Tag Archives: pasta

Chicken Tetrazzini

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while now. Actually to be more accurate, I have tons of recipes bookmarked that have caught my eye, but that I never seem to have enough time to try. When your in a hurry to get something on the table, you usually go for a reliable stand-by. Something you know is good and that you can make in a hurry. Well when I recently started going through my bookmarks, I was surprised at how many yummy sounding recipes I had collected, and I decided it was about time to start crossing them off my list. You will be seeing a lot more recipes from me as I start going through them. Once you try this great pasta dish, it will become a favorite. Its perfect for those who love the creaminess of a fettuccine but crave more substantial flavor. I love that it has chicken, mushrooms and peas!  With over 1000 reviews and a rating of five stars, you know it’s gotta be good right? It was. It was so rich and packed with flavor it inspired a rain of complements from my husband. This is a great, hearty dish that will fill you up during the winter months. Make it to impress that special someone and it won’t dissapoint!





Chicken Tetrazzini (adapted from Giada de Laurentis)


  • 9 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dry (or fresh) thyme leaves
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, room temperature
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 12 ounces linguine (I used fettuccine pasta)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup dried Italian-style breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Spread 1 tablespoon of butter over a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Melt 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil in a deep large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot pan and cook until pale golden and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool slightly. Coarsely shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon each of butter and oil to the same pan. Add the mushrooms and saute over medium-high heat until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates and the mushrooms become pale golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, and thyme, and saute until the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.Transfer the mushroom mixture to the bowl with the chicken.

Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cream, broth, nutmeg, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, and remaining 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat to high. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until it is tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 9 minutes. Drain. Add the linguine, sauce, peas, and parsley to the chicken mixture. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta and the mixture is well blended.

Transfer the pasta mixture to the prepared baking dish. Stir the cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the pasta. Dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Bake, uncovered, until golden brown on top and the sauce bubbles, about 25 minutes.


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Filed under Italian, Main Meals, Meat, Uncategorized

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella

I love Ottolenghi.  It was one of my favorite food experiences in London, and I had AMAZING food experiences there.  The way the chefs manipulate vegetables and make healthy dishes taste so enticing and complex is masterful.  Whenever I see an Ottolenghi recipe, I know it’s something my family and I will love, especially when we are trying to eat a little healthier.  I also love my dad’s cooking…the man knows what he’s doing.  He throws in whatever strikes his whimsy, disregards a recipe more often then not and the end result is always something interesting and delectable.  So, this was the perfect combination-an Ottolenghi recipe as cooked by my dad.  This dish impressed us with its simple fresh flavors, and its ease in coming together.  For those of you who don’t know, orzo is a type of tiny pasta reminiscent of risotto, that absorbs flavors wonderfully.  This is a great autumn dish, filled with hearty vegetables like celery, eggplant, carrots and tomatoes.  It would work well with modifications, cube and sautee any vegetable you want to add and you can experiment.  We had some leftover ground beef and toasted pine nuts, and my dad threw them in.  Try adding feta cheese in addition to the mozarella with sundried tomatoes and olives.  Pumpkins and zucchini would work wonderfully, and this would habe been great with mushrooms.  This was  devoured and will definitely be repeated, probably with different ingredients each time.

Baked Orzo with Eggplant and Mozzarella
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s adaptation of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe

Serves 4

1 large  eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, in a 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces (225 grams) orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 teaspoon (6 grams) tomato paste (we upped this to a tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) vegetable stock (if you don’t have, use water, we ended up adding an extra 1/2-1 cup of water)
1 to 3 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped (We used dried)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or more to taste, up to the zest of a whole lemon
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, firmer is better here, cut into 1/3-inch dice (we used shredded)
1 1/2 ounces (a generous 1/2 cup or 45 grams) parmesan, grated
3 medium tomatoes, diced

*My dad added 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced to the onions and garlic while cooking.  This gave it a great spicy flavor, omit if you like your food mild

Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. I used this time to get the rest of my ingredients ready. After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175 C). Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and once the oil is shimmering, add the eggplant. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring pieces occasionally. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, transfer them to paper towels to drain. Add celery and carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and tomato paste and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, mozzarella, parmesan, tomatoes, fried eggplant, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the stock and mix well.

Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil. (You can increase the ration of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Filed under Healthy, Italian, Main Meals, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Gusto Bahrain Restaurant Review

I don’t go to Saar very frequently to eat out, which is probably why I’ve pretty much ignored Gusto, a pizzeria that opened a few months ago.  Until now, that is.  After reading a mention in Time Out Bahrain, I went for dinner with a group of friends, and again a few days later with parents.  The reason I went again is because I think I found my new favorite pizza in Bahrain!  There were definitely a few hit and misses though.  I’ll combine the dishes that were ordered on the two separate occasions for ease of review.


 The pizzas are made in a traditional wood burning oven, and it shows.  They are light and crispy, thin style authentic Italian pizzas.  I’m no pizza snob, I definitely enjoy Papa John’s from time to time, but after a trip to Italy last summer I like to think I know what good authentic pizza constitutes.  And Gusto’s pizza base is exactly what I like.  Crispy at the edges, with a thin crust that’s the tiniest bit charred on the edges while maintaining its chewiness towards the center. 

 We ordered a artichoke goat cheese salad with roasted peppers, diavolo pizza which is pepperoni with spicy peppers, a quattro formaggi pizza, a pizza with ricotta cheese and artichokes (not pictured), and a margherita with additional buffalo mozzarella on top (Doc margharita).  I was very excited about the salad, and thought it looked great, but the taste disappointed me.  The goat cheese was tough and rubbery, and the few roasted red peppers didn’t mix well with the lettuce leaves.  If it had been a lettuceless salad, with a pile of roasted red and yellow peppers, artichokes and creamy goat cheese they would have had a hit.  The artichokes, both in the salad and on top of the pizza tasted canned, I usually love artichokes but I ended up pushing these to the side.  The toppings on the pizzas themselves were hit and miss.The quattro formaggi was very bland; I couldn’t even detect any sauce under the heaviness of the cheese.  But the next two pizzas completely redeemed the place and one in particular, the doc margherita, is the reason I ended up going back the same week.  The margherita was spectacular, the buffalo mozerella was gooey and melted, the basil tasted very fresh and added a flavor that permeated the whole pizza and the tomato sauce also tasted light, fresh and perfectly seasoned.  Everyone agreed that was the clear winner.  The diavolo was also really good, with crispy spicy pepperoni, but the pepperoni was a little too much, those of you who like really meaty pizzas will like this, while I like a little less meat to really taste the cheese and crust. 

The second time I went back, I ended up getting the same margherita with buffalo mozarella pizza and a shrimp pasta (pasta with gamberoni, giant shrimp, rocket, and cherry tomatoes).  The presentation was really nice, I was immediately excited to dig in.  And the pasta didn’t disappoint!  It’s done in true Italian style, with very little sauce, just olive oil and a touch of tomato, with a lot of garlic.  The shrimp was huge and cooked perfectly, but I didn’t like that it came in the peel (I like my food totally ready to eat).  The pasta overall was a bit salty for my taste, but if I combined roasted sweet cherry tomatoes and rocket with each bite it evened it out.  My parents ordered the seafood pasta (I don’t eat squid or octopus) and they really liked it, but also had the same complaint that it was a little salty.  If the sauce had a bit more tomato in it to give it a more substantial feel, I think I’d like it even more.

   Regardless, go to Gusto if only for the pizza, but be careful of some options on the menu that won’t impress as much.  I’d advise you to go simple, try the buffalo mozzarella margherita pizza, and what seems to be their speciality on the pasta end, the seafood pastas.

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Baked Eggplant Parmesan

I love eggplant parmesan.  I love anything breaded served with tomato sauce.  Most eggplant parmesan’s tend to be fried which transforms eggplan from a healthy, great
non-meat substitute to a sponge that soaks up all the oil it’s fried in.  This recipe caught my eye because not only does baking the eggplant result in less work, it also results in way less calories.  I bake almost everything that is more traditionally fried, like french fries, sambosas, etc, and I honestly can say that when sprinkled with a little oil they come out with the same golden crispy deliciousness.  I also liked this as a vegetarian dish, we try to cook meat free once a week just to take a break.  I went with a Cook’s Illustrated recipe because they have a reputation for delivering consistently delicious results.  The recipe was a hit, and a must repeat, but quantities were a little off.  Making it the original way led to a big surplus of breadcrumbs and a shortage on sauce.  Below, you’ll find my adaptation on the recipe:
Baked Eggplant Parmesan, loosely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and as seen on Smells like Home
 For the Eggplant:
2-3 medium eggplants (about 1-1.5 kgs) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (about 30 grams)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Italian seasoning (optional, my own add in)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Tomato Sauce:

3 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) diced tomatoes or pureed or crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
Salt and ground pepper

For Baking:
200 grams whole or part-skim mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 30 grams)
10 fresh basil leaves, for garnish

To make the eggplant:

In a large bowl, toss half of the eggplant slices and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt; transfer salted eggplant to colander set over bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant and salt. You are basically draining the salted eggplant in the sink.  Let stand until eggplant releases about 2 tablespoons liquid, 30 to 45 minutes. Arrange eggplant slices on a triple layer of paper towels; cover with a triple layer of paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible, then wipe off excess salt.
While eggplant is draining, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-thirds of the oven, place rimmed baking sheets on both racks, and heat oven to 220 degrees C.
In a pie plate or shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Combine flour and 1 teaspoon pepper and a dash of italian seasoning if using in large zipper-lock bag; shake to combine. Beat eggs in second pie plate. Place 8 to 10 eggplant slices in bag with flour, dip in eggs, let excess egg run off, then coat evenly with breadcrumb mixture. Set breaded slices on wire rack set over baking sheet. Repeat with remaining eggplant.

Remove preheated baking sheets from oven; add 3 tablespoons oil to each sheet, tilting to coat evenly with oil. Place half of breaded eggplant on each sheet in single layer; bake until eggplant is well browned and crisp, about 30 minutes, switching and rotating baking sheets after 10 minutes, and flipping eggplant slices with wide spatula after 20 minutes. Do not turn off oven.

To make the sauce:
While eggplant bakes, process 2 cans diced tomatoes in food processor or blender until almost smooth (if using pureed or crushed tomatoes, skip this step). If you don’t want too much texture, also puree the 3rd can, otherwise you’ll be adding this diced to the sauce.
Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is light golden, about 3 minutes; stir in processed and remaining can of tomatoes. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. Stir in basil and season to taste.

To assemble:
Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Layer in half of eggplant slices, overlapping slices to fit; distribute 1 cup sauce over eggplant; sprinkle with half of mozzarella. Layer in remaining eggplant and dot with 1 cup sauce, leaving majority of eggplant exposed so it will remain crisp. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.
Bake until bubbling and cheese is browned, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes, scatter basil over top, and serve, passing remaining tomato sauce separately.  I made some spaghetti pasta, and served with the tomato sauce and eggplant.  A little time consuming, but an absolutely delicious recipe.


Filed under Healthy, Italian, Vegetarian