Patrizia’s Passion for Cooking

Patrizia’s Passion for Cooking& Entertaining Meals don’t have to come from fancy or trendy restaurant, enjoying meals with loved ones makes for the best eating and is the happiest part of the day. Inviting friends and family over for an evening is a regular occurrence. Hosting dinner is fun, exhilarating and well, entertaining! Sitting around a table with your friends and family while eating a delicious meal together is therapeutic: an excuse to talk, to reflect on the day, and on recent events. Our chats often lead to discussions about politics and death, of memories and loss. It also gives me a way to show off my creative side. Thus, the gatherings are frequent and are traditionally centered around really tasty food. I view cooking as an art form and believe food is not just for nourishment, it is a way of life. Of course, growing up Italian; pasta and cheese influence many of my meals. Many dishes are dominated by tomatoes, fresh or cooked into sauce, capers, peppers, olives and olive oil, garlic, artichokes, eggplant, lemon and ricotta cheese. When cooking for friends and family only the best will do. Local ingredients and seasonal foods dominate in my home. I love the flavors that come from fresh, wholesome ingredients. Knowing where my ingredients come from makes everything taste better. I get inspired when visiting the local farmers market or raiding my mom’s vegetable garden rather than buying from big box stores. Making a simple green salad with four or five varieties of lettuces, adding some sliced heirloom tomato, cucumbers and green onions, all out of mom’s garden is the simplest and cleanest way to eat. Add some olive oil, a freshly squeezed lemon and top it all off with some Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings. There is nothing more delicious, nothing tastes fresher or is more nutritional. Let me share with you my favorite go-to summer recipe; a simple pasta, fresh-made with vegetables straight from the garden. Top-quality ingredients that make all the difference.
Buon appetito!
Pasta with Zucchini, Ricotta and Basil
INGREDIENTS
2Extra-virgin olive oil
21 small onion, finely diced
22 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick pieces (for larger zucchini, cut in half lengthwise before slicing)
2Salt and pepper
22 garlic cloves, minced
22 cups basil leaves
21 pound of pennette or other dry pasta
21 cup ricotta
2Pinch of crushed red pepper
2Zest of 1 lemon
21 cup grated Parmesan, pecorino or a mixture, plus more for serving
PREPARATION
1 Put a pot of water on to boil. 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. Add zucchini, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until rather soft, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat.
2 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 in 3 tablespoons olive oil.
3 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.
4 Add cooked pasta to zucchini in skillet and turn heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 cup cooking water, then the ricotta, crushed red pepper and lemon zest, stirring to distribute. Check seasoning and adjust. Cook for 1 minute more. Mixture should look creamy. Add a little more pasta water if necessary. Add the basil paste and half the grated cheese and quickly stir to incorporate. Spoon pasta into warm soup plates and sprinkle with additional cheese. Serve immediately.

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