Tag Archives: pasta

Ligurian Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Red Potatoes

After last week’s tips on how to harvest your basil to prepare pesto, I thought it was only fair that I share even more ways to use pesto. This recipe for Ligurian pesto pasta with green beans and red potatoes is a fantastic weeknight dinner. You can even save the leftovers and eat the rest for lunch, too.
Ligurian Pesto Pasta with Green Beans & Red Potatoes
You will need: 
– 4 tablespoons olive oil
– 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
– 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
– 2 cups green beans cut into 2″ pieces
– 6 small red potatoes cut into quarters, skin on
– 1 box of dry mini penne pasta (or pen shaped pasta)
To prepare:
Cook pasta until al dente, about 15 minutes.
Add the beans and potatoes after pasta has cooked and cook for 5 minutes until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork.
Reserve 1/4 cup of the hot pasta water to lighten the pesto sauce consistency. Drain and pour into a large bowl.
Toss pasta, beans, and potatoes in 4 tablespoons olive oil. Add reserved water to the pesto in a seperate bowl (Note: pesto should be fluid, but not runny). Add pesto to the pasta and toss until incorporated. Top with shredded Parmesan cheese.
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Easy Summer Pesto that will Last all Fall, too

August means that summer is slowly winding down. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll be well into fall. Can you believe it? If you have loads of basil in your garden like I do, I’m sure you’re looking at ways to use it before the end of the season. Here’s my trick:

As the summer comes to a close, I make sure to harvest all the basil in my garden. Then, I make this summer pesto recipe and freeze it. I like to freeze it in ice cube trays and use it throughout the winter. By doing this, you’re able to enjoy wonderful, homemade pesto throughout the year.

This pesto recipe is straight from the source, my sweet Ligurian friend Monica Damonte. Here’s her version of pesto ala Liguria. Hers has a twist with Ricotta Salata on top; it’s delish. Try it.

Enjoy xx


Coin Pasta with Pesto
Serves 6

You will need:

– 4 cups basil
– 1 cup olive oil
– 1¼ cups grated Parmesan cheese
– ½ teaspoon salt
– 4 cups dried coin pasta, or trofie pasta
– 12 cups water for boiling the pasta, reserve ¼ cup pasta water
– 1 cup ricotta salata
– ¼ cup chopped tomato
– 6 mint leaves

To prepare:

Place basil, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, oil and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Pulse for 3 minutes until it forms a paste. Set aside. In a large pot cook pasta for 10 minutes until al dente and drain. In a large bowl combine pasta, pesto, and the reserved water (¼ cup). Add ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of ricotta salata. Top each serving with a mint leaf and tomato for garnish. Serve immediately. Place the extra Parmesan on the table for guests.

Photo credit : Victoria Lacarrieu

Food Styling: Me

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Food Styling Before and After :: Pasta

Everyone loves pasta, honestly it’s one of the easiest and one of most difficult things to style on photo shoots. When it comes to a macaroni and cheese, sheesh that’s a tough one on set. The cheese sets up quickly and it’s just hard to make it look appetizing. Pasta has great texture in photographs, but sometimes the toppings are overwhelming and become the focus of the photograph and not in the good way.

The exact same thing applies to pasta at home or at a dinner party. The vessel you choose to serve pasta in is the most important element in making pasta look delicious. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to a party and the pasta comes out looking, well pale, overdressed and unappetizing.

Here are a few stylist tricks to remember next time pasta is on the menu.

1. Before :: Macaroni and Cheese. We love Mac&Cheese! However… how can something so yummy looks so un-yummy?


After :: Forget the glass casserole, in fact I don’t even own one. Stylist tip *FOOD DOES NOT LOOK PRETTY FROM THE SIDE WHEN BAKED PERIOD! Instead, think about something earthy to present your Mac&Cheese in. An iron skillet is perfect! I own lots of iron skillets in all sizes. Not only are they great looking, great to bake in, but they make awesome presentation vessels. I love making corn bread, pulling the baked bread out of the skillet, slicing it, then laying it back into the same skillet lined with some parchment paper. Voila! A super homey and appetizing presentation.* this was a pretty cover shot for Southern Living I styled a couple years ago. I still think it’s so yummy looking. It’s one of my favorites. *Stylist Tip* the cute little linen tea towel under the skillet elevates the Mac&Cheese just perfectly. A subtle touch like this can make the food look special on the table.


2. Before :: Pesto Pasta


After :: I love using glasses in unexpected ways. Pesto pasta is pretty, so seeing all the bits of basil in the clear glass is great, plus it’s easy to serve. I love these brandy sifters. They are the perfect size for 1 serving. Think of all your tableware in different ways. Glasses can be used for more than just drinks.


3. Before :: Seafood Pasta


After :: Styling tip * Always think about the bowl or platter you’re serving a dish in. Here the scallop edged bowl really makes a difference. It’s a nod to the sea, it looks a bit like a sea shell. You will never go wrong with a seafood presentation if you introduce the sea in some form. Even the serving spoon looks like something you would find along the beach.


4. Before :: Pasta with Zucchini, although this dish looks great, it could look so much better! Always think about the vessel, if the dish looks bland, then jazz it up with a fantastic bowl or platter.


After :: This bowl is magnificent! It’s an antique French handpainted bowl, one of my favorites in my collection. I have never seen another one like it. The pasta looks amazing because of the vessel.


I hope that this has helped you look at how you serve your pasta dishes. The key is to always think about the vessel options you have. It’s very important especially with something like pasta, to bring out the cool props.

If you’re interested in learning more about food styling check out my workshop June 7th. Hope to see you there, it’s always a super fun day of learning, sharing, creating and of course eating.

Photo credit: Jennifer Davick, Lauren Rubinstein, Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyen

Zucchini and Seafood Pasta Dishes from my cookbook Picture Perfect Parties


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Fresh from Italy: Pasta with Zucchini, flowers and all

Italy is still on my mind. As I get back into the swing of things and I’m busy with the hustle and bustle of writing and shooting for my new cookbook, I’m drawn back to my little town by the sea. I made this pasta from baby zucchini fresh from our market in the main piazza. Makes me wistful just thinking about it. Most people think of stuffing the flowers and frying them up, but for this recipe I just sauteed them, flowers and all.

Serves 4 as a primi course

  • 6 cups Trofie (regional pasta from Liguria you can substitute penne pasta)
  • 1 Jar of prepared pesto, (even in the supermercato, you can find the most amazingly delicious prepared pesto.)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced on a micro-planer
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (mine is from the frattoria down the street)
  • 6 young zucchini with flowers on them
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan


  • Wash and slice the zucchini, slice off the end, then cut coins in diagonals about ½ thick. Slice the flower lengthwise in half.
  • Boil a large pot of water, when it comes to a boil add the Trofie pasta, cook until al dente. While pasta is cooking, sauté the zucchini in the garlic, salt and oil. Until nicely browned.
  • Strain pasta and place in a bowl add the pesto, parmesan cheese and sautéed zucchini, flowers and all.
  • Serve warm.

    * the flowers sautéed have a fantastic mouth feel, and lovely taste.

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