Spring Pasta Dinner

25 03 2013

Lately, I haven’t really been in the mood to cook. Life’s been crazy busy, and ordering Thai takeout is just so stinkin easy! Despite my hectic weekend, I was inspired to get back at it after a quick Publix trip.

IMG_6661A woman was sampling Galileo salami and pepperoni and my growling tummy guided me to her table to try some. It was pretty standard salami, but my hunger paired with the cute little recipe card with a tasty looking veggie + pasta dish on it was enough to make me decide that dinner was going to include this salami. The woman also gave me a $1.00 off coupon, which certainly didn’t hurt.

product-galilio_italian_dry_salame_slicedI already had some veggies in my cart, but I walked back to the produce section to grab some summer squash, zucchini, and some cherry tomatoes for the dish. More veggies in my cart is never a bad thing.

My initial thought when I got home with everything was to make a cold pasta salad. But after looking a little closer, this particular recipe was served warm, with a white wine butter sauce. Cooking with wine is definitely an excuse to pour myself a glass to enjoy  🙂

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So, I got to cooking and was done and ready to eat in the time it took to boil water and cook my (whole wheat) pasta! That’s a win in my book, since I usually find really involved and complicated recipes to delve into!

spring pasta plate

So if you’re looking for an easy weeknight meal, look no further! Grab some of your favorite veggies, some short cut pasta and you’re well on your way! Though it may not feel like spring where you are, hopefully this veggie-licious dish will help you keep your head up and thinking that spring WILL be just around the corner 😉

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Spring Pasta Dinner

(adapted from Galileo’s recipe for Pasta Primavera)

Ingredients:

~1/2 lb short cut pasta (I used orecchiette)
1 tbs olive oil
3 tbs butter, divided
1 cup Galileo sliced salami, shredded  (leave this out to make it vegetarian!)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, small
1/2 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
1 small summer squash, quartered and sliced
~1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 large handfuls of spinach
1 cup white wine
1/2 grated cheese (I used Digiorno 3 cheese)
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

(Please note, the vegetable amounts are estimates. I used what I had on hand, you can use more or less of anything you want!)

How to:

Cook your pasta.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies and salami and heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium heat.

When the butter/oil combo is nice and hot, add the sliced onions, garlic, and salami. Cook until the onions start to caramelize. Add the broccoli and mushrooms, cooking for another minute or two. Then add the zucchini and summer squash. Stir frequently and let the veggies cook for a few more minutes. Don’t let them get soggy! When the broccoli is nice and green, and the squash looks just about cooked, add the wine and cook let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes right after you’ve added the wine- you just want to heat them through; otherwise they’ll get really mushy! Season with salt and pepper and add the final two tablespoons of butter and stir while it is still simmering. Add a dash (or more) of red pepper flake if you’d like.

In a large bowl, add the fresh spinach. When the pasta is done, drain it, and then pour it directly onto the bed of spinach. Top with the vegetable sauce. Toss to wilt the spinach. Finish with shredded cheese and you’re ready to dig in!

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A Taste of Davis Islands

3 10 2012

On Monday night, my friend Courtney told me about a free local event that would happen Tuesday night, the Taste of Davis Islands. She had work so she wouldn’t be able to make it but she wanted to pass along the info because she thought it would be something I would like to do. She knows me well 🙂

my “date” when we went to Westshore Pizza with the XP gang

It totally slipped my mind until some point yesterday afternoon.  Work was really busy, so when I did remember, I wasn’t sure I would even be able to make it. I figured that if I made it out of the office early enough, I would head over there. Luckily I was able to leave the office a little before 6:30, and head over to Davis Island.

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Davis Islands is a “Tampa neighborhood and archipelago on two islands in Hillsborough County, Florida.” (Wikipedia) Note: I have always said Davis Island (singular) but the sign pictured says “Islands”. Wikipedia used both…

I had no idea Davis Island existed before moving here. It is now one of my favorite running and biking spots 🙂 Oh, and even though I’m not a Yankees fan (in fact, I despise them), I always hope to catch a glimpse of Derek Jeter. So far, no such luck.

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Anywho, East Davis Boulevard is the main drag on the island, which is home to a lot of the local businesses. A Taste of Davis Islands was a way for the neighborhood to highlight the local businesses to try to drum up some business.

The night was planned in conjunction with National Night Out, to make for a fun-filled, family friendly evening. The local firefighters and police were out showing off their snazzy vehicles and gear, but I wasn’t all that interested; I came for the food! I’ve only been to a few places on the Island (TeBella and Coastal Grille) so I was excited to try some more.

I stopped outside of Slice to pick up my passport.

The object was to get stamps from all of the businesses on the inside, and you could win a gift certificate from some of the sponsors.

I walked in to Slice, which I thought looked like a pretty cool bar. Unfortunately, there was a really long line, so I went next store to Te Bella.

Scone samples and tea. Mmm.

There were two kinds of hot and two kinds of iced. The two very fall-themed flavors, apple cinnamon and pumpkin spice were out when I went, so I tried both of the iced, the Strawberry Mango and Blueberry Pomegranite. Both were quite tasty, and I would certainly order them again!

I popped next door to Farrell’s, but when I saw they were serving ice cream, I figured it would be best to come back after I got “real food.”

I went across the street to Rick’s Italian Cafe, where I parked myself in line for some Chicken Franςiase. This was a small, one room, casual restaurant, with a menu full of your basic Italian dishes.

However, in large letters on their window, they advertised their Cuban sandwich. Cuban Italians maybe?

The chicken was fresh out of the kitchen, and full of flavor. It’s not something I would typically order, but it was good.

Next up, Soobak a sushi, teriyaki and fro yo place. I’ve seen flyers for this place, so I was interested to see what they had to offer. They were giving out small samples of fro yo, so I grabbed a Taro sample and headed out. I was happy to see they offered Taro (my favorite) but the place was really tiny, didn’t have a ton of toppings, and only offered three flavors. Boo.

I moved on to 22o East, which I was guessing was a place that thought it was “too cool” to have a real name.

I walked in and it did feel a little pretentious, but I shouldn’t really say that, since I only popped in and out. They were sampling a pasta dish as well.

Not quite sure what it was called, but it had shrimp and shrooms in a light cream sauce, which I think was a cajun spiced? It was good, and had a nick kick at the end.

I headed next door to Yeoman’s Road Pub and my first thought was this was a place with regulars. There were a few people sitting outside having a beer, and there was a musician playing some live music inside. The bar had a clean but cozy feel to it. I don’t know what the real definition is, but it had more of a “pub” feel than a “bar” feel. It seemed like a place to come watch some soccer or rugby.

They were sampling their wings, BBQ or Buffalo.

Looks like the buffalo was pretty popular. I grabbed a bbq one, and headed out the door. I made a mental note to come back at some point to hang out.

I walked to the big restaurant on the corner, Fountain Square. I have driven or biked past this corner a number of times, and I’ve always noticed the beautiful fountain. I think that it would be a great date place. According to the website, the restaurant is new as of the fall of 2012, but I think it just changed names or owners.

I was in line for food, but apparently it was taking awhile to come out, so people were getting their passports signed and then leaving. I did the same, but I was really curious about the food they offered in case I wanted to come back.  So I asked about a menu and the guy signing the passports seemed really flustered and scrambled to find me one. There happened to be one on the bar that he grabbed and gave to me. Um, isn’t increasing business one of the reasons why the restaurant participated in the first place? Shouldn’t they have something readily available to give away so that people will remember them and come back?

I walked down the street a little farther and stopped at Anchor Bar and Subway, both of which had run out of the food they were serving. I could have waited for the food to come out at Anchor Bar, but I didn’t feel like waiting for typical bar food.

My next stop was the Coastal Grille. I ate lunch here a few weeks ago and thought the food was pretty good. After that meal, the owner came up to the table and thanked us for dining. He explained that he had recently bought the restaurant (formerly the Pink Flamingo) and they had just reopened a few months ago. He was trying to spread the word out his place.

So when I walked in last night, I was interested to see what they would offer.

This was hands down the most unique food I got all night. On the left was a mini potato latke topped with lump crab and on the left was fried clam. I loved the crab latke, and could have downed a few more of those babies!

I would give the Coastal Grille got an A+ for participation in the “Taste of” event. They had a system for keeping the flow of people moving- one person greeted you, marked your passport, and provided you with a take out menu, explaining that you’d get 20% off your bill next time you come if you bring it back. You walked away with something that would remind you of the name of the place you went, and a money saving reason to come back!

A second person plated your food, and when she gave it to you, she explained what everything was. The creativity of the latke was really smart in my book. It gave me another reason to come back: I want to see what other cool specials the chef whips up!

I walked across the street to the 7-11, where I grabbed a free small Icee! Makin up for missing July 11th 🙂

Finally I was back to where I started. I waited in line (again) and actually got a slice of Pizza from Slice. Honestly, the pizza was only okay. Then, I went back to Farrell’s for ice cream. They were sampling mint pistachio and cotton candy. Interesting flavor choices I must say. I had some of the pistachio, and it was good, but I think I would come back for this flavor:

Bananas + Peanut Butter + Chocolate = my fave combo ever!

I also hit up a few of the non-food places: the Vet clinic, Wag, and two salons. One of the salons gave me a few samples, a menu of their services, and a coupon for a $60 facial. The other gave me a travel shampoo bottle.

Overall, I think the event was highly successful. In fact, I think the crowds surprised many of the owners, and they had to make more food than expected. I actually hope the event didn’t hurt these businesses more than help them :-/

In general, the food wasn’t really all that impressive, but these were all small, locally owned places, and I’m always down for supporting local business. However, I think some places didn’t capitalize on this event like they should have. Maybe they were so overwhelmed by just trying to make it through the night, but if I didn’t walk away with something that said your store’s name on it, or if what you showed me/let me taste wasn’t outstanding, I am far less likely to return to your place than someone’s who did.

The pet store, Wag? I was about to walk out with nothing other than the stamp signed by what appeared to be the owner’s elementary/middle school aged daughter. But, another patron asked if they had any cat food samples, and the owner (not sure if this was planned) grabbed a bucket from a table and proceeded to hand out some cat food. I jumped in on that, and y’know what, if my cats like the food, I’ll be back. Had that not happened, I wouldn’t have anything to remind me the store exists.

As I mentioned before, I think Coastal Grille got it right. The event was almost like speed dating; Coastal Grille made a good first impression and now I want to know more. Their breakfast menu looks pretty enticing actually…

I’m glad I was able to get out there and check out what Davis Island has to offer. I can’t wait to go back and check out my favorites!

Question of the Day: Have you ever been to a “Taste of” event? What did the vendors/restaurants do to make themselves memorable?





Calypso Blend Pasta

18 05 2012

I realized that this was the last recipe I posted. That was over a month ago! So, I’d say I’m WAY overdue for posting a recipe!

I haven’t been living on takeout since then; in fact, I usually eat in. However, recipes that require the oven are incredibly challenging for me to photograph. The challenge comes because of this:

My smoke detector buzzes pretty much EVERY TIME I try to cook something in my oven. It’s SO ANNOYING because I’m not burning my food! I spend my time going back and forth between fanning the smoke detector and checking on my food to make sure it really doesn’t burn. It’s hard to throw in some picture taking in the middle of all that.

Anyhow, I have a recipe for you that doesn’t require the oven (just the stove top!), thank goodness.

Let me back up. On the first Sunday of every month, the Fresh Market (not the store) comes to Hyde Park Village. This was actually the first time I went to the market, and I met up with my running friend there. After getting some produce, we wandered around the market, and stopped a vendor who was selling homemade pasta. Now I’m not talking your every day spaghetti and ravioli. Pappardelle’s  makes some of the most unique pasta flavors I’ve ever seen. Chipotle Black Bean Tagliatelle? Orange Szechaun Linguini? Chocolate and Raspberry Gemelli? I was SUPER intrigued and decided I had to have some. (Seriously, check out the Pappardelle’s site to see all their flavors!!)

I purchased a quarter pound of the Supreme Orzo (Fire Roasted Red Pepper, Porcini Mushroom, Saffron) and the Calypso Blend (Lime Gnocchi Shell, Mango-Peach Sea Shell, Red Southwestern Chile Lumache). A fruit flavored pasta paired with a chile pasta? SO interesting!

I also didn’t realize until I had purchased it that they give you a recipe with it!

This recipe had my name all over it. I love those flavors!

At the market, there happened to be a man selling seafood as well. I inquired about his shrimp selection, and purchased a pound of wild caught gulf shrimp.

The shrimp was frozen but was apparently caught locally. 🙂  I had actually planned on making the pasta dish that night, but I had leftovers that needed to be eaten. I kept putting off making the pasta until last night, and now I wish I had more! Unfortunately, Pappardelle’s doesn’t have a store front (yet) so you either have to order more pasta online or find them at another market. I think I know where I’m going Sunday, June 3rd!

I loved the flavor combination in the marinade and sauce, and would totally make the sauce again, even without the fun pasta. Combined with the calypso blend, this dish was out of this world delicious! The pasta by itself (before adding sauce) was also really good. It was full of real flavor, but it wasn’t overpowering. I feared the fruity pastas would be weird or taste artificially flavored, but they had a perfect balance and tasted REAL.

So without further ado, here’s the recipe for Calypso Blend Pasta with Coconut Shrimp and Mangoes
(for two; one really hungry person; or one person and leftovers 🙂 )

Adapted from here

Ingredients:

1/4 lb. Pappardelle’s Calyspo Blend Pasta
dash of cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 lime, zested and juiced
1/2 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

Garnish:
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1/2 lime

How to:

First, create the marinade. Combine garlic, ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce, lime zest, lime juice, coconut milk, basil, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Add the shrimp and let marinate at least 30 minutes, refrigerated.

When you’re about ready to start cooking the shrimp, bring a pot of water to a boil for your pasta.

After shrimp have marinated, heat a nonstick pan over high heat and add just the shrimp, leaving the marinade behind. Cook shrimp until done.

Transfer cooked shrimp to a plate. Add the reserved marinade into the pan and bring to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Pour the pasta and shrimp into the pan with the sauce and stir until evenly coated.

Serve with sliced mangoes and a squeeze of lime.

Enjoy!