Tag Archives: pasta

Dr. O’s Signature Chicken Pasta

My graduate program held an end-of-the-year reception for graduates and family members and it was the job of the 1st and 2nd year grad students that volunteered were suckered into preparing food and decorations for 250. This is dinner mind you. This was my first experience in catering and I LOVED it!

My faculty member, Dr. O, taught us how to make this wonderfully simple and addicting pasta dish that I still make to this day (it’s been 6 years since I first made this). The warm, nutty flavor comes from toasting the pine nuts, which are pricey but a little bit goes a long way.

It’s also great for feeding a crowd and a lunch idea (tastes great at room temperature).










Dr. O’s Chicken Pasta
Serves 6-8
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into strips
1 jar (8.5 oz) of sun-dried tomatoes, julienned (Trader Joe’s)
1 cup of basil
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts
1/8 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 package of tortellini pasta
Salt and pepper to season

  1. Boil pasta until al dente.
  2. Drain sun-dried tomatoes and set aside the oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Take stems off basil and chop into thin strips.
  4. Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 250F for about 5 minutes or when they brown (keep a close eye as they can easily burn).
  5. Mix pasta, tomatoes, basil, cheese, chicken, and pine nuts into a large mixing bowl.
  6. Pour 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup oil from sun-dried tomatoes, and minced garlic onto a pan over medium low heat until it boils. Immediately pour over pasta mixture and mix thoroughly.
  7. Season with salt and pepper accordingly.
  8. Serve and enjoy! Dish can be served at room temperature or warm.

I also recommend the sausage and veggie pasta for a meatier dish. For this Mother’s Day, I’ll be making lasagna for the first time (wish me luck!).

It was a big hit at my office potluck this past January. Check out the delectable spread.

work potluck jan 2014



eatalian cafe in gardena

We had a family dinner at Eatalian Cafe in Gardena last weekend. It’s funny because my mom first read about them in the Korean newspaper (her holy grail). It was a sign when I saw that same restaurant review proudly hanging on wall next to the cash register.

I would rate the food as the one of the top 3 Italian food experiences ever. The dishes were made with a light touch (not overly salty) and allowed the ingredients to shine. My favorites were the gnocchi in ragu sauce and linguine vongole (despite my mild shellfish allergy). Also, I highly recommend the pistachio and cappuccino gelato. OMG! Airy and dead-on flavors. Even though we were full, we really enjoyed our dessert.


The only downside was the ambiance; it feels you’re having dinner in an airport terminal. This warehouse converted into a restaurant means sound bounces everywhere and it seems chaotic inside (well, at least on a Saturday night) but bright enough for decent pictures :).

Because it’s so big inside, they can accommodate larger groups (8 to 12). However, they don’t take reservations on the weekends so expect a wait. We came around 6:20pm and waited for about 30 minutes to get seated.

eatalian collage

From l to r, top to bottom: anchovy pizza, linguine vongole, linguine pesto, gnocchi ragu.


strawberry and pistachio gelato (always room for dessert)

airport terminalOverall, I would recommend this restaurant because of the high quality of the food. Although I haven’t been to Italy (yet), I can tell it’s very authentic. Not Italian American but authentic as in briny-anchovies-in-your pizza kinda way (owner is from Italy). It’s also an affordable option. Dinner for 5 including dessert and a few beers was about $100 (with tip). I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this place for a romantic date (not the setting for it) but a great place to come with your foodie friends. Maybe on a weeknight it’ll be less chaotic. If you’re curious, check out their review in the LA Times and what 900+ yelpers have to say.

boston: part 1 (good eats)

I was in Boston for about a week earlier this month for a work conference and came the weekend prior to explore/play. My friends (and talented colleagues) and I hung out and had some amazing food. I have so many pictures to share that I’ll devote another post to the sights of Boston. It was actually my second time here but first time really experiencing it on foot. Here are some food highlights:

Our first night in Boston, we took a short bus ride to this Asian fusion restaurant, Myers+Chang. I’m a bit weary when I hear fusion but it was a much needed pick-me-up after a 5+ hour plane ride. Our favorites were the papaya salad, Indonesian fried rice (below, top right, bottom left), and their dan dan cold noodles in a peanut sauce. Despite being a busy Friday night for the restaurant, we had ice waters (noticeably sweating from the humidity we’re not accustomed to) and seated at the window within 10 minutes.

The highlight was meeting Chef Joanne Chang as she came by and asked us how the food was!!! She even liked MY Instagram pic! I’ve been a big fan ever since she beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s  Throwdown with her signature sticky buns (keep reading).

We went to Cafe Luna for Saturday brunch in Cambridge (top left, bottom right). I ordered their lemon ricotta stuffed mascarpone pancakes with lemon curd. Probably one of the best brunch dishes I’ve ever had. These were so light and fluffy, perfect for the hot day with my iced chai latte. Julie had the lobster eggs benedict (bottom right). Doesn’t it look savory and decadent? She was saying how fresh the lobster was in her dish. We were very impressed by this small sidewalk cafe (which was packed on a Saturday morning, as good ones should be). The owner was so friendly and kind to us as we learned he’s originally from OC.

brunch and meyers

Day 2 continued: Flour Bakery in Cambridge. A few blocks from Cafe Luna is one of 3 Flour Bakery locations. The first one opened in 2000 and has become an integral part of the city. Chef Joanne Chang has not only the bakeries, her restaurant, and also 2 cookbooks to her empire :). Despite our stuffed bellies, we HAD to sample their desserts. They’re famous for their sticky sticky buns (below). OMG! Very gooey and a generous amount of pecans. I also had a chunky lola cookie (choco chip oatmeal cookie w/coconut and pecans), which was even better! I found the cookie recipe online and baked them last weekend (foolproof!).

I bought home some goodies from this bakery including coffee beans and their signature granola, both taste so good I wish I bought more. My parents really liked their coffee beans for a smooth taste (says a hint of chocolate, but I can’t tell). What’s interesting about Chef Joanne’s background is she graduated from Harvard w/a dual Bachelors in economics and mathematics to work as a management consultant only to realize her true passion was becoming pastry chef. If you’ve ever baked, you understand the art and science of baking. How cool is that?

flour bakery

We also explored the South Boston as our conference was a short walking distance to this up-and-coming area (NPR just did a story on this area). We found this gem of a restaurant, Sportello, one of Chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurants (she has 8 or 9 eateries and mentored the last Top Chef winner). The concept of the eatery is casual Italian diner with countertops covering most the restaurant and an open kitchen + bakery. It’s so cute and inviting. Most notable was their handmade gnocchi and tagliatelle with bolognese sauce. The simplest dishes are the hardest to pull off and they make it look effortless. Shout out to our server Ethan who was amazing.


I love exploring new cities because you stumble upon places that locals frequent like Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, a few doors down from Sportello. A simple cafe with high quality coffee. Their iced coffee hit the spot on those hot summer days. We also made room for cannolis at Mike’s Pastry in the North End after a full meal. $3.50 for a pistachio cannoli in a small, always crowded Italian pastry shop (cash only).

mike's pastry

Hope this gives you a little taste (no pun intended) of good eats in Boston. Stay tuned for Boston part 2 later this week. Too much good content to cram into one post.

penne with zucchini and basil

I was contemplating how to best use the monster zucchini… zucchini bread? ratatouille? stir-fry? I came across this recipe in my cookbook by Eli Krieger (I’ve tried about three of her recipes from it and I give it my seal of approval. Only criticism is that the instructions can be a bit off but maybe because everyone’s stove and oven is a little bit different? Not sure). This is a great recipe for a summer weekend lunch/dinner – add a protein, light, filling, and has clean flavors. I made this dish using my farmer’s market finds and my friend’s backyard zucchini (still have a little left).

penne with zucchini and basil

¾ box (12 ounces) penne pasta
¼ cup olive oil
5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 medium zucchini (1/2 lb each) sliced into ¼ inch thick half moons
1½ cups of grape or cherry tomatoes (I chose yellow)
2 TB lemon juice
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1.    Boil the pasta until al dente. Drain, set aside.
2.    Add 2 TB of olive oil to a skillet over medium-low heat, stirring until garlic is light golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and 2 TB more olive oil. Cook until the veggies are tender, about 6 minutes.
3.    In the large pot used for boiling pasta, add the pasta with the garlic and zucchini. Add the seasonings: salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, cheese, basil, the remaining olive oil and toss to combine.

Tip: when chopping the zucchini and garlic, make sure that they are sliced at a consistent thickness, otherwise, it won’t cook evenly. Also, if you don’t have a zester, use your peeler to peel some of the lemon skin off and thinly slice it.

Pasta for the Parents

Last weekend my sister, Alice, and I tag teamed and made a simple pasta dinner for my parents. They work in the food industry so the last thing they want to do is come home to cook a meal (they meaning my mom =) This dish is great for spring or summer because it highlights the seasonal veggies and makes good use of whatever protein you have on hand. To our surprise, our Korean food loving parents happily ate this up. Even my dad commented on how much he enjoyed the simple flavors. Happy eating! -S

Photo credit to Alice who shot this on her Canon DSLR

Simple Chicken and Veggie Pasta
Serves 6
1 lb of fusilli pasta (or penne)
1 1/4 lb of cooked chicken breast (or thighs), cut into strips (option: use leftover rotisserie chicken or sausage would great too and add some peppery flavors)
1/2 cup of chicken broth
2 TB olive oil (for cooking chicken) + 3 TB olive oil for pasta
6 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
1/4  head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 1 cup)
1 lb of cherry or grape tomatoes (I used cherry), halved
1  cup of asparagus (frozen or fresh, I used frozen), cut into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup of fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a stockpot, boil water for cook the pasta and cook based on package instructions. Set aside. While water is boiling, preheat oven to 400F for roasting the tomatoes.
2. Cover a baking sheet (or roasting pan) with foil and pour the halved tomatoes into the pan/baking sheet. Pour a little olive oil and gently toss with your hand. Roast for 10 minutes or until bruised. (This step is optional but it emphasizes the wonderful and vibrant flavors of these mini tomatoes–you’ll be amazed! But I realize it’s an extra step).
3. Season uncooked chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and cook on a frying pan, 7 minutes on each side. Side aside for about 5 minutes or until cooled. Cut into strips.
4. Over medium heat, heat a stockpot (same one used for cooking pasta). Once heated, pour  2 TB of olive oil. Add chopped garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add cauliflower and asparagus and saute for 2 minutes or until slightly browned. Turn the heat down to medium low add chicken broth and cover with lid for 5 more minutes until the veggies are cooked (and slightly crunchy) and the broth is reduced by about half. Turn off the heat.
5. To the stockpot, add cooked pasta, tomatoes, remaining olive oil (3 TB) and gently toss and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Plate meals into pasta bowls/plates and top with basil and grated Parmesan cheese.