Baked Rigatoni with Eggplant, Tomatoes & Ricotta

More eggplant! This dish is a great vegetarian alternative to a traditional baked ziti. A crowd-pleasing weeknight comfort-food pasta casserole. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto in NYC. I used San Marzano tomatoes instead of beefsteak and modified the proportions and method. I loved that it incorporated pesto.

To make the dish more healthy, Waxman replaces the traditional béchamel sauce with eggplant. The original recipe even suggests using whole-wheat pasta, if desired. Don’t worry… it is still an indulgent baked pasta dish with butter and plenty of cheese. 😉

Yield: Serves 8

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter a 9-by-13-inch ovenproof baking dish. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  3. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the rigatoni until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain, then transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Toss the pasta with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large non-stick skillet or sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add half of the eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant to the pasta. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of olive oil and the remaining eggplant.
  6. Add the onion, garlic and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have broken down and thickened to a sauce consistency, 7 to 8 minutes.
  8. Stir in the 4 tablespoons of butter.
  9. Add the tomato sauce to the pasta and eggplant along with the pesto and ricotta; season with salt and pepper and toss well.
  10. Transfer the rigatoni to the prepared baking dish. Top with the mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano and bake for about 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden on top.
  11. Let the pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Brown and Wild Rice Bowl with Broccoli Pesto and Wild Mushrooms

More delicious broccoli and rice. 🙂 My husband and son ate this rice bowl topped with grilled chicken. I thought that it was perfect as is!

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I actually doubled this full-flavored broccoli pesto and served the extra batch over penne with chopped fresh tomatoes.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Rice Bowl:

  • 2/3 cup brown Basmati rice
  • 1/3 cup wild rice
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (or water with 1/2 teaspoon salt), divided
  • 1 cup broccoli pesto (recipe below)
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 ounces sliced wild mushrooms (I used cremini mushrooms)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish
  1. Combine the rice in a small saucepan with 1 3/4 cup of the stock, bring the stock to a boil, turn down to a bare simmer, cover the top with a paper towel and a lid and cook for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid the mushrooms give off is evaporated.
  4. Add the broccoli pesto and cook stirring for 1 minute.
  5. Fluff the rice with a fork and add it to the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until combine well.
  6. Add the remaining  1/4 cup broth and salt and pepper, to taste.
  7. To serve, spoon into bowls and sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.

For the Broccoli Pesto:

Yield: about 2 cups

  • 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds or chopped walnuts
  • 6 ounces broccoli, trimmed if necessary and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, preferably on convection.
  2. Spread out the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Combine the cooled almonds, broccoli, scallions, cheese, olive oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.
  4. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not pureed.
  5. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Use as directed in recipe.

Note: The pesto will keep in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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

Baked Shrimp Risotto with Pesto

We’ve had a touch of spring for a couple of days in Long Island. It has been SO sunny, warm and nice. 🙂 It made me think of this dish because the pesto and lemon gave it a lot of brightness. Fortunately, I freeze giant cubes of freshly made pesto made after my final summer basil harvest.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Kay Chun. I added shallots and onions and increased the stock, garlic and the amount of lemon juice. The original recipe doesn’t incorporate white wine, and the dish was lovely without it, but I may consider adding some for extra flavor next time. I also used uncooked shrimp; it cooked very quickly in the hot risotto.

Even though I love making risotto in my pressure cooker, I’m not sure why making risotto on the stove is even necessary when it’s so simple to prepare in the oven! This dish was beyond easy to make, quick, and really delicious.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 7 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of white wine, optional
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 24 shelled shrimp (I used 1 pound of 21-25 count shrimp)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • fresh lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
  • coarse salt
  • pesto sauce, for serving (I used one giant cube of basil pesto, about 2-3 T)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°, preferably on convection.
  2. In an enameled medium cast-iron casserole or pan with a lid, heat the olive oil.
  3. Add the shallots and onion, and cook until soft but not brown.
  4. Add the garlic and rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until very fragrant, 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover and bake for about 20 to 22 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  7. Stir in the 1/2 cup of cheese, the shrimp, butter and lemon juice; season with salt. (The shrimp is cooked when it becomes fully pink.)
  8. Serve drizzled or mixed with pesto. Garnish with cheese.

One Year Ago: Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya

Two Years Ago: Classic Shrimp & Grits

Three Years Ago: Greek Red Lentil Soup

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Pesto Polenta with Fresh Tomatoes

This is a fast full-flavored dish. Healthy too! I always forget about how much I enjoy creamy polenta. 🙂 We ate it for dinner but it would also be wonderful for brunch.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Todd Porter and Diane Cu. I increased the salt, doubled the tomatoes, and made homemade pesto. The pesto recipe is from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. Tasty!

Yield: Serves 3 (in my house!) or 4

For the Pesto: (Makes about 1 cup)

  • 2 loosely packed cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
  • coarse salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 T pine nuts or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan or pecorino Romano

For the Dish:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes (I used Campari)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup pesto

To Make the Pesto:

  1. Combine the basil with a pinch of salt, the garlic, the nuts, and about half of the oil in a food processor or blender.
  2. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides of the container if necessary and adding the rest of the oil gradually.
  3. Add more oil if you prefer a thinner mixture. (Sometimes I add a little bit of stock instead to achieve the same result.)
  4. Stir in the cheese.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. (I use a cast iron pot.) While whisking, gradually pour the polenta into the water.
  2. Reduce the heat to simmer or low and continue whisking for an additional minute.
  3. Continue cooking for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot.
  4. Remove the polenta from the heat when it is tender and creamy and has reached your desired thickness.
  5. Stir the salt and butter into the polenta until the butter is melted.
  6. Scoop polenta out onto plates. Top each with about 1/4 cup pesto. Divide tomatoes among plates. Serve. (We individually mixed together all of the ingredients before digging in!)

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Basil Baked Salmon with Tomato Salad

It’s the last official weekend of the summer. 😦 As much as I love autumn, I know that the change of season also means we are getting closer to cold weather… which I absolutely dread. Ugh.

This meal bridges the summer and fall seasons. It was as torn as I am to leave summer behind and embrace the cooler weather! :/ The salmon is smothered with summery fresh pesto accompanied by autumn-esque roasted sunshine squash and potatoes, as well as fabulous sautéed CSA chard on the side. The tomato salad was literally the icing on the cake (salmon)! 🙂 It was great to make with late summer tomatoes, backyard basil and fresh CSA vegetables.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Ian Knauer. I increased the proportion of sauce to salmon and used grape instead of cherry tomatoes. I am always a little bit nervous when cooking fish… I cooked the salmon for the 15 minutes as specified in the recipe, but next time would start checking the fish at 10 or 12 minutes. Such a healthy and fresh meal. 🙂

Yield: Serves 2

  • 2 (8 ounce) wild salmon filets
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup basil leaves, plus 2 to 4 more leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, separated
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. ( I used the convection setting.)
  2. In a food processor with the motor running, drop the garlic clove into the feed tube and run the motor until it is finely chopped.
  3. Add the 1 cup of basil, pine nuts, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then pulse until finely chopped.
  4. With the motor running, pour in 3 tablespoons of the oil until combined.
  5. Place the salmon on an oiled baking sheet, then divide the basil mixture between the salmon, then top each filet with 2 small or one large basil leaf.
  6. Bake the salmon until just cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. While the salmon bakes, in a bowl, stir together the tomatoes, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
  8. Top the salmon with the tomato salad and serve.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Basil, & Ricotta

Zucchini and cheese are a heavenly match. Not to mention adding summer basil… lemon… You get the picture. 🙂 This bright and creamy dish is a perfect use for summer’s bounty of zucchini. I have been receiving TONS of zucchini in my CSA share. This dish is the first of three zucchini dishes I plan to share.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. It’s no surprise that it has been one of their most popular recipes recently! I used fresh Italian orecchiette pasta and we ate it with garlic bread and green salad. Quick, simple, and delicious.

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced, or 2 tablespoons chopped green garlic
  • 1 ounce basil, about 2 cups loose leaves
  • 1 pound ziti or other dry pasta (I’ve used fresh & dried orecchiette)
  • 8 ounces ricotta, about 1 cup
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, about 1 cup, plus more for serving
  1. Put a pot of water on to boil.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onions in 3 tablespoons olive oil until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat as necessary to keep onions from browning.
  3. Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
  4. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to pound garlic, basil and a little salt into a rough paste (or use a mini food processor). Stir (or pulse) in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Salt the pasta water well and put in the pasta, stirring. Boil per package instructions but make sure to keep pasta quite al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.
  6. Add cooked pasta to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high.
  7. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to distribute.
  8. Check seasoning and adjust. Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary.
  9. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir to incorporate.
  10. Spoon pasta onto warm plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.

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