Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Bachelor Dinner, Part 5

So as you can see, I'm not really one for recipes. I like to think of them as jumping off points. Well this week I made on of the dishes from an actual recipe! Ok, I made a few small adjustments but more or less followed the recipe. This week we enjoyed Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Arugula, Lemon Chicken, and Green Beans with Red Onion and Creamy Feta Dressing.

Lemon Ricotta Pasta
I didn't follow a recipe when I made this particular dish. I looked at a number of similar recipes online and they all included extra oil, butter or cream. I wanted to keep it light and healthy. This is the closest recipe I could find online after the fact - Lemon Ricotta Pasta for those of you that would prefer a standard recipe. Here is the Gretchen version:

1/2 lb Whole Wheat Rotelle Pasta (Penne, Fusilli, or other similar pasta would be a good substitute)
15 oz Fat Free Ricotta Cheese (I used slightly less because I already ate part of it. :) )
1 Lemon - Zest & Juice (I only used juice from 1/2 the lemon but it could have used a bit more. Adjust to your taste.)
1 Bag of Arugula - rinsed and chopped

1. Cook the pasta until it is al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest (do yourself a favor and buy a microplane instead of a standard zester. So much easier!), lemon juice (squeeze through your fingers to catch seeds), garlic (to taste), salt (to taste) and pepper (to taste).
3. When the pasta is done, first scoop out 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
4. Place desired amount of arugula into pasta strainer. The heat of the pasta will wilt the arugula. You may not choose to use the entire bag but I would recommend at least half a bag because it shrinks up a lot.
5. Dump pasta into strainer.
6. Mix reserved pasta water into ricotta mixture until desired consistency is reached. The recipe I linked to above says to use the entire 1/3 cup but I didn't even use half that much. It is up to you how thin you want your sauce to be.
7. Throw pasta and arugula back into pot and top with ricotta mixture.
8. Stir all items together and serve!

Servings - 4 to 6 healthy sides

Lemon Chicken
This was not made from scratch but purchased from Trader Joe's. If you choose to make your own lemon chicken, I recommend using real lemons and not lemon juice from a bottle no matter what the recipe says. I have horrible memories of that flavor from when I was a kid. (Sorry Mom. I know you were just trying to expand our menu options. I will share your amazing Blueberry Muffins in a future entry!) When enjoying pasta leftovers, I made some turkey meatballs and they were also pretty good with the pasta. I nice chicken sausage would probably also be quite good.

Green Beans with Red Onion and Creamy Feta Dressing
As I mentioned, I basically followed the recipe on this on. This recipe is from the I Heart Trader Joe's Cookbook but it is easy to make even if you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby. I'll note my substitutions in parenthesis. Also, I only made about 1/2 the dressing as I wasn't sure how long it would keep and there were only two of us for dinner. It still turned out great!

1 16 oz Package Fresh Green Beans, trimmed & steamed (12 oz Haricot Vert Steam in Bag)
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup Plain Yogurt (Fat Free Plain Greek Yogurt)
3/4 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled (Fat Free Feta Cheese)
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice or Red Wine Vinegar (I used the vinegar)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Chopped Basil, for garnish

1. Arrange green beans on a serving plate and scatter most of the red onion slices over the surface, reserving a few.
2. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Note: The dressing will be thick with pieces of feta throughout.
3. Dollop the dressing over the salad and garnish with reserved red onion slices and basil.

I mixed the onion into the dressing as I was plating up individual portions and it worked just fine.

Servings - 4 to 6

We enjoyed a rose wine with our meal though I think I crisp white would also be good.

This meal was SO easy and pretty healthy. I hope you'll try it out soon. Please let me know what you think!

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