Orzo and Vegetable Pasta Bowl with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions

This time of year, there’s an amazing abundance of fresh vegetables, and it’s a great opportunity to get your children to try some new produce. Think about hitting a farmers market this weekend, and let your kids pick out something new to try. When you get home, make this recipe. With it’s grown-up and child-friendly versions, everyone in your house is guaranteed to eat dinner. The adults get to enjoy a delicious dijon vinaigrette while the kids sample the new vegetables with the buttery pasta they always enjoy.

The slow-roasted tomatoes and onions are delicious, but this dish will be tasty even without them. Although they do take a while in the oven, it’s hands-off cooking time, and the tomatoes and onions can be made up to a day in advance. I specify orzo, my personal short pasta favorite, but you can use any short pasta that’s popular with your family.


Orzo and Vegetable Pasta Bowl with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
This meal makes a lot, so you have delicious leftovers for a second dinner or to pack for lunch. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions:
  • 1 red onion
  • 8 Campari tomatoes or 1 - 1½ lbs Cherry tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Orzo:
  • 2 cups (1 lb box) Orzo, regular or whole wheat, divided
  • Dijon Vinaigrette:
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • ¼ cup Red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • Other Ingredients:
  • 4-6 tbsp Butter, unsalted, softened
  • 1 (5 oz bag) Arugula or Baby Spinach, stems removed, divided (optional ½ bag for kids)
  • 4 cups Vegetables, cooked or raw - seasonal, divided
  • ½ cup Cheese of your choice - grated Parmesan, blue cheese, goat cheese, etc, divided (optional ½ cup for kids)
  • 4 tbsp Fresh herbs, optional (oregano, dill, thyme or basil would all work with this recipe), divided (optional 2 tbsp for kids)
Instructions
  1. Slow-Roasted Tomatoes and Onions:
  2. Set oven to 250 degrees and cover a sheet pan with aluminum foil. On the sheet pan, drizzle the onion and tomatoes with olive oil and Kosher salt, stir to combine. Slowly cook the tomatoes and onions until somewhat shriveled, 1¾ - 2 hours.
  3. Save the juice from the tray to mix with the pasta salad. Tomatoes and onions can be made up to a day ahead.
  4. Cook the Orzo:
  5. Make a double batch, following package instructions - 1 cup each, so you can tailor one half for grownup flavors and the the other half for a more kid-friendly meal. Whole wheat orzo will take longer. Once drained in a colander, separate the orzo into two large bowls.
  6. Dijon Vinaigrette:
  7. In a Mason jar combine Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, honey, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Shake vigorously until the dressing is emulsified.
  8. Pasta Bowls:
  9. Pour cooked orzo into 2 large bowls. While the pasta is hot - in one bowl toss the vinaigrette and slow-roasted tomatoes (if using) and in the second bowl toss the butter with the pasta. It will seem like there is too much vinaigrette, but it will all be absorbed by the hot pasta.
  10. In the bowl with vinaigrette, add arugula (or spinach), vegetables, cheese and fresh herbs if using and toss until combined.
  11. In the bowl with the butter, add vegetables, and if using arugula (or baby spinach), cheese and fresh herbs and toss until combined.
  12. Add additional salt or pepper to taste.
  13. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 4 hours, let come to room temperature before serving, about 30 minutes.

 

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Roasted Cauliflower Mash

It took me years to really understand why anyone would make pretend mashed potatoes. The real ones were just so good and cauliflower was so bland. Two things happened to change my mind. First, I got older and my metabolism started to slow down. Suddenly the idea of not eating carbs at night seemed to make a lot of sense. Second, as I began to roast more and more vegetables I added cauliflower into the mix. Cauliflower is not my kids favorite veg, but they will eat it, especially when it’s combined on a tray with broccoli. Roasting cauliflower, alongside a head of garlic, turns a boring mash into a savory delight. This recipe makes a lot, but if I’m making the effort I would rather go big, and Jeff and I will eat from one batch all week long. This recipe is an essential part of our pre-vacation prep!

Low-carb heaven!
All you need is two sheet pans and some aluminum foil. The garlic roasts right alongside.

Roasted Cauliflower Mash
Author: 
Serves: 8-10
 
I don't know about your children, but mine don't like to eat anything mushy. So - while cauliflower is not their first choice, they would much rather eat the roasted cauliflower than the mash, so if your kids feel the same way, reserve some cauliflower to feed your kids for dinner. A food processor makes quick work of this side, but you can use a potato masher and get equally great results. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 heads of Cauliflower, trimmed into bite-size florets
  • 1 head of Garlic, the top trimmed off to expose the cloves
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt, divided plus 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • ½ cup Olive oil, divided
  • 4 tbsp Butter, unsalted, divided
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, whole milk, divided
  • ½ cup Sour cream, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and line two sheet pans with aluminum foil.
  2. Make a small rectangular packet for the garlic and place the garlic in the center.
  3. Divide cauliflower evenly between the two baking sheets. Drizzle olive oil evenly between the baking sheets, adding a teaspoon or so to the garlic. Close up garlic packet.
  4. Sprinkle baking sheets with the 1 tsp Kosher salt divided and using your hands, make sure the olive oil and Kosher salt are well combined with the cauliflower.
  5. Roast for 15 minutes, then rotate trays in the oven to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 375 and continue to cook for 10 additional minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and slightly browned.
  7. Remove both trays from the oven and carefully open the garlic packet.
  8. In a food processor or a large bowl, carefully slide the cauliflower off the first baking sheet (you want the olive oil in there too!) Add ¾ tsp Kosher salt, 2 tbsp Butter, ½ cup Greek yogurt and ¼ cup sour cream.
  9. Prepare a 2 quart baking dish and spray with canola spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Pulse or mash cauliflower mixture until smooth. Transfer to the baking dish.
  11. Now, for the second sheet pan. Repeat all instructions above with the addition of adding the garlic. Once cooled to the touch, carefully squeeze it directly into the food processor or large bowl. Pulse or mash to combine.
  12. Transfer second batch to the prepared baking dish and gently mix to blend the flavors (you want that roasted garlic flavor spread throughout)!
  13. At this point you can cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing.
  14. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

 

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Grilled Asian-Style Portabello Mushrooms

Few vegetables are more delicious on the grill than portabello mushrooms…they lend themselves to all types of flavor profiles and they grill beautifully. This mouthwatering marinade pairs perfectly with the mushrooms, but would also work well with steak.

Shown with Grilled Baby Bok Choy

Grilled Asian-Style Portabello Mushrooms
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
This marinade is soooo good! Your mushrooms need as little as an hour in the marinade, but up to overnight works well too. Planning a quick weeknight dinner - I would double the marinade and include a few steaks. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp Soy sauce, low-sodium
  • ½ of a Lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Sambal oelek (see note)
  • ½ cup Canola oil
  • 4 Portabello mushrooms, gills removed (see note)
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl mis together soy sauce, lime, garlic, sambal oelek and canola oil.
  2. Place mushrooms in a large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
  3. Spray grill with canola spray and preheat to medium. Place mushrooms on the grill and cook, turning every 5 minutes for 15-20 minutes total.
  4. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
Notes
Sambal oelek - An Indonesian hot sauce that adds a subtle kick to the mushrooms. If you don't have it swap in Siracha. These mushrooms aren't spicy so you don't want to skip some type of hot sauce.
Why remove the gills? You simply need to scrap them out with a spoon. The gills can hide any sand or dirt - which would make your mushrooms taste gritty. And if you are making any type of sauce the dark gills can discolor anything they touch.

 

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Grilled Baby Bok Choy

Bok choy on the grill is so good, flavorful and interesting…and best of all quick, which makes it the perfect candidate for a weeknight dinner side. Of all the Asian ingredients I keep in the fridge, miso paste might be my favorite. I love it’s unami punch and versatility.

Shown with Asian-style Portabello Mushrooms

Grilled Baby Bok Choy
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
I love bok choy on the grill, it's just like grilled romaine, unexpectedly good in a way you never anticipated. I know it sounds crazy, but bok choy is actually very kid-friendly. You don't need to do much for these ingredients, just toss them with a bit of butter or oil, and seasoning and hit the grill. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • 3 tbsp Canola oil
  • 3 tbsp Miso paste, white
  • 1 lb Baby bok choy not trimmed (see note)
Instructions
  1. In you have a grill basket - preheat grill to medium. If you do not have a grill basket, spray the grill with canola spray before preheating.
  2. Melt butter, canola oil and miso paste in a small bowl in the microwave.
  3. In a large bowl toss bok choy with miso butter mixture.
  4. Transfer to the grill, and cook, over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
  5. The leaves should be slightly crisp and the bulbs tender. When eating you can discard the bok choy bulbs.
Notes
Bok choy - I like to cook the bok choy without trimming the stalks - it's easier to grill if everything is intact.

 

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Southern-style Green Beans

Green beans are a favorite of mine – grilled, roasted, steamed, sauteed – always delicious and enjoyed by the kids. But sometimes I crave them softer and more unctuous, and only a long-cooking time can coax out that level of flavor. I made these for Sunday dinner a few days ago, and served them alongside a baked ham. There’s an element of nostalgia in a meal like this…it’s comforting, delicious and feels like home – all on a plate of simple food.


Southern-style Green Beans
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
I was a little apprehensive to make these beans for my kids, because they loathe mushy food, so instead of the classic mushy green beans, I sought to find the middle ground and I was successful! These beans have all the flavor of long-simmered, but I only cooked them for 45 minutes, so they still retained texture and shape. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 sliced Bacon, chopped
  • 1 Onion, yellow, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 cups Chicken broth, low-sodium or homemade
  • 2 lbs. Green beans, trimmed
  • Additional salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the bacon and stir while it starts to render fat. Once you start to see some bacon fat, add the onions and Kosher salt.
  2. Reduce heat to low and let the bacon and onion slowly cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until onion is lightly browned.
  3. Add chicken stock and green beans to the pot. Mix in with bacon and onion, and cover the pot.
  4. Cook for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until beans are soft. If you prefer them softer, continue to cook until the texture is to your liking.
  5. Taste the beans and add salt and pepper if desired. I like to add another ½ tsp Kosher salt at this point. Serve immediately.

 

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Refrigerator Pickles

Somehow it’s taken me all these years to make pickles and now that I have, and perfected this super easy recipe, I’m wondering what took me so long! We love pickles in our house, for snacking and also on sandwiches, so homemade pickles make a great addition to our fridge. Plus, the flavor is sooo much better, and of course they taste so fresh. It also occurs to me that making a quick jar of pickles is an excellent way to make sure all those cucumbers we are always buying (we love to snack on cucumbers) never go to waste. And if you are farmers market regulars you can also use this brine to pickle all sorts of in season produce – carrots, cauliflower, you name it, it can probably be pickled.

Refrigerator Pickles

Refrigerator Pickles
Author: 
Serves: 3 (8 oz) Mason jars
 
This recipe is super easy to multiple. So if you have a lot of produce, grab some extra Mason jars, double or even triple the brine and start pickling. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tsp Minced garlic, divided into thirds
  • 1 cup White vinegar
  • 6 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1½ tsp Fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1½ tsp Celery seed, divided into thirds
  • 1½ tsp Coriander seed, divided into thirds
  • 1½ tsp Yellow mustard seeds, divided into thirds
  • ¾ tsp Black peppercorns, divided into thirds
  • 28 oz Mini cucumbers (2 pkges, trimmed and sliced in half) (see note)
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and salt, increase heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.
  2. In each of the 3 Mason jars, place ½ tsp of dill. Divide the celery, coriander and mustard seeds and black peppercorns between the jars. Drain brine into a bowl, using something to catch the garlic (I use a fine sieve). Then pour the brine back into the saucepan. Divide the garlic between the 3 jars. Then pack the jars full of cucumbers.
  3. Bring the brine back to a boil, pour it over the cucumbers to cover completely, let cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight. The pickles will be really good after about 24 hours and even better after a few days. Refridgerate for up 3 months.
Notes
I used just cucumbers, the mini ones, because they were on sale at the grocery store. This recipe would also be a great way to enjoy so many different veggies - Kirby cucumbers, carrots, green beans, cauliflowers....

 

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Broccoli with Lemon-Dijon Sauce

A new favorite dish, the flavors are just incredible! My kids love broccoli, but only if it’s steamed, sauteed or roasted – definitely no sauce! So, to make this side kid-friendly, reserve some broccoli after the initial sear and either transfer to finish steaming or zap it in the microwave. Your more adventurous eaters and every adult will love this sauce!

Literally one of the best meals I have ever made, it's that good.
Sorry I don’t have a picture just with the broccoli!

Broccoli with Lemon-Dijon Sauce
Author: 
 
My favorite broccoli recipe - ever! This is the perfect side to a simple main dish, Parmesan Scallops or grilled chicken, the pan sauce is terrific drizzled over everything. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Broccoli, sliced thinly with a flat side to every piece
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Butter, unsalted
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup Chicken broth, low-sodium or homemade
  • 1 Lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat a large skillet (that has a top or improvise) over medium heat with butter and olive oil.
  2. Once butter has melted and oil is hot, add broccoli. Toss to coat. Make sure each piece touches the pan, flat and cut side down.
  3. Cook without stirring, until bottoms are browned, about 4 minutes. Turn each floret and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add chicken broth, cover and cook until all the broth has evaporated, stirring halfway through, about 4 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from the heat and place broccoli on prepared dinner plates or a platter. To the pan drippings, add lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard and parsley. Whisk to combine. If sauce seems too thin, add a bit of chicken broth and/or butter. Whisk again and drizzle sauce over broccoli and the main course if desired.

 

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Summer Succotash

Inspired by my favorite vegetable cookbook, Susie Middleton’s Fast, Fresh & Green, I wanted to transform her summer ragout into a quick succotash. Fresh corn, green beans and zucchini…simply sauteed and then tossed together with fresh herbs – absolutely delicious and equally good room temperature, making this a perfect side dish for a barbecue.

Summer Succotash

Summer Succotash
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
I made a big batch of this, and it was only for Jeff and I, because I LOVE succotash and wanted to have lots of leftovers. Feel free to halve the recipe, but I promise if you make the full recipe it will get eaten! We had succotash for lunch with Pesto chicken, lunch the following day with Parmesan sea scallops and I polished off the last serving for breakfast the following day. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup Olive oil, divided
  • 1 large Sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 lb Green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large Zucchini, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 ears of Corn, cut off the cob
  • 1½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
  • 1½ tbsp Garlic powder, divided
  • 2-4 tbsp Fresh herbs (see note)
Instructions
  1. Over medium heat, in a large skillet add ¼ cup olive oil. Once oil is hot, add the green beans and sprinkle with ½ tsp Kosher salt and ½ tbsp garlic powder, cook, stirring frequently until some of the green beans are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from the heat and transfer green beans to a large bowl.
  2. Repeat the steps above exactly, next cooking the zucchini.
  3. Finally, repeat the steps above for a third time, cooking the corn. (see note)
  4. Toss the fresh herbs into the vegetable mix. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Notes
Fresh herbs - I used a mixture of flat-leaf parsley, thyme and oregano but lots of combinations would work well.
Why cook the corn last? Please do not change the order of the vegetables. The reason I cook the corn last is that the starch from the corn will brown the bottom of the pan - I do not want that happening too early in the cooking process.

 

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Ridgely’s Brussel Sprouts

This past Christmas, and for her 7th birthday in January, Ridgely asked for “real” cooking stuff. You can imagine how happy I was! She and I have the best time cooking, she has her own cabinets and loves to be in the kitchen with me! I promised Ridgely that if she started to measure her ingredients, I would post her recipes. She was so excited!

We love Brussel sprouts with bacon in our house – it’s one of our favorite winter sides. For spring, Ridgely decided to switch to shallots.

Brussel Sprouts with Shallots

Ridgely will tell you that salads and brussel sprouts are her favorite things to make. And as this picture shows, she is serious!

True Brussel Sprout Love!
True Brussel Sprout Love!

Ridgely's Brussel Sprouts
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A classic stovetop recipe - I encourage you to play around with the flavors. Once you understand the technique of Brussel sprouts you can really personalize this dish. Happy cooking!
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp Olive oil
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 lbs. Brussel sprouts, halved (I do this task)
  • 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped (I take the skins off then Ridgely chops with her little knife)
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, sprinkle Kosher salt across the pan.
  2. Add brussel sprouts and toss thoroughly in the olive oil mixture. Try to make sure each sprout has contact with the pan.
  3. Turn the heat to low, and let the brussel sprouts slowly cook, turning occasionally for about 15 minutes. Add the shallots and mix to combine.
  4. Continue to cook for 10-15 minutes more until one side of the sprout is caramelized.
  5. Remove from heat and serve.

 

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Grilled Green Beans

I love the taste of grilled food and I equally love washing as few dishes as possible. I have a grill basket, but I have to clean it and my children seem to always find the char marks and refuse to eat that piece of food. Enter aluminum foil, a great way to grill vegetables and you get to throw it away! Make sure you buy the long foil, short pieces won’t work here.

Grilled Green Beans

Grilled Green Beans
Author: 
Serves: 6-8
 
This recipe makes a lot of green beans! I make extra so we have leftovers for dinner the next night or I put the green beans in a salad.
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs green beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Prep the beans: Trim ends of green beans, toss in a bowl with olive oil and Kosher salt.
  2. Prep the grill: Turn burners to high, close lid and allow to preheat for 10 minutes. You probably already have the grill going with the rest of your dinner anyway. Take a large piece of aluminum foil, approximately the size of a baking sheet, and crimp the edges on all sides, making it function like a tray. Turn burners down to low. On my grill the foil would cover 2 grates, so those two I turn to low.
  3. Get grilling: Place foil on the grill and add green beans. Using tongs, move beans around, every 5 minutes or so. Total grilling time will be 15-20 minutes and they will still be crisp tender.
  4. Happy Cooking!

 

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