The Daily Dish

Cooking Perfect Pasta
By Lidia Bastianich

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Do not — I repeat, do not — add oil to your pasta cooking water! And that’s an order! Follow my 10 pasta commandments, and you will make a great bowl of pasta that rivals the delicious pastas at Becco, one of our New York City restaurants.

1. Cook the pasta in abundantly salted water.

2. And again, do not add oil to the pasta cooking water.

3. Add the pasta all at once to the boiling water so it cooks evenly.

4. Drain the pasta, but do not — do not! — rinse the pasta.

5. Once drained, add the pasta to the sauce and let the two cook together for about 1 minute.

6. Dressed pasta should be flowing — never sticky or soupy.

7. With the fire off, stir in grated cheese, right before you plate it.

8. To keep pasta nice and hot, serve it in a shallow, warm bowl.

9. For that extra touch, add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at the end.

10.  Finally — you deserve it now — pour yourself a delicious glass of Tuscan red wine like Morellino La Mozza. And cin cin to you!

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Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44

Scallion and Asparagus Salad
By Lidia Bastianich

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Serves 6

Ingredients
1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
3/4 pound scallions
1-1/2 teaspoons salt or more if needed
3-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Cooking the Vegetables
Snap off the hard stubs at the bottom of the asparagus stalks—they’ll break naturally at the right point. With a vegetable peeler, shave off the skin from the bottom 3-inches or so each stalk so they cook evenly.

Trim the root end of the scallions and the wilted ends of the green leaves. Peel off the loose layers at the white end, too, so the scallions are all tight, trim, and about 6-inches long.

In a wide deep skillet bring one quart of water (or enough to cover the vegetables) to a boil and add the asparagus and scallions.

Adjust the heat to maintain a bubbling boil and poach the asparagus, uncovered, for about 6 minutes, or more, until they are tender but not falling apart and cooked through but not mushy. To check doneness, pick up a spear in the middle with tongs: it should be a little droopy, but not collapsing.

As soon as they are done, lift out the vegetables with tongs and lay them in a colander (any fat asparagus spears may take a little longer so leave them in a few minutes more). Hold the colander under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain briefly, then spread on kitchen towels and pat dry.

Making the Salad
Slice the asparagus and the scallions into 1-inch lengths and pile them loosely in a mixing bowl. Drizzle over the oil and vinegar over, sprinkle on ½ of the teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss well but don’t break up the vegetables.

Quarter the eggs into wedges and slice each wedge into 2 or 3 pieces; scatter these in the bowl and fold in with the vegetables. Taste and adjust the dressing. Chill the salad briefly, then arrange it on a serving platter or on salad plates.

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Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.

Spring-dug Parsnips with Seared Sea Scallops
Annie Copps

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Here's a recipe for you when you are craving spring. It comes from my friend and celebrity chef Michel Nischan, who is a big advocate for healthy eating. For him, this time of year means spring-dug parsnips. The sweet root benefits from blanching and then roasting to bring out its over-wintered sweetness — and when it’s pureed, its texture is similar to very smooth apple butter.

Ingredients
1 large or two medium spring-dug parsnips, peeled (about 10 ounces)
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about ½ lemon’s worth
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 packed tablespoons freshly chopped chervil
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
12 large dry sea scallops (about ¾ pound)
6 generous sprigs fresh chervil

Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, simmer parsnips in just enough water to cover; cook about 15 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes. Remove parsnips from pan and discard all but ¼ cup of cooking liquid. Set aside. Slice parsnips into 1/2-inch-thick strips and lay on a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely browned; turn parsnips at least once for even browning.

Using a food processor, pulse together parsnips, lemon zest, and juice until parsnips break down. With the motor running, add reserved parsnip liquid 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture resembles loose apple butter. Pulse in olive oil and chopped chervil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Heat a large, dry sauté pan over high heat. Brush each scallop on all sides with grapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Place scallops in hot pan and do not move them for 2 to 3 minutes, or until edges are well browned. Turn scallops over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Place on a warm plate and let rest for 2 minutes—any juices that collect, stir into parsnip puree. Divide the parsnip puree onto 6 warmed appetizer plates. Set two scallops on top of parsnips and garnish with fresh chervil. Yield 6 servings

Adapted from Michel Nischan, The Dressing Room.

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annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Asparagus Hummus And Spiced Pita Chips By Annie Copps

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It's spring, and that means asparagus season in Massachusetts — and nothing tastes better to me than asparagus hummus accompanied by fragrant, spiced pita chips.

Ingredients
2 cups fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 15-1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and well rinsed
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions
Prepare an ice-water bath and set aside. In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and return water to boil. Cook about 4 minutes or until asparagus is cooked through and bright green. Drain asparagus and refresh in ice-water bath. After 5 minutes, drain and set aside.

In a food processor, combine chickpeas, garlic, and tahini, and puree. Add zest, juice, and asparagus, and process until smooth. With machine running, pour in olive oil and process until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with spiced pita chips.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)

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annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Sauteed Fiddlehead Ferns
By Annie Copps

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This time of year is a transitional one for local ingredients, so we turned to Josh Ziskin, chef and owner of the Italian-inspired La Morra restaurant in Brookline. The end of winter through spring can be a challenging time to write a menu, so he sticks closely to what is locally available — and right now, that means fiddlehead ferns.

Total time: 30 minutes
Active time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 pound fiddlehead ferns, well rinsed and trimmed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or the fresh herb of your choice: rosemary, basil, or oregano)
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher or sea salt

Directions
Bring a large sauce pot of generously salted water to boil. Blanch fiddleheads for 4 minutes; remove to ice water for 1 minute. Strain from water and dry well.

In a large saute pan over medium-high add oil and cook shallots and garlic until shallots are translucent. Add fiddleheads and saute for 2 minutes. Add wine (if using) and reduce until about 1 tablespoon of liquid remains. Add about 2 tablespoons of water and generously season with salt and pepper. Add thyme and butter and stir well.

Recipe courtesy of Josh Ziskin of La Morra.
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annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

The Daily Drink: Thai Curried Clams and Chorizo

By Cathy Huyghe
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"Today’s dish packs some serious flavor punch, yet it takes less than 10 minutes of cooking time. It’s also one of those dishes that is as interesting to look at as it is to smell and taste. With its flavors, its quick ease, and its visual appeal, it beckons guests – whether they’re family members or visitors to your home – to hang out with you in the kitchen and sip a few bottles of beer as the whole evening comes together. Why not try Singha Beer ($8 for a 6-pack), from the first and largest brewery in Thailand, to cool off the heat of the Thai red curry paste? This full-bodied, 100% barley malt beer is rich with strong hop characteristics and makes, in its own right, for some very lively kitchen talk!

Cathy Huyghe writes for the WGBH Daily Dish blog. Read new WGBH Daily Dish posts every weekday, where you can explore myriad ways and places to experience good food and wine.
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