Healthy Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

Healthy mac and cheese? This recipe has big flavor with less cheese than most and added broccoli for fiber and…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Healthy mac and cheese? This recipe has big flavor with less cheese than most and added broccoli for fiber and nutrients!

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Healthy mac and cheese? There are lots of implications around the word healthy (which we’ll get into below). Here’s the thing: mac and cheese can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. And this one is all about balance: it’s got big flavor, a bit less cheese per serving than the standard recipe, and it’s loaded with broccoli for a dose of nutrients and fiber. What’s not to love? This one’s on our regular rotation (and it’s 100% kid friendly: our 5 year old adores it!).

Ingredients in this healthy mac and cheese

The word “healthy” is a loaded term: to many people it connotes shame and diet culture. It’s also incredibly subjective, because there’s no exact definition on exactly what healthy is. Mac and cheese can be part of a healthy, balanced diet when it’s eaten in moderation and served with a balance of fruits and vegetables.

This recipe is an exercise in that balance: it’s got a bit less cheese than the standard mac and cheese recipe, and it’s got broccoli to balance the carbs out with fiber. Of course, you can have your broccoli on the side if you prefer it that way: and it’s just as good. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Pasta: macaroni, shells or short pasta (we used cavatappi)
  • Olive oil
  • Broccoli
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Milk
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt
  • Italian panko, for serving: we like to top with seasoned breadcrumbs! Italian panko are seasoned with Italian herbs and salt (you can also use them instead of croutons, like in this Kale Caesar Salad).
Healthy Mac and Cheese

The secret ingredient

The secret ingredient in this healthy mac and cheese? Pecorino Romano cheese! Pecorino Romano is an aged cheese with a very salty, savory flavor. This cheese has long been one of our favorite types of cheese to use because it’s so flavorful. It especially transforms vegetarian dishes because of its intensely savory flavor.

All you need are two tablespoons of grated Pecorino Romano here, and it makes all the difference! Try not to leave it out. (We tried once and it didn’t taste nearly as delicious!) You should be able to find it at your local grocery store in either grated or shredded containers. If you can’t find it, use Parmesan cheese and a few more pinches of salt. 

Healthy Mac and Cheese

Why to add broccoli to healthy mac and cheese

Of course, you can eat the broccoli on the side: or a side salad! But this healthy mac and cheese actually very tasty with the broccoli intermixed. Here’s why we like it:

  • The contrast in texture helps you slow down while eating it. Ever feel like you can quickly inhale a mountain of mac and cheese? The different texture of broccoli helps us to slow down and enjoy each bite, making it a more satisfying meal and helping us eat a reasonable portion size.
  • It adds fiber. There’s no fiber in noodles. But 1 cup of broccoli adds 2.4 grams fiber, which is 5 to 10% of your daily need (this is the amount in one serving of the mac and cheese).
  • It also adds nutrients. Broccoli is also high in nutrients like iron, folate, potassium, manganese, and vitamins C and K1.

Sides for healthy mac and cheese

This healthy mac and cheese is part of our regular repertoire — our 5 year old in particular loves it! And so do we. Here are a few kid friendly and adult friendly side dish ideas to pair with it for an easy weeknight:

Healthy Mac and Cheese

More mac and cheese recipes

We’ve got traditional mac and cheese recipes too! Here are a few of our top favorite ways to make this classic:

This healthy mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Healthy Mac and Cheese

Healthy Mac and Cheese with Broccoli


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Healthy mac and cheese? This recipe has big flavor with less cheese than most and added broccoli for fiber and nutrients!


Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, shells or other short cut pasta (if desired, use gluten-free or legume pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups small florets of broccoli (2 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese (or 1 cup cheddar)
  • 2 tablespoons grated or shredded Pecorino Romano cheese (don’t omit!*)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Italian seasoned panko, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente, (about 8 minutes; start tasting a few minutes before your package instructions indicate). 
  2. Cut the broccoli into very small florets. In a large saucepan, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat on medium high. Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes until tender, then add a splash of water and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook 2 minutes more until bright green and tender. Remove the broccoli from the pan (and wipe it out if necessary).
  3. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the flour to create a paste for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk and whisk until smooth. Increase the heat to medium and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes. Stir in the shredded mozzarella, cheddar and Pecorino Romano cheese and continue stirring until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the ½ teaspoon salt. (If the sauce is too sticky, you can add ¼ cup more milk to get a creamier texture.) 
  4. Add the pasta and broccoli to the sauce, stirring to combine, and heat just until the pasta is warmed through. Taste and add the remaining ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. If desired, sprinkle with Italian panko and serve. 

Notes

*This is the secret flavor maker. Pecorino Romano is an aged cheese similar to Parmesan, but saltier and more savory. If you can’t find it, use Parmesan cheese and a few more pinches of salt. 

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Healthy mac and cheese

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Cacio e Pepe

This Cacio e Pepe recipe makes the perfect creamy, cozy dish of that classic Roman “cheese and pepper” pasta! There’s…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This Cacio e Pepe recipe makes the perfect creamy, cozy dish of that classic Roman “cheese and pepper” pasta!

Cacio e pepe

There’s something intoxicating about this shallow bowl of steaming pasta covered in salty, creamy sauce, black pepper and fluffy bits of Pecorino Cheese. Yes, it’s cacio e pepe, that famous Roman pasta that’s blown up in world-wide popularity. Years ago, we tasted a bowl on a trip to Rome, Italy that was so divine we never wanted it to end. Anthony Bourdain once said that cacio e pepe “could be the greatest thing in the history of the world”: and we’re inclined to agree with him. Turns out, this pasta is beyond simple to whip up at home: it’s got a short ingredient list and takes just minutes to whip up. Here’s our spin on this Italian classic!

What is cacio e pepe?

Cacio e pepe is a Roman pasta dish that translates to “cheese and pepper,” referring the simple sauce made of Pecorino Romano cheese and pepper. The sauce is made simply with hot pasta water and freshly grated cheese, which combine to form a luscious, creamy coating to the pasta noodles. According to legend, the dish was invented by shepherds who needed a simple meal with easy to carry staple ingredients. The modern Cacio e pepe was likely invented in the 1800’s, when eating pasta became popular in Rome.

Cacio e pepe

Ingredients in cacio e pepe

Restaurants in Rome each have their own version of cacio e pepe, and we’ve been lucky enough to sample quite a few (we prefer the version at Roscioli if you’re planning a trip!). Here’s what you’ll need for this spin on the classic:

  • Spaghetti or bucatini pasta: Spaghetti is most traditional. We also like bucatini (pictured), which is like hollow spaghetti
  • Pecorino Romano cheese: This sharp, salty aged cheese is what carries the flavor of cacio e pepe. There’s absolutely no substitute for it! Try to buy it in a block if you can (see below).
  • Parmesan cheese: Using this secondary, ore popular cheese helps to round out the flavors. Don’t want to buy two cheeses? Substitute more Pecorino (it’s just as authentic).
  • Butter: This extra ingredient helps the sauce to come together.
  • Black pepper: A generous helping of pepper rounds out the dish.

Tips for cooking pasta to al dente

With cacio e pepe and any Italian pasta recipe, it’s important to cook the pasta to the perfect al dente. Al dente means “to the bite” in Italian: pasta that’s tender with a firm center. Overcooked pasta turns out rubbery and unappetizing. Interestingly, it also has less nutrients and makes you less full. Here’s how to cook pasta to al dente:

  • Set your timer a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. Often, the timing on the pasta package makes overcooked pasta. Start taste testing a few minutes before the package says to.
  • Look for small white fleck at the core. You want to catch it right when there’s a small white fleck at the core, or just as it disappears. Move quickly: there’s no remedy for overcooked pasta!
Cacio e pepe recipe

How to make cacio e pepe (with a smooth sauce)

The biggest issue you’ll find with a homemade cacio e pepe recipe? The sauce comes out clumpy and globby. The sauce is made with hot pasta water, and often when you add the cheese and stir it will glob to the spoon and the pasta instead of integrating into a smooth sauce. Here are a few ways to ensure a creamy sauce:

  • Freshly grate the cheese from a block instead of buying grated. Buy blocks of Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese and grate them yourself. Pre-grated cheese can contain anti-caking agents and additives that can make the cheese stick together instead of incorporating into a creamy sauce.
  • Don’t drain the pasta: transfer it to the sauce using tongs. Add any pasta water that clings to the noodles right into the sauce.
  • Add additional pasta water and keep stirring. If it starts to clump, add additional pasta water and keep stirring until the cheese incorporates.
Cacio e pepe

What to serve alongside

With such a simple pasta dish, you can go either pared back or elegant: either work! Here are a few Italian-style side dishes to serve with cacio e pepe:

What do you plan to serve it with? Let us know in the comments below.

More Italian pasta recipes

Love a great Italian-style pasta? Us too! Here are a few more great pasta recipes:

This cacio e pepe recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Cacio e pepe

Cacio e Pepe


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

This Cacio e Pepe recipe makes the perfect creamy, cozy dish of that classic Roman “cheese and pepper” pasta!


Ingredients

  • 12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese*
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese*

Instructions

  1. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente (taste testing a minute or two before the package instructions indicate). Don’t drain the pasta and reserve 1 cup pasta water.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat until it melts, then turn the heat to low. Add the black pepper, Pecorino Romano cheese and Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons of the hot pasta water. Stir until a thick paste forms, then remove from the heat and wait until the pasta is done.
  3. Right when pasta is al dente, transfer the pasta without draining it: use tongs to transfer it into the saucepan along with any pasta water clinging to the noodles. Add an additional ½ cup of pasta water and return the heat to low. Toss the pasta with the cheesy paste until a thick sauce forms, about 2 minutes. If the cheese starts to glob up, add more pasta water and continue to stir. Top with additional grated Pecorino cheese and serve hot.

Notes

*If you can, buy blocks of Pecorino Romano and Parmesan cheese and grate them yourself. Pre-grated cheese can contain anti-caking agents and additives that can make the cheese stick together instead of incorporating into a creamy sauce.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Cacio e pepe, cacio e pepe recipe

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Salmon Sandwich with Dill Sauce

This salmon sandwich recipe is bursting with flavor! Top the savory fish with feta crumbles and creamy dill sauce. Want…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This salmon sandwich recipe is bursting with flavor! Top the savory fish with feta crumbles and creamy dill sauce.

Salmon Sandwich

Want an interesting way to serve everyone’s favorite fish? Try this Salmon Sandwich with Dill Sauce! There’s something so satisfying about a good fish sandwich, and this one is irresistibly tasty. Throw a fillet of Old-Bay seasoned pan seared salmon onto a bun, then top with feta crumbles, red onion and creamy, lemony dill sauce. This is one for the books: our entire family loved it. Here’s what to do!

Ingredients for this salmon sandwich

You can build a salmon sandwich in many ways, like a Smoked Salmon Sandwich or a Salmon Salad Sandwich. But this one is a straight up salmon sandwich, pairing a lovely fillet of salmon with a creamy dill sauce. Here’s what you’ll need to put together this simple meal:

  • Salmon fillets, skin on (wild caught if possible)
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Dill Sauce
  • Buns or focaccia bread
  • Baby arugula
  • Red onion slices
  • Feta cheese crumbles
Salmon Sandwich

How to cook the salmon: pan fry or grill

This salmon sandwich recipe works with any type of cooking method for salmon. In the recipe below, we list instructions on how to pan fry the salmon. It comes out delicious and works in any season! Of course, if it’s grill season, grilled salmon is the way to go. You can also use any of these other options for how to cook salmon, adjusting the flavor to align with the Old Bay seasoning in this recipe:

  • Pan seared salmon: It’s fast and easy, and cooks in about 10 minutes. Go to the recipe below!
  • Grilled salmon: If it’s grilling season, pull out the grill for this one! Go to Easy Grilled Salmon.
  • Broiled salmon: This cooking method is very quick and totally hands off. Go to Quick Broiled Salmon.
  • Baked salmon: This oven baked salmon is a stand-by easy cooking method.

How to buy a great piece of salmon

This salmon sandwich is dependent on one thing: the quality of the salmon! Unfortunately there’s no way to “fix” poor quality salmon: even drowning it with a sauce. Keep in mind: lower quality salmon can taste fishy and have a mushy texture. You can use frozen salmon, but we’ve found that fresh salmon tends to taste better and be higher quality. Here’s how to buy a great piece of salmon:

  • Buy wild caught salmon. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide. Buy it fresh from the fish counter if you can; frozen works too.
  • Look for US caught (if you’re in the US). 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.
  • Coho is a good choice for great flavor. We tend to like Coho salmon for its mild flavor: it’s a good middle of the road option in terms of price. Of course, King salmon is incredible but it’s on the expensive end. Atlantic salmon is typically farmed salmon, so we tend to avoid it: however, we have found some good quality Atlantic salmon fillets at the fish counter.
Dill sauce for salmon

For the dill sauce

This salmon sandwich owes everything to the creamy Dill Sauce, which drapes everything in a luxuriously silky, herbaceous drizzle. Don’t attempt to make this sandwich without it (or use one of the substitutes below). The sauce requires simple ingredients and comes together quickly. You’ll need:

  • Sour cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Fresh dill
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried dill
  • Sugar
  • Salt

You can also use this sauce simply for serving with plain grilled, broiled or pan seared salmon for a simple meal. It adds a bright pop of flavor and looks lovely too. Head to Dill Sauce for Salmon for more.

Alternative sauce ideas

Not a big dill person? Just make sure to serve this sandwich with a creamy sauce, otherwise it’s much too dry. Here are a few alternative salmon sandwich sauce ideas:

And that’s it! This tasty salmon sandwich is perfect as a healthy dinner recipe: we love it especially as a summer dinner on the patio. But of course, it works in any season! Let us know if you try it in the comments below.

Salmon Sandwich Recipe

More salmon recipes

Love salmon? Here are some of our favorite salmon recipes that make a great meal:

This salmon sandwich recipe is…

Pescatarian.

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Salmon Sandwich

Salmon Sandwich with Dill Sauce


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

This salmon sandwich recipe is bursting with flavor! Top the savory fish with feta crumbles and creamy dill sauce.


Ingredients

  • 1 pound salmon fillets, skin on (wild caught if possible)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for brining
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 recipe Dill Sauce
  • 4 buns, focaccia bread, or other buns 
  • Baby arugula
  • Red onion slices
  • Feta cheese crumbles

Instructions

  1. Brine the salmon* (optional): In a large shallow dish, whisk together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until dissolved. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes. Otherwise, allow the salmon to come to room temperature. 
  2. Pan sear the salmon (or grill the salmon): Pat the salmon dry with a clean towel. Sprinkle it with the kosher salt, Old Bay seasoning, and generous grinds of fresh ground pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the salmon skin side up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked about halfway to the center of the thick part of salmon.
  3. Flip the salmon (a fish spatula makes easy work of it). Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Spoon the pan juices a few times again. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130 Fahrenheit in the center when removed). If the pieces are very thick, you can place them in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven to finish cooking. Remove from the heat.
  4. Prepare the toppings: Make the Dill Sauce. Toss the arugula with a bit of olive oil and a few pinches kosher salt. Thinly slice the red onion.
  5. Serve: To serve, place the cooked salmon on the buns. Top with arugula, red onion slices, feta cheese crumbles, and the dill sauce. Serve immediately.

Notes

*This is most important for salmon that is lower quality; it helps to reduce the white stuff that comes out when cooking fish (albumin).

  • Category: Salmon
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Keywords: Salmon sandwich, salmon sandwich recipe

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Caprese Flatbread

Caprese flatbread is a quick dinner or easy appetizer recipe, staring the classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil! Is…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Caprese flatbread is a quick dinner or easy appetizer recipe, staring the classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil!

Caprese Flatbread

Is there anything better than that classic combination of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella? Here’s a fun dinner idea or easy appetizer that riffs on the classic Italian salad: Caprese Flatbread! It’s a flatbread pizza that uses naan bread as a base: or any type of flatbread you can find. Layer it up with mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil, and the key ingredient: a drizzle of balsamic glaze. It’s heavenly for dinner, or we served it as a fun summer appetizer (it works room temperature on a platter!).

What you need for Caprese flatbread

Caprese flatbread is essentially a pizza based on the popular Italian salad, Caprese salad (aka, “salad from Capri” in Italian). This Italian combination of fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and a sprinkle of fresh basil stems back to the 1920’s, and today it’s known around the world. Chefs and home cooks have made endless spins on these ingredient combinations: like a Caprese Sandwich, Caprese Pasta Salad, Caprese Skewers and more. Here’s what you’ll need for this simple pizza topping:

  • Naan breads (or other purchased flatbread)
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese
  • Easy Pizza Sauce or purchased pizza sauce
  • Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Balsamic reduction or glaze (purchased or homemade)
Caprese Flatbread

For the flatbread: use naan or other

A flatbread pizza is a pizza made with a dough base that’s already baked (like naan or another type of flatbread) instead of pizza dough. The easiest way to make Caprese flatbread is with purchased bread, but of course you can use homemade flatbread if you prefer! The difference with a standard pizza is that the pizza dough is raw when you make a pizza, but with flatbread pizza the dough is already cooked. Here are some favorite options for the flatbread base:

  • Purchased naan is the easiest! It should be easy to find in the bread aisle at your local grocery store. We also have a homemade naan recipe if you’d like to make it homemade.
  • Or, look for other types of purchased flatbread. You’ll want it to be roughly as thick as naan (about 1 inch). You can also use homemade flatbread.
  • Update the “pre-toasting” timing accordingly. You’ll toast the naan or flatbread in the oven first until it’s lightly crisp. The timing for another type of flatbread might be slightly different than naan, so keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly.

Tips for working with fresh mozzarella

Fresh mozzarella cheese is ooey, gooey and stretchy: perfect for topping a margherita pizza or Caprese flatbread. But keep in mind: this type of cheese contains a lot of water: much more than a typical shredded mozzarella cheese! Here are a few tips for working with this kind of cheese:

  • Cut into pieces and allow to sit 15 minutes on a paper towel. Slice the mozzarella cheese into ¼-inch thick pieces and let it sit on a paper towel to remove moisture while you prepare the pizzas. Dab the mozzarella with the paper towel to remove any additional moisture before using it.
  • After baking, dab the flatbread with a paper towel if necessary. Sometimes fresh mozzarella can be watery after baking, depending on the brand. If necessary, use the corner of a paper towel to dab at the moisture.
Caprese Flatbread

For the balsamic reduction

Take Caprese flatbread over the top with a balsamic reduction or glaze! This is simply balsamic vinegar that’s been cooked (or reduced) until it forms a shiny, sweet tart liquid that’s ideal for drizzling on salads and pizza. Caprese salad is often served with a balsamic reduction in America, though that’s not the classic Italian way to do it. But it’s a fun way to serve this pizza as it looks stunning and gives it a nice tangy boost in flavor.

It’s easiest to buy balsamic reduction or balsamic glaze: several brands sell it in a tall bottle that you can use to squeeze right onto the flatbread. Typically we buy it, since there’s not much of a flavor difference with homemade. But if you like, try making balsamic reduction at home: it’s fun and satisfying!

How to serve Caprese flatbread

This Caprese flatbread is all about presentation! We served it as an easy appetizer recipe and it worked great. A few things to note about serving:

  • Add basil after baking. Never cook a pizza with basil in the oven: it turns brown! Add the basil afterwards.
  • Slice into triangle shapes, if possible. We like the way that naan looks when sliced into triangles: it’s more appetizing than the squares you get on an oval base (like this).
  • Serve warm or at room temperature. This Caprese flatbread tastes great at room temperature, making it a great appetizer to set out on a platter.

More Caprese-inspired recipes

Looking for more with this powerhouse trio of ingredients? Try the following recipes:

This Caprese flatbread recipe is…

Vegetarian.

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Caprese Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 pizzas (4 main dish or 20 appetizer servings)

Description

Caprese flatbread is a quick dinner or easy appetizer recipe, staring the classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil!


Ingredients

  • 4 purchased naan breads (or other purchased flatbread*)
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup Easy Pizza Sauce or purchased pizza sauce (or omit for a simpler flatbread)
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 large handful basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Balsamic reduction or glaze (purchased or homemade)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the mozzarella cheese into ¼ inch thick pieces. Allow it to sit on a paper towel to remove moisture for about 15 minutes while you prepare the pizzas, then dab the mozzarella with the paper towel to remove any additional moisture.
  3. Make the pizza sauce (time saving tip: you can also stir together the ingredients in a bowl instead of blending them!).
  4. Place the naan bread directly on the oven grates. Bake 3 minutes. Flip and bake another 2 minutes until lightly crisped on the outside and toasted.
  5. Carefully remove the naan from the oven grates and place them on 2 baking sheets. Spread each with a thin layer of pizza sauce, then add the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, cherry tomatoes, and a sprinkle of kosher salt.
  6. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake until the cheese melts, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. (You may notice some extra moisture after baking: you can dab lightly with a paper towel as necessary.) Slice the flatbread into pieces and top with thinly sliced basil. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve. This works as a main dish or an appetizer (can be served room temperature on a platter).

Notes

*Use purchased naan or any other type of flatbread you can find (roughly as thick as naan, about 1-inch thick). The timing for toasting the flatbread in Step 4 will vary based on the brand, so adjust accordingly. You can also use homemade naan or homemade flatbread.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Caprese flatbread

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Creamy Zucchini Pasta

This zucchini pasta recipe is lusciously creamy, flavored with Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, basil and lemon zest. A tasty simple…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This zucchini pasta recipe is lusciously creamy, flavored with Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, basil and lemon zest. A tasty simple dinner!

Zucchini Pasta

Got a bit of zucchini on hand? Here’s one way to turn it into dinner: this Creamy Zucchini Pasta recipe! It’s luxuriously creamy, coating the noodles in a silky Parmesan and Pecorino sauce. Add rounds of savory sautéed zucchini, garlic, lemon zest and a pop of herbaceous basil, and each bite is a symphony of flavor. We like to garnish with crunchy breadcrumbs for a pop of texture. This one was so satisfying, we couldn’t stop sneaking bites from the skillet before serving! Here’s how to whip up this summery recipe at home.

Ingredients for this zucchini pasta recipe

There are loads of ways to make a zucchini pasta dish, ranging from classic to creative spins. Of course, you can spiralize this green veggie into those popular noodles (yep, zoodles!). But for our spin, we prefer a more classic Italian-inspired vibe. This zucchini pasta recipe features thin rounds of zucchini, sautéed until juicy and savory, combined with a silky creamy sauce flavored with Parmesan and Pecorino. Toss in basil, garlic and lemon zest and it’s a party with the VIP ingredients of summer. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Pasta noodles: We like long noodles like spaghetti or bucatini here. But it also works with short noodles like rigatoni or penne!
  • Zucchini: Look for medium thin zucchini, which makes easy-to-eat rounds. If all you have is large zucchini, slice them into half moons.
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Onion powder and salt
  • All purpose flour
  • Milk
  • Lemon zest
  • Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Basil leaves, for garnish
  • Italian panko, for garnish (optional)
Pasta with zucchini

For the pasta: use short or long

This zucchini pasta works with any type of pasta noodle, making it endlessly versatile! We like it with a long noodle like spaghetti or bucatini because it gives a more elegant feel. But that’s not to say it’s not delicious with a short noodle. What not to choose? Don’t use angel hair: it absorbs too much of the sauce and gets clumpy. Here are some top choices for noodles for this zucchini pasta:

  • Spaghetti
  • Bucatini (hollow spaghetti: a top choice!)
  • Fettucine
  • Linguine
  • Rigatoni (our top choice for short pasta)
  • Gemelli
  • Penne
  • Medium shells
  • Fusilli (spirals)
  • Farfalle (bowties)

Tips on making zucchini pasta

Ready to make this zucchini pasta? Jump down to the recipe below. Or, here are a few notes on the process to keep in mind while you’re making it:

  • This recipe uses 3 pots: a large pasta pot, large skillet for the zucchini, and small or medium saucepan for the cream sauce. Don’t worry: it’s worth dirtying the 3 for the amount of flavor here!
  • When sautéing the zucchini, flip the slices often so they all get evenly brown. It takes a little patience because you’ll have a few layers of zucchini. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Try not to overcook them or it can become mushy.
  • The cream sauce comes together quickly. Plan to spend 5 minutes of undivided attention at the stove for the sauce.
Zucchini Pasta Recipe

Don’t forget the garnish

Keep in mind: this zucchini pasta recipe looks a little plain without the garnish! So don’t leave it out! It adds both flavor and visual style. Here’s what to do:

  • Load the pasta onto a plate. Try to get a good mix of pasta and zucchini (which can be hard with long noodles!).
  • Add chopped basil. This brings in the final fresh, herby flavoring to the dish. Bonus side note: basil turns brown in the fridge, so keeping it as a garnish helps the look of leftovers.
  • Sprinkle with Italian panko if desired (or Parmesan cheese). We love the crunch of a little breadcrumbs on top! Italian panko are seasoned with Italian herbs: you can also use plain panko or breadcrumbs. Or, use some additional grated or shredded cheese.
  • Add fresh ground black pepper and/or red pepper flakes. A hint of spice adds the final seasoning.
  • If desired, add extra lemon zest. It looks nice and punchy, but it’s not required.
Zucchini Pasta

Ways to serve zucchini pasta (and a note on portion size)

This zucchini pasta is a tasty summer dinner recipe! Keep in mind: the portion size is modest at 8 ounces pasta for 4 servings. If you’re serving as a main dish, add some additional protein or side dishes to make it a filling meal. Got very hungry eaters? Make sure to add protein, have filling sides or double it and use 1 pound of pasta. Here are a few serving suggestions:

More zucchini recipes

Love this summery green veggie? Here are some of our favorite zucchini recipes for using it:

This zucchini pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

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Zucchini pasta

Creamy Zucchini Pasta


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Description

This zucchini pasta recipe is deliciously creamy, flavored with Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, basil and lemon zest. A pure and simple dinner!


Ingredients

  • 8 ounces spaghetti or bucatini*
  • 1 pound zucchini (2 medium thin zucchini), sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more if desired
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more to garnish
  • ¼ cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped basil leaves, for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned panko, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente (taste testing a minute or two before the package instructions indicate). Drain and toss the pasta with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Meanwhile, slice the zucchini and mince the garlic. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the zucchini slices. Cover the skillet and cook for 1 minute, then uncover and stir, moving the bottom slices as necessary. Cover again for 1 minute then uncover and stir in ½ teaspoon kosher salt and onion powder, moving slices to the bottom layer as necessary so that they can get browned. Reduce the heat slightly. Keep the pan uncovered and cook about 6 to 8 more minutes until most of the zucchini are tender and browned, continuing to flip the zucchini and move them to the bottom layer so they cook evenly. Add the minced garlic in the last 1 minute. Then remove from the heat.
  3. In a small or medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Add a splash of milk and whisk it in: the sauce will instantly turn chunky. Constantly whisking, continue to add splashes of milk until the entire quantity is incorporated and smooth. Increase the heat and continue whisking until the sauce starts to bubble and thicken, about 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan and Pecorino cheese, lemon zest, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
  4. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the zucchini and stir in the sauce. If the sauce is sticky, add a splash of milk and stir it in to form a creamy sauce, heating it over medium low heat if necessary. Taste and add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
  5. To serve, add the garnish (do not omit!): top with chopped basil, breadcrumbs or more grated Parmesan, fresh ground black pepper, and optional red pepper flakes. Leftovers store well refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Notes

*This recipe also works with short pasta noodles like rigatoni or penne.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Zucchini pasta, pasta with zucchini, zucchini pasta recipe, zucchini pasta recipes

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Caprese Sandwich

This Caprese sandwich is a stunning crowd pleaser! Layer tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto aioli for a splash of flavor. What’s…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This Caprese sandwich is a stunning crowd pleaser! Layer tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto aioli for a splash of flavor.

Caprese Sandwich

What’s better than the classic combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil? Not much, in our opinion. So try this summery delight: the Caprese sandwich! This riff on the classic Italian salad from Capri layers the classic ingredients as a sandwich filling, with an irresistibly creamy, pesto aioli that adds a pop of savory brightness to each bite. It’s the perfect idea for an easy no-cook summer dinner, picnics, and more. When our son Larson tried a bite, he said, “Can we eat this every day?” We felt the same!

Ingredients in a Caprese sandwich

A Caprese sandwich is a sandwich that uses the ingredients in the classic Italian Caprese salad: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. There are many variations on this concept, sometimes using arugula, balsamic vinegar, or other spreads to embellish the sandwich. The traditional Italian version of Caprese salad doesn’t use balsamic vinegar or reduction and we don’t think the flavor pairs correctly, so you won’t need that here. For this recipe, we’ve used our fan-favorite pesto aioli as a creamy spread that adds a pop of savory flavor to each bite.

Here’s what you’ll need for this Caprese sandwich:

  • Ciabatta bread or other artisan bread: This Italian bread is soft and perfect for sandwiches! Steer clear of a French baguette, which can be tough to bite through. Any other type of artisan bread works!
  • Ripe tomatoes: This is a must! This sandwich only works with the ripest, juiciest tomatoes, much like a good BLT.
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese: Purchase it in an 8 ounce ball and slice off slices for the sandwich.
  • Fresh basil: All you need is a handful of leaves per sandwich.
  • Baby arugula: Arugula adds a bit of texture and flavor variation. Make sure to buy baby arugula in a box or bag, which has a feathery texture and milder flavor. Avoid mature arugula that’s sold in bunches: the flavor is too strong.
  • Pesto aioli: This is the kicker! The pesto aioli blends basil, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and lemon juice and absolutely makes the sandwich. Do not leave it out!
Caprese Sandwich

Tips for making the pesto aioli

The key to any good sandwich? A great sandwich spread. You absolutely cannot have a dry sandwich with unseasoned bread. Here, the pesto aioli adds just the right creaminess and seasoning to the entire sandwich. Here’s what to know about the pesto aioli:

  • Use a large or small food processor. A small blender would also work.
  • It works for several sandwiches. The quantity you’ll end up with is 10 tablespoons, so depending on how much you use it should work for 3 to 4 sandwiches.
  • You can make it in advance and store refrigerated. Keep in mind, the color does fade slightly over time.
Caprese Sandwich

Make ahead for a Caprese sandwich

This Caprese sandwich is perfect for a picnic: but does it hold up over time? Yes! Some sandwiches get soggy over time, but this one holds up well. However, you’ll want to keep the following in mind:

  • Spread each bread side with pesto aioli and have a layer of arugula and basil over each. This protects the bread from direct contact with the tomato or mozzarella, which can make it soggy.
  • If serving within 2 hours, refrigeration is not needed. The mayo in the sandwich spread should be refrigerated after 2 hours.
  • Otherwise, wrap and refrigerate or keep in a cooler until serving. The bread does become tougher when refrigerated, so allow the sandwich to come to room temperature before serving if possible.

Alternate method

You can also make a Caprese sandwich as a panini or hot sandwich, like the Panera Caprese sandwich. Simply use sliced sandwich bread to build the sandwich. Then toast it in a panini press for 3 to 4 minutes, or grill in a grill pan or skillet for 2 minutes per side.

Caprese Sandwich

More Caprese themed foods

Caprese has become a shorthand for anything that stars tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil. Of course, nothing beats the classic Caprese salad, made the Italian way with a drizzle of great olive oil and salt. Here are a few variations on the theme:

This Caprese sandwich recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, serve on gluten-free bread.

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Caprese Sandwich

Caprese Sandwich


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1 sandwich

Description

This Caprese sandwich is a stunning crowd pleaser! Layer tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto aioli for a splash of flavor.


Ingredients

For the sandwich

  • 2 slices ciabatta bread
  • 2 slices ripe tomato
  • 2 slices fresh mozzarella cheese (1 ounce)
  • 1 handful baby arugula
  • 1 handful basil leaves
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons pesto aioli (see below)

For the pesto aioli (makes 10 tablespoons)

  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup high quality mayonnaise

Instructions

  1. Make the pesto aioli: In a food processor, blend the garlic until roughly chopped. Add the basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, salt and mayonnaise. Blend until a smooth, creamy sauce forms. (Store leftovers refrigerated for 2 weeks.)
  2. Season the tomato slices with a pinch of salt. On each slice of bread, slather the pesto aioli. Build the sandwich by layering half the arugula and basil, the tomato slices, mozzarella slices, more arugula and basil, and then the aioli-slathered bread. Enjoy immediately, or wrap and refrigerate until serving.
  • Category: Sandwich
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Summer
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Caprese sandwich

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Salmon Caesar Salad

Salmon Caesar salad is a hearty main dish salad for dinner everyone loves! It’s irresistible drizzled with a creamy homemade…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Salmon Caesar salad is a hearty main dish salad for dinner everyone loves! It’s irresistible drizzled with a creamy homemade dressing.

Salmon caesar salad

In summer, we crave all the main dish salads for dinner. Here’s one that’s basic but satisfies every time: Salmon Caesar Salad! Imagine: tender, perfectly seasoned chunks of salmon nestled with bursts of crunchy romaine, juicy cherry tomatoes and crunchy croutons. It’s all covered in a creamy homemade Caesar dressing that makes each bite absolutely sublime. This one is a smash hit every time we serve it (and our kiddo loves a deconstructed version with the Caesar as a dipping sauce!).

Elements in this salmon Caesar salad

You barely need a recipe for salmon Caesar salad: just cook salmon and add it to a bed of romaine with Caesar dressing. But making a big plate of this at home requires homemade dressing, in our opinion! We’ve also got a few adders that take it to the next level. Here’s what you’ll need for salmon Caesar salad:

  • Fresh salmon, canned or smoked salmon
  • Croutons (try them homemade!)
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Romaine hearts
  • Parmesan cheese shavings
  • For the dressing: mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, garlic, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce or anchovy paste, salt and pepper
  • Optional: capers, dill sprigs
Salmon Caesar Salad

How to cook the salmon

This salmon Caesar salad works with a variety of different types and methods of cooking salmon. In fact, there are a few ways to make this salad without cooking the fish at all! It’s also a great way to use leftover salmon. Here are our top methods for cooking the salmon:

  • Pan Seared: Whip out a pan and cook it up on the stovetop.
  • Baked: Baked salmon is a simple, no fail method (though you do have to wait for the preheating).
  • Broiled: Faster than baked and just as good!
  • Blackened: Use the pan-seared method and coat the fish in a mix of Cajun seasonings. This makes a killer Caesar salad!
  • Grilled: If it’s the season, grilled salmon is ideal for this summery main dish.
  • Poached: Poaching is one of the fastest ways to cook salmon and what we used here! It’s melt-in-your-mouth tender.
  • Canned: Don’t have time to cook? Use canned salmon and mix it with olive oil, salt and pepper before adding to the salad.
  • Smoked: Another no cook method! Tear off pieces of smoked salmon for a quick fix salad.
Poached Salmon
Poached salmon is a fast and easy way to cook it for this salad

For Caesar dressing

The star of this salmon Caesar salad is the fresh, creamy homemade Caesar dressing. It’s a go-to we’ve been making for years. Using Greek yogurt lightens it up and reduces the calories from a standard Caesar. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Greek yogurt: Yogurt replaces some of the standard mayonnaise in this dressing: it reduces calories while staying irresistibly creamy.
  • Mayonnaise: You’ll still need a bit of mayo for richness and to help the dressing cling to the greens.
  • Lemon juice: Fresh juice brings a pop of acidity.
  • Parmesan cheese: Cheese adds a savory saltiness.
  • Anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce: Anchovies are traditional, or substitute Worcestershire sauce for vegetarian.
  • Garlic & Dijon mustard: These round out the savory flavor.

Serving tips

And that’s it! Mix up the creamy dressing, compose the salad and douse it all in Caesar. A few other notes on serving:

  • Capers add a nice briny pop. We love adding a handful of drained capers to a Caesar salad.
  • Add other veggies if you like. A traditional Caesar doesn’t have tomatoes, but we added them to make this into more of a main dish salad for dinner. Feel free to add other veggies of your choice!
  • Serve as a decomposed salad for kids. Our son loved this separated out with salmon, “lettuce chips,” cherry tomatoes, croutons, and a small cup of Caesar dipping sauce.
Salmon Caesar salad

More salmon recipes

Salmon is a dinnertime standby over here! Here are a few more easy salmon recipes to work into your repertoire:

This salmon Caesar salad recipe is…

Pescatarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free croutons. For dairy-free, use Vegan Caesar Salad.

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Salmon caesar salad

Salmon Caesar Salad


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Description

Salmon Caesar salad is a hearty main dish salad for dinner everyone loves! It’s irresistible drizzled with a creamy homemade dressing.


Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 pound salmon (or 2 cans salmon or 12 ounces smoked salmon)
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 romaine hearts (or 1 large head romaine)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Optional garnish: capers, fresh dill

For the Caesar dressing (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or grated
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (½ lemon)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste or Worcestershire sauce (or omit)
  • ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the salmon using one of the following methods: Pan Seared, Broiled, Baked, Blackened, Grilled, or Poached (pictured). If using canned salmon, mix it with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. 
  2. Whisk together the Caesar dressing ingredients in a bowl. Store leftovers refrigerated in a covered jar for up to 1 week.
  3. Tear the romaine leaves into pieces (or chop them). Top each salad with croutons, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan cheese shavings, and dressing. If desired, add a sprinkle of drained capers or dill sprigs. 
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Salad
  • Cuisine: Salad
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Salmon caesar salad

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Smoked Salmon Pasta

This smoked salmon pasta is easy and irresistibly tasty, pairing the smoky fish with a creamy sauce, lemon and fresh…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This smoked salmon pasta is easy and irresistibly tasty, pairing the smoky fish with a creamy sauce, lemon and fresh dill.

Smoked salmon pasta

It’s hard to tire of the rich, buttery goodness of smoked salmon: it’s ideal for pairing with everything from bagels to dip to appetizers. Here’s the newest way we’ve fallen hard for it: Smoked Salmon Pasta! Imagine: chewy al dente pasta, bathed with a creamy sauce punctuated by bright lemon zest and herbaceous fresh dill. It’s hard not to be head over heels about this one! It’s extremely versatile: try it as an easy dinner, a fun brunch idea or picnic pasta salad.

Ingredients in this smoked salmon pasta

This smoked salmon pasta is designed as fast and easy meal, using a protein that’s totally no cook: smoked salmon! It makes it simple to throw into the pasta after you cook it, using cream cheese to make a quick and creamy sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Smoked salmon: Look for cold-smoked salmon or lox (with a soft texture), not hard-smoked (which is flaky and more like cooked salmon)
  • Short cut pasta like penne, rigatoni, or farfalle
  • Cream cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh dill
Smoked salmon pasta

Tips for smoked salmon pasta

This recipe is as easy as they come: boil the pasta, add the sauce ingredients, stir it up and add smoked salmon! There are a few things to note about the method and what to expect. Here’s what to know:

  • Make sure to cook the pasta to al dente. This means “to the bite” in Italian: ideally when it’s tender with a small white speck inside when you bite into a piece. Boil it a few minutes less than the package instructions indicate, and start taste testing early!
  • Save the pasta water! This ingredient will be used to make a creamy sauce. It’s easy to forget (been there), so my mom shared a tip with us. Place a liquid measuring cup inside your strainer. When you go to dump the pasta, you’ll remember to remove the liquid!
  • The texture is best when served immediately. This smoked salmon pasta is best when the pasta is freshly cooked and it’s warm: especially since you use the pasta water to help create the sauce. You can eat it later, but it does get drier in texture. More on that below!
Smoked salmon pasta

Leftovers and storage instructions

Want to save this smoked salmon pasta for later, or make it in advance? Here’s what to know:

  • Make ahead tip: The best way to prep in advance? Measure out all your sauce ingredients and place them in a covered container in the fridge. Then cook the pasta and dump them in when you’re ready to serve.
  • Leftovers become dry with refrigeration. They store up to 3 days refrigerated, but you’ll notice the texture becomes drier. You can reheat the pasta with a splash of water on the stovetop, and revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt.

And that’s it! We hope you love this smoked salmon pasta as much as we do. It disappeared very quickly at a dinner we made for my parents recently!

More smoked salmon recipes

Smoked salmon is ideal for quick and easy meals because it’s a healthy protein that requires no cooking! Here are some of our top smoked salmon recipes:

This smoked salmon pasta recipe is…

Pescatarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta.

Print
Smoked salmon pasta

Smoked Salmon Pasta


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Description

This smoked salmon pasta is easy and irresistibly tasty, pairing the smoky fish with a creamy sauce, lemon and fresh dill.


Ingredients

  • 12 ounces penne (or other short-cut pasta like rigatoni, farfalle, etc.)
  • ½ cup cream cheese (1/2 8-ounce block)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 to 8 ounces smoked salmon*, flaked into pieces with a fork
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is al dente, testing a few minutes before the package instructions indicate. Using a glass liquid measuring cup, reserve 1 cup of the hot pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  2. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the cream cheese (broken into dollops), olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt and a few grinds black pepper. Pour in ½ cup of the pasta water and toss until a creamy sauce forms; adding a splash of additional water as necessary to come to a creamy consistency.
  3. Add the smoked salmon (flaked into pieces with a fork), lemon zest, and fresh dill. Gently mix, adding another splash of pasta water so that it’s creamy. Serve immediately. (Leftovers store up to 3 days refrigerated, but you’ll notice the texture becomes drier. You can reheat the pasta with a splash of water on the stovetop, and revive the flavors with a pinch or two of salt.)

Notes

*Look for cold-smoked salmon or lox (with a soft texture), not hard-smoked (which is flaky and more like cooked salmon).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Pasta

Keywords: Smoked salmon pasta

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Sheet Pan Shrimp & Veggies

This sheet pan shrimp dinner is the epitome of easy and full of flavor! It stars Mediterranean veggies, lemon and…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

This sheet pan shrimp dinner is the epitome of easy and full of flavor! It stars Mediterranean veggies, lemon and feta cheese.

Sheet Pan Shrimp

A meal in a sheet pan never really gets old, does it? Introducing our newest sheet pan creation: the Mediterranean Sheet Pan Shrimp dinner! Combine juicy shrimp with colorful Mediterranean veggies like cherry tomatoes and tangy artichoke, then top it off with a squeeze of lemon and a hearty sprinkle of feta cheese. Serve with orzo, couscous or rice and it’s an explosion of flavor on your plate (or bowl). Here’s how to whip up this tasty weeknight dinner.

Ingredients for sheet pan shrimp

This sheet pan shrimp dinner can be made with a variety of vegetables: but the ones we chose here are quick to cook! The veggies are only baked for 10 minutes before you add the shrimp, so you’ll need to stick with quick cooking vegetables if you plan to get creative. Here are the veggies and seasonings to make this sheet pan meal:

  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Canned artichoke hearts
  • Green beans: make sure the beans are as thin as possible; if not, you may want to slice them in half lengthwise to avoid tough beans
  • Olive oil
  • Spices: Garlic powder, oregano, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt
  • Shrimp
  • Lemon juice
  • Feta cheese
  • Parsley or dill
Sheet Pan Mediterranean Shrimp

Basic concept: dinner on a sheet pan

The basic concept for a shrimp sheet pan dinner? You’ll cook the veggies and protein right on the very same sheet pan. Shrimp cooks very quickly, but the veggies need a bit more time in the oven (though not much!). So you’ll cook the veggies first, then add the shrimp. Here are the basic steps:

  • Prep the veggies by mixing them with olive oil and seasonings. Place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake the veggies for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Meanwhile, prep the shrimp by mixing it with olive oil and seasonings.
  • Add the shrimp to the same sheet pan and bake 6 to 8 minutes, until it’s opaque and cooked through. Easy as that!
Sheet pan shrimp dinner

Ways to serve this sheet pan shrimp dinner

While the sheet pan shrimp bakes, you’ve got time to make a simple side for serving it. This looks lovely on the plate or bowl when you serve it, and makes the meal more filling. Here are our top picks for making sheet pan shrimp into dinner:

Sheet Pan Shrimp

More sheet pan dinner recipes

Looking for more healthy and easy dinners? Here are some easy sheet pan dinners you might enjoy:

This sheet pan shrimp is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian.

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Sheet Pan Shrimp

Sheet Pan Shrimp


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 14 minutes
  • Cook Time: 16 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4

Description

This sheet pan shrimp dinner is the epitome of easy and full of flavor! It stars Mediterranean veggies, lemon and feta cheese.


Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 8.5 ounce can (dry weight) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8 ounces green beans (as thin as possible, or sliced in half lengthwise)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, divided
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, deveined (tail on or peeled)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (or substitute standard paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or fresh dill, to garnish
  • Lemon Orzo, Easy Couscous, rice or quinoa, to serve

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Chop the vegetables as noted above. Place them in a bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon olive oil, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon oregano, and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Pour onto the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry. In a medium bowl, mix the shrimp with 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt.
  4. Add the shrimp to the baking sheet on top of the vegetables. Return the sheet pan to the oven and bake for 6 to 8 minutes until the shrimp is opaque and cooked through.
  5. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, feta cheese, and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Sheet Pan
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Sheet pan shrimp, Sheet pan shrimp dinner, Mediterranean shrimp

A Couple Cooks - Recipes worth repeating.

Asparagus Pasta with Lemon

Celebrate the season with asparagus pasta! Lemony roasted asparagus pairs with fresh basil and Parmesan for an irresistible dinner recipe.…

A Couple Cooks – Recipes worth repeating.

Celebrate the season with asparagus pasta! Lemony roasted asparagus pairs with fresh basil and Parmesan for an irresistible dinner recipe.

Asparagus Pasta

Once the first few warm days of spring hit, we start craving all the green vegetables. Here’s a great way to use those popular bright green spears: Asparagus Pasta with Lemon & Parmesan! This one pairs chewy tagliatelle noodles with lemony roasted asparagus, garlic, and Parmesan. Topped seasoned breadcrumbs and peppery basil leaves, the combination of flavors is unbelievably fresh and savory. This one disappeared very quickly over here: and we hope you love it just as much!

Ingredients in this asparagus pasta recipe

This asparagus pasta uses bold flavors to achieve a restaurant-style quality pasta recipe! There are a few secret ingredients that take the flavor up a few notches. The basic idea? Roast asparagus and lemon wedges, then toss with pasta and a garlic olive oil mixture. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Tagliatelle or fettucine pasta: any wide, flat noodle works well here. Tagliatelle is very wide and has a pleasant, chewy texture. You can also make it with bucatini (hollow spaghetti) or spaghetti if you prefer.
  • Asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Calabrian chilis or red pepper flakes: these add a hint of complexity without making for a spicy dish
  • Parmesan shavings
  • Italian panko: this is seasoned chunky breadcrumbs: see the notes below!
  • Basil leaves: basil adds a lovely fresh, peppery flavor to the dish
  • Salt and pepper
Asparagus Pasta

Tips for roasting asparagus and lemon

The star of this pasta is the lemon asparagus, roasted until tender in a hot oven! We like roasting asparagus because it gets incredibly tender and the flavor mellows quite a bit, versus sauteed asparagus can still be a bit crisp tender. Here are our tips for roasting asparagus:

  • Find thin asparagus if you can. Thinner asparagus is more tender and milder in flavor! Of course, it’s not always possible to find thin spears, so you can work with what’s at the store.
  • Chop off the very thick parts. Any part that’s closer to white than green: chop right off! We like to cut off anything that’s very thick because it can have a tough texture.
  • Roast the asparagus with lemon wedges right on the pan. It’s the best way to infuse that lemon flavor through the entire veggie! You’ll also add lemon zest and mix throughout.
Pasta with asparagus

Add Italian panko for a crunch

Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb mixture that is airier and lighter than traditional breadcrumbs. Here it adds just the right crunch in texture to this asparagus pasta. We love using Italian panko because it has extra seasonings added: they add that extra oomph! You can also use them instead of croutons on a salad (like in this Romaine Salad or Butter Lettuce Salad).

  • “Italian” means herbs and salt are added. You should be able to find Italian panko or panko easily at your local grocery store.
  • Only have plain panko? Use that and just add a bit more salt. If you’d like, you can mix with a bit of dried oregano or basil.
  • What about for gluten-free? If you’re making this with gluten-free pasta, you can also find gluten-free panko at stores or online.

Ways to serve asparagus pasta

The most important thing about serving this asparagus pasta? Pair it with a protein! It’s not loaded with protein, so you’ll want to add in a vegetarian, fish or meat protein of choice when serving. Here are a few ideas:

Lemon asparagus pasta recipe

More asparagus recipes

‘Tis the season! Load up on recipes starring the green spears while it abounds in grocery stores. Here are a few more asparagus recipes to try:

This lemon asparagus pasta recipe is…

Vegetarian. For gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta and panko.

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Asparagus Pasta

Asparagus Pasta with Lemon


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4

Description

Celebrate the season with asparagus pasta! Lemony roasted asparagus pairs with fresh basil and Parmesan for an irresistible dinner recipe.


Ingredients

For the asparagus

  • 1 pound thin asparagus spears, cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon (zest from half, plus slices from the other half)

For the pasta

  • 8 ounces tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon chopped Calabrian chilis or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup Parmesan shavings
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoned panko
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Roast the asparagus: Cut off the tough bottom ends of the asparagus and cut it into 2” pieces. Add the stalks to a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the asparagus with the olive oil, and add the kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  3. Slice the lemon in half crosswise. Thinly slice 4 wheels from one half of the lemon, then add them to the baking sheet. Zest the other half of the lemon, sprinkle it onto the asparagus and mix with your hands to coat. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until tender when pierced by a fork at the thickest part. The timing will depend on the thickness of the asparagus spears.
  4. Cook the pasta: Meanwhile, bring a salted pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente (taste testing a minute or two before the package instructions indicate). Do not drain. 
  5. In the serving bowl, stir together the olive oil, oregano, grated garlic and chilis. When the pasta is done, use tongs to transfer the pasta from the boiling water into the bowl with the oil mixture without draining. Toss with the olive oil mixture until coated. Add the roasted asparagus and toss. (If desired, transfer to a serving platter or individual plates.)
  6. Top with the Parmesan shavings and panko. Add basil leaves and serve immediately.
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Roasted
  • Cuisine: Vegetables
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Asparagus pasta, pasta with asparagus, asparagus pasta recipe

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