Tag Archives: italian

Pasta Primavera

21 Aug

Yikes, it has been almost a month since I’ve posted! I have been super busy between having my three beautiful sisters visit from New York, and preparing for my doctoral preliminary exams. The visit was wonderful, and the prelims…well, I’m just relieved that they’re over! I’ve been studying for the past six weeks, and before that, I had two summer classes. So basically this weekend is the first and last weekend I’ll have to myself this summer 😦 Oh well, such is the life of a grad student.


But summer’s not all bad. One of my favorite things to do in the summer months is to go to the farmer’s market. I love supporting local agriculture, and getting fresh, high quality fruits and veggies. Pasta primavera is one of my favorite dishes that takes full advantage of all the veggies in season.


This dish is full of zucchini, squash, peppers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, all roasted to perfection with some olive oil and herbes de provence. In case you’re unfamiliar, herbes de provence is just a mixture of dried herbs traditionally used in French cooking, including savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender.


Hehe, I remember the first time my husband and I shopped for ingredients for pasta primavera. We had never had the occasion to buy herbes de provence before making this dish, and it seemed to be such a specialized ingredient that we assumed we’d never finish the jar. Every time I’ve made pasta primavera since then, I’ve joked to my husband that we were “almost out!” But then last night when I made it…we finally were almost out, for real! Clearly, we have made pasta primavera many times. It’s a keeper 🙂

Pasta Primavera

(recipe by Giada de Laurentiis)

Ingredients:

  • 3 carrots, cut into thin strips
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips
  • 2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, any color, cut into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
  • 1 pound pasta
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
  • Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the parmesan and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

19 Feb

If you’ve read some of my recent blogs, you’d know that I’ve essentially become obsessed with cauliflower. You may be thinking that it seems to be an odd vegetable to be the object of such enthusiasm, as it doesn’t really taste like anything. WRONG! It’s all in how you prepare the cauliflower. Simply roasting it with olive oil, salt, and pepper really brings out the cauliflower flavor. Roasting is cool like that.

Thus, roasted cauliflower has become a popular side dish in my house. I had been thinking I needed to find some other recipes where the cauliflower was elevated to be the star of the dish. As if by destiny, this month’s Food Network Magazine Italian Issue included an enticing recipe for Roasted Cauliflower Risotto. Of course I had to make it right away!

I loved the dish. My husband said it was the best risotto he’s ever had. It was incredibly creamy, with great cauliflower flavor in the risotto itself (from the chopped stems– brilliant). The roasted cauliflower and almonds on top provided amazing texture as well as substance.

Plus, it was so easy to make! You only have to “stir vigorously” once at the end. This part was a great arm workout, if only for 2 minutes 🙂 But other than that, you just let the risotto do its thing in the oven. What could be simpler?

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto

Roasted Cauliflower Risotto (adapted from Food Network Magazine March 2011)

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, florets cut into 1/2 inch pieces, stems chopped
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups aborio rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 oz fontina cheese, grated (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley

Preparation:

  • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 475 F. Toss the cauliflower florets with 1 tbsp olive oil on a baking sheet. Spread in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Roast on the upper oven rack, 5 minutes. Add the almonds and raost until the cauliflower is tender, about 15 more minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion and cauliflower stems and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, 2 cups of water, and 1 tsp salt; cover and bring to a boil. Transfer the pot to the lower oven rack and bake until the rice is tender, 15 minutes.
  • Remove the rice from the oven and add the butter, fontina, parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste. Stir vigorously until the risotto is creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Divide among bowls and top with the roasted cauliflower and almonds.

Makes 3-4 servings.