Summer pasta dreams do come true… this recipe is proof.
Ripe tomatoes lined my windowsill this morning and they looked like summer’s precious jewels. Either raw or cooked, heirlooms tomatoes have the most incredible burst of sweet flavor. After coming up with about 20 different ideas for my ‘maters, I landed on making this perfect summer garden linguine dish since I was really keen on twirling pasta around my fork in that moment. If you are Italian, you can especially understand what it means to be in a particular mood to twirl your past. A sentence my mother has often uttered in her true Brooklyn form, “No, I don’t feel like rigatoni today, I am really in the mood to twirl.”
My future self six months from now in the dead of winter will look back on this meal and try to remember a time when we could eat tomatoes that looked and tasted this good every single night. I’ll wonder, “Did I eat this outside?” “In a tank top and shorts?” I will be so jealous of the lucky bitch duck that I am today. But for now, I am obsessed with myself for whipping up such a SIMPLE and incredibly DELICIOUS recipe that I can now share with my readers.
Banza makes linguine out of chickpeas and I think if I blindfolded you and put a bowl of regular linguine and a bowl of chickpea linguine in front of you– it would be hard to tell the difference. I can just feel my skeptical brother rolling his eyes at this last sentence, as he tends to do towards me more than anyone I know… but I will keep you guys posted on his reaction when I serve him a bowl with chickpea spaghetti. Spoiler alert: He’s gonna love it.
Channeling my inner “Barefoot Contessa” as I was making dinner this evening, I put up a large pot of boiling water and added “lots of salt”. She also always advises her viewers to use “good olive oil.” She is my goddess.
The pasta took 10 minutes to cook and I find that the trickiest part about getting chickpea pasta to taste amazing is making sure that it gets cooked the right amount. Too short or too long of cook time can make it go from “YUM” to “MEH” and that’s just not acceptable.
The creation of this dish was actually inspired by a tomato pasta dish I usually make in the WINTER by Giada DeLaurentiis. Canned cherry tomatoes are what make it more of a winter meal.
Can this dish be made vegan?
Can you use regular pasta instead of chickpea?
Either version will be delish, but this version was what my heart was calling for on the day of creation. I even had burrata in the house that I put right on top, but if you don’t have that, you can alternatively add cubed mozzarella, ricotta, or omit the soft cheese all together.
One day soon, hopefully, I will have videos of these recipes in my very own kitchen!
Tips for this dish:
1. I used kosher salt because it really draws out the juices of the tomatoes.
2. I save my Parmesan rinds in the freezer and then whip them out and add them into sauces, but you can always buy parmesan rinds at a reasonable price at many grocery stores. I know Whole Foods has them since I am there pretty much every day.
3. If you want this to be vegan, my advice is to blend half of the sauce so that it isn’t too dry.
4. I have made this kind of dish with macaroni (like penne rigate and rigatoni) as well and it is fantastic.
How beautiful is this pasta dish?
It just looks like summer. Mangia! Let me know what you think of this tomato recipe and please enjoy these precious days of summer.
1½ teaspoons kosher salt (plus more for pasta water)
1 pound Banza chickpea linguine pasta (Can use regular pasta as well, even penne)
1 cup fresh basil, ribboned (leave a little extra for the end).
½ cup parmesan, grated
2 tablespoons room temperature butter
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese or 4 oz mozzarella, cubed or burrata (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Heat the olive oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté on medium, high hear for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic is lightly caramelized, golden, and fragrant. Slowly add the tomatoes and any juices left on your cutting board. Add the parmesan rind. Adjust the heat to medium to keep the sauce at a simmer. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Stir often to avoid sticking. Stir in the salt.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
Once the sauce has thickened, you can either puree the sauce in a blender or leave it in this chunky form. Remove from the heat, remove the parmesan rinds from the sauce. Stir in the pasta, basil, parmesan cheese and butter. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt, and pepper. If needed, thin the sauce with pasta cooking water.
Divide the pasta among bowls and top with ricotta cheese (or mozzarella or burrata, black pepper, cherry tomatoes and basil. EAT!
Thanks to meat-free bacon and other replacements, classic meat recipe favorites can come back to the table with a veggie vengeance. Lots of my readers are trying to eat less meat but still want to enjoy some of their favorite dishes, like a great carbonara sauce. This recipe lets you do just that and it will satisfy anyone of the vegetarian or omnivorous persuasion. The MorningStar brand veggie bacon strips are a great substitute for meat. Other than the bacon replacement, this recipe contains all of the usual ingredients of a great carbonara dish such as fresh herbs, garlic, and egg yolks. Also, the aromatic smell of rosemary-garlic oil that will take over your kitchen is quite a bonus.
I made this dish on Christmas day on the good old isle of Staten amongst skeptical family members who consider French fries to be a vegetable and make my vegetarianism the butt of a joke that never gets old. I am a good sport though, but mainly because I want to convince my loved ones that maintaining a plant-based diet is health supportive AND delicious. This meal is not one of my healthiest, but I throw in some lacinato kale because I love to have some greens in my dishes. My family ended up loving my version of carbonara and they already requested that I make it again the next time we all see each other!
This dish really takes no time to make and I even ate it for breakfast the next morning because it’s actually like eating breakfast since it has “bacon” and eggs! I throw some tiny chopped up pieces of the veggie bacon in with the olive oil to start this dish, along with the garlic and rosemary, all while my pasta is cooking in the boiling pot of water. Carbonara is a Roman dish, so I usually use a blend of Pecorino Romano & Parmesan cheeses at the end. I also add nice grassy parsley at the end because it breaks up the salt a little bit, so I throw in a generous handful. The eggs in this dish are also very important.
Tip: This dish calls for egg yolks, so I put the egg whites into a little plastic baggy and eat them for breakfast the next morning so that they don’t go to waste!
The most important trick to make a carbonara is to temper the egg yolks. This is why I reserve some of my magic cooking liquid, around 1/2-1 cup of the starchy pasta water, and I take it over to my egg bowl. While I am whisking or stirring the eggs with a fork or a whisk, I slowly add the pasta water into the eggs and I keep mixing. If you don’t take the time to do this, all you will end up with is scrambled eggs… with spaghetti… and little bits of chopped up veggie bacon.
For the brightest color, I use farm-fresh eggs, which are widely available at Whole Foods and farmers markets. The hens that lay them are often fed marigolds which make the egg yolks intensely bright yellow-orange. Many recipes for carbonara include cream—I never add cream. The creamy quality of the sauce should come from the tempered eggs emulsifying with the cheeses and pasta.
Another important tip for carbonara is that you want to cook your spaghetti al dente… you want it to be a minute away from being perfect because you have to drain it and then add all of the pasta to the pan with the sauce so that it will continue to cook. That process is called “carry-over cooking.” Then, you add all of the sauce to the pan and mix that up so that it turns into a slippery system for the garlic, olive oil, rosemary and bacon to combine all together. Let me tell you, the smell at that point is pretty heavenly!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
Heat olive oil, 3 turns of the pan, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add veggie bacon, garlic, rosemary and some red pepper, and stir 2 minutes more. Next, add the kale and cook that down for 1 minute.
Add wine and reduce heat to low. In a separate bowl, whisk up egg yolks and season with salt and pepper.
Add pasta to salted boiling water and cook to al dente.
Whisk ½ cup of starchy cooking water to egg yolks in a slow stream to temper them. Reserve an extra half-cup starchy water in case the pasta gets too tight when you toss it. Drain pasta and add to pan with veggie bacon and garlic.
Remove from heat and toss with egg yolks and grated cheeses as well as parsley, adjust salt and pepper to taste.
I’m not sure if this was a dish on the original Yom Kippur table when they were breaking fast thousands of years ago, but lentils with pasta has always been on the Wolfson table that evening. We had a guest over during the occasion last month and he has been hounding me to post this recipe ever since. The best part is that he isn’t Jewish, so it wasn’t like he was fasting all day long and would’ve thought anything was delicious at that point– he was just hungry for dinner, as usual, and was blown away by this simple, yet flavorful dish.
There was a point when my mother made this dish so much when I was a little girl that I could hardly look at lentils, so it took me a few years to get back onto the lentil bandwagon. Despite my personal protest, my mother taught me how to make this meal and I am so grateful that she did because it is now one of my favorites.
Now that summer is a thing of the past, I am really trying to make the most of it by cooking fall/winter friendly recipes such as pasta e lenticchie. It is very easy and cheap to make while doubling as a figure-friendly dish! For my super-skinny variation, I make Lenticchie e scarola, aka lentils with escarole. I leave out the pasta and in its place add a 1/2 – to 1-pound head of escarole, chopped or shredded. This variation will have a soupier consistency.
Lentils and pasta are a traditional pairing in Italian cooking, and most of the regions in the southern part of the boot enjoy pasta con lenticchie in some form, usually in soups. In the future, I will post a variation of this dish where the lentils are cooked with other vegetables into a sauce that served as a delicious dressing for rigatoni. It was excellent that way—this sauce seems to me even more delightful as a dressing for whole-wheat or barley pasta.
I’ve been to restaurants before where orriechetti (also known as “little ears” macaroni) is used in this dish, but in my family, we always used Capellini, also known as capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair), broken into 2- or 3- or 4-inch lengths. I prefer using this very thin pasta and I love it because it cooks so quickly. Be warned: This is not soup. It should be very thick and it is eaten with a fork.
Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils) Author: Michele Wolfson
Author: Michele Wolfson
3 TBS olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can or jar or tube of tomato paste (6 oz)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 bag of lentils
1- 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
1-2 cups water
1 lb of capellini pasta, broken into 3 inch pieces or Fideo Cut Spaghetti
Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.
Add minced or pressed garlic, cook for a few minutes, but be careful not to brown.
Add tomato paste, then put the stove on a on low flame. Watch carefully stirring frequently for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, bring another pot of salted water to a boil for the lentils. Once it comes to a boil, add lentils and simmer for about 30 min.
Add the lentils to the pot with tomato paste and stir. Add the tomato sauce and additional water to the consistency that you want, 1-2 cups.
Check the salt and pepper. Add if needed.
Boil salted water for pasta. I usually use capellini and break it into about 3 inch pieces, but there is a new pasta that I found out there called Fideo Cut Spaghetti that is perfect because it's already broken all up. Drain and put the pasta in a serving bowl and add enough lentil mixture to keep it from sticking together. Put some in a soup bowl and add more lentils. I keep some of the pasta and the lentils separate so that the pasta doesn't suck up all of the liquid.
As I unpack my apartment after moving from Cambridge, MA back to downtown Manhattan, I am tempted to take a little break and share one of my favorite summer recipes of all time. Moving can be a bit of a challenge, to say the least, so I have been rewarding myself with mini-breaks after I finish a big task on my long list of things that need to get done.
Recently, I had a photo-shoot with Kitchensurfing.com and one of the recipes featured was my basil pesto sauce. I loooooove pesto and this classic basil pesto recipe is a common go-to sauce in my repertoire, especially during the summertime. We take basil very seriously in my family’s garden and we grow TONS of this delicious herb. My mother and I make batches of our favorite green sauce by the dozen and freeze it so we have pesto that was made with our homegrown basil 365 days of the year.
The extremely tender, fragrant, extra-large, dark green leaves are superb for pesto and I use it in a variety of different ways, but my favorite way is on pasta. My mother loves to twirl it with her linguine and my brother loves to scoop it up with his rigatoni. There is no wrong way to enjoy pasta with your pesto. I recently read an article on one of my favorite food sites called The Kitchn about 10 Ways to Use Pesto Beyond Pasta and pretty much all of the suggestions looked phenomenal.
Making pesto is easy and it’s a perfect sauce to impress your loved ones with, especially if you use your own basil that you’ve grown, which you can totally do by the way. Basil is simple to grow, even in my NYC apartment. Plus, the smell of the fragrant leaves alone makes it worth having a pot of the good stuff collecting sunlight on your windowsill. Basically, in order to make pesto, all you need to do is put basil leaves in the food processor along with well-toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan, veganaise, cream cheese, garlic, salt and olive oil and and give it a whirl.
I recently traveled to the enchanting Cinque Terre, five coastal islands located on the Italian Riviera, which is known as the home to the best pesto in the world. Clearly, I had to do my research. I ate heavenly helpings of pesto in all forms at every meal and it was so delicious every. single. time. The whole experience got me really inspired to make some pesto when I got home not just for my pasta—even in my eggs! What is your favorite way to enjoy pesto? Leave your comments below and please enjoy this recipe!
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves (try to remove as many of the stems as possible)
2 cloves garlic
½ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup parsley
2 TBS cream cheese
⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
Combine the basil, garlic, parsley, pine nuts, cream cheese, and Veganaise in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add ½ cup of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.
If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Thaw and stir in cheese.
Valentine’s Day is special for plenty of reasons, but the most special, of course, is because it gives us the perfect excuse to eat copious amounts of chocolate. Honestly, I find it hard to trust people who don’t like chocolate. They are crazy and I am not ashamed to say exactly how I feel about them. That’s almost as insane as hating sunshine or puppies. If you don’t care for chocolate this isn’t the blog post for you, because this V-Day post is dedicated to my beloved chocolate.
Will you have to hit the treadmill for a few extra minutes the next day? Yes. Well, maybe more than a few, but it’s worth it and that means a lot coming from me because I hate the treadmill. These are great recipes to prepare with your loved ones. Let’s get a little crazy and start with the third course and work out way backwards:
I have made the Vegan Chocolate Truffles with people from the age of 8 to 68 and everyone has a good time getting their hands all chocolaty for the prospect of ending up with delicious homemade chocolate truffles. I posted this recipe for Marcus Samuelsson on his blog, so I figured I should share it with my readers as well!
Want to eat chocolate in a more unconventional way this Valentine’s Day? The Dark Chocolate Linguine in a Light Cream Sauce Recipe will do the trick. It received the stamp of approval a few years ago from the Chef Training Program at The Natural Gourmet Institute when I had my fellow classmates taste it back in 2011. Even THOSE foodies had never tasted anything like it. I purchased the pasta from Pike’s Market in Seattle, WA. I have been researching, but so far I have had no luck finding where it is sold nearby. Click here and order some of this decadent pasta as fast as you can or PLEASE comment and let us know where to find it if anyone has any idea. Eataly? A famous chocolatier’s shop? Not sure yet, but I will keep you posted. Giada De Laurentiis has a good recipe if you are feeling ambitious and want to make your chocolate pasta from scratch. If you make chocolate pasta from scratch for your significant other, he or she will love you forever.
Have you ever heard of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar? Have you ever heard of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar? If you have not, then you’re about to have your world rocked. This liquid wonder entered my life many years ago when I worked at The Filling Station, located in Chelsea Market. They offer shipping on their products, so go ahead and order yourself some Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar. Add this to the Arugula Salad that you will serve as your first course for this menu and your plus one won’t know what hit ’em. Pair this vinegar with some olive oil and you’ve got a super delicious combination on your hands.
A good way to jazz up this Valentine’s Day even more is to sip on a flavored liqueur, such as frangelico, kahlua, baileys. Or mix them all together in an espresso martini to along with the chocolate truffles. An after-dinner drink and some vegan truffles are the perfect way to end this three-course meal. This Valentine’s Day, I want to give you the gift of chocolate recipes, so chocolate is in every course. Are you up for the challenge?
Dark Chocolate Linguine in a Light Cream Sauce Recipe
Author: Michele Wolfson
Recipe type: Pasta
1 lb dark chocolate linguine
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 pint heavy cream
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan
¼ cup freshly grated asiago
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, about 6 leaves
One 2-ounce block bittersweet chocolate
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the linguine and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes or according to package.
Meanwhile, toast walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven on 350 degrees until cooked on the inside or over a stove top.
Then, put heavy cream in a medium sized pot on med-low heat for one minute. While your cream is heating, put the egg yolk in a bowl and beat it. Then add a tablespoon of the warm cream into the bowl with the beaten egg and continue to mix them together.
Add the egg and cream mixture into the pot with the rest of the heavy cream. Add your cheeses. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, place butter in a skillet and stir over medium heat until melted. Reduce the heat and simmer until frothy. Continue to cook until the butter has a nutty aroma and turns a caramel color, about 3 minutes. Add the sage leaves and cook until they are browned and toasted, about 2 minutes. Remove the fried sage to a paper towel-lined plate.
Drain the spaghetti when ready and then place it in a pasta serving bowl. Pour your white sauce on your chocolate linguine.
Using vegetable peeler, gently run the peeler over the chocolate to create chocolate curls. Sprinkle the curls over the pasta along with a few fried sage leaves and toasted walnuts.
This big bowl of wonderful smells like hot cocoa, and yes, pasta in chocolate form is delicious! Chocolate is great in all forms, as far as I'm concerned. Another great idea that my instructor at culinary school gave me for the sauce was to use Gorgonzola, honey, and walnuts instead. I almost initially used Gorgonzola and I will definitely be trying that the next time. It sounds incredible. Enjoy this with your Valentine, or whomever, and let me know about the outcome.
Have you ever looked in your fridge and had the daunting feeling that you have to use up at least seven things before they go bad? I was digging around in my fridge a few nights ago when I came across some produce that I had to eat soon or else they would reach the end of their vegetable lifespan, and I would essentially be throwing money away in the garbage, which I hate.
Click on pic to watch it cook!
I had made a variation of the squash, mushroom and white bean quesadillaswith sweet potatoes, and Portobello mushrooms, so I knew that those would be the star ingredients for the evening. Sometimes some of the tastiest creations are formed in the kitchen when you least expect them to and this was one of those times. The dish I created was simple to make but rich in flavor… Read more about it below!
Portobello Mushroom Reduction with Sweet Potatoes & Rigatoni
This can be a nice weekday night dinner since it's easy to prepare and it is really filling. Vegetarians will thank you for making them such a rich and flavorful meal without the heaviness of something creamy or highly caloric. Omnivores will thank you too. Nobody is going to be missing the beef Bourguignon tonight!
Author: Michele Wolfson
Recipe type: Pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in ¼-inch slices
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces (12 ounces)
Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy saucepan over high heat. Cook the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.
Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil and butter. Toss the sweet potatoes, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan. Cook for 8 minutes or until nearly tender, gently stirring occasionally. Add the onion; cook about 5 minutes more or until potato and onion are tender and lightly browned, gently stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.
Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
In 6-quart Dutch oven cook pasta according to package directions; add spinach one minute before pasta is ready to drain.
Add pasta and spinach to potato and mushroom mixture, tossing gently until spinach is just wilted. Add goat cheese and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.