Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fresh Fettuccini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

July in New York was officially categorized as the hottest on record. There has been absolutely no break and although you might think that I have no right to complain when some States are seeing temperatures in the 100s, you need to have lived in New York during the summer to understand what I am going through. I love my City and will rarely have anything bad to say, but the humidity is horrible, the air quality oppressive, and if you think its bad above ground try taking the subway. I lived in Greece when temperatures were in the high 120s, and I can assure you this is worse.

Despite the heat, Saturday was the New Amsterdam Market and if you read my last post you probably already know that nothing would have kept me away. As it turned out I also was going to be hosting an impromptu dinner party so I needed inspiration and ingredients. Although ice cream was a given, I still was trying to make up my mind regarding an entrée. My first thought was fresh pasta with a meat sauce, but that seemed heavy and got nixed quickly. For a moment I thought about a quiche, but I had visions of melting pastry dough and an oven not being able to keep up with my AC. After some time, it finally came to me! I was going to make fresh fettuccini with a fresh tomato basil sauce. Its refreshing, light and requires limited prep and minimal clean up.

Although this sauce can be made with any tomatoes, I love using small heirloom tomatoes of various colors since it adds to the presentation.

Fresh oregano can be used instead of dry, but it was hot and I was tired so I decided to make due with what was in my pantry. This dish is delicious with fresh pasta, but I imagine it would be as good with any dry pasta, like fusilli or penne.

Fresh Fettuccini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

- 2 pints cherry, grape tomatoes halved or quartered

- 10 basil leaves rolled and thinly sliced

- 2-4 garlic cloves crushed (depending on their size and how much you like garlic)

- 1 teaspoon dried oregano

- 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or more if you like heat)

- ½ cup olive oil

- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours.

Toss with cooked pasta and serve with freshly grated parmesan.

Stay cool! Next post, ice pops!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Next New Amsterdam Market-July 24, 2010!

Mmmmm, tarts....

On June 1, 2010 I wrote about the City of Merchants which was a fundraiser which benefited the New Amsterdam Market. Anyone that knows me knows how much I LUV this market since it supports and showcases local food artisans, farmers and producers. On the most basic level, the people at the New Amsterdam Market are trying to get enough interest so that they can take over the old abandoned Fulton Fish Market and host an indoor, year long market. Think Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. The food is fresh, delicious and reasonable. Samples are plentiful and you will always find something new! To wet your appetite I have posted some pictures from this and last year. The next one is on July 24, 2010 at Peck Slip by the Seaport and in my humble opinion, if you like food, eating or cooking, you must attend!

Fresh Pasta!



Beautiful Maple Syrup!


Artisinal Breads




Last but not least...dessert from the Bent Spoon!
Rhubard/Shiso and Mango/Blueberry Sorbet

For further details got to

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Jazzed-Up Insalata Tricolore

I realize this is my second salad post in a row, but it is hot as hades in New York and frankly light summer food is the only thing I can think about making or eating. This salad is a variation of the Insalata Di Foccacia that I used to eat at I Tre Merli, an Italian restaurant I worked at for several years. Last year I was craving the salad and tried to recreate it to only find out that I liked my version more (Sorry Paolo). What I think I did was merge the Insalata Tricolore with the Insalata Di Foccacia.

For extra protein/flavor you can add shaved parmesan or halved boccini mozzarella. As is, this salad is vegan, vegetarian and hearty enough to be sufficient as lunch or a light dinner. If you are feeling fancy you can even make your own foccacia croutons, although I find the store bought Italian seasoned croutons good enough. I douse my salad with balsamic vinegar, but since I realize not everyone may like vinegar as much as I do, I have modified the dressing so that you don’t end up with a permanent pucker.


1 package of pre-washed baby arugula or 3 cups of baby arugula washed, rinsed and dried

2 endives halved and sliced into ½ inch pieces

1 small radicchio sliced into one inch pieces

2 ripe tomatoes cut into one inch pieces

6-8 large basil leaves, stacked, rolled and thinly sliced

1 cup Italian croutons or Foccacia croutons

½ cup toasted pignoli nuts a.ka. pine nuts (see note and picture below)

2 Tbs capers (more if you love capers like I do)

3 Tbs good quality balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste (go easy on the salt and add more if needed later. Capers are pretty briny).


Toss everything into a large bowl, add the dressing and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

The nice thing about this salad is that the arugula, radicchio and endive stand up to the dressing and it won't get soggy as quickly as other salads. What I really like is when the croutons get soaked in the balsamic. Sometimes I just pick at the balsamic doused croutons and leave the rest for my husband. Yum!

Note: Toast the pine nuts lightly over medium heat in a small frying or saute pan until they have reached the color below. No oil is needed and make sure they do not burn! Check ethnic stores for pine nuts since they tend to be cheaper than the ones you find at gourmet shops.

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do.

Buon Appetito!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kat's Summer Orzo Salad

I am back! Although my blog is new, I unfortunately had to take a mini blogging vacation. The reason for my cooking/writing sabbatical will be revealed shortly and hopefully my next few recipes will make up for my time away. My original plan for my next post was my friend Ifrain’s tostones recipe, but because I made this orzo salad for a 4th of July party, I figured this recipe should come first. It is a great summer dish and tastes even better on the beach! This recipe is a modification of a salad I used to buy at Wild Oats in Miami Beach and over the years I have changed the recipe to create a perfect balance of orzo, feta, olives and tomatoes.

As further proof of this recipe’s success, I have posted a picture below of my friend’s beautiful daughter finishing up her second portion of the salad. This was the truest compliment since her mother says she is a picky eater and at 14 months she is too young to know how to lie. To me this is as good as a four star review from the Times!


1 package of orzo (or about two cups uncooked orzo)

1 pint of grape tomatoes halved or quartered (sometimes I don't have enough tomatoes to I quarter them so they go further)

1 cup of pitted Kalamatas chopped

3/4 lb of Feta, crumbled

6-8 thinly sliced basil leaves

2 thinly sliced scallions

2 Tbs olive oil plus extra for the orzo

3 Tbs red wine vinegar

2 cloves crushed garlic or finely mince and create a paste using the flat of your knife and a little salt

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cook the orzo according to the package instructions in rapidly boiling salted water until al dente. (Make sure it is not overcooked or it will be mushy). Stir frequently to ensure the orzo does not clump. When done rinse in cold water and top immediately with olive oil and mix to ensure the orzo does not stick together. Normally I don’t rinse pasta, but in this instance it is ok since it will be served cold and you don’t need the extra starch to bind a sauce.

When the orzo has cooled add the Feta, Kalamatas, tomatoes, scallions and basil leaves.

Make a vinegraitte by combining the vinegar, olive oil and garlic. Combine well and toss over the salad and then stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper to taste. I usually add one teaspoon of salt and black pepper, but the season will vary depending on the Feta you use. Some brands are saltier than other. Make sure the salad is thoroughly mixed, then chill over night or at least a few hours. This salad tastes best the next day!


§ Chiffonade the basil leaves by stacking, then rolling tight and slicing. I usually give them an extra chop so the pieces are smaller.

§ You can usually find pitted Kalamatas, but if not, you can use a cherry pitter to remove the pits. You also can use the flat side of your knife, by smashing the olive as you would a garlic clove. The pit will be pushed away from the flesh of the olive. Remove the pit and immediately throw it away. Even if you use pitted Kalamatas make sure there are no pits hiding since you don’t want anyone to chip a tooth while enjoying this salad.

§ As with all recipes, this salad required the best quality Feta, Kalamatas and olive oil.

I hope you enjoy this salad as much as Nairee did!!