Bucatini with Burst Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

My kids are back in school! I can get back to sharing dishes that we enjoyed this summer (and probably last spring as well). I have quite a few to share. 🙂

This is a fabulous, restaurant-indulgent, late summer pasta dish. The real beauty of it is that it could be made in any season to bring back the taste of summer. It was also quick and easy to prepare- the best combination. The cheese adds creaminess to the finished dish but can easily be omitted for a vegan version.

This recipe was adapted from Bringing it Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox. I used grape instead of cherry tomatoes, bucatini instead of spaghettini, and modified the proportions. I am definitely going to make this dish year round. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1 pound bucatini, spaghettini, spaghetti, or angel hair pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 small red onion or 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds (about 3 pints) grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed torn basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2-4 T finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz) fresh whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  • coarsely ground black pepper
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted boiling water until al dente. (Simmons recommends 2 T of kosher or fine sea salt in 4 quarts of water.)
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet or wide, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the red pepper flakes, then stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have burst, 6 to 8 minutes.
  5. Reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain the pasta.
  6. Add the pasta, along with the reserved pasta cooking water, to the pan with the sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the pasta is coated, about 30 seconds, then stir in the basil and parsley.
  7. Divide the pasta among serving plates. Dollop with the ricotta and sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired, and serve immediately.
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Asparagus Frittata with Burrata & Herb Pesto

I used to be able to bribe my husband to eat a frittata for dinner by serving it with roasted potatoes… unfortunately, that bribe has worn thin. :/ A frittata topped with burrata was an easy sell! 🙂 This dish could be served for any meal of the day.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. The burrata brought it to the next level. Next time, I would make half of the pesto. We ate it with roasted potatoes and green salad. Nice.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound (1 small bunch) medium asparagus, tough bottoms removed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup basil leaves, plus a few small basil leaves for garnish
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-2 balls of fresh burrata, about 1/2 pound total, at room temperature
  1. Rinse asparagus, and pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal, or into julienne strips if preferred. Set aside.
  2. In blender or small food processor, purée olive oil, basil and parsley to make a thin pesto. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Put a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or other nonstick omelet pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add butter and swirl to coat pan, then add asparagus. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about a minute without browning.
  4. Quickly pour in eggs and stir with a wooden spoon, as if making scrambled eggs. Tilt pan and lift mixture at the edges to allow any runny egg from the top to make its way to the bottom. After 3 or 4 minutes, the frittata should be mostly set. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  5. Lay a lid over the skillet, and turn off the heat. Leave for a minute or so, until frittata is moist and just done. (Alternatively, place pan under a hot broiler for a minute or so.)
  6. Set whole burrata in the center of frittata. Drizzle with herb pesto. Pierce burrata with tip of a knife and spoon contents over frittata.
  7. Cut frittata into wedges and serve directly from pan, garnished with basil leaves.

I’m sharing my burrata frittata at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #227 this week, co-hosted by Lizet @Chipa by the Dozen and Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook. Enjoy!

One Year Ago: Three Cheese Crepe Manicotti

Two Years Ago: Buckwheat Crepes with Asparagus, Gruyère & Prosciutto

Three Years Ago: Asparagus with Fava Beans & Toasted Almonds and Seared Scallop Bites

Four Years Ago: Gnocchi with Bacon & Tomatoes

Five Years Ago: Vidalia Onion Tart and Spicy Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli Rabe

Creamy Tagliatelle with Asparagus & Herbs

I love springtime pasta dishes loaded with vegetables. This version was creamy, rich, and absolutely delicious. Chopping the asparagus so that it could be completely incorporated throughout the pasta was genius.

This recipe was adapted from Ruth Rogers of River Café London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant cookbook, via Food 52. I modified the proportions to use one pound of pasta. I also left the asparagus tips intact. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 2 1/4 pounds thin asparagus spears
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano)
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 14 to 16 ounces taglierini, tagliatelle, or pappardelle pasta
  • 5 to 6 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated
  1. Trim or snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Cut into 1-inch pieces; reserve tips in a separate bowl.
  2. Finely chop the 1-inch pieces of asparagus all together with 2 of the garlic cloves and the herbs in a food processor. (I chopped the garlic and herbs first and then added the asparagus.)
  3. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan with the remaining 4 whole garlic cloves and simmer until the cloves are soft. Remove from the heat; discard the garlic.
  4. Heat the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan and sauté half of the chopped asparagus for 5 minutes, stirring. (I used a 14-inch skillet.)
  5. Add the rest of the chopped asparagus-herb mixture and the reserved asparagus tips, followed by the flavored cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cream begins to thicken, about 6 minutes. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  6. Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly.
  7. Add to the sauce along with about half of the Parmesan and toss together.
  8. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.

Two Years Ago: Linguine with Asparagus & Egg

Three Years Ago: Rigatoni with Lemon-Chile Pesto & Grated Egg

Four Years Ago: Ricotta Gnocchi with Asparagus, Peas, & Mushrooms

Five Years Ago: Baked Shells with Cauliflower & Taleggio

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Cauliflower & Tomatoes

I have a couple family friendly comfort food pasta casseroles to share. In my house, this type of dish always seems to be the perfect meal in cold weather.

We recently enjoyed this one on a snowy evening- eating by candlelight. I thanked my lucky stars that it had finished baking before our power went out… hence the candlelight! 😉

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Chris Morocco. I used diced tomatoes and substituted fontina for provolone. I suppose half and half could be substituted for some (or all) of the heavy cream, but I went for the full indulgence on this (dark and cold) occasion.

  • 1 pound pasta, such as medium shell or tube pasta (I used Capunti pasta)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 4 ounces fontina, coarsely grated
  • 2 ounces extra sharp cheddar, coarsely grated
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1½ cups heavy cream
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • room-temperature butter or nonstick cooking oil spray (for pan)
  • fresh herbs such as thyme, basil, or parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until about halfway cooked (it needs to be very firm at this stage so that it doesn’t overcook when baked). Drain, reserving ½ cup pasta cooking liquid, and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain well.
  3. Combine mozzarella, fontina, cheddar, Parmesan, cream, diced tomatoes, and reserved ½ cup pasta cooking liquid in a large bowl; mix to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Add cauliflower and cooked pasta and toss to coat.
  5. Grease a 3-qt. or 13x9x2″ baking dish with butter or cooking oil spray.
  6. Scrape in pasta mixture and spread out into an even layer.
  7. Cover dish tightly with foil and bake pasta until hot throughout and steaming when foil is lifted, 20–25 minutes.
  8. Remove foil and increase oven temperature to 425◦, preferably on convection.
  9. Continue to bake pasta until sauce is bubbling and top is browned and crunchy in spots, 20–30 minutes.
  10. Let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with fresh herbs, as desired.

Note: Pasta can be assembled 2 days ahead. Cover and chill until ready to bake.

One Year Ago: Vegetable Shepherd’s Pie

Two Years Ago: Oscar Night Waffles

Three Years Ago: Chicken Parmesan with Chicken Thighs

Four Years Ago: Chicken, Shrimp, & Clam Jambalaya

Five Years Ago:

Wide Green Noodles with Cauliflower & Mustard-Shallot Butter

I have to share this dish because it was a reminder of an important lesson: Not every dish will be a complete success. It’s the risk taken when trying new recipes- even if they are from a trusted resource.

I am also sharing this dish because I think it can be rescued! I have updated the recipe below. The fresh pasta was lovely, with wonderful color and texture, so that portion of the dish has remained untouched. The mustard-shallot butter was overwhelmingly potent in the finished dish, so the proportions have been modified; I reduced the mustard and shallots by at least one-half.

This dish was so pretty and loaded with wonderful flavors! I was really disappointed that it wasn’t as delicious as it sounded or looked. Especially because it was particularly time-consuming to prepare. 😦 This recipe was adapted from The Greens Cookbook: Extraordinary Vegetarian Cuisine from the Celebrated Restaurant by Deborah Madison with Edward Espé Brown.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4

For the Fresh Herb Pasta:

  • 1 cup loosely packed herb leaves (I used a mixture of basil and parsley)
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • large pinch coarse salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • water, as needed

To Complete the Dish:

  • 1 recipe Fresh Herb Pasta, about 7 oz (recipe above)
  • 7 T unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1 T strong Dijon mustard
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or more, to taste
  • large handful of arugula, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups cauliflower, broccoli, and/or romanesco cauliflower florets, cut into small pieces
  • thin strip lemon peel, very finely slivered
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

To Make the Fresh Herb Pasta:

  1. Wash the herbs and dry them as thoroughly as possible.
  2. Chop them very finely, I used a mini-food processor, and measure out no more than 3 T.
  3. Combine the herbs with the flour and salt.
  4. Add the egg and the oil, and combine until distributed throughout.
  5. Press together to form a dough. If it is too dry, add drops of water, a few at a time, to moisten it and help it come together. (I used 2-3 tsp of additional water.)
  6. Turn the dough out onto a counter- I put it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Form into a ball.
  7. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it feels smooth and supple. (I added a little bit more water while kneading as well.)
  8. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and set it aside to rest for at least 30 minutes, preferably for one hour.
  9. Roll the dough through the pasta machine, starting at the widest setting, and reducing until desired thickness is achieved. ‘(I rolled mine out to level 6.)
  10. Cut the strips into desired noodle length, typically 12-inches. Then cut the dough into 1/2-inch wide noodles. (I actually chose to cut mine crosswise into shorter 1/2-inch wide noodles.)
  11. Dust with semolina flour or flour, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Cream 4 T of the butter with the mustard, shallot, garlic, vinegar, and arugula. (This can be done ahead of time, covered, and set aside until needed.)
  3. Melt the remaining 3 T butter in a small frying pan, add the bread crumbs, and fry them until they are crisp and browned.
  4. When you are ready to cook the pasta, salt the boiling water.
  5. Melt the mustard butter over a low flame and cook to soften the shallots. Add 1/2 cup pasta water and the sun-dried tomatoes.
  6. Steam the cauliflower and/or broccoli in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender. Alternatively, the cauliflower and/or broccoli can be dropped into the boiling pasta water, returned to a boil, and cooked for about 1 minute, until tender.
  7. Add the cooked cauliflower and/or broccoli to the butter.
  8. Next, cook the pasta for about 2 to 3 minutes, until al dente. Add it to the butter.
  9. Add the sliced lemon zest to the butter.
  10. Toss well with tongs, season with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve garnished with the bread crumbs and freshly grated Parmesan.

One Year Ago: Garlicky Spaghetti with Mixed Greens

Two Years Ago: Tropical Carrot, Turmeric, & Ginger Smoothie

Three Years Ago: Spinach-Potato Soup

Four Years Ago: Creamy Mushroom Pappardelle

Five Years Ago:

Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Parsley & Thyme

It is so important to balance heavier holiday meal side dishes with clean and relatively healthy vegetable sides. I loved the colors in this dish. Our unseasonably warm weather allowed me to incorporate freshly cut parsley and thyme from my herb garden too. Delicious. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Martha Rose Shulman. It was inspired by a roasted carrot antipasto the author sampled at Oliveto Cafe in Oakland, California. I doubled the recipe for our Thanksgiving feast.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 pounds carrots, preferably rainbow carrots, peeled quartered or cut into sixths lengthwise depending on the size, then into 2-inch lengths
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
  2. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the carrots in a large bowl, and toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
  3. Spread in an even (single) layer in the prepared pan. Cover with foil, and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover, and if the carrots are not yet tender, turn the heat down to 375 degrees and return to the oven for 10 to 15 more minutes until tender.
  5. Add the parsley, stir gently, and taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
  • Advance preparation: These will keep for four to five days in the refrigerator.
 One Year Ago:

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Five Years Ago:

Salad-Topped Hummus Platter

The culmination of my daughter’s summer theatre camp involves days of dress rehearsals followed by matinée and evening performances. She absolutely loves it all and it is worth every second, but it was also difficult to prepare and eat dinner during this time. That’s show business, right? 😉

This genius quick, healthy, and filling appetizer turned dinner saved the day the evening of her final performance. The recipe was adapted from Ina Garten via Smitten Kitchen.com. I made my favorite hummus, added arugula, used a peeled CSA cucumber, and substituted red wine vinegar for lemon juice in the dressing. I could eat it all summer long!

  • 2 cups prepared hummus
  • 2 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 ounces or 225 grams) grape tomatoes, quartered, plus more to taste
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, or multiple small cucumbers, unpeeled, chopped
  • 1/4 medium red onion, chopped small, optional
  • 1 T red wine vinegar or juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sumac
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, or a mix of parsley, mint, and chives, plus more for garnish
  • 2 large handfuls baby arugula, to taste
  • warm naan or pita, for serving
  1. Prepare hummus in a food processor.
  2. Spread hummus on a large plate with the back of a spoon, creating swirls and cavities. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil, just to freshen it up.
  3. Mix tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, red wine vinegar/lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons olive oil, sumac, plus salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
  4. Stir in herbs.
  5. Top hummus with arugula. Heap salad on top of the arugula. Finish with additional sumac and/or fresh herbs.
  6. Serve with warm naan or pita wedges.

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