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Archive for category Pasta

4 Years of … Blogging?

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

It’s anniversary day folks. And when I look back on the past year I have tons of fond memories; we’ve been busy, we’ve done tons, we have clearly cooked and eaten in that time and … I’ve posted once. Trust me, I wasn’t ignoring the blog on purpose. I thought about it nearly every time I entered the kitchen or became inspired by something food-related that I read. But I’m not going to make excuses. The past year has been amazing for me and my family in spite of the lack of blogging. Hopefully I can sometimes still make room for a post every once in a while.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

If I did have to give one reason for the slow down in recipe sharing, I would say it’s that food has become simplified in the house. There’s not much time for leisurely cooking, we can’t wait to eat until 8 or 9 like we used to when I was testing new recipes. There’s a tiny person that demands food. And she demands food that tastes good … so there’s also not a lot of room for error. So honestly, I’ve stuck to cooking staple recipes the past year. Ones we can get on the table fast and that will be slurped down without any complaints. We still try new recipes, but they are typically ones other people have written and shared.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

However, I got one of those fancy looking spiralizers from my mother-in-law for my birthday last year. And now we can’t get enough of zucchini noodles. I just thought it was a weird fad that was sweeping Pinterest, so I ignored these long green zoodles for a while. But when I got my gift I tried it out right away. And holy crap guys: zucchini noodles are amazing. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade good pasta for anything. But we aren’t eating zucchini noodles as a substitute, we’re eating them because they taste great. Once I paired them with these moist, flavourful meatballs; now we rarely eat zucchini noodles with anything else.

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs | Gorging George

Zucchini Noodles with Turkey & Beef Ricotta Meatballs

Don’t have a spiralizer? Just serve the meatballs with your favourite long pasta. Shred some zucchini into the sauce if it makes you feel better. 

Meatballs

8 oz lean ground beef

8 oz ground turkey

2/3 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated

1 egg

1 Tbsp sundried tomatoes in oil, drained & chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 tsp pepper

4 cups of your favourite marinara sauce

 

Zucchini Noodles

3-4 zucchini (I would use 1/person; not kidding)

olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Prepare a sheet pan by spraying with olive oil (or you can cover with tin foil). Place all of the meatball ingredients into a large bowl. Mix gently to combine. Don’t overmix, or you’ll end up with tough meatballs. Form into approximately 32 meatballs, placing them on the sheet pan as you go. Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, spiralize that zucchini.

Heat the 4 cups of marina in a large sauce pan. Once the meatballs are cooked, gently dump them into the marina sauce. Simmer the meatballs and sauce together for an additional 10-15 minutes or until your ready to eat.

While your meatballs enjoy their tomato bath, heat a large, non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a scant Tbsp of olive oil to the pan, followed by the garlic. Let the garlic simmer for about 30 seconds, then add he zucchini noodles. Season generously with the salt (start with at least a tsp. You can add more if needed). Cook the noodles to your desired degree of doneness. I’m not going to tell you how to eat your noodles. Maybe you just want them warm with nearly all their crunch. Maybe you want those things so cooked you could slurp them down without chewing. I’m not here to judge. Important step learned after eating wet noodles: drain those zucchini noodles when they are cooked to your liking. Add them back to the pan or plate them.

Top bowl-fulls of zucchini noodles with meatballs and marinara. Sprinkle with more pecorino if you like. Or just devour.

Serves 4.

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Mushroom Carbonara

Mushroom Carbonara | Gorging George

Here it is. The post that only took nearly 6 months to write. Ha. Looking back at the blog, I can see where the posts slowed down during my pregnancy due to nausea and exhaustion, which led to the reduction in my cooking; that and the fact that all I really wanted to eat was hotdogs and potato chips. And when Norah was first born, cooking was the furthest thing from my mind; hell, I would have forgot to eat if our family and friends didn’t feed us – so the posts just stopped all together. But in the past few months, we’ve started to get a grip on being parents to Norah, and I have thought of numerous recipe ideas, and I’ve even cooked up a few things and snapped a few photos along the way. However, each day that passed without actually writing and posting something felt like it brought more and more pressure to write the most amazing recipe and post of my life. Then I finally gave my head a shake and realized no one else really cares that much, and I’m just doing that “mom” guilt thing where nothing seems good enough (why on Earth is this a thing? Seriously, after some parenting-related meltdowns, I am stunned by what I thought was a big deal mere moments ago…). Needless to say, this isn’t some thoroughly thought out recipe that took me several attempts to get just right so that you could eat the most perfect thing I’ve ever shared. No, this is a recipe for something that is quick, that basically uses pantry ingredients, and is comforting; which is exactly perfect for us at this point in our lives. Hopefully you like it too.

Oh. And one more thing: I am no longer eating strictly Gluten Free. As I had touched on in Life of George, when we were trying for a baby and having some challenges, I had gone to a naturopath to see if there was anything she could recommend (since the medical field here in Canada does not do any investigating unless a couple has 3 miscarriages or has had difficulty conceiving for 1 full year). When she suggested that I may have an intolerance for gluten and that I should refrain from consuming it for at least one full year (or until after we had a baby) I was fairly upset by the news at the time, but the end result was obviously worth it! The naturopath mentioned that 1 of 3 things could happen in that timeframe: 1) after giving birth, the hormone changes may also change the way my body processes gluten, and therefore I could potentially eat it again without any issues; 2) just giving up gluten for at least one year and allowing my body to “heal” from the damages it had done may mean I could eat it again without any pain; or 3) I will always have an intolerance for gluten (or potentially Celiac Disease) and would never be able to eat it again. Luckily, after Norah was born, I have found I’ve been able to eat gluten without any cramping, headaches, or lethargy (okay…maybe I can’t really tell if it’s making me lethargic because I’ve been exhausted most days regardless…). So, I realize that the blog has been gluten free for over a year now, and that a number of you have started to follow the site because you are also living gluten free, but potentially there will now be recipes showing up that contain gluten. However, most dishes we make are easily adapted to be gluten free (such as this one I’m sharing today – just swap in your favourite GF pasta), and I’m sure there will continue to be many dishes that don’t contain gluten; so hopefully this will still be a site you can enjoy. But, if a bunch of you decide to jump ship and stop reading, no hard feelings. I have enjoyed discovering how to eat and enjoy food without devouring all my gluten-filled favourites, and I thank you all for joining me. Now it’s time for me to tuck into some real pasta…

Mushroom Carbonara | Gorging George

Mushroom Carbonara

Adapted from Tyler’s Ultimate by Tyler Florence

Tyler’s recipe for Carbonara doesn’t include mushrooms, but I am a sucker for mushrooms and bacon combined in a pasta dish, so they inevitably get included in my creamy carbonara, even it’s a a tad untraditional. Tyler’s recipe also includes whole eggs, not just the yolks like I have decided to use. But I can not bring my self to consciously eat raw egg whites other than maybe a 7 minute meringue. I’m sure people have snuck them into some Caesar dressing I’ve eaten, but it’s more the slimy texture I am afraid of, not the potential health risks. Feel free to use whole eggs if you’re so inclined.

1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1/2 onion, diced
1 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp salt & 1/4 tsp pepper
2 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp half & half cream
1/4 cup parmesan, freshly grated
1/2 lb linguine (or any pasta of your choice; clearly gluten free if you want this to be GF)

Prepare a pot of boiling, salted water and cook linguine according to directions. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking liquid before draining.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and onion, and cook until the onion has started to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pan and season with salt and pepper; continue cooking until mushrooms are soft and the bacon is cooked to your desired level of crispness (I like mine with a little bit of chew left in it), this will take another 5-6 minutes. While the bacon,onions, and mushrooms are cooking, place the egg yolks, cream and parmesan into a large serving bowl (one you’ll serve the past in) and whisk together. Pour the bacon, onion, and any cooking fat into the bowl with the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Add the reserved 1/4 cup of pasta cooking liquid and the cooked linguine to the bowl with the bacon and egg mixture. Toss everything together, then cover with a plate or pan for about 5 minutes until the pasta has set. Have a quick taste and add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Serves 2.

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Linguine with Spring Vegetables and Arugula & Avocado Pesto

In between bouts of completely losing my appetite, I have managed to find some time to whip up some new dishes to share. While the nausea I had experienced the first 3 months of pregnancy lifted a number of weeks ago, I all of a sudden had zero desire to eat … or cook for that matter. I had about a week and a half of some intense eating once I felt I could keep food down, but lately I struggle to feel like eating. Maybe it’s the pregnancy, maybe it’s the slight wave of heat we’re getting – which isn’t really hot, so let’s hope it’s not the heat. To get through this, we’ve relied on old stand-by recipes or quick meals like nachos or roasted chickens from the store, just so we wouldn’t have to think about the process. Because when I don’t feel like eating, I definitely lose the desire to be in the kitchen.

This dish begins with some inspiration from a recipe we’ve made a few times when we need dinner in our bellies in little time and with almost zero effort: a pesto that also uses arugula and avocado. If you have a food processor or blender, there’s no chopping involved – your hardest job would be to pit and peel the avocado. Your pasta “sauce” will be done within a fraction of the time it takes your linguine to boil. And hungry bellies and busy peeps love meals like that. But, we found enough spring in our step to add some sauteed spring vegetables to the mix; because this time of year I seriously can not get enough asparagus. Give it to me in the morning, afternoon, and evening everyday while it’s in season and I wouldn’t complain one bit.

Linguine with Arugula & Avocado Pesto and Spring Vegetables

Pesto Recipe Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis

The ingredient list may look long, but this dinner comes together in the time it takes you to boil the water then your pasta. Delicious served with some grilled shrimp or fish. 

1 lb gluten free linguine (or your favourite long pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen (thaw first)
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 tsp each salt & pepper
1/4 cup parsley
2 Tbsp goat cheese (or more if you prefer)

Pesto
2 avocados, pitted and peeled
2 big handfuls arugula
1 cup fresh basil
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Boil pasta according to directions until al dente. Save a cup of the pasta water before draining. Meanwhile, heat the Tbsp of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic and chili flakes and saute for 30 seconds, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the asparagus to the pan and saute for another 5 minutes or until tender-crisp. Add the peas, green onions, salt and pepper to the pan and saute an additional 2-3 minutes or until the peas are heated through and the onions are wilted.

While the vegetables are sautéing, make the pesto: add all the pesto ingredients (avocado through pepper) in a food processor or blender and blend until everything is fairly smooth.

When the pasta is cooked, add the pesto and half of the sauteed vegetables with the pasta and mix until everything is combined. Add a bit of pasta water if the “sauce” seems too thick. Pour into a serving dish and top with the remaining sauteed vegetables, the parsley, and crumbled goat cheese. Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

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Celebrating The 2 Year Blogiversary!

Gluten Free Lasagna | Gorging George

Hello all! I know I’ve been MIA the past little while. I promise you I have my reasons, I’m not simply slacking. But I don’t need to provide you any excuses, I’m here to say Happy 2 Years to Gorging George! Yes, it’s been another year of cooking, eating and writing about food – and what a year it’s been! The site has since gone Gluten Free, I’ve whipped up a Thanksgiving Feast with a local chef, and was even a featured blogger on Food Bloggers of Canada! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Thank you to everyone who’s been following for the whole 2 years, and to those of you who have just stopped by today – you all give me a reason to continue snapping pictures of food and pounding away at the computer afterwards – you guys rock!

To celebrate, why not go all out? I’ve got an over-the-top, extra rich lasagna for everyone. I know, it’s nearly bikini-season – you don’t want to stuff 5000 calories* into your mouth in one sitting. But there’s something about the tepid temperatures this time of year that drive me into a panic. I start to crave all the heavy, baked dishes of winter, already grieving their disappearance for nearly half the year before we have even turned our ovens off in place of barbecues. And I’m not saying that I don’t look forward to grilled burgers, fresh summer salads, and sausages cooked over a campfire – I mourn these equally come the Fall.

It’s this time of the year that I dive into braised meats, roasted chickens, casseroles, and of course baked pasta. And when I make these, I typically don’t hold back. What’s the point of eating “low-fat” “no-fat” “no-fun” comfort food? If I’m worried about my hips, I’ll nosh on some vegetable soup and salad thank you very much. When I want baked pasta I want a pound of cheese, lots of cream, and definitely some full fat love in my dish. I’ll take an extra walk around the block with Kona to feel better about myself later (and hopefully ward off a heart attack).

Oh – and while this is completely off topic – a big welcome to the world to Baby C! Our friends just had their first baby last Friday, and we’re so excited for the new family!

Gluten Free Lasagna | Gorging George

Gluten Free Lasagna | Gorging George

Gluten Free Ultimate Lasagna

This lasagna does not have to be gluten free if you’re not living that way. Go ahead and substitute regular lasagna noodles and all-purpose flour in the béchamel. I didn’t share a recipe for bolognese because most people have their own favourite version of this meaty sauce; plus Kyle says it’s still not time to share my version yet!

For the Gluten Free Béchamel 
1/4 cup cold butter
1 Tbsp sweet rice flour
1 cup milk
salt & pepper

For the Rest of the Lasagna
6 cups of your favourite gluten free bolognese
1 package gluten free lasagna noodles (about 12 noodles)
150g diced pancetta
1 clove garlic, minced
4-5 handfuls of fresh spinach
salt
350g mozzarella, shredded
1 cup parmesan, grated
6-7 slices provolone

To Make the Béchamel: melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the sweet rice flour. Continue to whisk for about 1 minute or until the flour becomes a slight golden colour. Whisk in the milk. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to stir until thickened. The sauce is done once it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Season to taste with salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper). Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook/heat up your bolognese and cook the lasagna noodles according to directions – rinse the noodles with cold water and set aside. Pan-fry the pancetta in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once it is crispy, remove from the pan and drain on paper towels – leave the fat from the pancetta in the pan. Add the garlic to the pan, give it a quick stir, then immediately add the spinach. Quickly saute until the spinach wilts – this will likely only take a minute or two. Season the spinach with salt, then stir into the béchamel sauce.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF if you plan on cooking the lasagna right away. Once all your components are ready (noodles, béchamel with spinach, bolognese, pancetta, & cheeses) – you can start putting your lasagna together. Spread 1 1/2 cups of bolognese on the bottom of a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Cover with 3 lasagna noodles. Spread the cooked pancetta over the lasagna noodles, then top this with 3 cups of bolognese. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the bolognese. Cover with 3-4 lasagna noodles (however many you need to cover the bolognese). Spread out the béchamel with spinach over this layer of lasagna noodles, and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the béchamel. Cover with another 4-5 lasagna noodles (again, however many you need to cover the layer below). Top this with the remaining 1 1/2 cups of bolognese. Place the provolone slices over the bolognese, then cover the lasagna with the remaining mozzarella and grated parmesan.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until it is bubbling and heated through. If the top isn’t browned enough, you can broil for a few minutes (watch the oven though, you don’t want it to burn!).

You can also prepare this ahead before baking and refrigerate for up to two days – cover with aluminum foil after assembling. Pull the lasagna out of the fridge an hour before you plan to bake it. Then bake according to directions above – you may have to add an extra 15 minutes to ensure it is heated through.

Serves 8.

*note: calorie count is not an accurate measure of a serving of this lasagna – I’m no dietician.

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