Spring Vegetable & Basil Carbonara

photo-575This past weekend I took a trip to St. George in southern Utah for the first time. It was unbelievable, the scenery is so dramatic and colorful, it looks fake. Large red rocks, red sand and crisp blue sky makes you feel as though you are in a poster or movie. photo-578I also walked a Labyrinth for the first time in Kayenta at the Coyote Gulch Art Village. I had never walked in one before. There is one way in and one way out, by meandering through the path you reach the center stone where you can place an offering, prayer or write your name, before weaving through the path the same way you came in. Stepping over the stones or jumping out of the circle is bad luck and disrupts your journey. It was fun activity in a beautiful location! photo-9Walking through the Labyrinth was beautiful and calming- until I got to the center and realized I had to do the whole thing over again! But I was too afraid to jump the rocks for fear of upsetting some Earth God and paying for it later!

When the warmer weather arrives in the spring, I always crave fresh vegetables that are typically sparse in the winter. Even though you can get just about anything at market these days, you can always tell what produce is in season by how plump and vibrant it is! That is why this spring vegetable carbonara is a sweet spring treat!

The basil aioli is a lighter spin on pesto so you can enjoy the creaminess of carbonara with the bold flavors of fresh basil! Feel free to swap out other vegetables if they look fresher at the market! Enjoy!

Spring Vegetable & Basil Carbonara (serves 6-8)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, rubber band left on
  • 1 pound linguini
  • 1 cup Basil Aioli, recipe follows
  • 1 cup shaved pecorino
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Basil Aioli:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus (with rubber band on) and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water and let sit until cool, about 5 minutes. Remove from the ice water, remove the rubber band, and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Basil Aioli: Combine the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a food processor and run the machine to mix. (you can use a blender or food processor) With the machine running slowly drizzle in the vegetable and olive oil. (Basil Aioli can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
  3. In another skillet add 2 tablespoons of butter and saute mushroom, zucchini, and pepper for 3-4 minutes, add tomatoes and peas and saute another 3-4 minutes until everything is tender. Add cut asparagus to mixture, toss and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the large pot of salted water used to cook the asparagus and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl. Add the Basil Aioli, veggies, shaved cheese, salt, and pepper. Garnish with additional shaved cheese and serve.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

 

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Zucchini Bread with Honey Butter

photo-292Happy Monday! I hope you had a wonderful weekend doing whatever it is that you love. I spent my weekend camping, relaxing, and making enough zucchini bread to feed a small country. One of our friends harvested a huge zucchini from his garden and gave it to me- It was one of the largest zucchinis I’ve seen!photo-289Unfortunately, once zucchinis get that size they are not as tender and delicious to cook with but they are still great for making zucchini bread. Morning Glory Farm on Martha’s Vineyard is notorious for their zucchini bread and since I was having a small case of FOMO (fear of missing out) after seeing all my friends and family enjoying a beach picnic OTV, I pulled out my comfort cookbook and made some zucchini bread, which allowed me to briefly pretend I was on the Island. photo-294I normally enjoy my zucchini bread plain or with a little cream cheese but the idea to make honey butter came to me and I thought zucchini bread and honey butter would make an amazing combination. I was right. Turns out honey butter is good on EVERYTHING! photo-295 I took some of the honey butter and made french toast with it this morning. I used a little in the pan to cook the french toast. I topped it with some fresh peaches and some more honey butter instead of maple syrup… It was heavenly. photo-290I love this recipe for zucchini bread because its light, simple and totally delicious! The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for it to cool down before enjoying it!!

Zucchini Bread with Honey Butter (Click for printer friendly version)

Preparation time: 25 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour | Servings: 2 Loaves

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (if using a very large zucchini remove the large seeds before shredding it.)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two 9″x5″ bread pans with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine zucchini, oil, eggs and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
  3. Beat sugar into mix until it is thoroughly creamed.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  5. Once liquids and sugar are well mixed, add dry ingredients. Mix until batter is well blended and even in texture. The batter should be smooth, outside the zucchini shreds.
  6. Pour batter evenly into pans
  7. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until bread is brown and springs back when gently pressed in the middle.

Honey Butter by Ski Boots in the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

  1. Place butter in microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for 15-20 seconds, so the butter is very soft but not melted.
  2. Add honey and vanilla.
  3. Using an electric hand mixer or kitchenaid mixer beat on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  4. Using a rubber spatula scoop butter onto a large piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and roll into a log.
  5. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Serve on zucchini bread, french toast, pancakes or just about anything! Enjoy!

photo-293

Fettuccine Cacio E Pepe with Summer Veggies

photo-278I think I have an unhealthy addiction to pasta and Parmesan cheese. When ever I go visit my grandmother in Italy I smuggle the largest hunk of Parmesan cheese I think I can get through customs without being arrested. Exhibit A:photo-276Maybe it was my obsession with the children’s book Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot growing up that caused me to have sweet dreams of pasta flowing through the streets in abundance. So it seems only natural that it is now one of my favorite things to cook (although I would enjoy cooking it even more if I had one of those magic pasta pots). photo-274Cacio E Pepe is a Roman pasta dish that literally translates to “Cheese and Pepper.” This 3 ingredient dish (butter, cheese and pepper) is a staple in Rome. One of my favorite celebrity chefs from “Top Chef” Fabio, won’t hire a cook in his kitchen unless they can make this dish flawlessly. While its not rocket science, it does require some finesse to perfectly blend the butter and cheese into a creamy delicious sauce.photo-275 I love buttery, cheesy noodles but since its summer and the farmers market is overflowing with amazing fresh vegetables I decided to give Fabio’s Cacio E Pepe a summer facelift. On my trip to the Canyons farmers market today, I picked up some fresh peas, corn and zucchini to saute up and serve atop the pasta. You could add just about any vegetable you like to this recipe, everything goes well with butter and cheese!

Fettuccine Cacio E Pepe with Summer Veggies (click for printer friendly version)

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

  • 1 box of fettuccine or spaghetti
  • 8 oz. (a stick) Salted butter, plus 1 Tablespoon
  •  2 T. black pepper, freshly cracked
  • 1- 1½ c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob
  • 2 cups fresh peas (you could substitute frozen if you must..)
  • 1 large zucchini, cut into ribbons using a peeler
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. In a large skillet melt 1 Tablespoon of butter, add peas, corn, zucchini and white wine, cook until tender and most of the liquid has cooked off. Remove from heat, set aside.
  3. Add the pasta and cook to al dente.
  4. While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the fresh cracked pepper.
  5. When the butter begins to bubble, turn off the flame and remove from heat.
  6. When the pasta is ready, reserve 2-3 tbsp. of the pasta water and drain the pasta. add the noodles and 2-3 tbsp. of the pasta water to the sauté pan with the butter.
  7. Cook over medium high heat until the liquid bubbles and thickens, tossing the pasta as needed.
  8. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, tossing rigorously until all ingredients are incorporated into a creamy sauce.
  9. Add the sauteed vegetables, toss one last time to coat all the ingredients evenly. (This step needs to be done quickly before the creamy sauce cools and thickens too much).
  10. Garnish with additional black pepper and Parmesan, and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Cacio E Pepe recipe from Fabio Vivani