Monday, August 30, 2010

Let’s Make Zucchini Pasta with Fresh Pesto and Ricotta Cheese while dishing on Food Network’s latest

Greetings Fellow Foodies,

It’s been far too long since I dished up a celebrity chef knock-off recipe, featuring one or two twists from my own kitchen. Last summer I brought you a Rachel Ray knock off (affectionately called RRKO.) I still can’t get the YUMMO taste of that Bacon Wrapped Shrimp in Creamy Tomato Sauce over Cappellini off my mind—I mean, my god, it sounds like an Italian love story, and speaking of which, this week I’m featuring a GKO—a Giada knock off—where I kick up her pesto pasta, by adding fresh strips of zucchini and ricotta cheese to the sauce.

Taking my culinary cues from what’s local and delicious in North Carolina, I’m kicking up this signature Giada pasta dish with what’s in season here in the mountains—which…drum roll…just happens to be zucchini! Shoppers at any local farmer’s market—particularly the ones located near the zucchini-rich fields of Sampson and Henderson counties—will note that North Carolina zucchini are bursting with late summer harvest flavor right about now.

You gotta get to ‘em (the zucchini) before they succumb to their short shelf life of just 1 to 2 weeks, just off the vine. Mmm…mmm…mmm! The mere image of this veggie—before you’ve done a thing to it—has the power to make my mouth water. Imagine what it will do to my ravenous dinner guests, when I pair strips of this fabulouso veggie with creamy ricotta in a zesty pesto sauce. Click here for recipe!

Check out my recipe below, and, if you have a chance to prepare it while watching a mini TV, that many home chefs (like this one) like to put in their kitchens, I recommend catching up on the latest on Food Network.

I’m a big fan of Top Chef, Iron Chef and have also been following The Next Food Network Star. It’s fun to muse on how these different chefs hit it big. My favorite, Giada, was discovered when a network executive read an article about her in Food & Wine Magazine. The article was called “Let’s Do Lunch”, and described a luncheon party that the Rome born beauty hosted in honor of her grandfather, a legendary filmmaker. Giada’s passion for food shown through that day, and has ever since.

I can’t help but appreciate how the art of narrative detail has helped others accomplish Food Network fame. When we hear a good story, we want to add, literally, more flavors to it by passing a really good table wine around the table and serving those we love a family style favorite, ratcheted up 100 percent, with flavors passed down among generations. I saw the recently selected Food Network Star, Aarti Party do this with Indian cuisine her grandmother made her as a child in Bombay.

Stay tuned to my blog, which is a cooking narrative that grows yummier by the week. Starting now, I’m putting up a post every Monday morning! I’ve got stories to tell, people to feed and history to make.

Zucchini Pasta with Fresh Pesto and Ricotta Cheese

Adding fresh picked veggies to pasta creates a satisfying dish that is not only full of flavor, but also packed with good nutrition.

Serves: 6 to 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 to 8 minutes

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, about ½ cup
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon coarse pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 pound fresh pasta, cut into ½-inch strips
2 large zucchini, shaved into ½-inch strips
1 cup ricotta cheese
Shaved Parmesan cheese

To make the pesto, place the basil, spinach, pine nuts, garlic and Parmesan cheese into the bowl of a food processor (or blender). Pulse to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. With the machine running, slowly pour in the olive oil to form a paste.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Cook the pasta until al dente. Add the zucchini and cook for 2 minutes more. Drain the pasta and zucchini and place back into the pot. Stir in the pesto and Ricotta cheese. Serve in a large bowl and garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Related Posts with Thumbnails