Legends of Europe: Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto di Parma and Arugula

Parma Pasta tastefood

Roasted Cauliflower and Grape Tomatoes, Crispy Prosciutto di Parma, Arugula

For the second year in a row, I am involved in creating  a recipe for Legends from Europe with one of their authentic Italian products. This year they asked me to develop a recipe showcasing Prosciutto di Parma, and I was more than happy to oblige as prosciutto is a staple in my kitchen.

Prosciutto di Parma is the world-famous ham cured in the gently rolling countryside near Parma, Italy. Made from specially bred pigs born and raised according to strict guidelines, Parma Ham®  has a full-bodied, nutty and delicately sweet flavor. It’s free of additives and naturally air cured with sea salt. It’s delicious as is, wrapped around melon, draped over pizzas and salads or stuffed in sandwiches. For this recipe I decided to showcase the ham in a different way, using a method that’s become a fast family favorite: oven drying.

Oven drying the prosciutto is a quick technique, requiring a mere 20 minutes or so, during which the ham slices dry out and crisp, intensifying the meat’s flavor and saltiness. The slices are then snapped into shards, which may be served in any number of ways – either as a nibble with an apero, or sprinkled over soups, salads, eggs and vegetables or tossed into pasta as I’ve done in the following recipe.

Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Pasta with Crispy Prosciutto di Parma and Arugula

Serves 4

1 small head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florettes (about 3 cups)
8 ounces grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
6 ounces sliced Prosciutto di Parma
1 pound orecchiette pasta
2 cups arugula
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Spread the cauliflower and tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and red chili flakes. Stir to coat. Roast on the lowest oven rack until the cauliflower is tender and brown at edges and the tomatoes begin to collapse, 20 to 25 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, arrange prosciutto slices in one layer on another baking sheet. Place in the same oven on a middle rack and bake until dry and beginning to crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, break into shards.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the cauliflower and tomatoes and toss to combine. Add the arugula and cheese and toss again. Scatter the Prosciutto di Parma over the pasta and garnish with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Bacon and Brussels Sprouts

Bacon Brussel Sprout Pasta tf

Are you looking for ways to get your family to eat brussels sprouts? This recipe may do the trick – with a little help from bacon. Fresh yet hearty, full of healthy crucifers and dotted with crispy bacon, this simple dinner is perfect for an autumn weeknight.

Pasta with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Cauliflower or broccoli may be substituted for the brussels sprouts.

Serves 4.

1 pound orrechiette or conchiglie pasta

1/2 pound bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved (quartered if large)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.
While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until fat is rendered and bacon is golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from skillet. Add the brussels sprouts and saute until they are crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the chicken stock. Continue to cook until the brussels sprouts are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened to a sauce consistency, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper and check for seasoning.
Add the brussels sprouts, bacon and cheese to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve with extra cheese on the side.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Pasta

Sausage Kale Pasta TasteFood~ Sauasage, Cannellini, Kale, Tomato, Parmigiano, Gemelli Pasta ~

It’s always a shock to our family food supply when school is out and the kids are suddenly home for 3 meals a day. Add to that one freshly minted 18 year-old performing landscape construction as a summer day job who actually requires 6 meals a day.

Faced with the prospect of whipping up a satisfying and filling dinner last week when our fridge was beyond bare to begin with (all the good stuff had gone to our annual beach BBQ feast) I had to think creatively and fast.  There was one overlooked packet of sausages that had escaped the BBQ unscathed, so I decided to prepare a sturdy meaty pasta dish, embellished with  the pantry’s cannellini beans and a few lone plum tomatoes rolling around on the kitchen counter. Luckily there was a bunch of curly kale in the fridge, and while tempted to make a salad just for me, I checked myself and dumped the whole lot into the pasta bowl. If this wouldn’t fill ’em up nothing would.

Sausage, Kale and White Bean Pasta
Serves 4

1 small bunch curly kale, tough ribs removed, torn in bite size pieces
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound pasta, such as gemelli, fusilli, farfalle

8 ounces Italian sausages, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained
3 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese, divided
Handful of Italian parsley, chopped

Place the kale, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Toss the kale with your hands while rubbing the oil into the leaves. This will help to soften them. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain.

While the pasta is cooking heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown on both sides, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the beans, tomatoes, garlic, chili flakes, and black pepper. Cook, stirring once or twice until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning as needed. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the pasta, kale, half of the cheese and the parsley. Toss to combine. Add more cheese to taste and serve any extra with the pasta.

If you like this, you might enjoy these easy pasta recipes from TasteFood:
Gemelli with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula
Spaghetti with Broccolini, Breadcrumbs and Chili Flakes
Orecchiette with Bacon and Brussel Sprouts

Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad with Peanut Lime Sauce

Shrimp Salad TasteFood~ Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad with Peanut Lime Sauce 

Consider this a deconstructed spring roll. If you like fresh rice paper spring rolls, then  you’ll love this salad. All the goodness stuffed in a Thai or Vietnamese roll – rice noodles, shrimp, veggies, fresh herbs and chiles – is jumbled together in a big bowl of salad. The result? Great flavor, minus the labor, and a perfect meal for a warm evening. The sauce is the magic touch that pulls this colorful dish together. It has all of the right ingredients in my opinion: ginger, garlic, sriracha, lime and peanut butter. The trick – which I discovered on this blog and slightly adapted – is blitzing everything together in a food processor (including the lime sections!) to form a thick potent paste. Brilliant. I’ll be coming back to this recipe over and again during the hot summer months ahead.

Shrimp and Rice Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1/2 cup canola oil
1 lime, peel and pith removed, quartered
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons coarsely grated peeled ginger with juices
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha
2 teaspoons runny honey

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound large (18/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 ounces rice noodles, cooked per manufacturer’s instructions, room temperature
3 scallions, ends trimmed, white and green parts sliced on the diagonal
1 large carrot, cut in matchsticks
1/2 English cucumber, seeded, cut in matchsticks
2 cups coarsely chopped Napa cabbage
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup sugar snap peas, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 red jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup fresh coriander sprigs, coarsely chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts for garnish

1. Place all of the dressing ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in one layer, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, and lightly season with salt. Cook until the shrimp are pink on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer to a plate.
3. Place the rice noodles, scallions, carrot, cucumber, cabbage, bean sprouts, snap peas, jalapeño, mint, and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and half of the dressing and toss to combine.
4. Divide the salad among plates. Scatter the peanuts over the salads and garnish with additional mint and cilantro. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Shrimp Puttanesca

shrimp puttanesca x
It took me a long while to make puttanesca – that feisty Italian tomato sauce packed with briny, sharp, spicy, fishy flavors. I confess it was the anchovies. While I don’t mind anchovies, I don’t liberally cook with them either, harboring a childhood timidity toward their pungent fishiness. I should know better: Anchovies are a magical ingredient, a bright star in the cuisines of the Mediterranean and Asia (think fish sauce). When used with restraint, anchovies melt into a dish, amplifying flavor and producing an elusive umami quality that keeps us digging in for more. So in the spirit of the New Year and a kick in the derriere, I made this puttanesca-inspired sauce, and now I am smitten. Goodness knows why I waited so long.

Shrimp Puttanesca

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
20 to 24 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 anchovy filets, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 pound grape tomatoes, halved if large
1/3 cup pitted Kalamata or oil-cured olives, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons capers, drained and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shrimp in one layer and lightly season with salt. Cook until pink on both sides and barely cooked through the centers (they will continue to cook in the sauce), about 4 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate.

Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, anchovies, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, olives, white wine, tomato paste, capers, and black pepper. Cook until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the tomatoes.

Nestle the shrimp into the sauce and simmer until thoroughly cooked and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley. Serve warm with crusty bread.


Pasta with Quick Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula

Tomato Pasta TasteFood

~ Roasted Tomatoes, Arugula, Breadcrumbs, Thyme, Parmigiano, Gemelli ~

Things are heating up in our kitchen. All sorts of treats and sweets are baking for the holidays – plus I am busy with a cookbook project. I’ve been hired to write all of the recipes for a cookbook that will be published in early 2014 (yes, that is how the world of publishing works). More details will follow on that soon, but for now suffice to say that my kitchen is a recipe test center cyclone. With all of the cooking, you would think that a nightly dinner would be a sure thing, but frankly after a long day of developing and writing, I don’t have the where-with-all to whip up anything too complicated – which is something we can all relate to during the holidays.

So, here is an easy, low-budget recipe that uses simple ingredients and may be prepared in 30 minutes with delicious results. It also makes use of those grape tomatoes you can’t resist buying in the middle of the winter when you know better. It’s not the fault of the tomato, of course. They do look irresistable, but looks can be deceiving for out of season tomatoes, even when they are shiny and oh-so-red. This recipe will remedy any buyer’s remorse. A little slow roasting will coax out any hibernating tomato-ness, releasing juices and sugars, and deflating the impossibly pert tomatoes to a more relaxed version of themselves. You can save your buyer’s remorse for bigger things this holiday season.

Tomato Pasta Plate x

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Arugula
Serves 4.

1 pound grape tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Handful of thyme sprigs
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup finely grated Parmigiano or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound pasta of your choice (I used gemelli)
2 large handfuls of arugula, about 3 cups

Heat oven to 400 F. Scatter the tomatoes and garlic on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes. Roast in oven 25 minutes. Remove and reduce oven heat to 350 F.  Transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a large serving bowl. Discard the thyme. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on the same baking sheet and stir to coat in the olive oil.  Briefly return to the oven and cook until breadcrumbs are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes (they will brown quickly so carefully watch them). Remove and immediately transfer the breadcrumbs to a small bowl to stop them from further cooking. Cool slightly, then stir in 2 tablespoons cheese.

While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente; drain. Add the pasta to the tomatoes, along with the arugula and 1/3 cup cheese. Toss to combine. Drizzle with a little more olive oil as desired, and taste for salt. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the pasta. Serve immediately.

Weeknight Dinners: Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

Weeknight Dinners: Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

It may be fall, but summer’s tomatoes are not finished. The days are warm and gentle, and our tomato plants are hanging in there, kicking back and relaxing on the vine in the golden California sunshine. We pass by and pop them in our mouths, or pick a bunch and pile them in bowls for a snack. But they still accumulate. When I have too much (is that really possible?) I look for other uses, and there are many.

This is one of my favorite ways to cook with an abundance of cherry tomatoes. It coincides perfectly with the beginning of the school year, when we are crazy busy and running in 4 directions. The family dinner becomes elusive and suddenly time specific. Yet it’s even more important now, providing a great moment to sit together and connect after our busy day. This recipe is the perfect antidote. It may be prepared in almost no time, it’s healthy and economical, and it usually pleases the fussiest of eaters. Which is good, because they need to eat and get to their homework.

Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

Serves 4, unless you have a teen-aged boy. Then it serves 1.

For the Breadcrumb Gremolata:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and/or basil
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pasta:
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes

Prepare the gremolata:
Toast the breadcrumbs in a dry skillet until light golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Prepare the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling bowl. Add linguine and cook until al dente; drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, but don’t completely dissolve, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Add linguine to skillet and toss to coat. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle with the gremolata. Serve immediately.