Pasta and Grains

Friday Instagram Round-Up 6

Oh, Friday. You know what that means…Instagram round-up! And weekend. Oh, I love me the weekend. The weather has been so beautiful lately here, I can’t wait to get out in the sunshine. Our yard is definitely in need of some de-winterizing (i.e., get rid off all the brown), but we already have blossoms on the plum tree and jasmine bushes. The jasmine smell in the morning is enchanting; great way to wake up. I also have a Prohibition-themed birthday party for some friends this weekend… Post to follow next week!

In the meantime, let’s get to Instagramming, shall we?


Celeriac and artichoke heart soup with some crusty bread. Perfect winter to spring transition dinner.


Working on my presentation: grilled chicken, sautéed Brussel sprouts on a baked polenta cake.


Discovered in my make-up case: Jane brand cosmetics circa 1998. Hello my name is Jillian and I’m a hoarder.


Reinventing the wheel, or rather, the rice bowl; broiled salmon and steamed asparagus over rainbow quinoa.


Dinner at The Vine, a wine & tapas bar in San Leandro. Those beans are ridic.


Avocado-chocolate mousse, recipe courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen. Super creamy and rich. You must make this.


The little things in life: opening up my dictionary at work to the EXACT page I needed. I may have squealed in excitement.


Fried brown rice, roasted pork tenderloin and soft boiled egg yolk. Delish.

Friday Instagram Round-Up 5

Hello! So, I missed last week’s round-up. But, I only had a couple of photos (what with a week of late work nights and eating out), so I thought I would roll last week’s into this week’s. So here we go!


I am currently trying to grow out a pixie cut while trying to avoid that whole Justin Beiber/mullet look. I find dark red lipstick helps.


Sunday movie night: Bernie with Jack Black and curried kobucha squash and quinoa and kale soup.


Easy Dinner 1: chicken and sweet pepper stir fry over rice.


Easy Dinner, The Sequel: penne and pork tenderloin in tomato sauce.


Saturday night, couple’s dinner with Kat and Kris: veggies with hollandaise.


Me. Instagramming Kat. Instagramming dinner. Meta.


Pork and cucumber meatballs with yogurt sauce. The best.


And, of course, boeuf bourguignon to finish us out.

Have a great weekend friends!

Follow me on Instagram @thehumblegourmet

Zesty Grilled Chicken, Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad and Fried Polenta Cakes

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Salad

I’ve prepared dinner for you all.  Just an easy, super flavorful, super delicious dinner.

Polenta Cakes

Start with polenta.  Sweet roasted garlic mashed into a paste.  Pecorino Romano cheese, sharp and salty.  Fresh thyme. sea salt and pepper.  A touch of olive oil for body and flavor.  You may want to just scoop this straight out of the bowl.  But wait.

Fry squares in a thin layer of oil; crispy and golden brown on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.  This alone could be your meal.  Oh.  So.  Good.

Raw Vegetables and Quinoa

Roast some vegetables.  Potatoes, peppers, romaine lettuce; whatever you want.  Toss them in olive oil, a little ground mustard.  Roast them nice and crispy.  These would be great on their own; but we’re not done yet.

Roasted Vegetables

We’re making quinoa.

Now, I know that quinoa can sound very sort of “crunchy granola hippie”.  But trust me, it’s great.  Very similar in texture to couscous, but with an earthier, grainier taste.  Yum.

Zesty Chicken, Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa and Fried Polenta Cakes

Toss the vegetables and quinoa together while they’re both still warm.  A simple vinaigrette of roasted garlic paste, red wine vinegar, thyme and olive oil.  That’s it.  Simple, delicious.  Like good old-fashioned comfort food, but healthy.

Zesty Grilled Chicken

And the chicken.  This chicken is so juicy and flavorful.  A super simple marinade of equal parts Worstershire sauce and lemon juice.  Just douse those babies and let them sit.  When they’re ready, just plop them on the grill top.  Done and done.  And delish.

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

This dinner is great to make ahead of time.  The chicken marinade and the polenta cakes can all be made the night before and refrigerated.  Very easy, very yummy and very healthy.  If you put that whole “fried and cheesy” thing aside.


Empty Plate

Fried Polenta Cakes

1 whole head of garlic

1 package pre-made polenta

1 cup finely shredded Pecorino Romano cheese

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

Sea salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. canola oil

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut the head of garlic in half widthwise.  Coat the cut ends in olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil.  Roast in the oven until garlic is golden brown and soft, about 30-35 minutes.  Squeeze the garlic out into a small bowl.  Mash to a smooth paste. 

Microwave the polenta in a large bowl for about 30 seconds until softened.  Add 2/3 of the garlic paste to the polenta and mix well (reserve the remaining 1/3 for the salad vinaigrette).  Add the cheese, olive oil, thyme, sea salt and pepper to the polenta and mix well.  Brush the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil.  Dump the polenta onto the baking sheet and press into the sides, spreading the mixture evenly across the pan.  Refrigerate to set for at least 2 hours.

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat.  Cut out two 2 1/2” squares of the polenta and add to the oil.  Fry until golden brown and crispy on the outside, about 3-5 minutes per side.  Drain on a paper towel.  Repeat with the remaining polenta.  Serve warm.

Makes approximately 8 cakes

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad

6-8 medium red potatoes

1 red bell pepper

1 head romaine lettuce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tsp. ground mustard

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, plus 1 Tbsp. minced thyme leaves only

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 cup uncooked quinoa

remaining roasted garlic

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Dice potatoes and bell pepper into 1” pieces.  Toss, including full romaine lettuce head, with olive oil, ground mustard, 2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, sea salt and pepper.  Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast in the middle of the oven until slightly soft, about 20 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and romaine lettuce to the baking sheet and roast another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup uncooked quinoa and 2 cups salted water.  Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer, covered, until water is completely absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.  Let stand off heat 5 minutes and fluff with fork.

In a small bowl, whisk roast garlic paste, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme leaves until smooth.  While whisking, drizzle in olive oil.  Whisk until emulsified.

In a large bowl, combine roast vegetables and quinoa.  Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6


Zesty Grilled Chicken

1/2 cup Worstershire sauce

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts


In a small bowl, whisk together Worstershire sauce, lemon juice and garlic.  Set aside.

Rinse and dry chicken breasts.  Place between two sheets of saran wrap and pound thin.  Place in a shallow dish.  Pour marinade over top, making sure all chicken breasts are completely submerged.  Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  When searing hot, brush with olive oil.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, being sure to wipe off any excess garlic.  Grill until cooked through, about 7 minutes per side.  Remove from heat.  Slice on the diagonal and serve immediately over polenta cakes.

Serves 4

Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli

Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli Ingredients
Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli Ingredients

I’m tired.


I started my new schedule at work this week.  A lot of work, a lot of meetings, a lot of training left.  It’s fantastic, but it has left.  Me.  Tired.

Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli

So tired, in fact, that it is taking me forever to write this post.  I’m trying to be funny and clever and interesting, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening for me.  So, I’m sitting here, with a piece of blood orange/chocolate tart (later this week

), watching Curb Your Enthusiasm and waiting for the writing muse to strike.

I made this dinner a couple of weeks ago, after reading Joy’s post on her green pea pesto ravioli.  It sounded so good, I had to try it for myself.

Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli

I decided to substitute half of the green peas for asparagus for a fresh, springy flavor.  I also omitted the breadcrumbs because, umm, I forgot them.  They turned out so fresh and green and bright, just completely delicious.  I made a very simple white wine/butter sauce to go with them; light and tangy and just perfect for these little springtime raviolis.  I tossed a few extra asparagus in with it, and topped it all off with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  Yum.

I wish I had more to say, I wish I had a clever anecdote to share with you all today.  But this exhaustion is starting to seep in a bit.  So I’ll just leave you with this incredibly delicious meal.  Make it.  You’ll love it.

And maybe you’ll have a little more energy after making this dinner than I did. 


Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli

Green Pea and Asparagus Ravioli

(adapted from Joy the Baker’s recipe here)

8 oz. frozen peas

8-10 asparagus spears

2 garlic cloves, minced

zest and juice of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1 package wonton wrappers

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add in frozen peas and asparagus.  Blanch until bright green, about 2 minutes.  Immediately remove and drain.

In a food processor, combine peas, asparagus, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, sage and Parmesan.  Pulse until broken down and well combined.  With the food processor going, drizzle in the olive oil until contents become a smooth paste.  Salt and pepper to taste.

On a clean countertop, lay out a wonton wrapper with a point towards you.  Spoon on about 1/2 teaspoon of the pea and asparagus mixture right into the center of the wonton wrapper.  Dip your finger into a bowl of water and wet the two top sides of the wonton wrapper.  Pull the bottom corner up to the top corner and smooth to seal.  Be sure to push out any air trapped in the center.  Wet one of the folded corners and pull both over each other, wrapping around the center of the ravioli, like a diaper.  Smooth to seal.

Boil a pot of salted water.  Add the ravioli and cook until floating to the surface, about 3 minutes.  Drain and serve with white wine sauce immediately.

White Wine Sauce

1/2 bottle dry white wine

juice of one lemon

4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) salted butter

In a medium saucepan, bring wine and lemon juice to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced by half, about 10-15 minutes.  Whisk in butter, 1 Tbsp. at a time, until melted and emulsified. 

Serves 4-6

Meyer Lemon Risotto with Butternut Squash, Quince and Apple Soup

Meyer Lemon Risotto with Butternut Squash Soup

Before Shawn and I moved in with my parents, we lived in a house on the other end of town.  In our backyard we had a Meyer lemon tree.  I loved that tree more than the house itself.  Everything I made had Meyer lemon in it; it was heavenly.

Meyer Lemon

Green Apple
Butternut Squash

Meyer lemon, for those who don’t know, are a much smaller, slightly sweeter lemon.  It’s skin is much thinner, and it tastes slightly like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange.  They are fantastic in desserts, and have such a distinct taste they really serve best as the star of a dish.  They have a beautiful, bright yellow color and are incredibly fragrant.

Meyer Lemon Zest and Juice
Meyer Lemon Risotto

This Meyer lemon risotto is so incredibly delicious.  Rich and creamy and decadent yet still fairly light.  The lemon adds a real brightness to the risotto and keeps from weighing it down.  I love risottos.  They seem very fancy, very gourmet, but they’re actually quite easy to make.  You just have to have the time to stand in front of the stove and stir it constantly as required.  Risottos generally call for Arborio rice. 

Arborio Rice

Arborio rice is a short, wide and flat grain that gives very well to the creaminess of the risotto; but a regular short grain white rice will work just fine if you don’t have access to Arborio.  The risotto gets it’s creaminess from two places; the slow simmering of the rice and the addition of cheese (Parmesan in this case).  It comes out so soft, so smooth, so completely delicious, you’ll never want to eat rice in any other way again.  In this particular dish, the Meyer lemon just jumps out at you, but without ever being to sour.

Butternut Squash Soup with Spices
Butternut Squash, Quince and Apple Soup

I wanted a soup to go with the risotto.  Something light and flavorful but wouldn’t upstage the main dish.  I came up with an idea for a butternut squash, quince and green apple soup.  The sweetness of the butternut squash, the tart of the apple, the brightness of the quince, pureed together and seasoned with paprika, cinnamon and cumin.  Quince is a very interesting fruit; starchy like a potato and tastes like a cross between an apple and a lemon.  Very fresh and subtle flavor and works wonderfully in apple dishes.  The soup came out to the consistency of applesauce, which worked just fine for me, but if you wanted a thinner, soupier consistency, you could always increase the amount of broth in it.

I’m not going to lie, I really miss that Meyer lemon tree. I’ve had thoughts about sneaking into the backyard and “borrowing” some, but I’m pretty sure that’s considered breaking and entering.  Or, in my case, “baking and entering”.  Ugh.  That was really bad.  I’ll stop now while you’re still reading


Meyer Lemon Risotto

Meyer Lemon Risotto

5 cups chicken broth

3 Tbsp. butter, divided

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 cups Arborio rice or short-grain white rice

2 cups white wine

1 cup Parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1/3 cup Meyer lemon juice

3 Tbsp. Meyer lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Simmer broth in a small saucepan over low heat and cover to keep warm.  Melt 1 1/2 Tbsp. of butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and brown.  Add rice and stir to coat for 1 minute.  Add white wine and stir constantly until wine has evaporated.  Add 1 1/2 cups of the broth to the rice and simmer, stirring constantly until the broth is absorbed.  Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the broth is all used and rice is cooked through and creamy, only adding more broth once everything is absorbed.  Stir in Parmesan cheese and remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. of butter.  Stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Butternut Squash, Quince and Apple Soup

2 Tbsp. butter

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 butternut squash, diced

1 quince, peeled and diced

3 green apples, peeled and diced

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground paprika

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

heavy cream

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and carrots and cook until garlic is brown and carrots are slightly tender.  Add squash, quince, apples, broth and water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes.  Transfer soup to a blender, 1 1/2 cups at a time, and puree until smooth.  Add spices and mix to incorporate.  Ladle into serving bowls and drizzle heavy cream over top.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

3 Cheese Baked Macaroni and Cheese

3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

I.  Am.  Stuffed.

I feel like I’ve been eating non-stop for the past 3 days.  Swiss fondue, cracked crab, strata with bacon, crème brulee French toast, turkey, quiche.  And chocolate.  So, so much chocolate.  Christmas is really just an unending string of rich and delicious foods in my family.  I love it.

Dubliner, Asiago and Swiss
Cooked Spiral Noodles

So, in honor of this season of fats and carbs, I decided to post a recipe for Macaroni and Cheese.  Anyone already starting the New Year’s resolutions need not read any further.


Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This dish is rich, creamy, cheesy and crispy, all at once.  It’s made with 3 different white cheeses: a Dubliner cheddar (Shawn’s favorite), an asiago and a Swiss.  The Dubliner is sharp and nutty, the Swiss is smooth and creamy, and the asiago just helps balance out the two more complex cheeses.  At my sister’s request, I added fried pancetta and green peas to the dish as well.  They added a touch of color and a nice palette break from all of the noodle-cheese goodness.

Butter Melting for Roux

Spices for Sauce
3 Cheese Sauce

I also added panko breadcrumbs on top for a little extra crunch.  Panko breadcrumbs, for those of you who’ve never used them, are Japanese breadcrumbs that are super flakey and crunchy.  You can find them at most grocery stores where the baking goods and regular breadcrumbs are.  They aren’t very expensive, and definitely add a very distinct texture to everything.  Trust me; once you use these breadcrumbs, you will never go back to regular ones.

Panko Breadcrumbs on Macaroni and Cheese

This dish is so delicious and rich.  I would most definitely serve it as the main course; it really doesn’t need to be on the side of anything.

What sort of rich and indulgent dishes did you eat over the holiday?  THG

3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

3 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups low-fat milk

1 cup heavy cream

2 tsp. ground mustard

2 tsp. ground paprika

1 tsp. ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

2 eggs, beaten

1 3/4 cups Dubliner cheese, shredded and divided

1 3/4 cups asiago cheese, shredded and divided

1 3/4 cups Swiss cheese, shredded and divided

4 cups spiral or macaroni pasta, cooked

12 oz. pancetta, fried and drained

1 1/2 cups green peas

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

In a large saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk continuously until golden brown and roux has a nutty aroma.  Add milk and cream to roux and whisk until smooth.  Add mustard, paprika, black pepper, salt and nutmeg and whisk to combine.  Take out 1/4 cup of the hot cream mixture and slowly whisk into the beaten eggs to temper.  Add egg mixture to cream mixture and beat over medium heat until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Add 1 1/2 cups of each cheese to cream mixture and whisk until all cheese is melted and smooth.  Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and toss to coat completely.  Add pancetta and cheese and mix to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix. 

Pour pasta into a 9×9 casserole dish and spread evenly.  Cut up remaining 1 Tbsp. of butter into small pieces and scatter over pasta.  Take remaining 1/4 cup of each cheese and scatter evenly over pasta.  Top with panko breadcrumbs, spread evenly.  Bake until cheese is bubbling and breadcrumbs are golden-brown, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8