Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

Eeek, I don’t want to tell you  how long ago I made this recipe! It’s embarrassing. But I wanted to wait until fall to share this gem of a meatless meal with you. This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much [and my indoor photos don’t help it… alas], but it tastes like a million bucks!

This easy, creamy pasta-based dish has all the makings of a cravable, comforting fall dinner. Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo may not look like much, but it tastes like a million bucks!

Despite this dish’s less-than-steller appearance, it is so unbelievably good, whether prepared fresh or reheated for lunches later in the week. Mmm! The star of this meatless sensation is absolutely the creamy, sweet potato-based sauce. It’s just a little cheesy [thanks ricotta!] and somewhat reminiscent of summer since the flava flava comes from none other than pesto! So you can reminisce about warm days while cozying up with a warm bowl of this goodness.🙂 Of course, you can’t just have the sauce… you gotta add some extra deliciousness to it! This time I added kale, sun-dried tomatoes, and orzo to the mix, but you can absolutely use other veggies or even some meat. I think bacon would be great here too… but can you ever go wrong with bacon? No matter how you mix it, this dinner is great! The slight crunch of the kale, the sweet essence of sweet potatoes [sorry that sounds weird but it was just speaking to me today–haha!], and the fun add in pasta shape of orzo makes this a dish that I know you’ll love! Enjoy!🙂

one year ago: Cantucci (Almond Biscotti)
two years ago: Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
three years ago: Autumnal Muffins
four years ago: Iced Tea with Ginger-Mint Simple Syrup
five years ago: Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad
six years ago: Spaghetti + Meatballs=Love

Creamy Sweet Potato and Kale Orzo

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 30 minutes
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adapted from The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 16 ounces orzo pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 cups kale, tightly packed [about 2/3 of a large bunch–washed, thoroughly dried, stems removed, and chopped into bite sized pieces]
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes [dry packed or drained and patted dry if water/oil packed]

Directions:

Wash and dry sweet potatoes, then pierce with a fork all over and place in a microwave safe container. Microwave on high for 6 minutes, then flip and microwave for another 4-5 minutes or until potatoes are cooked all the way through. Set aside to cool in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes, then peel and chop into chunks. Discard skin.

Meanwhile, cook orzo to al dente according to package directions.

In a separate pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute, for about 4-5 minutes until onion is tender. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant. Season generously with pepper. Add milk and broth, then bring to a boil, being careful to not let it boil over. Reduce heat to low.

Add sweet potato chunks, ricotta, pesto, and crushed red pepper to broth mixture. Whisk constantly until all has been incorporated. Break up the sweet potato chunks as you go, and if desired, use an immersion blender to completely smooth the sauce. Next, add kale and sundried tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes until kale has reduced in volume. Stir in orzo and serve immediately.

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken

This delicious, creamy pasta dish comes together in a flash! It’s like a grown-up broccoli & cheese casserole, pasta-fied!

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli + Chicken | thepajamachef.com

I don’t think “pasta-fied” is a word, but I want it to be. This pasta dish is one of my absolute favorite quick dinners… and you gotta make it soon! Promise? It is reminiscent of SO many other dishes that I bet you know and love… those rice/pasta packet side dishes… the ever-classic broccoli & cheese side dish… pesto pasta… mac & cheese… I could go on and on and on, but then I wouldn’t get to the goodness of this dish! Sure, it’s not the healthiest pasta dinner, but it is flavorful and has veggies, protein, and carbs so it’s pretty all-encompassing. And on nights when you have less time than you want, but still want a homemade dinner, meals like this are the BEST.

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli + Chicken | thepajamachef.com

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken is fast and flavorful. The creamy sauce is basically pesto + cream cheese + chicken broth [ooooh pesto, how I love thee! Make your own, or use some storebought pesto… it matters not]. The creamy sauce coats your pasta [duh], chicken, and broccoli to make a wonderful all-in-one meal that’s just a bit cheesy and creamy and a whole lot delicious. You can use fresh chicken for this, or even leftover chicken [rotisserie chicken would be SO  yum and SO easy I think]. I used frozen broccoli for ease, but fresh steamed broccoli would be great too. Basically, this recipe is just a guideline. The sauce makes the dish though so keep that in mind. I hope you love it as much as we do!🙂

one year ago: Red Cabbage, Raisin, and Apple Slaw
two years ago: Healthy Crumb Topped Zucchini Bread
three years ago: Pumpkin Coconut Soup
four years ago: Chocolate Mousse
five years ago: Pumpkin Granola
six years ago: The Bestest Pizza Sauce Ever [+ Pizza How-To]


Budget Bytes

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Broccoli and Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounce small pasta, like bow ties
  • 8 ounces frozen broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast, thinly sliced [or 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken – rotisserie chicken would be great here!]
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed [I always use 1/3 less fat]
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping, optional

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Once pasta is nearly cooked, add frozen broccoli to the water with the pasta. Cook for a minute, then drain pasta and broccoli together.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet set over medium heat, heat olive oil until it shimmers. Add sliced chicken and season with black pepper. Stir frequently, and cook for about 5-6 minutes until cooked through [no pink]. If you are using pre-cooked chicken, simply heat chicken in pan over medium-low heat until hot. You can add a little olive oil or water if you would like to keep it moist.

Then, add pesto and chicken broth to cooked chicken. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Whisk in cream cheese gradually, constantly stirring to allow the sauce to thicken. Fold in cooked and drained pasta and broccoli. Stir well to combine, and serve!

Pasta is best fresh, but heats up well. You can top it with a little Parmesan cheese too… extra cheese never hurt anyone!🙂

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

This pasta is creamy and cheesy, and full of lots of summer veggies. What’s not to love?!?

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

Ahhh, pasta. If you’re like me, you probably have it at least once a week in some form or another. No matter how you fix it, pasta is always a vehicle for something delicious. Though baked pastas are my FAVE, in the summer, sometimes that’s too much. So this time, I threw in everything from my local farmer’s market and called it a day. I think the combo of mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and corn was perfect. I thought about just tossing the veggies with an olive oil or butter-based sauce, but instead decided to try for a lighter creamy sauce. After cooking the veggies, I tossed in some flour and added some milk. After letting it cook down, I added cheese and herbs. I truly wasn’t sure how it would go, and was so happy with the results! In a word, or three… Flavorful, refreshing, and satisfying. Mmm!

Pasta bursting with all your farmer's market faves and some yummy cheese! Cheesy Veggie Pasta via thepajamachef.com

I absolutely inhaled this colorful and light pasta! It’s cheesy and creamy and super wonderful. Unlike some saucy pasta dishes, this one reheated well which was a pleasant surprise. You better believe I hoarded the leftovers and will be making this again soon.🙂 Enjoy!

one year ago: Chocolate Cream Filled Cupcakes
two years ago: Double Chocolate Banana Muffins
three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
four years ago: Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce

Cheesy Veggie Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup corn, cut off the cob
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs – I used dill, basil, lemon thyme, and a tiny bit of mint
  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella

Directions:

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

In a large skillet, heat butter or olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and corn. Season with pepper and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant. Sprinkle flour over veggies and stir to coat. Pour in milk and stir. Constantly stir, cooking until thick–about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is cooked, fold pasta into sauce. Sprinkle with herbs and mozzarella. Stir until cheese melts, then season with pepper to taste.

Serve immediately, or toss in an oven safe baking dish and cook until cheese on top crisps up. I think some bread crumbs mixed with butter and lemon zest on top could be magnificent too!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

A luscious, creamy baked pasta with crisp bacon, succulent fresh corn, a pop of sweet blueberries, and a crunchy topping made out of a surprise ingredient. Intrigued now?

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comAt my house, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta. Ben and I can eat an embarrassingly large portion of baked pasta at a single meal. Then after it’s wrapped up for the fridge, we are constantly opening it up and using a fork [or our fingers, sorry Mom] for another bite. There’s just something about baked pasta. From looking at the title of this recipe, Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta, you’ve probably surmised that there’s at least something a little unusual with this pasta dish. Bacon and ricotta… pretty standard fare for Italian food. Blueberries? Now that’s a little odd, but it’s summer so sometimes berries creep into weird places. But then you look at that photo and you’re like, wait… is that oats? On pasta? Ummm, what’s going on? Well, that my friends, is granola. Granola?!?! Well, yes. That’s what my husband said too. Ha!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comI developed this recipe as my entry in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. When I first received the package of Bluesberry Granola I planned to use it in a breakfast dish, such as french toast or breakfast quesadillas, or the like. But it’s a contest, and I figured everyone would do that. So I did something different! And guess what? It worked!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comThe sweetness of the blueberry, almond, and coconut granola [which is SO delicious, btw] is cut by the salty bacon, creamy ricotta, and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed into the topping. I also mixed in some fresh sweet corn since I can’t get enough of that in the summertime, and a handful of herbs from my garden. Perfection on a plate! This isn’t your average pasta dish… it’s even better! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Coffee Blondies
two years ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
three years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins
four years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta* [I used Trottole, a curly, thick, corkscrew shape but any small pasta would do]
  • *1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • a small handful of fresh basil, minced
  • a small handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Bluesberry Granola – from Golden Girl Granola
  • 5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool.

Then, stir together ricotta cheese, corn, blueberries, rosemary, basil, and lemon thyme until combined. [If you don’t have these herbs, substitute about 1/4 cup fresh herbs of choice, or ~1 teaspoon dried herbs.] Season with white pepper and sea salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then add egg and bacon and stir again.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Fold pasta into ricotta mixture, adding reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until sauce evenly coats pasta. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, gently crush granola with the back of a wooden spoon until just broken down. Mix in Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Golden Girl Granola sent me one bag of granola of my choice for the purposes of participation in this recipe challenge. I received no further compensation and was not asked or paid to publish positive comments. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find their products in various stores on the east coast. Thank you for the chance to try your granola!

#HotSummerEats: Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese

An easy, creamy baked macaroni and cheese with corn and tomatoes… and a kick of Southwestern flair!

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

Welcome to day 1 of #HotSummerEats! Don’t forget to read all about the event and check out the giveaway here. There are lots of great items up for grabs and I’d love for my readers to win.🙂 </end plug> When I first started thinking about the concept of hot summer eats, barbecue foods were the first to come to mind. And thanks to the sweet lady who served as our cook in my sorority house in college [shout out to RV!], when I hear barbecue, I also think “mac and cheese.” She’d always serve BBQ chicken with mac and cheese, and that combo is fabulous!

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

There are several mac and cheese recipes that I love–a stovetop version and a baked version–but both can be kind of fussy and time consuming. In the summer, especially when preparing food for a party or barbecue, speed is imperative. So when I found a recipe for a baked mac and cheese dish that used sour cream and shredded cheese for the sauce, I was pumped! That is SO easy and sounded fabulous. I also stirred in some of my kitchen staples–canned tomatoes and frozen corn–to kick up this dish a notch.

Southwest Cilantro Mac and Cheese for #HotSummerEats on thepajamachef.com

For flavors, I used some Gourmet Garden stir-in pastes: cilantro and chili pepper. I’ve used these so much in the past and am so glad to say that they’re a sponsor of #HotSummerEats! They’re so easy and convenient to use, and add a ton of flavor in one easy package! The result? This mac and cheese was super cheesy, super flavorful, and super delicious! The easy sauce was just as tasty as some of its more fussy counterparts, though you do have to give it a good stir after baking to evenly distribute to cheese. Small problems though, when this dish is so good! I hope you love it as much as we do.🙂

one year ago: Black Bean and Rice Soup
four years ago: Lemony Kale Pasta

Southwestern Cilantro Mac and Cheese

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 60 minutes
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adapted from Good Cheap Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta
  • 8 ounces Jalapeno Light Cheddar Cheese, cut into chunks [I used Cabot; a pepperjack would also work]
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded – divided
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 – 10 ounce can diced tomato and green chiles, drained
  • 1/2 cup corn, from an ear of cooked corn or frozen works too
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro Paste – from Gourmet Garden [or about 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro]
  • 2 tablespoons Chili Pepper Paste – from Gourmet Garden  [or other spice like red pepper flakes or hot sauce, to taste]
  • Lightly Dried Cilantro – from Gourmet Garden, for topping [or chopped fresh cilantro]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees while a large pot of water comes to a boil. Grease a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta until just under al dente, since it will cook further in the oven. In a large bowl, stir together Jalapeno cheese, half of the shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, corn, cilantro, and chili pepper paste.

When pasta is done, drain and add pasta to the sauce in the bowl. Stir together to combine, then transfer to the baking dish. Note: there will not be tons of extra sauce, just enough to coat the noodles. Place in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Stir pasta and sauce together in baking dish to recombine and then serve with additional cilantro.

For more #HotSummerEats recipes, click the link below:

Disclaimer: Thank you to Gourmet Garden for providing samples and product to use for#HotSummerEats recipes without additional compensation. I was not asked to provide positive feedback. All opinions are my own. Please check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for more information on their products.