FOOD: LINGUINI WITH BROCCOLI RABE, GARLIC & OIL

Hello Westchester Food Finders!

I want to introduce you to one of my favorite, quick and easy meals. This one should take you under 20 minutes from start to finish and is a great combo of vegetables and pasta that will satisfy the most discerning tastes and will keep your kids coming back for more as well.

Linguini with Broccoli Rabe, Garlic, and Oil

The ingredients are few but flavorful.

Broccoli Rabe

Linguini

Garlic

Pecorino Romano Cheese

Olive Oil

Start by cutting and cleaning your broccoli rabe. You will want to cut off the bottom end of the stems as they are not really tender. Now if you have time, cut your stems individually, I tend to not have the time, so a good time saving rule is to cut the stems at the point where the packaging ends. Take look at the illustrations below.

Individual Cut

Quick and East Cut

 

Once cut, wash your vegetables.  Boil some water and drop in your broccoli rabe. You will want to boil for 3-4 minutes or until tender to the touch. Once tender, strain and place in a cool water bath. The cool water will stop the cooking process and will keep your vegetables green.

Pulling the veggies out of the boiling water allows you to reuse the water to boil your pasta and thus cut down your cooking time. Drop your pasta in the boiling water. While e the pasta is boiling, peel some garlic and slice. Fill a small pan with half a cup of olive oil on low heat and toast your garlic. The low heat will warm your oil and help infuse the flavor of the garlic without burning. Remember burnt garlic gets bitter.

Take your garlic off the heat as soon as it starts to get golden. It will get darker off the heat, so don’t overcook.

When your pasta is cooked you are less than a minute away from sitting down and enjoying your meal. Strain your pasta, toss in your broccoli rabe, and drizzle with the garlic and oil. Add some fresh pepper and cheese, and now you have a meal in minutes. You can cut some strips of grilled chicken for a lean protein, or feel free to grill some spicy sausage, cut on a bias and toss in as well for a bigger kick. If you can’t decide, try both.  I have and the dish is even more delicious!

Linguini with Broccoli Rabe, Garlic, & Oil

 

SPOT: MEZZA LUNA PIZZERIA & RESTAURANT

Hello Westchester Food Finders! I am pleased to share that one of my favorite restaurants has now become one of our first sponsors.

Last week we made dinner plans with another couple at Mezza Luna on Brook Street in Eastchester. The restaurant delivered as usual. Mezza Luna is our first choice for smart casual dining, whether with friends or with the little ones. The chefs offer a wide range of appetizers, pizzas, pastas, entrees and desserts.

mz-buildingmz-sign

 

The couple we were with was hoping for a “pick at everything” kind of dinner, so we were happy to oblige. We started with an order of eggplant rollatini and a Caprese salad. The appetizers are generous portions and a wonderful warm up for the evening.

The eggplant is thinly sliced, gently fried, and stuffed with fresh well seasoned ricotta and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. This dish is topped with their in house marinara and melted mozzarella. When this dish gets to your table, you know you’ve ordered the right appetizer.

eggplant-rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini

 

The crispy eggplant and soft creamy ricotta gives you wonderful texture, and the marinara cuts the creaminess perfectly. When you order this dish, definitely have the wait staff place the warm bread on your side of the table.

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

We also ordered a caprese salad. The salad was a crisp, light appetizer with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, peppers and giardiniera. All the components of the dish were lightly drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with freshly ground salt and pepper. The dish was perfect as a share, but can easily hold up as a delicious lunch option on a Saturday afternoon.

Next up we decided to share a pasta special of the day. The Gemelli alla Zia Maria were gemelli pasta tossed with smoked mozzarella, crisp asparagus, and diced tomatoes. They sauce is light, velvety, and smooth! We sprinkled it with some fresh Parmigiano and cracked pepper and we were very happy.

Gemelli Pasta

Gemelli Pasta alla Zia Maria

Keeping with the sharing spirit we split an order of grilled chicken with broccoli rabe. The dish comes with a side order of penne with house marinara or a house salad. The grilled chicken dish delivered on its promise. The dish had two large grilled and thickly slice chicken breasts on top of a bed of broccoli rabe tossed in garlic and oil. The dish is simple, and yet still perfect for those who may want a hardly meal and still have room for something sweet after dinner. Now on to dessert.

Cannoli!

Cannoli!

We were thrilled to have just enough room to order a few cannoli. This is a part of the meal where you may not want to share. We ordered two cannoli for the four of us. These cannoli are large. They are filled to order, so you are served a crispy crunchy shell stuffed with creamy, sweet ricotta filling that is restaurant made. Visit Mezza Luna for dinner, or place an order to take out. Their full menu is available for either option. They cater as well so keep them in mind for your next event.

Mezza Luna Pizzeria & Restaurant, 118 Brook St., Scarsdale, NY 10583 (914-722-4854)  http://www.mlpizzeria.com

SPOT: PAX ROMANA (WHITE PLAINS)

Westchester, Visit Pax Romana and order some pasta with purpose!

Bucatini Amatriciana

Bucatini Amatriciana with proceeds going to the Italian Earthquake Relief Effort

Not only do they boast an amazing selection of house made pastas and pizzas, the restaurant has the flour for their in house made delights imported from Italy. They have pledged to donate $1 to the Italian Earthquake Relief Effort for every special order of Bucatini Amatriciana sold.

I plan on visiting again soon and giving the restaurant the proper food find treatment it deserves, but if you were running around all weekend and don’t have the time to dine in, stop by for some house made gelato to go,  and drop some loose change in their relief bucket.

 

 

 

FOOD: PASTA AGLIO OLIO

Pasta Aglio Olio

IMG_3581 (2)

This is a very quick, very delicious, low prep and low ingredient dish. It is perfect for a quick after work meal for the kids. Nice if you want to fake your cooking skills to impress your date too. Had a long night out with some friends and you get back to apartment hungry, don’t go for the cereal. Grab a box of spaghetti or linguini and you’ll have a meal in under 15 minutes. Be sure to call it Pasta Aglio Olio instead of Pasta with Garlic and Oil if you want to sound all gourmet.

Ingredients List

Favorite Brand of boxed Linguini or Spaghetti

Half a cup of the best olive oil you have in your pantry

4 cloves of garlic

Half a cup of chopped parsley

Grated cheese to taste

 

Here’s the quickest way of getting your pasta from the box to the table.

Start your water on your stovetop, and salt your water (Use a pot big enough for the whole box of pasta)

In a small pan, pour in your oil. Place on low heat as you don’t want to burn your garlic, you are simply warming the oil so that you may infuse the garlic taste in all of the oil. If you like spice, drop in some red pepper flakes in the oil a minute or so before your pasta is finished boiling so you can infuse some heat as well.

Cut, chop, slice, mince, smash, crush your garlic and drop it in the oil. It’s completely up to your taste. If you plan on taking the garlic out, the larger the pieces the easier to remove. Love your garlic, thinly sliced is nice. I say leave it in as it makes a difference in taste. If you don’t have fresh garlic, you can use the canned roasted variety. I prefer fresh, or a combination of both. You’ll be making this pasta frequently enough that you can decide by trial and error.

You have your garlic heating, pasta boiling. Take out your cheese. Most will have either pre-grated Parmegiano or Peccorino Romano in their fridge. Either or both will do get it ready for your plating. If you are trying to impress, grab a block of either/both and a cheese grater and get fancy.

Pasta is ready. Strain, and put it in a nice size bowl so it will be easier to toss your pasta. Pour the oil and garlic on top and start to toss. Drop in your parsley and continue to toss, coating the pasta with the garlic infused oil. Fresh Parsley is the toughest ingredient here. Most people will have olive oil, pasta and cheese in their kitchens. I usually will have fresh parsley growing on my window sill or in my garden 9 months out of the year. Luckily every grocery store will have fresh parsley for those of us who don’t have a green thumb. Now you may be asking, what do you do for fresh parsley in the dead of winter? Parsley freezes well. If you don’t think you’ll use all the parsley before it starts to wilt, chop a half of a cup of cleaned parsley for your pasta now and put the rest in a cup of water. Next day clean and chop the rest and put it in your freezer in half a cup portions for your next recipe challenge.

Ok, your pasta smells good and you’re hungry. Grate some fresh cheese on top of the pasta while still in the large bowl. Toss a few more times and add some more cheese. Pour yourself a glass of wine, plate and enjoy.