicy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

You Will Need:

1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 (28-ounce) cans whole Italian plum tomatoes, with their juices
3 whole heads roasted garlic [see “How To” note below], cloves removed from peels

How To Roast Garlic

Roasting garlic is a very easy, albeit time consuming, cooking skill.  I had actually never done this before, but I was only one google search away from mastering the skill.

Rather than confuse you with a lengthy step-by-step, I highly recommend that you watch this video.

Emeril’s (Spicy) Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce Recipe:

[Yield: enough sauce to top about 3-4 pasta meals]

time: 1 hour 30 minutes + 30-40 minutes for roasting garlic

  1. In a large saucepan saute the onion in the olive oil over medium-high heat until soft and lightly golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Add the tomato paste, salt, balsamic vinegar, hot sauce, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and basil, and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you place them in the pan, and their juices. [Note: do not add the actual tomato juice that the tomatoes are canned in!]
  5. Stir to combine well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add the roasted garlic cloves and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes longer, or until the flavors have come together.
  7. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

My Thoughts & Tidbits

  • This sauce has kick to it!!  We were pretty surprised by how spicy it was, and we like spicy things.  I feel that the hotness of the red pepper flakes and the hot sauce overpowered the roasted garlic taste.  Next time I plan on reducing (or maybe even omitting) the red pepper flakes and adding 1-2 extra cloves of garlic.
  • The spiciness of the sauce did die down when it was re-heated for leftovers the next day.  The sauce was delicious this way, as all of the flavors came together perfectly.
  • This sauce pairs very nicely with whole wheat pasta.  I feel like some sauces are not powerful enough to mask the sometimes cardboard-y taste of WW pasta, but this one does the trick.  So go ahead, make it healthy and use the good-for-you stuff.
  • Note that the roasted garlic portion is 3 heads, not 3 cloves.  Yes, this is a lot of garlic!  Yes, you do need it all!
  • As previously noted, crush the tomatoes and their juices for the sauce, but do not add the actual juices that the tomatoes are canned in.
  • This sauce would taste amazing with some spicy chicken sausage in it.  Next time I make this without a vegetarian meal in mind, that is definitely what I will add!
  • This recipe is a bit time consuming between roasting the garlic and the steps in which the sauce simmers.  However, you are not actively engaged for much of this recipe.

This sauce was fantastic!  It is healthy, flavorful, versatile, and inexpensive.  This is a great base recipe for vegetarians, meat lovers, boyfriends, and even kids.  Next time you need an easy yet hearty meal, try this fresh, homemade tomato sauce!