Learning As I Chop

A Good Use of Summer Ingredients

Posted in Baking/Cooking, Food Philosophies, Tips by R @ Learning As I Chop on August 31, 2010

It’s hot in NYC. Gonna hit 95 degrees today. So H and I wanted a light, no-oven type of dinner. H suggested this pasta salad but in the interest of LAIC I wanted to try something new. So I did something I normally don’t do – I searched through the pages of Cooking Light. Now, I love Cooking Light. I read it shortly after it arrives in my mailbox, and dog-ear many recipe pages. But then I forget about it. The magazine sits somewhere in my home and I turn to my usual suspects (epicurious, J of C) when I need an idea. But not this time! This month they smartly focused on quick dinners for the working family.  Dinners that could be ready  in about 30 minutes. Genius.  So I decided on this dish of fettuccine with tomatoes, basil and a little bit of Parmesan cheese.

1 (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved (about 1/2 cup)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; place pasta in a large bowl.

2. While pasta cooks, heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes and salt; cover and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in basil and pepper. Add tomato mixture to pasta; toss well to combine. Top with cheese.

I tried to follow some tips I learned from this month’s issue. Specifically, aim to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start. The tomatoes cut, the basil torn, the cheese measured… It can save you time and stress. We (ok, me) usually think we have to start right away, because we don’t have a lot of time/we’re hungry/we’re excited, but taking 5 minutes to prepare everything can actually work in your favor. It’s a bit like organizing the outline before writing the paper. But I digress..

Ironically, I’ve also been trying to slow down in the kitchen. Work more methodically. As Carla from Top Chef would say, “put some love into my food.” So even though I wanted to rush though chopping 4 cups of cherry tomatoes, I put on my patience cap and paced myself.

Tasting my food is another lesson I’m trying to learn. H and I always laugh that I’m so into cooking and eating, yet I forget to taste my food before it’s served. He jokes that I want to be surprised at the table, which frankly isn’t the best plan. At least when it’s not just dining a un. I’m also way too reliant on packaging. If the box says, “cook six minutes,” I’ll pull the pasta from the water after exactly six minutes. I won’t even taste it.  But I’m trying to do better. So yesterday I tasted the pasta before draining and it seemed good to me.  However after the water was gone, half of the pasta was undercooked. Like sticking together, definitely way too al dente, under cooked. Does anyone have any tips on how to avoid this debacle?

Nevertheless, this dish was delicious. Fresh, light and budget friendly.  Definitely recommend it. Enjoy!


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3 Responses

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  1. Anna said, on August 31, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Yum! I love fresh, easy pasta salads during the warm weather months!

  2. Heather @ Side of Sneakers said, on August 31, 2010 at 11:04 am

    My husband always laughs when I sit down to eat and say “Oh, it’s good!”- since I never ever taste it while I’m cooking 😉

  3. Heather said, on August 31, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    i’m glad it was good even though the pasta wasn’t done enough just yet 🙂 i really like the prep tip…it really does make a huge difference!


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