Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

So, I used to post once a month on a blog called Today’s Housewife. In fall 2012, the group decided together to stop posting due the busyness of life and families and such. Though sad, I enjoyed being part of the group. As of early January, the blog was officially taken down. But I don’t want to lose my recipes, so periodically I will be reposting them on here. Enjoy!

~

from April 14, 2011… this salad is delicious and I need to make it again!

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad | thepajamachef.com

My husband and I each take our lunches with us almost everyday, him to work and me to grad school. Not only is it less expensive to pack lunches, but it’s a lot healthier (and tastier) than eating out as long as you pack the right things. I discovered early on in our marriage that the best way to ensure that we each had delicious, filling lunches that would rival anything at a restaurant was to spend some time in advance doing some lunch preparation. So I started spending an hour or so every Sunday after church prepping our lunchtime vegetables and making a grab-and-go main course option. Then, every week night while we’re cooking dinner or cleaning up, we assemble our lunches for the next day. Having components in the fridge ready to go makes it a snap!

Pasta salads are one of my top choices for packed lunches as they are good served hot or cold, are customizable, and can be quite filling depending on the ingredients. I love that I can make a big batch to eat from throughout the week. This Greek-inspired dish was born out of the need to finish some random ingredients taking up space in my fridge such as a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and Kalamata olives that I used in a recent dinner, Pantry Pasta for Two. Each bite is a little different, and the sweet tang of lemon and tomatoes coupled with the bite of olives and the rich flavor of feta cheese is incredible. You’ll have to try it to believe it, but one bite and you’ll be hooked. It’s like a trip to the Greek Isles without every leaving your lunchbox! Not that I’ve ever been… (hint, hint husband!) I’m not sure this is a super kid-friendly dish depending on picky eaters’ palates, but I think it’d be great for girls’ lunches or family gatherings. Enjoy!
three years ago: The Best Panini Ever
four years ago: Maple Pecan Pear Scones

Greek Orzo Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
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adapted from Allrecipes.com
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup orzo pasta, uncooked (or any small pasta)
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used the oil that my tomatoes were packed in for extra flava!)
  • zest of 1 large lemon (maybe a couple tablespoons?)
  • juice of 1 large lemon (perhaps 1/4-1/3 cup?)
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/3 cup spinach leaves, torn and packed
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pasta water, reserved
Directions:
Prepare orzo according to package directions. Before draining, be sure to reserve 1/2 cup pasta water. If you’re like me and don’t have a fine strainer, place a (unused) coffee filter inside your regular strainer. Then drain your pasta carefully so as not to tear the coffee filter and spoon the pasta into a medium bowl. Immediately stir in sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, olives, lemon zest, spinach, and parsley. Mix gently to combine, then add lemon juice. Add feta cheese after a minute or so to let the pasta cool off (unless you don’t mind melted feta cheese). If needed, incorporate a little pasta water to make sure everything is fully coated, especially if you’ll be storing the salad for more than a day, as the sauce tends to be absorbed by the noodles over time. I used about 2-3 teaspoons of water. Season with black pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
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Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame

Spicy peanut sauce, noodles, kale, and edamame meet in an addictive, easy pseudo-takeout meal that can be enjoyed hot or cold–what’s not to love?!

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

This spring/summer Ben and I have been eating sesame or peanut noodles all. the. time. [Side note: is there an actual difference between them? I'm sure there is. The librarian part of me is itching to google this up and see what I find out, but I'll restrain myself.] They have replaced our easy mac & cheese from a box dinners. I have a hard time telling you what recipe I’ve used because a) I have many pinned on Pinterest and b) don’t really measure ingredients for sauces like this because I’ve never taken the time to take a few pictures to share the recipe here! But this time I did. Measure and photograph. :) And this time I didn’t use any recipe except what sounded/looked/tasted good to me. It’s a good thing I did, because my noodles were utterly amazing.

Inspired by the lovely Amy of fearless homemaker and HER spicy peanut & sesame noodles, I added mix-ins to my noodles for the first time ever. What a good choice! Adding some kale and edamame made the textures of everything just pop and look pretty. Dontcha just love all that green?! :)

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

Ben walked in the door just as I was mixing everything together and was like, “what in the world is that fabulous smell?! You must be the best wife ever for cooking such an incredible dinner.” Okay, maybe his words didn’t come out exactly like that, but the sentiment was there. I know it. But seriously–these noodles DO smell fabulous. The sauce is the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, and fresh flavors. I used ground ginger in the sauce but if I had had fresh ginger… oh man. Use that if you can.

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

Though I served these noodles as a vegetarian main course, this is a great base recipe to add some meat. I think grilled chicken or thinly sliced steak would be great. Or even shrimp or tofu. This could even be a side dish if you like. We loved every last one of these yummy noodles, and like all good Asian-ish recipes…you can enjoy them hot or cold. They’re great both ways. In the recipe below I included notes about how to prepare them to be more picnic friendly, but no matter how you make them, I’m sure you’ll love ‘em! Enjoy!

one year ago: Ginger Banana Waffles
two years ago: Minty Asian Slaw
three years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 20min
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Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame | thepajamachef.com

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces thin spaghetti noodles [any sort of thin noodle would work--Asian of any type, linguini, etc.]
  • 3 cups kale, tightly packed & thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Thai basil, loosely packed & chopped
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled & room temperature
  • green onions, sliced, for garnish

for sauce

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • juice of half a lime [roughly 2 tablespoons]
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger [use 1 inch grated fresh ginger if you have it]
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ~1/2 cup pasta water, to thin sauce

Directions:

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Be sure to reserve about half a cup of pasta’s cooking water to thin the sauce.

While noodles are cooking, whisk together all ingredients for sauce except for the pasta water.

When pasta is ready, drain, and return to pot [or a large bowl]. Add kale, basil, and edamame and toss. Thin dressing with 3 tablespoons of pasta water, whisk, and the pour over noodles and vegetables. Toss well to coat. If necessary, add additional pasta water to thin sauce further, up to a full half cup.

Serve noodles with green onions for garnish.

Note:

Can be enjoyed warm or cold, but the dressing does really absorb into the noodles after refrigeration [which doesn't bother me but does affect presentation] so if you’re making these noodles for an event and want to serve them cold, be sure to rinse well after draining to get rid of starch, toss with a bit of sesame oil, and then refrigerate separately from the sauce and veggies. Toss together before serving. I haven’t tried this technique with this recipe, but I have done similar things for other dishes so I assume it’d work well! Using rice noodles [that you don't boil to cook, thus, they stay cold] might be a good option too.

 

BBQ Baked Spaghetti

This baked spaghetti is jazzed up with BBQ sauce, ground beef or turkey, and vegetables. It’s as cheesy and delicious as it sounds!

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

Ben and I are HUGE baked pasta people. If we ate baked pasta as much as we wanted to, we would probably be huge. Haha! :) Anyways… this BBQ Baked Spaghetti is awesome and I wish I had some to enjoy right now!

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

I got the recipe from one of the first food blogs I ever started reading–Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. Everything I make from her blog is just delicious, family friendly, and wonderful. This baked pasta dish is no exception. It’s cheesy pasta goodness that no one can resist, even though BBQ and spaghetti may not be the first food combination that you would think of when brainstorming for dinner. It’s a unique dinner that you’ll want to make again and again.

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

Like I do with a lot of baked pasta dishes, I made this dinner a day or so before I wanted to eat it. If you cover it and stick it in the fridge, it’s an easy homemade convenience dinner for later in the week! This pasta dish kind of reminded me of the ubiquitous BBQ burgers I see all over Nashville–except a more carblicious rendering of that.

BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com

If you like baked spaghetti and you like BBQ, you’ll love this dinner! Enjoy!

one year ago: Honey Lemon Thyme Iced Tea
two years ago: Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
three years ago: Spiced Waffles

BBQ Baked Spaghetti

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 60mins
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from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
BBQ Baked Spaghetti | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 1 pound spaghetti noodles
  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups bbq sauce [I like Sweet Baby Ray's]
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and then cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Meanwhile, brown ground beef or turkey in a large skillet set over medium heat. While meat is browning, add green pepper and onion. Cook until tender, then drain grease if necessary. Return pan to heat and add garlic powder, bbq sauce, and tomato sauce. Cook over medium heat until hot.

Combine spaghetti with sauce mixture. Stir in half the cheese, then spread into prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes until hot and cheese is bubbly.

 

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

This is not your classic macaroni salad… and in my opinion, that’s okay. It’s even BETTER! This macaroni salad is sweet and creamy and has a nice, satisfying crunch to it. There’s fruit and vegetables and all sorts of yummy things! I know that sounds odd, but don’t turn away!

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com

I’ve never made a “real” macaroni salad before because I don’t really like pickles or relish and it seems like every macaroni salad calls for that. I’m not going to buy a jar for just one recipe [but spices on the other hand...]! So when I saw this recipe, I was sold. I don’t really know what made the original recipe “Hawaiian” because to me, you need pineapple to make a recipe Hawaiian. [BTW I know that is SO NOT TRUE but that's where my mind goes!] So I added some. Duh.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com

And I also added some mint for good measure. This addicting salad was just calling for some. Seriously. This is a great dish to make for summer picnics and BBQs, or just an ordinary dinner at home. Ben doesn’t even like mayo-based salads but he willingly ate [and enjoyed] several bowls of this. How’s that for rave reviews? Enjoy!

one year ago: Thai Tofu Ramen
two years ago: Strawberry Coconut Baked Oatmeal
three years ago: Margarita Cupcakes

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 3hr 20mins
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adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
Hawaiian Macaroni Salad | thepajamachef.com
Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup carrots, finely diced
  • 2/3 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 ounces crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook and drain macaroni to al dente according to package directions.

Stir together hot macaroni, mayo, carrots, celery, and vinegar. Combine sugar, pepper, and onion powder, add to macaroni, and stir well. Fold in pineapple and mint, then season with pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to set, overnight if possible. Add a little more mayo before serving if desired. Enjoy!

Author: Sarah K. @ thepajamachef.com

Linked up with Weekend Potluck.

Lindsay’s Chicken Noodle Soup

Let the week of LOVE continue! You guys [y'all?] I am in LOVE with this chicken noodle soup. It all started with a recipe I saw on Facebook, posted in the comment of a photo. My friend from Bloomington made this soup for her family and a bunch of people were asking for the recipe cause it looked awesome. Lindsay posted the recipe and I made it. And we loved it. And I may never make another chicken noodle soup as long as I live.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles | thepajamachef.com #bestever

Though these photos hardly do the soup justice, you must promise me that you’ll make it! Promise? Good.

This soup undoubtedly is so good because of two things: white meat. Dark meat. Homemade noodles. Wait–that was three things. Oh well. You basically cook the chicken low and slow on the stove with some buttery vegetables, shred the meat, add some broth, add the noodles, and devour. While the chicken is a-going, you make some noodles. No big deal, right? The noodles are actually pretty simple to throw together. Mine were a little thicker than I’d like–they were almost like dumplings–but they were still delicious.

Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Noodles | thepajamachef.com #bestever

And you know what the best part of making my own egg noodles was? [Besides how good they taste???] They’re the first recipe I’ve tried as part of my 30 before 30 project! I should really make more of an effort to get on that. The months are tickin’ away. I think I may have a problem making some of the other items on my list because I’m just going to want to make these noodles all the time though! Thanks Lindsay for the great recipe. :)

one year ago: 60 Minute Sandwich Buns
two years ago: Loaded Sweet Potato Fries
three years ago: Tomato Tortellini Soup

Lindsay’s Chicken Noodle Soup [from my friend Lindsay]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken [4-6 pounds]
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4-8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 recipe egg noodles [see below]

Directions:

Place one whole chicken and bay leaves in a large stockpot, then cover completely with water [just barely covered]. Salt water, then bring to a boil.

In a skillet, melt butter then sauté celery, carrot, and onion until crisp-tender. Season with pepper as desired. Add to pot with chicken, then cook until chicken is fully cooked with an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

Remove chicken from pot, then remove meat from bones, shred, and return to pot. Add 4 cups of chicken broth, then egg noodles

and boil until al dente. If necessary, add up to 4 additional cups of chicken broth to thin out soup.

Time: 2 hours [30 minutes active]

Yield: 16 servings.

Homemade Egg Noodles [from my friend Lindsay]

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water

Directions:

On the countertop or in a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Next, add egg yolks and whole egg. Mix thoroughly. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until dough comes together.

Knead dough for 10 minutes until smooth and pliable. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide into 4 parts, then roll out each part 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Gently cut into noodle strips, then place on a kitchen towel. Repeat until all dough has been cut, then let noodles dry for 2-3 hours.

Use in any recipe calling for egg noodles, boiling to al dente as usual.

Time: 4 hours.

Note: Noodles can be made in advance, storing in an air-tight container at room temperature [NOT refrigerated] for up to a month.