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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Buttered Green Pasta and Asparagus with Basil

Here's a recipe that highlights the asparagus season.


Buttered Green Pasta and Asparagus with Basil

Source:  The Italian Vegetable Cookbook by Michele Scicolone
Serves 8

4 T unsalted butter, divided
1/4 c chopped scallions
2 pds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 in. pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c water
1 pd spinach pasta (of course, regular pasta can be substituted)
1/2 c basil, cut in chiffonade (rolled and thinly sliced)
1/4 c chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Meanwhile, melt 2 T of the butter in a large skillet. Add the scallions and cook about 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, salt and pepper, and the water. Cover and cook at medium heat until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

When the water boils, add about 1 T salt and add the pasta to the pot and cook until al dente. Saving some of the pasta cooking water in a bowl or measuring cup, drain the pasta.

Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with the asparagus and add the remaining butter, the herbs, and toss well. Add some of the reserved pasta water to the pasta if it seems dry. Add half of the cheese and toss. Serve; passing the rest of the cheese to diners.

Weeknight Waterzooi

When I found the Julia Child recipe for Chicken Waterzooi (a creamy chicken and vegetable stew) I read through several other recipes in my research. I loved the flavor of Julia's recipe and will likely choose to make it when the mood hits. However, it was somewhat time consuming, especially if you are a cook with limited time and a hungry family. I saw this variation on Food52 and decided to try it when I next visited Betsy so we could each form an opinion of the dish. I'm at Betsy's on a baby watch and I cooked this dish a couple of days ago. We both liked it and so did the family members who were willing to try it (one child abstained). We found the recipe as it stood somewhat problematic so we made some changes and feel like this version is both a tasty and quick meal.


Weeknight Waterzooi

Adapated from Food52 
Serves 6-8

2 T butter
1 onion, diced
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
2 large carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
salt and pepper to taste
4 chicken breasts (2-2 1/2 pounds), cut in bite sized pieces (1/2 in. by 1 in.)
4 to 5 c chicken broth (or 2 cans broth and extra water)
1 egg yolk
1 c heavy cream
2 T cornstarch
2 T white wine vinegar
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Melt butter in a Dutch oven. Add vegetables and about 1/2 teas salt and cook over medium-low heat until softened. Add chicken broth (or a mix of broth and water) to just cover the vegetables. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in chicken and reduce heat to medium low or low. 

While the chicken begins to cook whisk together the egg yolk, cream, cornstarch in a small bowl. After chicken has cooked 5-10 minutes (it should have changed color but may not be completely cooked). Stir in the cream mixture and continue to heat until nearly a boil. Stir in pepper and taste for seasoning (add salt if needed). Avoid a heavy boil because it could curdle the egg. Stir in wine vinegar and serve, sprinkling each bowl with parsley.