Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at http://msisbs.org
Shrooms and Dinosaurs. For Real.
In crafting this recipe, I was reminded of the fact that the reason I love to cook is because it is one of the few tasks that allows me to both obsess over ingredients and elevate them at the same time. The creation of this recipe started with a memory – I was in Italy for the summer on a study abroad (aka. the photography boondoggle in Europe) with my good friend Lauren. There were easily a hundred of us living in Orvieto, all crammed into the same little hotel, each with our favorite spots in the town that we had claimed as our own. Lauren was in love with this one haunt for lunch, and not only did she try to eat there just about every day, but she informed me over a bottle (or two) of white wine that she tended to always order the same thing – the simply dressed green salad and tagliatelle with fresh porcini mushrooms. I loved the town already, but that lunch made me weep with joy at how lucky we were to be there. Continue reading Wild Mushroom Cannelloni with Kale Pesto and Bechamel →
When you can get your hands on a juicy tomato, you need to treat it right. All of those mealy, hothouse tomatoes that are pushed on us by the grocery store are great for tossing, but that’s about it. But then there’s that slim window of time where you can get your hands on heirloom tomatoes in a rainbow of colors, bumpy and rough on the outside, brimming with translucent tart juice in the center. When the planets align and the gods deem you worthy of an incredible tomato, you’d better recognize and step up to the plate. Continue reading Italian BLT Panini with Pesto Mayo →
I totally believe that arugula is an aphrodisiac as thought in the Roman times, solely based on the fact that I am head over heels in love with it. The nutty, peppery flavor of the greens, and its ability to work as a crisp salad green or sauteed and cooked to luscious perfection – versatility makes me crush hard core, and baby, arugula has my heart. When used as a replacement for basil in a quick pesto, you get to see arugula truly shine – just barely cooked by the hot pasta, it goes from bitter to complex and rounded in flavor. It’s miraculous and ever so sexy.
I use the pesto to dress dainty orecchiette, petal-shaped pasta from the south of Italy. Named “little ears” in Italian, each bit of pasta is made from a mini fingerprint into a press, forming a crinkly texture that soaks up the pesto. It’s all about the love with a uniting of Northern Italian sauce (pesto is from Genoa) with Southern Italian pasta (orecchiette are from Puglia). And I could just be mentioning love because the arugula is wooing me to do so. Woo away, arugula. Woo away.
Orecchiette with Arugula Pesto
1 lb. of orecchiette
4 loose cups of arugula
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. of olive oil
1/2 c. of grated locatelli (or parmigiano reggiano)
1/4 c. of toasted pine nuts
2 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper
1 tsp. of salt
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta cooks, make the pesto. Throw cloves of garlic into the CuisineArt and pulse until finely chopped. Add toasted pine nuts and pulse again. Next, add the arugula (stems and all) and chop until the mixture starts to form a paste. Coax the entire mixture into a smooth paste by slowly streaming in olive oil – stop once everything is blended and evenly chopped. Add the grated cheese, salt and pepper and pulse to mix. Taste for salt.
Once pasta is finished, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of pasta water out of the pot. Drain the pasta and immediately toss with the pesto. Dribble in a bit of the pasta water, if necessary, to form a sauce. Top with extra grated cheese and serve.
This salad is the perfect tribute to summer, giving traditional mayo-laden potato salad a run for the money. Tender potatoes soak in a vibrant dressing full of basil and garlic, imparting mounds of flavor. Give this one a twirl at your next barbecue – it’s the perfect partner to grilled meats.
Purple Potatoes Vinaigrette
1 lb of purple creamer potatoes, halved
4 tbs. of pesto, homemade or jarred (here’s a recipe for Watercress Pesto)
2 tbs. of red wine vinegar
1/3 c. of olive oil
1 cl. of garlic, minced
salt and pepper (to taste)
3 plum tomatoes, diced
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop in potatoes and then cook until fork tender. Drain the potatoes well and toss into the fridge to cool.
Whisk the pesto, vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Toss potatoes with tomatoes and dressing. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve.
This recipe has such an air of sophistication, I’d think to rename it “Watercresto”. Except then it’d sound smarmy. Talk about versatile, this can be used as a sauce for hot pasta, as a spread for bruschetta, as a marinade or in a cold pasta salad. Treat it like a condiment and make a little magic. *singing* You can do MAGIC! You can have ANYTHING that you desire. And, yes, I’m a dork and am singing America while I post my recipes.
This goes out to all the basil lovers (and growers) longing for a taste of summertime. Watercress is hardy and available during the colder months, and still manages to be flavorful even though a lot of the produce around it is lacking at best (I’m talking to you, hothouse tomato). The mixture is a little milder than traditional basil pesto, but still has all the peppery bite. Continue reading Watercress Pesto →