Friday, February 22, 2013

Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage and Goat Cheese

I wanted to post the recipe before Valentine’s Day since it is slightly decadent and worth a special occasion. Alas, midterm papers, work, and a version of the flu kicked in and ruined my posting plans.

So enjoy this postponed special occasion meal:

I love orecchiette. Something about this handmade pasta seems more special then penne or spaghetti, and at an average $2.50-$3 a box, it should.

At least for the college student, or family on a budget—this is a special occasion meal with special occasion ingredients like orecchiette, goat cheese, and crème fraiche you probably don’t have lying around the house. We really don’t eat like this every night I promise!

I got pretty much all for my special ingredients at Trader Joe’s, at a fraction of the price goat cheese and crème fraiche cost at even your average grocery store. This meal cost me less than $10 to make 3 large dinner sized portions, which is still pretty good considering this meal would be $17-20+ at a restaurant.

 If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s—improvise. You can you a little full-fat sour cream instead of crème fraiche. Just make sure to stir it in last so it does not separate with the heat of the stove and acidity of the wine.

But, I must admit, the goat cheese tastes so heavenly on this dish, that if you can get it for $3.50 a log like me (and use only a third of it), DO IT!

This can easily be adapted to a weekday meal especially with the mushrooms, spinach, and turkey sausage that taste so lovely with a pasta noodle and light wine crème sauce. Also, as you might have noticed, this has more dairy, (a.k.a. butter, than a normal night meal), so do yourself a favor and make this for a date-night-at-home, Valentine’s Day, or anniversary (especially if your babysitter is Grandma and you don’t have the luxury of going to a fancy restaurant!)

Either way, this is an easy meal to impress a love one or even a friend, while really no more effort than chopping and sautéing. And trust me, it’s worth the butter!

Orecchiette with Turkey Sausage
 and Goat Cheese

(Makes 2-3 dinner sized portions)


1 ½ cup dried Orecchiette
6 oz. mini portabella mushrooms, sliced
½ bag spinach (about 3-4 oz. uncooked)
1 small medium yellow onion (or 3 shallots), finely chopped
2-3 links of turkey sausage, (I used sundried tomato), roughly chopped into chunks
10 oz. dry white wine
2-3 tbsp. crème fraiche
Splash milk of your choice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. butter
Olive oil
Garlic powder
1 tbsp. of flour of choice
2 oz. herbed goat cheese, crumbled with your fingers


Boil orecchiette in pot of water according to package instructions. Drain, set aside.

Meanwhile in a large pan over medium heat brown onions and half of the garlic in 1 tbsp. olive oil. Stirring often, you want the onions to soften, and then lightly brown, not burn for about 1-2 minutes.
Add mushrooms 1 tbsp. butter, and of pinch salt, and allow them to brown nicely in the pan with the onions. Once mushrooms are browned add half of the white wine and allow the mushrooms to absorb most of the liquid.

Add turkey sausage chunks to the pan with a little more olive oil if needed and brown sausage until completely cooked through. Use spatula to make smaller pieces as desired.

Add spinach and sautéed until nicely wilted. Add a little garlic powder and pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Once sausage is cooked and vegetables are nicely browned, add the rest of the garlic and white wine. Reduce to low-medium heat, allowing to simmer. Add splash of milk and half of flour to thicken sauce. Turn of the heat and stir in the crème fraiche. If the sauce is thin, stir in the rest of the flour. Season to taste.

Gently fold the orecchiette into the sauce, gently coating the pasta. Plate the pasta and top with equal crumbled of goat cheese and more black pepper.

Serve immediately with glass of white wine and enjoy a special meal at home!



The College Cuisiner

Monday, February 4, 2013

Easy Shrimp and Vegetable Curry

For some reason, January was Indian and curry month for me. Meaning, at least a third of the meals I have cooked have either had a curry blend of spices and/or was an Indian dish. I’ve done spinach tomato curry with chicken and potatoes (more Bangladeshi I guess,) sambhar and masala dosa, Coronation chicken, curry by the spoon, and finally, shrimp curry.

Okay maybe not curry by the spoon as that’s going a bit far.

Three things put me on a curry kick in January:

Brick Lane- The novel I’m reading about Bangladeshi immigrants in East London in the 1980’s

Modern South Asia- One of my history classes I am currently taking

Downton Abbey- I’m reminiscent of the Empire I suppose, hence the coronation chicken for the premiere night.

But the last one, Shrimp curry was my favorite. This is a popular Thai dish too but the way I made it is mixed, at least in my limited experience that’s what I think. I made it for Aaron and Lisa for a cheer-up dinner and it was pretty delicious. The Thai version always had included lots of sautéed vegetables such as carrots and green onions. Indian versions seem to have fewer vegetables, so I added a few for good measure. I also like the light coconut milk as it adds a delectable creaminess and a delightful pink hue.

Note: If you can get fresh ginger, DO IT! It’s make a world of difference as one time the grocery store was out and I could tell. Also fresh cilantro is a must. This recipe is also just as good with chicken breast or even lean leftover pork chops even you don’t have the shrimp. I just did the shrimp for an extra special meal. But the other meats will make the dish last longer for leftovers. Have fun with it! And add more veggies if desired!

This is also a great one-pan meal to impress guests and family. They never have to know how easy it really is! If you really want to impress them, try serving with fresh dosa (Indian crepes)

Easy Shrimp and Vegetable Curry
(makes 4-5 dinner sized portions)


15-20 small shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 ½ cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained
1 (14 oz.) light coconut milk
7 oz. crushed canned tomatoes
6 oz. baby portabella mushrooms, quartered
5 large carrots, cut into 3-inch sticks
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice one lime
2 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp. yellow curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chopped coriander
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste
Black pepper
Red pepper flakes to top
Olive oil

 1 tsp. turmeric
Green onions for garnish


Marinate peeled shrimp with half lime juice, a little salt and garlic powder in a plastic baggie. Refridgerate for about 30 or so before cooking. (That’s flexible)

Cook rice according to package directions and let stand for 5 minutes without removing lid, then fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile in a large pan heat olive oil, half the garlic, onion, over medium heat. Sauté for a minute and add curry, turmeric, coriander, chili powder, and cumin. Stir well for a minute until spices are fragrant and onions are translucent. Make sure onions and garlic do not burn. Begin to sauté mushrooms.

Microwave carrots sticks with a splash of water in a covered bowl for two minutes until gently pierced with a fork. Drain water and add to pan.

Sauté mushrooms and carrots together. Add garlic powder, ginger, salt and pepper to taste. Once vegetables are soft and browned, add tomato sauce. Cook for two minutes stirring well. Add coconut milk and reduce heat to low. Cook for two more minutes, stirring until pink. Add shrimp and marinade and cook until shrimp are pink and curled.

Take off heat, add lime juice and half of fresh cilantro, mix well.

Serve curry over the cooked rice and top with green onions, rest of cilantro and a little red pepper.

Enjoy immediately while still hot.

Goodbye January! Hello Curry!

p.s. sorry for the harsh lighting, this curry is much prettier in natural light. It's was too good for leftovers in the light of day.


The College Cuisiner