Crunchy Baked Pork Chops and Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Reblogged from More Than One More Day, Sunday September 26, 2010

Simple avocado and lettuce salad, pasta with etc. and the crunchy pork chop

Like any good foodie, I went to check out the new Trader Joe’s that opened at 72nd and Broadway. Looking for what America’s Test Kitchen calls “a hearty white bread” I chose this one as a likely candidate. In the package the slices were 1 inch thick and were substantial, without that Wonder Bread softness. When the cashier told me it makes excellent French toast I knew I was in the neighborhood. The menu tonight was entirely from America’s Test Kitchen. I had to make some adjustments since Fairway, just 2 blocks up Broadway from Trader Joe’s, does not sell center cut pork chops 2 to a pack but 3 to a pack. This recipe requires you to make your own breadcrumbs but after that, the pork chops cook very quickly in less than 20 minutes. In this recipe you must soak the meat in brine before baking.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
3 center cut boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat

4-6 teaspoons table salt (down from 1/4 cup)
4 cups water
1 gallon size ziploc bag

Dipping Mixtures:

breadcrumb mixture
3 slices of “hearty white bread”, shredded into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup onion
3 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (parsley in the original recipe but I like cilantro)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/4 cup

egg white mixture
6 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 lime wedges for garnish

Combine all the brine ingredients in the gallon ziploc bag. Put the pork chops inside, close it, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from the bag and pat dry. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

While the pork chops are brining, prepare the bread crumb mixture. Pulse the bread pieces in a food processor or blender until you get coarse crumbs. If using a blender, do a handful at a time. Spread the bread crumbs on a tray. I like onion and garlic, so I increased the amounts from 2 tablespoons onion to 1/4 cup, and I used 3 large cloves instead of 2 medium. Pulse the onions, garlic, and oil together, about 6 times.

Add the onion mixture to the breadcrumbs and mix well. Bake until golden brown and dry, about 20 minutes, stirring twice. Remove the breadcrumbs from the oven but do not turn it off. Let the breadcrumbs come to room temperature. Toss the crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and chopped cilantro. Transfer to a pie plate and set aside. In another pie plate, pour 1/4 cup flour and set aside. In a third pie plate, add the egg whites, mustard, and 6 tablespoons flour. Whisk until there are pea sized particles.

Increase oven temperature to 425˚F. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and put it in a baking tray. Dip each pork chop in the following sequence: flour, egg mixture, and breadcrumb mixture. Place about 1 inch apart on the prepared wire rack. Bake 17-25 minutes. I baked the 3 chops for 17 minutes and they came out juicy and slightly pink but cooked through. According to ATK, the internal temperature should reach 135˚F. Then let the chops rest 5 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 150˚F. Now ATK did not say resting inside or outside the oven, but I turned off the oven and left the chops inside for 5 minutes. They were indeed crunchy, as promised, and not at all salty.

Here’s the recipe for the pasta. Now, when I cook, I don’t run and and buy everything exactly as the recipe says for one very simple reason: economy. I make substitutions especially if they won’t alter the taste or the appearance of the finished product. Instead of pasta shells, I used an open package of elbow macaroni from my pantry cupboard.

Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Peas
2 cups pasta shells
1 cup frozen green peas
3 large cloves garlic (up from 2 cloves)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I didn’t increase this because these pepper flakes are potent–they’re home-made by my sister-in-law’s cook in Bangkok)
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 8.5 oz. jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, rinsed, and chopped coarsely
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped thinly
salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to package directions. In the last 15 seconds, add the frozen peas. Drain and return to the pot.

In a small skillet, heat the garlic, oil and pepper flakes until sizzling but not browned. I accidentally browned the garlic, but I think it tastes better that way. I like the strong burned flavor. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, mint, salt and pepper to taste, and the garlic oil mixture. Add to the pasta and peas and mix thoroughly.

turkey alfredo with home made cream sauce with cheese


I don’t remember where I found this recipe because I forgot to bookmark it. Although the original says to use linguine, spaghetti works well, and so does shell pasta. I made my own cream sauce rather than use canned condensed cream soup. Making your own cream sauce is excellent because it cuts down on the salt and the msg. I highly recommend it.

Turkey Alfredo with Home Made Cream Sauce with Cheese
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes

1/2 of a 16 ounce package linguine, spaghetti, or pasta e.g. shell or elbow
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas or broccoli, blanched and cooled (I used broccoli and chopped asparagus and baby corn).
2 cups diced cooked turkey meat, lightly salted and peppered
Chopped scallion and cilantro for garnish, optional
Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional

Cream Sauce with Cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 bouillon cube, any flavor
1 cup milk (I used whole milk but low fat or nonfat will do)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper, optional
1/4 cup cream, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Fresh herbs, e.g. thyme, parsley, rosemary

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.

Blanch the vegetables. This means to put the vegetables in boiling lightly salted water until they turn bright green. For the baby corn, about 30 seconds. Drain the vegetables and rinse in cool water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and set aside.

Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Whisk in the flour one tablespoon at a time. Remove the pot from the heat source. Add the milk gradually, whisking all the time until there are no more lumps. Return to medium heat and add the bouillon cube. Bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cheeses, black pepper, and the chili pepper, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the cream, if desired, and the fresh herbs.

Add the cooked vegetables and the chopped cooked turkey to the cream sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add the cooked pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. If desired, garnish with scallion and cilantro. Or grate Parmesan cheese on top.

spaghetti alla carbonara


We were expecting company for dinner, but  the guest list suddenly expanded from two to five. Which is okay because there was enough chicken to go around–the Lemon-Garlic-Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes. I had also planned on making spaghetti alla carbonara, and two vegetable dishes. This carbonara does not have a cream sauce, for which I was grateful. Sometimes a cream sauce can be just too heavy for this dish. It should be light and salty. I do like the salty flavors from that bacon and ham generously crumbled and chopped and tossed in the pasta. I doubled this recipe for 8, so halve it for four.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara (adapted from food network)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


1 pound dry spaghetti  (preferably whole wheat)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 strips bacon, crisped in the microwave then crumbled
1/2 cup Canadian bacon or ham, chopped (about 6 slices)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 large eggs
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh basil, shredded, or use Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped coarsely (optional)


Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm (as they say in Italian “al dente.”) Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

Microwave the bacon to minimize spatter. Do not discard the fat. When the bacon is crisp set aside to cool. Pour the rendered fat into a large skillet. Add the Canadian bacon. When it is slightly browned, add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Return the cooked bacon to the pot. Combine. Turn off the heat.

Coat cooked spaghetti in bacon fat. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Use a pair of silicone tipped tongs to toss the pasta. You may need to add a bit of olive oil. To add the sauce in the next step, do NOT turn on the heat.

Make the sauce. Beat the eggs and Parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Pour the egg/cheese mixture onto the pasta. This is done off the heat to ensure the eggs don’t scramble. That would be a tragedy! The heat from the pasta cooks the egg. Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches the desired consistency.

Cook’s Note: I did not get much sauce, probably because I doubled this recipe.

Add seasoning. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt.

Serve. Mound the spaghetti alla carbonara into a large serving plate. Garnish with basil or parsley, if desired. Add more cheese if desired. This carbonara was zesty from the Parmesan cheese, chewy because of the aal dente pasta, and a bit salty and crunchy from the ham and bacon. The egg sauce binds to the pasta so that the Parmesan flavor came through with every mouthful.


roasted asian vegetable mac & cheese with chorizo and garlic-panko topping

This is a multicultural mac and cheese! I love it. The great thing about mac and cheese is that it is adaptable and open to creative permutations. I adapted this recipe from, and though it took nearly two hours to make, it was well worth the wait. I made the following substitutions: I  used winter melon instead of zucchini, pumpkin instead of summer squash, red wine vinegar instead of balsamic, and chorizo instead of ham. As it is very difficult to get havarti cheese in Bangkok, I used ordinary white supermarket cheese.

Roasted Asian Vegetable Mac and Cheese with Chorizo and Garlic-Panko Topping

Prep time: 40 minutes (includes roasting vegetables)
Bake time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

For Roasting Vegetables
4 cups fresh corn kernels (4 ears)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups winter melon, peeled, seeded, chopped (1/2 small winter melon)
2 cups pumpkin, peeled, seeded, chopped (1/2 small pumpkin)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon palm sugar dissolved in water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For mac and cheese
2 cups chorizo sliced into 1/8 inch thick rounds
1 pound penne or small shell pasta
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 1/2 cups milk (2% or whole)
8 oz Havarti cheese
8 oz cheddar cheese
2 oz Parmesan cheese
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
pinch of salt
avocado slices for serving, optional
Maldon’s sea salt, optional

Preheat the oven to 400˚F/225˚C. Spray a 9×13 inch glass baking dish with cooking oil. Set aside. Cover a baking tray with foil. Set aside.

Remove the corn kernels from the cob and put in a large bowl with the pepper, onion, winter melon, and pumpkin. In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, palm sugar solution, and salt and pepper. Spread the corn mixture evenly on the baking tray. Bake 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350˚F/180˚C. Don’t wash out the bowl. Add the chorizo slices to the bowl, and when the vegetables are roasted add them to the sausage too.

Cook’s Note: I used the palm sugar solution to add a little sweetness to the dressing. And I also wanted it to caramelize the vegetables.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. One to two minutes before the pasta is cooked, remove from heat. Drain and rinse the pasta. Add the undercooked pasta to the bowl with the chorizo and vegetables. In a small bowl, put the breadcrumbs and mix with the minced/pressed garlic and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. When it bubbles, add the flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and browns. This is called roux. Slowly pour the milk into the roux, stirring constantly. Heat until the milk thickens slightly. Add all except 1/2 cup of the grated Havarti/cheddar cheeses and all of the Parmesan. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Add the cheese sauce to the bowl with the sausage, vegetables, and pasta. Toss to coat thoroughly. Pour the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Smooth the top. Sprinkle  remaining cheese on top, then the garlic-panko breadcrumb mixture. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let the mac and cheese rest 10 minutes before serving. If desired, top with a slice of avocado sprinkled with a little sea salt. My husband prefers red pepper flakes on his mac and cheese.

penne with chinese sausage and flowering chives


There is no recipe for this dish. I used up a bunch of leftovers and fried up a couple of Chinese sausages (fah chung in Hakka Chinese). To make this dish, I also used two kinds of penne, onions, and flowering Chinese chives. I also tossed in a couple handfuls of shiitake mushrooms and 1/3 cup of sesame sauce–like I said, leftovers. Then I seasoned the dish liberally with salt, pepper, and fish sauce or nam pla. The flowering Chinese chives  are called dok gui chai in Thai and taste faintly of onion with a crisp texture even after stir-frying. Combined with the sweetish taste of the Chinese sausage, this was a satisfyingly hearty dish that was perfect for Sunday lunch.

another variation on Pasta With Half the Carbs

quinoa pasta in spinach pesto with meatballs, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes

Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta in Spinach Pesto with Zucchini, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, and Turkey Meatballs

Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes

1 pound lean ground turkey
1/4 cup Mexican shredded cheese
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
8 oz quinoa pasta
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup summer squash, julienned
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, slivered
10 grape tomatoes, halved
2 large cloves garlic pressed through a garlic press
1/3 cup spinach pesto
salt and pepper to taste

Optional toppings:
Chopped cilantro, chopped scallion, chili-garlic sauce, Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Prepare a baking tray covered with heavy duty aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, cheese, granulated garlic and onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop up the seasoned meat and place it on the prepared baking tray. It makes about 12-16 2 inch meatballs. Bake 10-15 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and drain meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels.

In a large pot, boil water with canola oil. Cook the pasta according to package directions, about 6-7 minutes for al dente. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, add the chicken broth. When it sizzles, add the cut-up vegetables and pesto. Season to taste. Cook until the veggies are heated through and slightly wilted. Add the meatballs and the cooked pasta. Toss ingredients to combine thoroughly. Serve at once.If desired, sprinkle optional toppings on top of the pasta, vegetables, and meatballs.

1 pound firm tofu cut into strips
Salt and pepper
Cooking spray

Instead of the turkey meatballs, make a vegan version with tofu. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and brown the tofu. Season with salt and pepper, and add to the pasta dish.

Chinese style lo mein

chicken lo mein

The drawbacks to this recipe are its long list of ingredients and its intricate method. If you can overlook those, then this is a delicious recipe that will go with any kind of meat. To make it vegan, use tofu instead of meat, and instead of chicken broth, use vegetable broth. I do NOT recommend you use the Asian style noodles available at some supermarkets uptown Manhattan. ATK is right; they are gummy. The best substitute is actually linguine. I have yet to try a gluten-free noodle in this recipe. I hesitate because they are at least twice the price of wheat and have the same amount of carbs. I used regular green cabbage in this recipe rather than Napa/Chinese Cabbage, because it holds its crispness in high heat and sauces. I also substituted carrots for the mushrooms but you can use both. The original recipe used boneless pork spare-ribs but I hate fatty ribs, so I used chicken breast in this recipe.

Chinese Style Lo Mein (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

For the marinade
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 pound boneless pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat and silver, sliced thin (can use chicken or beef or firm tofu)
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)

For the vegetables
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth (can use vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons Chinese rice cooking wine (Shao-Xing) or dry sherry
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps cut in halves or thirds (about 3 cups)
2 bunches scallions, whites thinly sliced and greens cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 small head Napa or Chinese cabbage, halved, cored, and sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 4 cups)
3 small carrots, sliced thin on the diagonal

For the lo mein
12 ounces Chinese egg noodles (fresh) or 8 ounces dried linguine if egg noodles are unavailable
1 tablespoon Asian chili garlic sauce, plus extra if desired
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal for garnish
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish

Prepare water for boiling noodles. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.

Make the pork marinade and sauce. Whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and five-spice powder together in medium bowl. Place 3 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in small bowl; add meat and liquid smoke, if using. Toss, making sure all pieces are coated with marinade. Cover and refrigerate at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Whisk broth and cornstarch into remaining soy sauce mixture in medium bowl. In separate small bowl, mix garlic and ginger with 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil; set aside.

Cook the meat. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add half of meat in single layer, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon. Cook, without stirring, 1 minute. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons wine to skillet; cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is reduced and meat is well coated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer meat to medium bowl and repeat with remaining pork, 1 teaspoon oil, and remaining 2 tablespoons wine. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
Cook the vegetables. Return skillet to high heat, add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and heat until just smoking. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Add scallions and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until scallions are wilted, 2 to 3 minutes longer; transfer vegetables to bowl with meat.

Assemble vegetables and meat. Add remaining teaspoon vegetable oil and cabbage to now-empty skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until spotty brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Clear center of skillet; add garlic-ginger mixture and cook, mashing mixture with spoon, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cabbage; return meat-vegetable mixture and chicken broth-soy mixture to skillet; simmer until thickened and ingredients are well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook noodles. While cabbage is cooking, stir noodles into boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are tender, 3 to 4 minutes for fresh Chinese noodles or 10 minutes for dried linguine. Drain noodles and transfer back to Dutch oven; add cooked stir-fry mixture and garlic-chili sauce, tossing noodles constantly with a pair of tongs until sauce coats noodles. Serve immediately in individual bowls or plates.

Serve. ATK forgot to mention how to eat this Chinese style. Simply top noodles with scallions and cilantro and extra garlic-chili sauce, if desired.

rotini with ratatouille style vegetables

Rotini with Ratatouille-Style Vegetables (adapted from Shine)
Started to feel a touch of cabin-fever today! I went for a walk to the neighborhood market. It was drizzling, and the stores and restaurants on Amsterdam Avenue were starting to reopen. Still no word on when the subway will come back online or when power will be restored downtown. So, when I am stressed, I cook (or bake). This one is a great vegetarian recipe, but I can see adding ground turkey or ground beef to this would make it a hearty dish that Andy would appreciate more! Asian eggplants are either long and purple or small, round, and green. I used the long purple ones.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, slices cut crosswise in thirds
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
red pepper flakes
coarse kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 x 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
3/4 cup dry white wine
pinch sugar
2 Asian eggplants, cut lengthwise into thirds (can use zucchini)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
12 ounces multigrain rotini pasta (can use fusilli)
1/3 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, thyme, and a pinch of red pepper flakes; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Sauté until the peppers are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with juice, and break them up with a spatula. Add the wine and simmer to blend flavors, 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a pinch of sugar if the sauce tastes too acidic.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat, or preheat the broiler. Arrange the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to the grill rack, cover, and grill until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Or broil until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-size pieces and add to the sauce. Add the basil.

Cook’s Note: I used the George Foreman grill, brushing the cut side with a little olive oil.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain the pasta, and then sauce and toss to coat. Return to the pot. Sprinkle generously with cheese and serve right away.

fettucine with quick bolognese sauce

Fettucine with Quick Bolognese Sauce (Adapted from Shine)
Hurricane Sandy’s coming. The skies have been leaden and gray all day, expectant with rain. I joined a whole lot of other New Yorkers stocking up on water, batteries, and lamps. I went to the market to stock up the pantry, too. So we wait for Sandy’s arrival tomorrow, and I thought, it will be a good night for comfort food.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 38 minutes
Total time: 48 minutes
Servings: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef (I used lean ground turkey)
2 oz pancetta, finely chopped (I used bacon)
coarse kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes in juice
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
2 cups green peas, frozen
12 oz dried fettucine (can use egg pappardelle)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, for serving


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil. Add the onion and sauté until it softens and begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the ground turkey and bacon. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, breaking up the meat with a spatula. Cook the meat just until it is no longer pink. Add the wine to the meat mixture and boil until it has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with juice, broth, cream, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer. Break up the tomatoes and stir occasionally, until slightly thickened and the flavors are blended, about 30 minutes. Ten minutes before the sauce is ready, add the frozen peas to the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook until just tender, about 5-7 minutes for al dente. Drain the pasta, and then return to the same pot. Add the sauce and toss to coat.
  4. Divide among 4 bowls. Sprinkle each with thyme and cheese. Serve right away, passing more cheese alongside.

toasted orzo risotto with corn, thyme, tarragon, and chives

The secret to this deliciously simple dish is the orzo. For best results, this tiny pasta must be al dente. And I recommend making it with a vegetable stock because it tastes so much better! As the orzo absorbed the stock, it turned brown. If you use water, the orzo will be white. I insist that all the ingredients must be fresh: fresh corn, thyme, tarragon, chives, garlic, lemon, and shallot. It’s surprisingly sweet but tangy, with a faint peppery flavor from the tarragon. To get the corn off the cob, I used a sharp knife to slice the kernels off the cob, then lightly chopped them to separate them. Be careful when you do this;  I put the cob lengthwise on the cutting board and sliced downward.  I added tarragon and chives because the thyme was already in the recipe, but I think experimenting with a combination of fresh herbs would be delicious. Savory Simple recommends Penzey’s Sunny Paris Spice for seasoning, but I think it is only available by mail order. I just used salt and pepper, which is simple and easy. Like this recipe. The whole thing took 25 minutes to prep and cook.

Toasted Orzo Risotto with Corn, Thyme, Tarragon, and Chives (adapted from Savory Simple)
Makes  2 entrees or 4 side dishes


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup orzo
1 ear of sweet corn, approximately 3/4 cup kernels (see note)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, leaves only, minced fine
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced fine
1 3/4 water or homemade stock
salt & pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts


  1. In a 10 inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds Add the orzo to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the orzo to toast while stirring. You can go lighter or darker with the toasting. As the orzo browns, it will develop a nutty flavor.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium-low and stir in the corn kernels, lemon juice, thyme, tarragon, and chives. Add 1/4 cup of water or stock. Stir frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/4 cup liquid. Repeat until a total of 1 1/2 cups liquid is added  to the pan and is absorbed by the orzo. Reserve the last 1/4 cup.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the last of the water or stock, pine nuts (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.