A Cozy Fall Feast: Orecchiette with Arugula-Walnut Pesto and Almond-Rye Heart Cookies

Fall is finally here after it seemed like waiting an extra month or two. 93 degrees in October?

We were all ready to be able to be able to throw on a sweater or actually enjoy being under the covers at night.

Well, it has finally come, and I’m enjoying being in the kitchen more and more.

A bit of a chill outside really wants me to be standing by a warm over or waiting for a pot of water to boil.

That emanating heat is the best.

I have an actual weekend now with my new job, three days in a row, which is like a mini vacation every week.

I finally have time to cook a nice Sunday dinner instead of getting off work at 11 pm and just trying to find something to heat up really quickly.

Barilla® Collezione Orecchiette pasta was the star of dinner that night, the little pasta shaped like an ear that perfectly holds like dollops of sauce.

Each one is like its own edible bowl.

Pesto was on the mind, with some fresh arugula from the market and nice toasted walnuts.

I decided to just rough chop it instead of making a smooth puree; you can really taste all of the individual ingredients in it.

 Wafting scents of warm Barilla® Collezione pasta filling the air; dinner was really in just a few minutes. Just my style.

Dessert was, of course, a necessity, cookies this time around. These cookies are short and crumbly, with the rye flavor really standing out to make them unique. One of my new favorites.

I used Reynolds Kitchens™ Parchment Paper with SmartGrid®, which was helpful in more ways than one in this recipe.

I generally have a problem with doing something by eye, not measuring or weighing and making it all the exact same.

They all start out looking somewhat similar, then just go off the deep end and look nothing like they are supposed to. The Reynolds Kitchens™ Parchment Paper has a grid already laid out on it.

So, when I was to roll out the dough to 7-inch long pieces, I couldn’t find a ruler anywhere, so I cut a little strip of parchment and used that as a ruler, making each piece 3 squares long.

Then, when shaping into hearts, each one was to fill one grid square; it couldn’t be simpler than that.

A proper Sunday dinner is complete, now it’s time to snuggle up with the kitty and watch a good movie.

Thank you for your time reading this entire gibberish. Now, check the recipes.

Orecchiette with Rough Chopped Arugula-Walnut Pesto

This pasta dish blends the boldness of arugula, the richness of toasted walnuts, and the zesty brightness of lemon, creating a symphony of flavors that will elevate your dining experience.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Barilla® Collezione Orecchiette
  • 1/2 pound arugula
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 ounce (1/2 cup) pecorino, grated
  • 1 small clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions:

  1. Begin by rough chopping the arugula and toasted walnuts on a spacious cutting board.
  2. Transfer these vibrant ingredients to a generously sized serving bowl, adding the grated pecorino and tossing them together for a delightful mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the smashed and peeled garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil until the elements meld into a harmonious dressing.
  4. Pour the lemon-garlic dressing over the arugula-walnut mix, ensuring all components are thoroughly coated.
  5. This vibrant concoction will be patiently waiting in the refrigerator for the star of the show – the pasta. Now, let’s turn our attention to the Barilla® Collezione Orecchiette.
  6. In a generously salted pot of boiling water, cook the orecchiette for approximately 12 minutes, stirring occasionally to achieve that perfect ‘al dente’ texture.
  7. If you prefer a softer bite, extend the cooking time by an additional minute. With the pasta cooked to perfection, drain it and introduce it to the awaiting bowl of arugula-walnut pesto.
  8. Toss the pasta with gusto, ensuring every piece is enveloped in the vibrant flavors of the pesto.
  9. Serve this Orecchiette with Rough Chopped Arugula-Walnut Pesto immediately, relishing the amalgamation of textures and flavors that dance on your palate with every forkful.

Roasted Acorn Squash

This recipe celebrates the natural sweetness and rich texture of acorn squash, creating a dish that’s as easy to prepare as it is delightful to savor. Let’s embark on a journey of roasting acorn squash to perfection.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small acorn squash
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the Oven:

Begin by preheating your oven to 400°F, creating the ideal environment for the acorn squash to roast and develop its exquisite flavors.

Prepare the Squash:

Cut each acorn squash in half and gently remove the seeds. Pro tip: don’t discard those seeds; they can be roasted separately for a tasty snack. Slice each squash half into quarters, creating manageable pieces for roasting.

Arrange on Baking Sheet:

Place the squash quarters on a baking sheet or in a large baking dish, ensuring they are skin side down. This allows for a beautifully caramelized exterior during roasting.

Drizzle and Season:

Drizzle the extra-virgin olive oil over the squash, ensuring each piece gets a generous coating. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, allowing the flavors to meld and enhance the natural sweetness of the squash.

Roast to Tender Perfection:

Place the baking sheet or dish in the preheated oven and roast the squash until it reaches a tender, fork-ready consistency. The roasting time may vary, but it typically takes around 30-40 minutes.

Serve Warm:

Once the acorn squash is tender and has achieved a beautiful caramelization, remove it from the oven. Serve the roasted acorn squash warm, allowing its rich flavors to be enjoyed to the fullest.

Optional Seed Roasting:

Don’t forget about those seeds! Clean and toast them in the oven for a few minutes once the squash is done. This adds a delightful crunch and turns them into a flavorful snack.

Almond-Rye Heart Cookies

Indulge your senses with the delicate charm of Almond-Rye Heart Cookies – a blend of toasted almonds, light rye flour, and a touch of cinnamon. These heart-shaped treats are not just cookies; they’re a declaration of love.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup blanched whole almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup light rye flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Instructions:

Prepare Almond-Rye Flour Mixture:

In a food processor, pulse toasted almonds along with both flours until the nuts are finely ground.

Add salt and cinnamon to the mixture, pulsing to combine all the dry ingredients.

Cream Butter and Sugar:

In a bowl, use an electric mixer to beat together softened butter and powdered sugar on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. This typically takes about 2 minutes.

Add Egg Yolk and Almond Extract:

Add the egg yolk and almond extract to the butter-sugar mixture. Beat until all the ingredients are well combined.

Incorporate Almond-Rye Flour Mixture:

With the mixer on low, gradually beat in the almond-rye flour mixture until just combined. Be cautious not to overmix; we’re aiming for a delicate, crumbly texture.

Shape into Hearts:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll tablespoon-size portions of the dough into 1/4 inch thick ropes, each approximately 7 inches long.

Transfer the shaped dough to a baking sheet lined with Reynolds Kitchens™ Parchment Paper with SmartGrid®. Mold the ropes into heart shapes and refrigerate until firm, approximately 10 minutes.

Bake to Perfection:

Bake in the preheated oven, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies acquire a golden brown and crisp exterior. This usually takes about 17 minutes.

Cool and Dust with Powdered Sugar:

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the heart-shaped cookies cool completely.

Just before serving, dust the cookies with powdered sugar, adding a touch of sweetness to their heartfelt charm.

Pesto recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Cookie recipe from A New Way to Bake by Martha Stewart

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