Spaghetti with Pan-Fried Zucchini
Shishito Pepper Pesto
Inspired by Bobby Flay’s Amalfi Restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip
Bobby Flay’s stellar new restaurant at Caesars Palace is where he brings flavors of the Amalfi Coast to the Las Vegas Strip.
We had an absolutely delightful meal there recently…and would have tried even more fabulous dishes if we had room. Our server informed us that the Spaghetti Zucchine is one of the most popular pastas at the restaurant. The Chef wrote on Instagram that it has become the most requested pasta dish at his house.
Unable to fit in another pasta that night (we had the Caramelle and Pasta Rags, both excellent), I just had to try the Spaghetti Zucchine at home.
Rigatoni with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Buffalo Mozzarella
Recipe by Nicole Putzel
All hailing from Chicagoland, Chef Nicole Putzel and I were virtually introduced a few years back by our mutual friend and discerning foodie, Peg. We recently thought it might be fun to collaborate on some of our cooking experiences, especially during these challenging times.
Nicole sent me a copy of her delightful book just published last year, The Seasoned Plate: Delicious and Healthy Real Food. She says, “This cookbook is the result of a beautiful recipe: one of food, friendship, and wellness, told by the seasons.”
Throughout the seasons, Nicole would create a vegetable-centric recipe every Friday, often harvesting the produce from her own organic garden. Her friend Photographer Claudia Chocano would shoot the dishes, after which they would partake of the fruits of their labors together.
The first recipe I chose from the Spring section was this fresh, vibrant, vegetarian rigatoni dish. Nicole wrote, “This colorful pasta dish came together on an evening when my house was filled with company and my guests asked for a tour of the vegetable garden. The broccoli, arugula, and basil were all ready for harvest and everyone was hungry, so voilà! This was a true crowd pleaser.”
Seriously, there are so many crazy ways to cook tender octopus… from beating it on a rock to slamming it against the side of your sink (ten times no less) to boiling it with wine corks. Or you can massage the cephalopod vigorously with lots of salt until it froths then plunge him into a copper pot full of boiling water. Or you can roast him in a 200°F oven for five (!) hours…
Or try my simple fool-proof method below, cooking time five (!) minutes.
The cooking method actually depends on the type of product with which you start. Here I begin with one pound of Frozen Cooked Spanish Octopus Tentacles (Pulpo Cocido) which is readily available and easy to prepare. This product can be found in the frozen seafood section of Whole Foods Market. Surprisingly, unlike other seafood, octopus’ texture might even benefit from the freezing process so fresh octopus in not considered to be superior.
The octopus is from the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean, a product of Spain. It has already been cleaned; tentacles have been separated from the head. It was cooked with salt and bay leaves, then frozen. Keep it frozen until the day before use, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Place thawed tentacles in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then turn down immediately to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tentacles from the pot and let cool slightly on a platter so they can be sliced.
Mung Bean Rotini & Mung Bean Sprouts in a Coconut Curry
Here’s a zippy gluten-free vegan pasta dish that’s full of flavor and spice, made with two different forms of mung beans. Those small green oval-shaped legumes are nutrient-dense and high in plant-based protein and dietary fiber. They are milled and ground into flour to make rotini shaped pasta. Fresh mung bean sprouts add texture and have a somewhat nutty flavor. They add more fiber, and Vitamins K and C.
I use Trader Joe’s Curry Powder with its wonderful exotic spice blend of cumin, turmeric, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron. Then I add more ground turmeric for the extra boost of flavor, color, and especially the curcumin. Curcumin is the chemical in turmeric that is responsible for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
A garnish of plenty of chopped cilantro, sliced scallions, and a drizzle of chili oil (or chili flakes) make this colorful pasta dish especially exciting and appealing!
The organic red-stemmed dandelion greens (pissenlit rouge) at the farmers market looked so perky and pretty, I couldn’t pass them up, but had no idea what I would do with them.
Turns out there was fresh fettuccine in the fridge and there seemed to be some affinity…
Dandelion greens are bitter and peppery. I paired the edgy greens in a pesto with a 3:1 ratio of slightly sweet and soft baby spinach to tone them down, but not too much. Parmesan and fruity olive oil balance the bitter flavors. Lemon juice adds bright notes. It is an intriguing yet tasty departure from our beloved basil pesto.
And apparently dandelion greens are a top source of prebiotics, a specific carbohydrate that feeds probiotics. Prebiotics are high in an indigestible fiber called inulin, which enhances the gut’s production of friendly bacteria. (Source: Cooking Light)