Quick Broccoli and Feta Pasta

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I feel like I’m always coming up with quick pasta dinner ideas for weeknight meals.  The process usually involves rummaging through the fridge to see what vegetables I need to use up and then deciding what shape of pasta and which cheese to pair with them.  These quick pastas are perfect for days when I get home from work and I’m too tired and hungry to start cooking anything too involved.

I actually came up with this broccoli and feta combo in college, probably because they were the only two things in the fridge at the time.  However it began, it has definitely become one of my favorites.  You might think feta is an odd choice for this dish but it’s creaminess actually works really well.

Broccoli and Feta Pasta
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 head of broccoli
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3/4 lb of pasta (I used spaghetti but I also love this with farfalle)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1. Chop the head of broccoli into florets.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pan on medium-low heat and add the garlic, after about 1 minute add the broccoli and season with salt and pepper.

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3. Let your broccoli cook until it’s tender, about 6-8 minutes, lower the heat if it seems too hot. While your broccoli is cooking, boil a pot of salted water for your pasta.

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4. Once your water is boiling add your pasta and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta.

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5. Turn off the heat on the broccoli and add your pasta, toss to combine. Then add the cheese and toss again. Top it with a bit more salt and pepper and another 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil if needed. Enjoy!

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Feta and Olive Stuffed Dough Balls

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So I wasn’t really sure what to call these.  They’re inspired by a Turkish dish called pogaca, which are basically delicious little dough balls stuffed with feta and parsley.  I happen to have a lot of olives around and wanted to incorporate those so I added them to the filling.  Then, I decided I wanted a touch of spice so I added Turkish pepper paste.  The pepper paste is difficult to find in American grocery stores but you could mix some cayenne or red pepper into tomato paste and get a similar product.

I just love the dough that these call for, it’s absolutely beautiful and always comes out great.  If you have a phobia of making dough (like I did for a long time) this is a great one to try to boost your dough making confidence.  These can make a great appetizer, but they’re hard to stop eating so for me they usually end up being a meal on their own!

Feta and Olive Stuffed Dough Balls
Dough:
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1 cup of milk
1 1/2 Tablespoon yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Filling:
3/4 cup pepper paste (see above for substitute)
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 Tablespoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Egg Wash:
1 large egg, whisked

1. Combine the yeast and 1/2 cup of the milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand for about 10 minutes.

2. Combine the rest of the dry ingredients for the dough and add them to your mixer. Combine using the dough hook. Next add the melted butter. Then, add the rest of the milk slowly.

3. Continue to mix using the dough hook for about 5 minutes, you should have a slightly sticky dough at this point.

4. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise for at least an hour.

5. While your dough is rising, make your filling. The easiest way is to combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they become a spread like mixture. If you don’t have a food processor you can also chop the olives and onion and just stir everything else in.

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6. Once the dough has risen, roll it out in small batches using a rolling pin until it’s about 1/8 inch thin. Use a circular cookie cutter (or the top of a glass) to cut out circles that are about 2 inches in diameter. Place the circles on a baking sheet.

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7. Fill the middle of each circle with a small amount of the filling. Then bunch up the ends together to hold the filling. Place the “bunched” side down on the baking sheet. Brush each dough ball with the egg wash and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until they start to brown. Enjoy!

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