Simple Orecchiette Pasta Dish with Fennel, Turkey and Broccoli

I’ve been dreading the fact that summer is slipping away and fall is right around the corner, but this week has been so hot and I am just trying to soak it up while I still can! The only issue I have with this heat is cooking in it, since I have no air-conditioning in my apartment. Turning on the oven when its already 100 degrees in my tiny kitchen isn’t ideal, so in order to embrace the heat while it lasts, I’ve been trying to do most of my cooking on the stovetop, and i’ve been choosing quick and easy recipes. That way, I am in and out of the kitchen in a flash and this dish is perfect for that.

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I fell in love with this pasta dish when I got the Carmine’s Family Style Cookbook a few years back. If you have ever been to their restaurant in NYC you will know that it’s one flavour explosion after another. Every recipe in their cookbook is delicious, but their dishes aren’t exactly on the healthy side. Because of that, I try to modify where I can, but I won’t lie… their version of this meal is really, really, really good, so if ever you’re feeling like a cheat night and don’t mind the extra calories, go for it! You won’t regret it (well, maybe a little).

For this regular weeknight meal I wanted it to become something a little healthier, a little quicker and a little lighter.  So while their version calls for nearly a cup of olive oil, mine calls for 4 tbsp, and you know what? The flavours are close enough to the real deal! It’s still bursting with a delicious garlic, fennel olive oil flavour. This is definitely one of my go-to favourite weeknight recipes and it’s just as yummy the next day for lunch!

Simple Turkey Broccoli Orecchiette – Adapted from Carmine’s Family-style Cookbook
Serves 2 to 4

What you need:

3-4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Orecchiette
1 small head of broccoli cut into 3-inch spears
1 lb ground turkey or if you’re feeling fancy, 1/2 lb of fennel sausage (casings removed).
2-3 cloves coarsely chopped garlic
8 fresh basil leaves sliced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds (if you went for the ground turkey)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup Romano cheese

What you need to do: 

  1. In a large salted pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to the package directions, and add the broccoli spears during the last minute of cooking. Drain and return the pasta and broccoli to the pot.
  2. In a large skillet, add 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, garlic, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and basil, and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until browned. 3 to 5 minutes. Then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the turkey with the pasta and broccoli in the pot. Add the remaining olive oil and the 1/2 cup of Romano.
  4. Enjoy!
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Spicy Shrimp Tacos with a Crunchy Cilantro Lime Slaw

I usually wait until I can take the perfect photos of my meals or baked goods before I post them. But I am starting to see that this need for perfection is actually holding me back from posting on this beloved blog of mine. I’m not taking away from the fact that I love photoshoots. I get a thrill from the planning, styling, composing, photographing and editing that goes along with food photography and I will continue to practice these skills every chance I get. But sometimes my best creations happen after work when the sun is low and the photo ops are slim and my iphone is already by my side. So I decided to go ahead and post this recipe on here without a “perfected” photo. That’s ok right? My iphone certainly captures more of my meals than my SLR ever has (anyone who follows me on Instagram knows this). So for anyone wondering, I am basically just giving myself permission to do things a little differently. I am not a perfectionist… nope. 

I was looking for something quick, light and healthy for dinner the other day, so I though shrimp would be a nice change for a hot summer day. The meal took me 30 min from start to finish, so when I say easy, I mean it, and did I mention they are delicious? Spicy shrimp topped with a crunchy cilantro, lime slaw, some fresh avocado, crumbled feta cheese and a squeeze of fresh lime juice to finish it off? How can anyone resist? I have to confess that I have since made it again and have eaten it about 4 times in the last 7 days. They are highly addictive, you have been warned.

Recipe adapted from pinch of yum 

Heres what you need:

Crunchy Cilantro Lime Slaw
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup green onions
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 small cloves garlic (or more if you love garlic)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • ½ cup greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2-3 cups shredded cabbage (green or purple works the same)
For the Shrimp Tacos
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1 teaspoon each chili powder, korean red pepper powder, paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 pepper
  • 8 small corn tortillas (I used flour because my grocery store only had that at the time)
  • 1-2 avocados
  • Feta cheese and additional cilantro for topping
  • lime wedges for serving
 What you need to do:
1. Start by peeling and de-veining all the shrimp and patting them dry.
2. Add all the ingredients for the slaw (except the cabbage and the yogurt/sour cream) into a food processor and pulse until smooth then add the yogurt in and pulse until smooth. Set aside
3. Coat the shrimp with the spice mixture and heat a skillet on medium high, add some coconut oil and cook shrimp well, flipping every few minutes until they are cooked through.
6. Heat tortillas on a clean dry pan and toss the cabbage together with some sauce until evenly coated.
7. Assemble tortillas with shrimp, some slaw, some mashed up avocado and a sprinkle of feta cheese on top, a little drizzle of the leftover cilantro lime sauce and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
8. Enjoy! Try not to eat these more than once in one week I dare you.