Hye Thyme Cafe: 2017

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Imrig Paklava (Sweet Semolina Cake with Pecans)

Imrig Paklava : Hye Thyme Cafe

I used to love Cream of Wheat (farina) for breakfast growing up, but of course, that included sprinkling lots of sugar over the top. Having outgrown the sugary breakfast phase, I tend not to reach for the farina unless I'm baking a tray of Spanakopita, since there is a little in the filling. That said, the rest usually sits in the pantry and ends up going to waste. I have made a few bread recipes with farina over the years, but I wanted to try something different and settled on this version of a semolina cake - inspired by Paklava. This recipe is an adaptation of that found in the Treasured Armenian Recipes cookbook.

Although this is referred to as a cake, don't be expecting that texture. Because this is made from farina, it has a denser texture. I want to say more brownie like, but that's not it either - closer in density but wrong texture. Polenta maybe?

6 oz bag pecan (or walnut) halves (roughly 2c)
6 eggs
1 1/2 c sugar
1 c (2 sticks) melted butter
14 oz (1 3/4 c) farina
1 1/2 t cinnamon

1 1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 c water
2 t lemon juice

Pistachios (optional) - just take a few, finely chopped
  1. In a dry pan, lightly toast the pecans, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Remove from heat, let cool, then chop; set aside.
  2. Beat together the eggs and sugar until very light and fluffy.
  3. Melt the butter (microwave is fine), and let cool a little so you don't end up with bits of scrambled egg, then slowly stream into the egg mixture.
  4. Stir in the farina, cinnamon, and chopped nuts.
  5. Transfer to sprayed 11x7" pan and bake at 350 for 35-40" until set - (time will vary with pan size) top will be brown, and edges will start to pull away from the sides.
  6. Place pan on rack to cool, then cut into diamonds.
  7. Stirring to dissolve the sugar, bring the 1 1/2 c sugar and 1 1/2 c water up to a boil. Add the lemon juice and simmer for about 5", then pour evenly over the top of the cooled cake. Start with about half the syrup, wait a bit to see how much it will soak up, then add more as desired.
  8. Decorate each diamond with a bit of pistachio "dust." Works best with in shell pistachios, since pre-shelled nuts are roasted to a darker color and difficult to remove the skins from - when you use them straight out of the shell, they are that nice bright green, and the dry skins will usually rub right off.

Imrig Paklava : Hye Thyme Cafe

Imrig Paklava : Hye Thyme Cafe

Imrig Paklava : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Rice Kufte (Meat-Filled Rice Balls)

Rice Kufte / Kofta : Hye Thyme Cafe

These can be frustrating to get started. Because the rice is sticky, you need a little bowl of water to dip your fingers in. Too much water and the rice won't stick together - too little, and it won't let go of your hand. Don't give up! You'll get the hang of it after the first few. No wonder they use bamboo mats to roll sushi! 😉

1/2 lb ground beef or lamb
1 stick butter
1 small onion, finely diced (or lg shallot)
Salt & Pepper
1 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne pepper
3/4 c fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 c water
1 c medium-grain rice
2 eggs

  1. Seasoning with 1/2 t each Salt and Pepper, the cumin, and the cayenne, saute the ground meat and diced onion in 1T of the butter until the meat has just a bit of pink left to it, then add the parsley and continue until the meat is cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.  (Especially given the leaner packages of ground meat nowadays, the butter will give it a little extra help with flavor, texture, and help hold things together as it cools to make it easier for stuffing.)
  2. Bring the water to a boil, season with salt, stir in the rice, then cover and reduce heat to low, stirring once or twice along the way to prevent sticking to the pan, until the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  3. When the rice and the beef mixture are cool enough to handle, pinch off about a walnut-sized ball of rice, and press it into the palm of your hand, forming a well - fill the well with some of the meat mixture, then pinch the rice around it to close the ball.
  4. Once all of your kuftes are formed, beat the two eggs with a little salt and pepper, then roll the kuftes in the egg to coat.
  5. Over medium heat, pan fry in the butter (starting with about half the remaining butter and adding more as needed) until golden.
Rice Kufte / Kofta : Hye Thyme Cafe

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipper

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe

These meatballs are super tender, and although I could only find Australian ground lamb, the yogurt cut that typical gamey taste. Serve up a few with mini pita rounds or wedges and cucumber slices to get some extra mileage out of your yogurt dipper. Or serve with Pilaf and a salad.  

Plain yogurt (1c +)
2 cloves garlic
1 egg
1/2 small onion
1 handful parsley
1 pkg mint leaves
1/2 t each Salt & Pepper
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 c fresh bread crumbs *
1 lb ground lamb
Olive Oil

* I always throw any odd pieces of bread in a container in the freezer to grind when I accumulate a good amount - doesn't matter if it's end slices, a hamburger roll, etc. Comes in very handy for meatballs, meatloaf, croquettes, toasting for a crispy garnish ...
  1. Start by making your yogurt sauce to give the garlic and mint a chance to impart their flavor. Mix 1c yogurt with 1/2 to 1 clove garlic (minced), depending on your preference, and about half the mint leaves (finely chopped). Cover and store in the fridge until needed.
  2. Let the lamb sit out for a while so it's not extremely cold - you don't want it to toughen up when it hits a hot pan.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. If you do not have an oven-proof skillet, line a baking sheet with foil and place it in the oven while pre-heating so you can transfer your browned meatballs to it without cooling them down.
  4. In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining clove of garlic with the onion, egg, parsley, remaining mint leaves, 3T yogurt, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  5. Mix the lamb, bread crumbs, and puree until well combined, then roll into 1" balls. The mixture will be soft and somewhat sticky.
  6. Coat the bottom of an oven-proof skillet with olive oil over moderate heat, then - using a spoon to keep them rolling, brown the meatballs all the way around.
  7. Transfer the pan to the oven to finish cooking through. I had mine in for about 20", but I realize people are leaning toward lamb that is more and more rare over time, so that's up to your preference. Just cut one open to check.
Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe
Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe
You can see how juicy they are.  :)

Lamb Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce : Hye Thyme Cafe

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Blor (Armenian Grain Soup)

Blor (Armenian Grain Soup) : Hye Thyme Cafe

I was browsing through my Treasured Armenian Recipes cookbook for inspiration, and this recipe caught my eye, but it really didn't make sense to me as written. I tried Googling it but only found a few hits, each of which was the exact same recipe. There was one other hit that was not a recipe but referenced the soup, noting that they had included lemon juice in theirs, which is always a good idea - a little acid to wake things up - and they commented that some of the blors (balls) had broken apart.

The first thing that threw me was that one of the ingredients was oatmeal - not oats, but oatmeal, which would mean it was already cooked, making me think that maybe this recipe had originated from leftovers. It also includes bulgur, which made me wonder if that should be pre-cooked as well. Additionally, the only seasoning was a bit of salt, and the ratios seemed off - too little onion and tomato to the amount of broth and spinach. The recipe also called for boiling the broth, adding the blors to the broth, then frying the onions separately and adding those, the tomatoes, and spinach to the broth later.

I changed things up by cooking the oatmeal and bulgur together, along with pepper and cumin in addition to the salt. I also sauteed the onions with garlic, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, then added the spinach and tomatoes (I used a mini-blend), with the blors jumping into the pool last. I really enjoyed this soup, but without the additional seasonings, it would have been rather bland. I also chose to use baby spinach, so I did not feel the need to chop it as referenced in the directions - the baby spinach wilted down nicely.

I was happy at first that the blors came out unscathed but noticed later when I went to refrigerate the rest that some of them had disintegrated. I'm wondering if that's a result of not kneading the oat mixture well enough. Not a big deal - it's still a tasty dish, and with the blors having fallen apart, it was like other soups that contain rice, barley, or some other grain.

2 c water
3/4 c old fashioned oats
1/2 c fine bulgur
1 t salt (divided)
1 t black pepper (divided)
1/2 t cumin
2-3 T butter
1 onion, diced
1 lg or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
10 oz carton fresh baby spinach
12 oz medley mixed mini tomatoes, diced
2 32-oz cartons beef broth
1 lemon

  1. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to medium and stir in the oats, bulgur, 1/2 t salt, 1/2 t pepper, and the 1/2 t cumin, cooking for about 5", stirring frequently. Remove from heat and set aside. That will give it a chance to cool and allow the bulgur to soak up more of the moisture.
  2. Over medium heat, saute the garlic, onion, remaining 1/2 t each salt and pepper, and the 1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes in the butter until the onions are translucent.
  3. Wash your spinach, removing any particularly large stems or chopping any large leaves, then add to the pot, a handful or two at a time, stirring until wilted down.
  4. Add the tomatoes and broth and allow to come up to a boil.
  5. While that's going on, knead or mash the oat mixture well - I used the back of a large spoon to mash it.
  6. Reduce the soup to a simmer, then roll the oat mixture into roughly cherry-sized balls, dropping them into the soup as you go along. (It helps to have a little bowl of water to dip your fingers in because the oat mixture is sticky.)
  7. Once the last blor is dropped into the soup, add a good squeeze of lemon juice and allow to simmer for an additional 8-10".
Blor (Armenian Grain Soup) : Hye Thyme Cafe

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Coconut, Almond, and Cranberry Granola

Coconut, Almond, and Cranberry Granola : Hye Thyme Cafe

I have always loved granola, whether it's the big clusters you munch on for a snack or eat like a bowl of cereal, or the loose kind you sprinkle on your yogurt. For some reason, I haven't been happy with the versions I've been getting lately - one was just eh, and another was so bad, I actually threw it away. How bad can toasted oats be that you need to throw them away?!? I decided to make my own - it's cheaper that way anyhow. I do actually love Golden Girl Granola, but we don't seem to have it locally.

Because I have to watch my carb intake, and I knew I wanted to use dried cranberries (extra sugar), I decided to use unsweetened coconut and reduce the amount honey by incorporating some Amaretto. That way, the Amaretto would help carry that honey to all of the oats and then bake off in the oven, while slightly boosting the almond flavor. If you're not concerned with carbs and want a sweeter version, go ahead and increase the honey, omit the Amaretto, and include 3-4 T of brown sugar with the honey - as well as some vanilla or almond extract if skipping the Amaretto.

4 c old fashioned oats
1 c sliced almonds
1 c unsweetened coconut chips
1/4 c Amaretto
1/2 t salt
1/4 c honey
1/4 c neutral oil (canola, etc.)
1 c dried cranberries 

  1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, almond slices, and coconut chips
  2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the Amaretto, salt, honey, and oil
  3. Pour the oil mixture over the oats, stirring until well coated
  4. Bake at 300 for approximately 20", stir, and continue for another 10-15" until golden
  5. Stir in the cranberries last so they don't dry out by baking; let cool
Coconut, Almond, and Cranberry Granola : Hye Thyme Cafe
Coconut, Almond, and Cranberry Granola : Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut, Almond, and Cranberry Granola : Hye Thyme Cafe

Coconut, Almond, and Cranberry Granola : Hye Thyme Cafe

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Honeybell Orange Sponge Cake

Honeybell Orange Sponge Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

While still trying to make my way through a box of Honeybells sent to me by my office, a vision of my sister's Lemon Sponge Cake suddenly danced in my head, so I decided to translate my own version using the Honeybells, which are a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. I had a hard time not scarfing the whole cake down in one day!

6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c sugar
2/3 c Honeybell juice
2-3 T Honeybell zest
  (I say zest 1 and if you don't get 2/3 c juice out of it, zest another since you'll be juicing it anyhow)
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t cream of tartar

  1. Beat the yolks until thick and lemony.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, then the juice and zest.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, then add to the yolk mixture, a little at a time.
  4. If using a stand mixer, and you only have one bowl, pour the mixture out into a separate bowl and clean the mixer bowl well. Now use that bowl to beat together the whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and transfer to your baking pan (see NOTE)
  6. Bake at 325 for 60-65" until toothpick tests clean.
  7. Invert to cool - if using a tube pan, that will mean inverting the pan over a bottle to insert the bottle neck into the tube. If using a bundt, invert onto a cooling rack. 

NOTE:  There are two schools of thought with sponge cakes - some say to NEVER grease the pan, because the batter needs something to "grab onto" to climb the pan, while others say to go right ahead. Not only did I spray my pan with baking spray, but I made it in a non-stick bundt pan, rather than the traditional tube pan. (That also accounts for my slightly over-filled pan - I knew better but rolled with it anyhow and ended up with a cake that sort of has what you would call feet on macarons.)

Honeybell Orange Sponge Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Honeybell Orange Sponge Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Honeybell Orange Sponge Cake : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Vegetable Soup with Great Northern Beans

Vegetable Soup with Great Northern Beans : Hye Thyme Cafe

A lot of times, if I'm making vegetable soup, I'll throw in a can of Great Northern Beans to add some protein to the mix. Vegetable soup is really kind of a no-brainer, so this is more of an idea inspiration than for actual recipe value. I'll usually start with the basics - garlic, onion, celery, and carrot. After that, it's all about what mood I'm in or what's lurking at the back of the crisper drawer. Soup is a great way of using up all those odds and ends in your fridge and freezer. If you've got veggies and herbs hanging around that seem to be more questionable than what you want to include in your soup, go ahead and freeze them rather than throwing them out - that way, you can use them down the road to season a batch of stock.  

For some reason, I usually use beef broth when making vegetable soup, but I went with chicken broth this time - maybe because I was including spinach and associate spinach with chicken. More often than not, I'll include at least one color of bell pepper in my soup, usually red or orange. I decided to skip the peppers this time, but did add something else that I love in soup for another texture - water chestnuts! They add a great crunch. 

1 T olive oil
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t each salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 t crushed red pepper flakes
1 box frozen chopped spinach
1 c frozen corn
32 oz carton chicken broth
1 small can sliced water chestnuts
1 can Great Northern Beans, rinsed and drained
Grated Parmesan - optional

  1. Saute the celery, carrots, and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent.
  2. Season with the salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, then add the spinach and corn - frozen is fine, they will thaw in just a few minutes, and the spinach will give off more liquid and flavor for your broth that way.
  3. Once the spinach is thawed, go ahead and add the broth and bring up to a simmer.
  4. Add the water chestnuts and beans last and let simmer for a few minutes more to heat through.
  5. Serve up a cup/bowl with a sprinkle Parmesan over the top.
Vegetable Soup with Great Northern Beans : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta : Hye Thyme Cafe

I recently received a box of Honeybell Oranges from my office and wasn't sure what to do with them. Last year, when I first received a box, I wasn't a big fan. They were extremely seedy, with tough membranes, were drippy/messy juicy, and weren't all that flavorful. Must be a weather thing since this year's are much nicer! Still super juicy and somewhat seedy, but the membranes aren't as tough, and they are very flavorful. The problem is that they're so sweet, they send my blood sugar through the roof! Not wanting to waste them, I had to figure something out that would sort of water the sugar level down a bit. I had just tried a Salted Caramel Kahlua Panna Cotta that came out too rubbery, so I decided to stick with the Panna Cotta idea and try a Honeybell version, adjusting for texture. Turned out super light and jiggly (I skipped the heavy cream altogether), with a nice, subtle orange flavor.

Those are cocoa nibs on the top with the zest. I apparently went shopping at Trader Joe's and didn't have my reading glass on - thought it was a little bag of candied espresso beans I was picking up. I would have preferred to candy some of the Honeybell peels and make little spirals out of them, but the peels weren't pretty enough, so I stuck with a bit of zest.

1 pt light cream
1 pt half and half (less 1/4 c)
1 envelope plain gelatine
1/2 c Honeybell juice (about 1.5 oranges)
1/2 t vanilla
2 T sugar
Pinch of salt
Oil or spray for dishes if inverting
Garnish as desired

  1. Pour the half and half into a pot (save the extra 1/4 c for your coffee) and sprinkle the gelatine over the top, letting it sit for about 5" to bloom.
  2. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until the gelatine is dissolved.
  3. Add the light cream, sugar, and salt and continue cooking until it just barely starts to simmer.
  4. Remove from heat and whisk in the juice and vanilla.
  5. If you plan to invert your panna cotta, rather than serving it in glasses or something else (looks pretty in bird bath champagne glasses), you will want to spray or oil the holders first. I used little prep bowls and staged them on a small tray for easy transfer to the fridge.
  6. Evenly distribute the mixture between your bowls/ramekins/glasses, cover and chill for at least 4 hours to set.
  7. If you have any trouble getting them to release from the bowls when you invert them, run a thin knife or spreader around the edge (like pudding, it can sometimes for a bit of a skin on top).
  8. Garnish as desired.

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta : Hye Thyme Cafe

Honeybell Orange Panna Cotta : Hye Thyme Cafe

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Root Beer Pulled Pork (For New Yorkers Only)

Although I have been wanting to try a Root Beer Pulled Pork since I first ran across it, I wasn't really planning on posting it.  It's one of those things like Cake Pops, Macarons, etc. that seem to be everywhere you turn, so why would anyone want to see it again?  That's why this is for New Yorkers only - not to thumb my nose at the rest of you, but my recipe involves a sauce that I'm pretty sure is only available in New York right now - Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

If you live in NY or are visiting and haven't been yet, definitely add Dinosaur to your To Do List!  Be prepared for a wait, but it's well worth it!  We frequent the one in Syracuse, but there are now three other locations as well: Rochester, Harlem, and Troy.  My sister and her family have lived in this area for years, but it wasn't until my brother-in-law was on a job site on the other side of the country that he heard about Dinosaur.  Not being a big BBQ fan, it wouldn't have been on his radar, but for the fact that people from all over the country were having a conversation about how fantastic it is and telling him that he HAD to check it out.  He did, not expecting to enjoy it, but now it's one of his favorite restaurants.  It seems funny that I was living down South at the time and they had better BBQ here in NY.

The other thing that is a little different about my recipe is that I made it with a tenderloin, rather than the usual Pork Butt or Shoulder.  I looked at some roasts, but they were very fatty.  Although that would add flavor, knowing I would be slow cooking it on low, I was thinking it might not melt away and really didn't want to be eating blobs of fat or having to be picking them out as we ate.  The tenderloin is plenty flavorful and much more lean.  I also decided to include some sweet onion, thinking they would impart their own flavor to the mix and really be sweet after soaking in all that root beer.  

The sides are some Mac and Cheese my sister had made, a can of B&M Baked Beans I doctored up with just a little ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar, and some homemade pickles and broccoli slaw.  I'll be posting the pickles and slaw over the next few days if you're interested.  The pickles were a HUGE hit.  The slaw needs a little work on the dressing.

1 pkg Pork Tenderloin
+/- 24 oz root beer
2 lg sweet onions, sliced into thick rings
1 bottle Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Sensuous Slathering Sauce
Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Wango Tango Habanero Hot BBQ Sauce to taste
Ooh, I just realized you can buy the sauces online now!

Talk about an easy recipe!  Just toss the pork in a crock pot, top with the onion slices and enough root beer just to cover, set it to low and walk away.

[That's apparently only an expression ... pop it in the crock pot and walk away ... I made that mistake. I came back about an hour and a half later to see how things were going and figured out that I had managed to pop a circuit, so it wasn't on at all!! That would have screwed up our time-range for dinner on that particular evening, but my sister had made a Baked Macaroni and Cheese that I was going to portion out as a side, so we ended up eating that with a salad for dinner instead of the pork and coming back to this the next night. For those of you who haven't popped a circuit ... ]

After 5-6 hours, when the pork is fall-apart tender, pour out the root beer and use two forks to shred the meat. When nobody is looking, sneak a bite to see how it tastes with just the root beer. Pretty good already, right?? And those onions, mmm! Now stir in as much of the Sensuous Slathering Sauce as you like. As much as I love the sauce, I can't stand eating a drippy sandwich, so I tend to be conservative, leaving more sauce on the side for anyone who wants it.

Pile the pork onto your roll of choice (I used Bulkie Rolls), and top with the Wango Tango Sauce. That's what really makes the dish, that kick of sweet heat. OMG, I'm drooling as I write this, just thinking about it. I loved it as it was, but I may or may not add a drop or two of liquid smoke next time. That might really put it over the top.  :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pesto Chicken Cavatappi with Pickled Peppadews

Ever have an idea in mind that, when you go to execute it, turns into something else? That's what happened with this. My problem is that it was so well received, if I get a chance to make it the way I had envisioned, I'll probably hear "Why did you change it? We liked it the way it was." Sigh...

Everyone was running around doing whatever yesterday, and it occurred to me that nobody had ever mentioned dinner - who would be cooking, what we were having, etc. Because it was getting to be late afternoon, and I had the feeling I would be home first, I figured I would make dinner. We haven't had pasta in a while, so that sounded like a good idea.  

I decided to make something with a Pesto (haven't made my own in a million years), and wanted to pick up a Rotisserie Chicken to cut down on prep time. As I was driving to the market, it occurred to me that, instead of the usual Walnut or Pine Nut version, maybe I should try an Almond Pesto. Then I thought hmmm, what about Kale instead of Basil? We all love Kale...and I'll use Yellow Cherry Tomatoes...and Roasted Red Pepper. Ya, that sounds good. OK, that's what I'll do.

Of course, I got to the store and they had no Kale! I don't know why I bother going to that particular market! Actually, I do - it's the closest, but I should know better. I thought about using Swiss Chard, which was where the Kale was supposed to be, but I have never eaten/used Swiss Chard before. I took a little nibble [shhh, don't tell], but it really didn't have a strong enough flavor, so I punted back to Basil. Then they didn't have any kind of Yellow Tomatoes. Bummer! I grabbed a pint of Red Grape Tomatoes instead. As I was heading for the  Rotisserie Chickens, I passed the Olive Bar. Since we first tried them back in November when I made Antipasto Sticks for a party, we have become addicted to the Peppadew Peppers you find there. I decided to switch from using Roasted Red Peppers to using those. Since I was at the olive bar already, I decided to pick up some Kalamatas to go in the String Bean Salad I was making. I have always made that using the large black canned Lindsay  Olives, but I love Kalamatas, so I couldn't resist. 

When I got home, I realized what a dingbat I can be ... I got red peppers AND red tomatoes. Duh! I was considering skipping the tomatoes and using some of the Kalamatas instead for contrast, but I thought that might be too much with the Pesto and Peppadews, so I just lost the tomatoes. Sooooo, see what I mean? Started off one way and ended up as something else. Everyone liked this so much, if I make it with yellow tomatoes and roasted red peppers now, I'll end up getting grief for it.  :(

1 cooked rotisserie chicken
12 oz box of cavatappi pasta
10-12 peppadews, chopped

1/3 c whole almonds
2 c basil leaves
handful of arugala (or parsley, etc.)
3 T lemon juice
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 t salt
pinch of crushed red pepper (I used New Mexico chilies)
1/3 c freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 c olive oil (or more to taste)

Although I think Pesto is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, I'll stick with a food processor... unless I need it to be exceptionally smooth for some reason. I used to have a great recipe and made it all the time back in the mid 80s, but I lost it at some point and have pretty much zero retention, so I don't remember it. I gave the almonds a head start in the spin cycle before adding the other ingredients, stopping now and again to scrape the sides of the bowl, and ending with the olive oil. Drizzle the olive oil in a little at a time until the mixture gets to a texture you like. I kept it on the thick side to just coat the pasta, but if you want more of a "sauce," you can use more oil, or maybe reserve a little of your pasta water and toss it with that before adding it to your dish. Set the pesto aside for now.

Put on a pot of water for your pasta, and while you're waiting for that to boil, you can chop your peppers. You should probably get extras, because you will definitely be sneaking some when nobody is looking. They're sweet, they're hot, they're the best of both worlds. They're like little hats just crying out to be filled with a little mozzarella ball or olive. Argh, my mouth is watering just thinking about these little gems. Wish I had tried them sooner!

Dismember your chicken and cut or tear it into bite-sized pieces. We all stick to white meat chicken in our house, so when we roast chickens, we usually send the legs to a friend's house for her kids to munch on, but for some reason, I actually like the legs on most of these rotisserie chickens, so I'm just setting them aside for now. Maybe I'll be nice and share with the dog for lunch tomorrow.  :)

It's as easy as that! When your pasta is cooked to your liking, drain the water (reserving some to mix with the pesto if you want), add the chicken and peppers, then stir in the pesto. By the way, I liked the pesto, but I'll increase the garlic next time.

Now that I'm looking at this, I'm thinking it's probably good cold, too. Maybe I'll have a little of this with my chicken leg tomorrow ... but the dog can't have the pasta!! Garlic is one of those things that you hear is lethal to dogs, then you hear it's good for them. That makes me crazy, but I'm not taking any chances. She's very weird (and cute), but we want to keep Coco the CuKoo Chihuaha happy and healthy for many years to come.  :)

Loves the view from my rear-view window.

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