Lentil Rotini Pizza Pasta

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Lentil Rotini Pizza Pasta! Going organic, especially with red lentils, doesn’t necessarily mean the meal has to be completely plant-based. Sure, you still get the protein and fiber you need, but think about making it appealing to your family as well. By adding cheese and pepperoni slices, you can turn the rotini spirals into an Italian favorite. Pizza Pasta. Spice things up with red pepper flakes, garlic, and oregano. Now you’re talking. Serve in individual baking dishes for extra special treatment. You may even have the kids asking for it again.

LENTIL ROTINI PIZZA PASTA

Ingredients:

12-ounce box of organic red lentil rotini

1 1/2 cups prepared marinara sauce

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/2 cup pepperoni slices, divided

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Crushed basil for garnish

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add rotini. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes. Caution: Watch carefully as the lentils will foam up to overflowing. You may have to reduce heat to a Simmer. Drain well. In a large bowl, combine marinara sauce, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano. Add rotini; stir to coat. Fold in 3/4 of the pepperoni and half the mozzarella cheese. Divide into individual broiler-proof baking dishes. Top with remaining pepperoni and shredded mozzarella cheese. Adjust oven rack to at least 4” away from broiler coils. Preheat broiler on High setting. Arrange individual casseroles on a baking sheet. Transfer sheet to oven. Cook until cheese is melted and slightly brown. Garnish with crushed basil. Serve with garlic bread.

Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida! Whenever people get the choice to dine outside among potted palms and waterfall fountains, they choose it. The feeling of nature creates a calming atmosphere for casual conversation. Food seems to taste better, too. In essence, it’s almost like a mental vacation to embrace the ambiance. The food choices encompass cravings from Appeteasers to Gourmet Salads to Triple ‘B’ Burgers, Wraps, and Famous Flatbreads. But that’s not all… NFB spotlights a Tap Wall with over 50 domestic and craft beer choices available on a self-serve draft system. You’ll find beers, wines, hard seltzers, ciders, nitro cold brews, meads, and kombuchas. Seriously, if you’re a food and drink enthusiast, it’s time to check this place out. What have you got to lose?

Divieto Ristorante in Estero, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Divieto Ristorante in Estero, Florida! Whenever a meal is prepared table-side, things are bound to feel a little bit different at this 1920’s version of a classic Italian restaurant. Their signature dish, Ruota di Parmigiano, is a creamy fettuccine Alfredo specialty tossed in a parmigiana-reggiano cheese wheel. The steamy homemade pasta is poured into the hollowed out cheese wheel over a layer of freshly scraped parmesan shavings. As the pasta is gently mixed in, the buttered noodles are coated in the creamy decadence causing the customers to practically drool uncontrollably. But mind your manners, take a sip of water, and wait patiently until the server ceremoniously transfers the traditional pasta dish before you as though you were royalty.

Orzo Shrimp Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Orzo Shrimp Salad! In case you did a double-take, this is not a rice dish. Orzo, for those who are new to its origin, is a rice-shaped pasta popular in Italy. Most often it is used in soups, chilled salads, and pasta recipes. It is not gluten-free, if that is important to you. Because of its unique texture, the flavor of orzo bonds wonderfully with olive oil or butter and fresh herbs. Make it early in the day or right before supper. Either way, the taste is incredible with garden fresh veggies and cocktail shrimp. A little orzo goes a long way.

ORZO SHRIMP SALAD

Ingredients:

1/4 cup lemon olive oil

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup uncooked orzo

1/2 pound precooked jumbo cocktail shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dill

1/2 teaspoon tarragon leaves, chopped

4 ounces asparagus, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed

1/2 cup frozen English peas, thawed

Lemon slices for garnish

Instructions:

For dressing, whisk together lemon olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Transfer to a platter and cool 10 minutes to room temperature. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Remove shells from shrimp tails. Place shrimp in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with dill and tarragon. Lightly brown, turning once. Reduce heat to keep from burning. Remove from stove. Let shrimp cool. Meanwhile, in a steamer basket, bring water to a boil. Add asparagus, sugar snap peas, and English peas. Cook 2 minutes until bright green and tender crisp. Immediately transfer vegetables to an ice bath. Drain. Toss together shrimp and vegetables with orzo. Drizzle with lemon dressing, to taste. Toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with lemon slices.

Elbow Macaroni Salad

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Fab Foodstuff: Elbow Macaroni Salad! I owe freshness to the farmer’s market. And so should you. After all, they are a great resource for locally grown produce, herbs, eggs, and meats. Without a doubt, they are popping up everywhere. However, it’s okay to ask a few questions when you’re chatting with the growers. An important one might be if there are pesticides used. “Organic” does not always mean pesticide-free. Soil quality may be another concern. GMO seeds, animal treatment, and ideas for food preparation are also topics of discussion. Once I am familiar with a grower, I glean ideas for ways to store and cook the products. Some days I even walk away with recipes. The bottom line is, support your community. We’re all in this together.

ELBOW MACARONI SALAD

Ingredients:

2 cups elbow macaroni, cook according to package directions, then cool

2 tablespoons sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup baby carrots, julienned

1/2 cup snow peas, sliced horizontally

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup garlic vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon water

1 envelope Italian salad dressing dry mix

1/2 cup olive oil

Instructions:

In a large bowl, combine cooked macaroni and sweet onion slices. Add julienned carrots, sliced snow peas, and radish discs. Gently toss. In a measuring cup, combine garlic vinegar, lemon juice, water, Italian seasoning packet, and olive oil. Whisk together until completely blended. Drizzle dressing over the macaroni salad. Gently toss to coat ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida! My husband always says, “It’s more fun to eat at a bar than drink in a restaurant.” At Joey’s you can do both… or choose to eat and drink outdoors in their welcoming patio area. No matter where you settle in, the mood is contagious. Everyone seems to be having a good time. The drinks are cold and thirst-quenching, the food is definitely spot on. That’s probably due to the fact that Italian pasta dinners, specialty pizzas, and sweet desserts are made from family recipes. Pace yourself by sharing appetizers. Pizza is the main attraction offered in the New York style of thin-crust, which can be folded in half to eat, or the popular Sicilian thick-crust version covered in olive oil. Either way, go overboard. Leftovers can be taken home and eaten later when the cravings return.

Sami’s on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Sami’s on Marco Island, Florida! The locals still talk about this once convenience stored-turned affordable restaurant with approval and enthusiasm. Fresh ingredients and homemade meals became the norm. So much so, that word spread like wildfire. The extensive menu offers grilled dishes, home style pastas, garden salads, pizza variations, tempting appetizers, seafood favorites, and more. Grab a seat at the bar or a cozy table for two outdoors. No matter the time of day, Sami’s is a friendly place for your next island meal.

Orzo Chicken Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Orzo Chicken Soup! If you like thick soup, this recipe is for you. Every spoonful is filled with veggies, chicken, and pasta. If you prefer to slurp the soup or add crumbled saltines, simply increase the liquid by adding two cups of water or more broth. The soup will thicken as the orzo continues to absorb the liquid. In the event there are leftovers for another meal, feel free to add more liquid until you have the desired consistency. Whichever way you like your soup, get ready to enjoy a flavorful bowl of YUM.

ORZO CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped

1/2 cup carrots, sliced

1/2 cup celery, chopped

1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence

4 cups chicken broth

3/4 cup uncooked orzo

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

3 Bay leaves, dried

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onions, sliced carrots, and chopped celery. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle in Herbes de Provence. Add chicken broth and orzo pasta. Stir. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes until pasta is tender. Fold in shredded chicken. Tuck bay leaves into soup. Heat until soup is hot and bay leaves are soft, stirring gently. Ladle soup into bowls. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Italian Meatball Manicotti

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Cheerful Choices: Italian Meatball Manicotti! Pasta tubes, known as manicotti, are mere vessels for holding melted cheese, savory meat, Italian herbs, and certain vegetables like spinach or mushrooms. The marinara sauce is spread on the bottom of the dish to prevent the pasta from sticking, or tearing, which would ruin the whole idea of creating the perfect pocket of delicious fillings. With a crowning layer of marinara sauce on top, it deserves a round of applause for the extra cheese sprinkled there for good measure. Cray, Cray!

ITALIAN MEATBALL MANICOTTI

Ingredients:

6 dried manicotti shells

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic

12 Italian meatballs, cut in quarters

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herb blend

8 ounces marinara sauce, prepared

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, shredded

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray an 8.5”x5.5” baking dish with nonstick oil. Set aside. Cook manicotti shells in boiling water for 9 minutes. Drain and cool on a baking sheet pan. Set aside. In a skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic clove, meatballs, sea salt, cracked black pepper, and Italian herb blend. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside to cool slightly for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, spread half the marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Gently fold in meatball mixture. Fill each manicotti shell with meat and cheese mixture; place in the prepared baking dish over the marinara layer. Top with remaining marinara sauce. Cover dish with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Serve immediately.