Tag Archives: pasta

Creamy Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Cremini Mushrooms

6 Apr

Is it just me, or has this winter felt particularly long? The first day of spring was two weeks ago, but I still find myself wearing the same puffy jacket and boots that I wore mid-January.

On a cold, rainy evening last week I decided enough is enough. I may not be able to create spring outside, but I can create it in my kitchen. I’m a huge fan of Food52 and was inspired by this risotto recipe that I came across on their blog. Everything about it screams springtime: crunchy veggies, fresh herbs and lots of lemon. It was the perfect cure for my winter blues.

The key is making great risotto is patience. The rice needs to be stirred constantly to allow the starches to be released, which takes at least thirty minutes. This requires a lot attention, so try not to leave your risotto unattended too often or you won’t get that wonderful, creamy texture. There aren’t any shortcuts here, but the end result is more than worth the effort.

Once you get the basic recipe down, you’ll find yourself making it all the time. Simply add in any combination of your favorite veggies, proteins, and herbs. Voilá! Dinner is served.

Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Cremini Mushrooms

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
½ lb Cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs. olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 tsp. butter
½ lb. asparagus, cut into 1’’ pieces
1 handful parsley
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
¼ cup Parmesan or Piave cheese, grated

Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer with the lid on. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Sauté until softened, 3-4 minutes, then remove the mushrooms and set aside.

In another saucepan, boil 3 cups of water and add the asparagus. Blanch for 2-3 minutes until they turn a bright green color. Remove them with a slotted spoon and immediately place them in bowl of ice water. Let cool for a minute then drain and set aside.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Stir in the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and let it toast for about 3 minutes.  Add the wine and let it cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Add ½ cup stock to rice and stir constantly. Allow liquid to be fully absorbed before adding another ½ cup of stock. Repeat this process until the rice is fully cooked and develops a creamy texture. This may or may not require all four cups of stock.

When the rice is done cooking, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Add the asparagus, mushrooms, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley and cheese. Stir and serve warm.


#MeatlessMonday: Kale, Ricotta and Walnut Pasta

3 Dec


I live with my boyfriend, who is totally vegetarian and very nearly vegan and then there is me, who is anything but.  We tend to gravitate towards pasta dishes as a common ground for meals.  Pasta is filling and very easy to make vegetarian.  It’s a dish where neither of us are sitting there afterwards wondering what to eat next, which can happen after one too many dinners of lentil salad. Continue reading

Grandma Dolores’ Lasagna

17 Oct

When my grandmother was growing up, Sunday was pasta-making day. Box pasta was not allowed in her household, both because of her family’s pride and because it was much more economical to make their own. After church each week, her cousins, aunts and uncles who lived in the area would gather at her house to indulge in homemade pasta—tagliatelle, ravioli, and cavatelli, to name a few.

Lasagna was saved for the holidays, which her entire family of 17 people spent together. It was the most sensible dish for such occasions because it was relatively cheap to make but fed more than enough mouths. Grandma’s memories of lasagna take her back to “love and happiness” and spending time with her relatives in the Bronx. When she moved away from home, she couldn’t bring herself to make it for other people. She finally gave into Gramps’ begging and made it for the first time for him because it was his favorite dish. “Imagine that! An Irishman brought lasagna back into our lives,” she pointed out.

Now that my grandma and her cousins live all over the country, lasagna and memories of those days spent around the family table hold them close to each other. Since my grandma has been making this lasagna for decades, you can probably guess that she doesn’t need to use a recipe, but she recorded it just for you. I hope you enjoy it, whether you choose to make it for your next family gathering or to keep it all to yourself.

Grandma Dolores’ Lasagna Recipe

As you know, everyone has their own special way of making lasagna (also called lasagne) and their own special ingredients. Here’s one of the ways that I make mine—my favorite.

Preheat oven to 350. This is going to cook for at least one hour, then it will rest for at least one-half hour, and then it has to get popped back into the over for 10 to 15 minutes.


2 quarts meat sauce (Italians call it “gravy,” and contrary to what some people say, it truly is gravy because it’s tomato sauce with meat in it). If you don’t make your own, I recommend Ragu 7-herb because it is very flavorful—just thin out with a little bit of water.
12-16 pieces lasagna pasta (I prefer the “no boil” since it’s just as good but much easier)
2/3 lbs. ricotta, either whole or part skim
1 lb. mozzarella, shredded
1/4-1/2 lb. peccorino romano cheese, grated
2-3 eggs, beaten (1 for each lb. ricotta)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped or dried
8 meatballs or 1/2 lb. seasoned and cooked ground meat, cooked and crumbled
salt and pepper to taste


Mix together the ricotta, eggs, ¾ lb. mozzarella, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.

In a lasagna or large baking pan, spread enough sauce to coat the bottom. Lay out lasagna pasta to cover the bottom—no need to overlap. Coat the pasta with sauce, spoon on ½ (if using 2 lbs) or 1/3 (if using 3 lbs.) of ricotta mixture, crumbled meat, and then sprinkle on a little more tomato sauce. Repeat the process. Top with a layer of pasta and cover it with sauce, making sure to cover every inch of the pasta or it will dry out and burn. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and cook for one hour. The final layer of mozzarella is not put on now because it will dry out.

Take the pan out of the oven and leave it on top of the stove for at least 30 minutes to rest. Right before you’re ready to serve, put the lasagna back into the oven for about 10 minutes to heat up, remove from oven, remove aluminum foil, sprinkle remaining mozzarella over the top, and cover loosely with foil so until mozzarella melts. Wait about 10 minutes and it’s ready to serve and enjoy.

Side note: my mom and I made this recipe using gluten-free pasta and it was just as delicious!

Happy Birthday, Giada De Laurentiis!

22 Aug

The Food Network’s Italian goddess, Giada de Laurentiis, is celebrating her birthday today, and so are we, here at Cookbook Create. The culinary and pastry-trained chef—who is an alum of Le Cordon Blue in Paris, France—is best known for her hit TV show, “Everyday Italian” and as the NY Times best-selling author of Giada At Home, one of her 6 published cookbooks. Born in Rome Italy, Giada takes a very fresh, personable approach to Italian classics and adapts them for the modern home cook.

In celebration of Giada’s Birthday, we are downloading the “Giada’s Daily Bite” app on our iPhones and iPads. Her app includes easy weeknight recipes, Giada’s simple cooking tips, and our favorite feature – sound “bites” to help you pronounce Italian words just like her.  Additionally, the Daily Bite app includes a sneak peek at recipes from Giada’s newest cookbook, Weeknights with Giada.

As a kid, Giada’s mother, “for [her] birthday every year,” made pasta béchamel, “which is rigatoni with a white cream sauce.”  That sounds like the perfect way to celebrate! We know what we’ll be eating for dinner.

From all of us at Cookbook Create, Buon Compleanno, Giada!

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