Every Friday night I like to do pasta night. I love pasta dishes because they're quick to make and so satisfying to eat. And they don't at all need to be complicated. Sometimes all you need are a few pantry staples like canned tomatoes, capers, or olives to make a delicious sauce that doesn't take hours to cook. That's the true appeal of pasta.
Oftentimes when I don't feel like eating meat I'll whip together a vegetarian-style pasta or I'll make a quick Carbonara. Other times I'll make pasta with fish, adding seared cubes of fish to finish cooking in the sauce—you'd be surprised how wonderful fish is with tomato sauce. This recipe for pasta with swordfish is one of my favorites.
The best part about this recipe is that you use one pan (not including the pasta pot). Start by making the lemon and parsley crumb topping. Then wipe out the pan and sear the fish. And finally make the sauce and cook the pasta. Once it's all done, add the fish back to the pan along with the pasta to let the flavors mingle. Serve the pasta sprinkled with the crumbs instead of grated Parmesan, since cheese on fish is frowned upon by Italians (and I happen to agree with that assessment). Enjoy this dish for dinner any night—it's also great for Lent.
There’s no place like Hollywood for star-gazing …
And to catch a star grazing, there are few places better than the venerable Ivy on West Hollywood’s trendy Robertson Boulevard.
Since this famed eatery opened its doors almost 30 years ago, one of its most consistent stars has never appeared on the guest list… but is, instead, found on the menu.
Mixed greens, topped with delicately charred peppers, zucchini, asparagus, corn and mesquite grilled chicken and/or shrimp, The Ivy’s Grilled Vegetable Salad is one of the most well known and well loved dishes in town.
But with its 28 dollar price, it’s not a salad many can order every day. Now, you can make this skinny version of that signature salad at home….saving money and calories!
Who’s the star now?
A couple of weekends ago at the Little Italy Mercato, as I was peacefully sorting through ears of sweet corn, I heard a woman scream, "Oh, my God! I can't believe it!"
Curious, I followed the voice, and noticed a woman a few tables ahead with her arms waving wildly in the air. She was talking rapidly and loudly and began jumping as if she were standing on hot coals.
"Oh, my God! I haven't seen that since I lived in Italy," she exclaimed.
What? What hadn't she seen since she lived in Italy? Gargantuan globe artichokes? We have those in San Diego. Mint green Vespas? Got 'em. A hot Italian guy? We have many of them, especially at Sogno di Vino and Bencotto in Little Italy. You're welcome, ladies.
Turns out what thrilled her was finding agretti, a springtime Mediterranean succulent, or water-retaining plant. With its verdant color and feathery texture, agretti looks like a cross between fennel fronds, rosemary, and grass.
Things we didn’t know about asparagus:
- That is has male and female flowers on separate plants, although occasionally hermaphrodite flowers bloom.
- That South Korean scientists claim it’s an excellent hangover cure.
- That it’s long been thought of as a safeguard against gout.
- That warm water from asparagus cooking may help heal blemishes on the face.
- That it’s a source of energy.
- That it may be beneficial as a laxative.
That according to The Perfumed Garden of Sensual Delight by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Nafzawi published in the 15th Century in Arabic and first translated to English from the French edition by Sir Richard Francis Burton, it has aphrodisiac effects.
And giving credit where credit is due, all of these facts were learned from Wikipedia and (official disclaimer) in some instances, there’s a peg that says “citation needed”. Having said that, we love asparagus. Back in the day when it was always served with Hollandaise Sauce to it’s more modern versions – asparagus soup; served cold with a balsamic vinaigrette; served warm with butter and lemon. It’s elegant and festive and since it’s spring, it’s also in season.
Grilled Asparagus Salad with POM Vinaigrette | Shaved Asparagus Salad | Cold Poached Asparagus with Basil Mayonnaise | Roasted Asparagus & Grape Tomatoes with Crumbled Feta | Roasted Asparagus with Sage Infused Brown Butter | Sauteed Asparagus with Hazelnut Crumble
I think most people who shop at farmers’ markets are willing to pay a little more for produce because it’s fresher. There are certain items, however, that are notorious for causing people to balk, such as passionfruit, figs, and, currently, cherries.
These fruits all share common traits: they are unique in flavor and appearance, their season is maddeningly short, and they elicit awe in their viewers. Seriously. This past Sunday, I was expecting harp music to start emanating from the cherry table. It’s no surprise; who can resist gushing over fresh cherries? Both kids and adults are smitten by their cheerful color and juicy sweetness. In fact, one farmer was generously offering samples of bing cherries (pictured above) and was practically sainted by grateful market-goers. It doesn’t take much to make us happy.
Despite our love affair with this precious fruit, some people can’t help but haggle over the price, which is about $6-8 per pound. Let me tell you something: No amount of pleading or applauding will get farmers to budge on the price. Why? Because cherries are difficult to grow. They are highly susceptible to insect damage and disease and need to be carefully monitored. They are also highly dependent upon good weather. Even if the cherries make it to fruition, they are prey to birds that are attracted to their bright red color and sweet juice, and typically need to be protected with netting or cheesecloth. Finally, they must picked carefully and are highly perishable, since they do not ripen once harvested. This all adds up to a labor intensive and expensive fruit to produce, which is why the price is high.
If the name of this dish alone doesn't pull you in, then let me explain to you how wonderful it is. Okay, it's wonderful. Believe me.
I truly feel leeks are under-utilized in cuisine in general. Yes, we throw them into soups for some flavor. But when you bake them with some cream and garlic and cheese.....oh my goodness, heaven.
If you need a side dish for your steak, your chicken, your pork chop or whatever, partner it up with this dish and everyone will be happy. The flavors are savory with a bit of sweet from the caramelization that takes place. It's heaven.
A must try. Get to the store and pick up some leeks. You won't be sorry you did.
I've always been a big Globe artichoke kind of girl. That was until a couple of years ago when I tried baby artichokes. Now, I have learned to divide my love between them both.
Baby artichokes are fully mature artichokes, as their rich, earthy flavor attests to, but they're picked from the lower part of the plant, where they simply don't develop as much. As a result, the artichoke's characteristic fuzzy choke isn't all that fuzzy and can be eaten.
In fact, other than a few tough outer loves, the entire artichoke is edible. So baby artichokes have all the flavor of their larger counterparts but without all the work. That's why they're ideal for a mid-week meal.
This is the perfect time of year to serve fresh asparagus and one great method for cooking is an indoor grill pan.
I generally prefer the thin stalks for steaming and fat stalks for grilling, but use whatever you want – fat, thin, green or white. Choose bunches with tightly closed tips and no flowering.
Delicious asparagus depends on freshness and proper preparation. Pan grilling gives you slightly charred stalks with delicious brown spots that you get from roasting or barbecuing without having to heat up your oven or grill.
The lemon vinaigrette enhances the dish perfectly and adds to the bright fresh flavor of the asparagus.
Many vegetables take the spring spotlight: asparagus, fresh peas, and fava beans, among others. And then there a few humbler ones that fall to the wayside, like small bright-red radishes.
Many people don't give a second thought to radishes, more or less ignoring them in the market. But it's just not right, and we're going to right this wrong.
Besides just eating radishes raw with salt or on a piece of buttered bread (a HuffPost Taste favorite), radishes can add a lot of interest to recipes, like a great crunchy texture and peppery, spice-y flavor.
You'll find the best radishes are available now, during spring when they're the most delicate.
We bought our house in Umbria ten years ago this past summer.
A couple of months after the sale was completed the former owners, Bruno and Mayes, came over for lunch. And as the lunch lingered, as lunches in Umbria do, Bruno interrupted himself in mid-lecture on the glories of Roman pasta.
“Asparagi,” he said calmly. He got up from his chair, crossed over to the wall of our ancient wood-burning oven and snapped off a pencil-thin spear of wild asparagus that was hiding in and among the other grasses.
“It’s all over the place,” he said. “April is the time. You’ll see hundreds of contadini in the fields and by the side of the road, harvesting them. Here, taste.”
I bit off the end of the slender stalk and chewed on it a bit. It was raw, of course, and a little stringy but the taste fairly attacked me with its vibrancy. Wild asparagus is way wilder than tame asparagus.
“Just imagine,” I thought, “how it’ll make my pee smell.”
With that noble scientific quest in mind, I immediately began to search for more. I looked all around the forno, where Bruno found his and then up the hill toward the olive trees, but there were no more spears to be found.