Giada de Laurentiis


I Heart Cooking Clubs has a new monthly feature.  In the past we have done Mystery Boxes – a combo of different ingredients to be used in a dish.  A Chef of the Month.  And now – The Ingredient of the month.  How fun!

This month the ingredient is SQUASH!  It could be any type of squash.  Summer squash.  Winter Squash.  The world was open to us.  The only restriction – the recipe had to come from one of our past chefs.  That meant we had HUNDREDS of recipes to choose from.  HUNDREDS!!  Not an easy task to pick one.

I found this one from Giada De Laurentis.  I have seldom cooked from her recipes.  I joined IHCC AFTER they had cooked with her for 6 months.  My Loss!!

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Rigatoni with Squash and Prawns

The sweetness of the butternut squash mixed with the mellowness of the cooked garlic and the bite of the Parmesan and the Basil is a tasty combination.  

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 pound butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 cup vegetable stock
1 pound rigatoni
1 pound prawns {shrimp}, peeled and deveined
3/4 to 1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butternut squash, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Saute until the squash is golden and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the squash is very soft, another 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the squash mixture to a blender or food processor and puree.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.
Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the prawns with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add the prawns to the pan and cook until just pink, about 3 minutes.
In a large pot over low heat combine the cooked pasta, pureed squash mixture, and 3/4 cup milk. Stir to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk if the sauce needs to be moistened. Add the cooked prawns, basil, and cheese. Stir until warm and serve.

{Giada de Laurentis 2016.}\

Delicious.

For more  SQUASH!!  recipes!

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This week’s CHEF of the Month is Giada De Laurentiis.  I haven’t made a lot of her dishes but the ones I have tried are delicious.  Since I was going to a party and needed a ‘finger food’ I tried her marinara sauce to go with my mini meatballs.  Good Idea!!

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    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 small onions, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
    • 2 (32 ounces each) cans crushed tomatoes
    • 2 dried bay leaves
    • 2 cups basil, chopped
    •  I added 1 heaping tsp Italian Seasoning

In a large casserole pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and ½ teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the chopped basil. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Total cooking time: 1 hour and 20 minutes

I loved the chunkiness of this marinara.  The little pieces of carrot and celery just added to the wonderful texture.  This was a definite winner. EVERYONE asked for the recipe.  Thanks, Giada.

Original Recipe 

For more dishes from Giada visit  I Heart Cooking Clubs.

 

The Mystery Box this month for IHCC was challenging. Very Challenging. I mean:

    Chicken
    Seaweed Interesting!
    Sesame Seeds
    Parsley
    Mozzarella Cheese
    Pasta
    Mango
    Brown Sugar
    Zucchini
    Mint

One could go with an Asian Flair.

    A Sweet Treat.

      Or a Pasta.

I took the easy way out – PASTA! But easy wasn’t really EASY!! Because then I had to actually find a recipe with at least THREE of the ingredients which is what the CHALLENGE is all about. At least three ingredients in a recipe from one of our past or present chef.

    Jacques Pepin
    Nigella Lawson
    Mark Bittman
    Giada de Laurentiis
    Jamie Oliver
    Tessa Kiros
    Rick Bayless
    Madjur Jaffrey
    Yotam Ottolenghi
    Donna Hay
    Nigel Slater
    Diana Henry

I was thinking Italian so I was thinking Giada de Laurentiis and after about an hour of cookbook and internet research found this recipe. Four Ingredients!!

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    Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

I knew it would be good!!

    1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta) {I used a Whole Wheat Penne}
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
    1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
    1 cup shredded mozzarella
    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/4 cup bread crumbs {I found some whole Wheat Panko – worked greatt.}
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan
    1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large bowl.

Put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the chicken is completely cooked and the onions are tender.
Mix the chicken in with the pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella, parsley, salt and pepper.Stir to combine.
Pour the pasta/chicken mix in a greased 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. Mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese and sprinkle it on to the pasta mixture.
Dot the top with small bits of butter.
Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.{Original Recipe}

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Okay. This was good. But not great. It needed to be more…well, more Italian. I would have liked it more if there had been more seasonings. Maybe some oregano. Even some Italian seasoning. I would also add more cheese to the dish and a little more liquid. It wasn’t real dry but it was borderline. We liked it enough to make it again but with more seasoning.

Ready for more Mystery. Check out the I Heart Cooking Clubs website and see the rest of the Challenge dishes.

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