Nutella Banana Fudge Pops

When I was 9 years old, my family purchased a summer membership to the local pool club, called Quidnesset. This was a exciting news for me and my sister; all of our friends from school went to Quidnesset, not to mention there was a swing set and a diving board and a little restaurant where you could order chicken fingers and french fries and hamburgers, to be eaten at the picnic tables set up around the pool. I remember devouring the first and second Harry Potter books on a lounge chair by the pool (pure bliss!) learning how to dive, and passing the test to be able to swim in the deep end. My days at the pool were usually capped off with a Fudgesicle from the snack bar, a fudge-y chocolate popsicle that would have to be consumed quickly as it melted almost as fast as you could eat it (occasional brain freeze aside though, my 9 year old self couldn't imagine anything more delicious after a long day of swimming). One day ran peacefully into the next, and it was an uncomplicated, carefree time, as childhood summers tend to be, before studying, grades, working, dating, and other factors of life as an adult get in the way. 

But enough nostalgia, let's get to today's recipe! These fudge pops are similar to the Fudgesicles of my youth but slightly more sophisticated and with an Italian touch, thanks to the Nutella. They are as rich and fudge-y as ice cream (we are talking about frozen Nutella, after all) and banana and Nutella, as we know, are already flavor soulmates (evidenced here and here). If you're one of those "I don't like desserts that are too sweet" people, never fear -- the sweetness here is tempered by the slightly sour yogurt. And wait, there's more! These are beyond simple to make -- just blend all the ingredients together for a minute or two, pour the resulting mixture into popsicle molds, and stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours. Like this semifreddo, they give you all the frozen ice cream-y goodness without an ice cream maker, refreshing and satisfying when temperatures are high and the heat seems relentless. Finally, given that they are made with three ingredients that can ostensibly be eaten for breakfast, I retain that these make a perfectly acceptable breakfast option on a sweltering summer day. 

A couple of notes: Use ripe bananas -- the ones where the skin is turning brown and you're not sure you want to eat them -- for the best banana flavor (bananas that are not ripe enough make these taste like not-ripe-banana fudge pops rather than Nutella Banana Fudge Pops). If you don't have popsicle molds, I recommend you buy them right away! They are not expensive and are a great investment for the Summer, allowing you to make things like Butterscotch Pudding Pops and Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles in addition to these beauties here. You can thank me later.


NUTELLA BANANA FUDGE POPS

Ingredients:
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Nutella
4 ripe bananas

Directions:
Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor or until smooth. Distribute this mixture among the popsicle molds and snap on the lids or the popsicle sticks (depending on what kind of popsicle molds you've purchased). Freeze until firm, about 6 hours. For easy removal, place the popsicle mold inside a container filled with warm water. Wait a few seconds, then pull the popsicle out of the mold by gently gripping the handles. Makes about 6-10 pops, depending on the size of the popsicle molds.

Recipe from www.prettysimplesweet.com, one of my new favorite blogs.





Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

I've learned that as far as flavor combinations and ingredient pairings go, there really are no rules. While there are the tamer, more "obvious" pairings -- apple and cinnamon, chocolate and strawberry, and tomato and basil, for example -- let's not forget peanut butter and banana, pear and gorgonzola, balsamic vinegar and vanilla ice cream, or bacon and maple syrup, all unexpected ingredient combos that somehow work together beautifully.

So while a dish that puts together olives, capers, raisins, vinegar, eggplant, tomato, celery, and pine nuts may seem odd, trust me on this one -- all those seemingly random ingredients mix and meld together perfectly to make Sicilian eggplant caponata, one of the tastiest, most flavorful dishes to ever come out of my kitchen. This recipe comes from my fellow blogger Rosemarie, an Australian with Italian roots who lives in Turin (her blog is www.turinmamma.com, do check it out!) I saw she had shared this recipe on www.italymagazine.com and had one of those culinary "aha!" moments, deciding I needed to make it right away and that it was exactly the recipe I had been looking for to make use of summer eggplant (remember that SUMMER INGREDIENTS TO COOK WITH list?)

So let me explain! Here we have a whole pot of flavors: briny olives, sweet sultanas, tangy vinegar, mild eggplant, mellow celery, salty capers, and toasty pine nuts, all of which complement each other perfectly, each ingredient playing their part on Team Caponata: the delicate flavor of the eggplant and celery tempers the bite of the capers and olives, which in turn wake up the eggplant and celery; the sweet sultanas add little bursts of flavor throughout the dish, contrasting with but not overwhelming the aforementioned ingredients; the pine nuts add a little crunch to keep things interesting; and the vinegar is the team Captain, pulling the whole dish together and making every ingredient sing (who knew humble, unsuspecting vinegar could be so very important?!) Every bite is slightly different from the last depending on what ingredients end up on your fork, making for a dinner where there is never a dull moment. Indeed this was so good that I found myself going back to eat it hours later, straight out of the fridge (yes, caponata does make a delightful late night snack).

A couple of notes: This dish is best when the flavors are allowed to meld together a bit. Feel free to make it the day before you serve it, or let it sit for a couple of hours before serving, if you can. It is delicious served as is with lots of fresh bread, or as Rosemarie recommends, as a side dish to a fish-based main course. I rarely ever salt eggplant when I'm cooking with it (I know, I know, what kind of a cook am I?! But I really do find that I usually don't need to!) If you have one that is particularly seedy it might be on the bitter side, in which case you should follow Rosemarie's instructions below to remove the bitter flavor. Enjoy!


SICILIAN EGGPLANT CAPONATA

Ingredients:
2 eggplants, cut into chunks
1 large onion, cut into slices
2 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
1/3 cup sultanas, soaked in water for an hour
2/3 cup olives
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
500 mL crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons pine nuts 
Basil, to garnish
Olive oil, for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a colander, place eggplant chunks and sprinkle generously with salt. Place a plate and another heavy object on top to so as much bitter juice is extracted from eggplant chunks as possible. Leave to sit for an hour. Rinse eggplant chunks with water to remove excess salt. Squeeze eggplant chunks to draw out all the moisture and pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel or cloth. Or, just do as I did and cut the eggplant into chunks.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the eggplant chunks. Take care not to overcrowd the pan. With the amount indicated in this recipe, fry a third of the chunks at a time. When the chunks are crisp and golden brown, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with absorbent paper towels.

In the same frying pan, saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add the celery chunks, the green olives and the crushed tomatoes and simmer covered on low to medium heat for 10 minutes.

At this point, add the capers, the fried eggplant, the pine nuts, the sultanas, the vinegar and the sugar. Stir ingredients so they are well-combined, taste for and add salt. If using salt-packed capers, you probably will not need much.  Leave to simmer uncovered on low-medium heat for 20 minutes or until excess liquid has reduced.

Transfer to serving bowl, cover with aluminium foil and leave to rest for 2 hours at room temperature. If leaving your caponata for the following day, place in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge one hour before serving to best enjoy the dish’s flavors.  Garnish with a couple of basil leaves. Serve as an appetizer (ensure there is plenty of bread on hand!) or as an accompaniment to a fish-based main course. Serves 6-8.



Recipe originally published in www.italymagazine.com, courtesy of Rosemarie Scavo (www.turinmamma.com).





Peach Raspberry Buckle

It's not Summer without strawberries, am I right? A bowl of sweet, bright red jewel-like berries -- to be eaten plain as they are, sliced up and tossed with a little sugar, tucked into shortcakes, poured into pie crusts, or eaten with a dollop of whipped cream -- is a Summer must, as important as s'mores or burgers on the grill or corn on the cob. I was hit with my first Summer strawberry craving last week, which was not so surprising. It was just a matter of time, after all -- I'd made use of Summer eggplant, basil, blueberries, tomatoes, and zucchini, but strawberries remained uncrossed off in my SUMMER INGREDIENTS TO COOK WITH list (yeah, I have one of those). After a little serious thinking and soul searching, I decided that what I really needed to make as soon as possible was a buckle -- a simple, dense, vanilla-y cake that acts as a vehicle to support the abundant amount of juicy seasonal fruit it holds.

But apparently the time to buy strawberries at the Carrefour near Piazzale degli Eroi is BEFORE 8pm on a Wednesday night, because I found out the fragole were finite, i.e the strawberries were all sold out, confirmed by the large gaping space in the berry section of the supermarket, smack in the middle of the stacks of raspberries and blueberries and blackberries (why didn't anyone buy those?!) Disappointed, but not deterred, I decided to substitute my strawberries with a few peaches nearby and some of those raspberries (pouting all the while) figuring that two fruits just might amount to the greatness that would've been my strawberries. 

My strawberry craving is as of now still unsatisfied, but it was maybe not the worst thing that the Carrefour was out of strawberries, because this dessert came out splendidly, if I don't say so myself. The sweetness of the peaches offsets the slightly tart raspberries, and the cake is cinnamon-y and butter-y with slightly nutty undertones thanks to the browned butter. It is just sweet enough, and dense but still moist thanks to all the juices from the fruit. A square of this served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or some freshly whipped cream is pure summer dessert bliss.

A couple of notes: Use the juiciest, ripest peaches you can find. The peaches or nectarines should be peeled. You can blanch them really quickly in boiling water -- just cut an "X" at the bottom of each piece of peach, drop them in a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, remove them from the water, pop them into a bowl of cold water to cool them off, and you'll be able to peel the skin right off.  Or you can do what I did on 9:30 on a weeknight, which was just sliver off the skin as you go (laziness is a powerful thing). I used browned butter because I like the nutty flavor it gives to desserts, but you can always use regular melted butter. I used 1 teaspoon cinnamon, but feel free to use less if you're not a cinnamon fiend like me. This recipe can be made with any other kind of juicy fruit -- those famous strawberries or plums, or substitute blueberries or strawberries for the raspberries and make a peaches and blueberry/peach and strawberry buckle. Enjoy!

PEACH RASPBERRY BUCKLE:

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large ripe nectarines or peaches, peeled, cut in to slices and then halved
1/2 cup raspberries
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish with butter.

Put the peaches and raspberries in a bowl and add a teaspoon or two of sugar. Mix everything together and set aside. 

Melt the butter in a skillet and let cool slightly. Or, if you want to use browned butterdice the butter and put in a skillet over a medium heatLet the butter melt, and then let it begin to foam and bubble, stirring often. After a few minutes, the bubbling will subside and the butter will start smelling nutty. At this point, the butter is browned. It is important to pay very close attention during this stage, as you don't want to burn the butter.

Remove skillet from heat right away and pour the browned butter into a bowl so it doesn't continue to cook. Let butter cool.

Add the sugar to the melted butter in the bowl and whisk to combine. Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk everything together again. Add the milk and stir to combine. Next, add the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt and mix the batter together until fully combined (note that the batter will be thick). Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Place the fruit on top and gently push down into the batter.

Bake the buckle until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool before serving, and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.






Cherry Tomato Crostata


I love desserts. You know this, of course. Just take one look at this blog and you'll see that it's awash with cupcakes, cookies, brownies, bars, pies, tarts. That being said, I also very much like the idea of taking what is typically considered dessert and putting a savory spin on it. Last summer I made savory shortcakes with tomatoes, basil, and goat cheese whipped cream (shortcakes, mind you, are usually made with strawberries and sweetened whipped cream). After that I made a tomato cobbler (sweet cobblers usually look like this) then a tart made with zucchini and a galette with butternut squash and a waffle with prosciutto and cheese and an egg. The idea of savory cheesecakes and muffins and pancakes and ooh, french toast! are also intriguing (watch out, there's no stopping me now...) 

Which brings me to this savory (not sweet!) crostata, which is basically Summer wrapped up in a pastry crust and served for lunch. Cherry tomatoes this time of year are as sweet as candy, and when roasted their flavor becomes even more intense -- so I knew I wanted to use those, and beside that cheese is never a bad idea, and then I thought well why not throw a little pesto in there for good measure? The result is a crostata filled with juicy flavorful cherry tomatoes, creamy mild ricotta, tangy goat cheese, and a layer of bright sunny basil pesto, wrapped up in a flaky, buttery crust and baked together happily in the oven, resulting in the perfection you see in the above photo. A slice or two of this crostata makes a perfect lunch for me, but you could also serve it as an appetizer if you wanted. It is good served warm, room temperature, or even cold the next day (if there are any leftovers, that is). Added bonus: This crostata is also substantial enough to serve to the vegetarians in your life who are used to being served lettuce as an alternative to the steak (though I'm sure that the carnivores will be wanting some of this, too). 

A couple of notes: I put the pesto in a layer over the cheese filling, but if you want a more intense pesto flavor, you could always stir it into the ricotta and goat cheese. And speaking of pesto -- I used homemade pesto (recipe link below) because it takes two seconds to make and I am not a fan of the store-bought stuff, which tends to be a bit salty -- but if you're short on time a good quality one would probably work just fine. I used ricotta and goat cheese here, but you could also add in a little mozzarella or Parmesan if you wanted.This would be really pretty if you could get your hands on different colored cherry tomatoes (orange, yellow, and red!). Finally, if you don't have cherry tomatoes, you could use slices of whatever larger tomatoes you have on hand -- just make sure you sprinkle the slices with a little salt and leave them to sit for a bit to remove the excess water. 

CHERRY TOMATO, PESTO, AND CHEESE CROSTATA

For the crust: 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled in the refrigerator again
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water


Ingredients for the filling:
1/2 cup good quality ricotta cheese
1/3 cup soft goat cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt, pepper
3 tablespoons basil pesto 
2 1/4 cups cherry tomatoes. sliced in half
Egg wash

Glaze: 
1 egg, beaten

To make the dough: Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle the cubes of butter over the dough and using a pastry blender (or your food processor, or you can just use your fingertips, if you don't have either of these things) cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter and flour mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid in until a dough begins to form; be careful to not overwork the dough. If it seems too wet, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface and form into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. 

To make the filling: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, goat cheese and ricotta cheese. Season the cheese filling well with salt and pepper and set aside. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and place in another bowl; blot with some paper towels to get off the extra moisture, then season with salt and pepper as well. Have your pesto, store-bought or otherwise, ready.
To assemble the crostata: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. 

Transfer the crust an ungreased baking sheet lined with parchment paper (as you can see here I just rolled the crust over use the removable bottom of a tart pan, and moved everything to the baking sheet from there -- just an experiment to see if it would make things a little easier,which I think it did). 

Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Spread the pesto over, and then arrange the tomatoes over the pesto, leaving a border. Gently fold the border of dough over the tomatoes (don't worry about making this too neat, as you can see I didn't -- any messiness here just looks "rustic")
Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil. Brush the crust with the beaten egg. Bake the crostata for 30-40 minutes, or until the tomatoes are juicy and the crust is golden brown. Let cool completely before serving. Serves 4-6.

Crust recipe from www.smittenkitchen.com.



Pistachio Semifreddo

 Over the years, I've invested in a lot of different tools and gadgets for my kitchen -- mini loaf pans and tiny tart pans, heart shaped ramekins, a slightly pricey food processor, a creme brulee torch, popsicle molds, a deep dish pie plate, a cupcake carrier, and a waffle iron, to name just a few. However, no kitchen gadget has even come close to equaling my ice cream maker, which was given to me as a gift my senior year of college. To be honest, I was skeptical at first -- after all, I was happy enough with my store-bought Ben & Jerry's, and doubted homemade ice cream would be that much different. Plus, the ice cream maker itself didn't look like much -- just a large metal bowl that needed to be frozen and then attached to a mixer -- but how wrong I was! Making homemade ice cream was not only incredibly easy, it was also delicious, far better than anything that came out of a carton at a store, and it was love at first batch (of chocolate ice cream). I began to churn out a flavor or two  per week, starting with simple flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, and slowly expanding to more creative flavors, like raspberry chocolate chip, chocolate mint brownie, oatmeal cookie, Nutella, and blueberry cheesecake. I began to keep a notebook with me so I could write down different flavor ideas (peanut butter! pumpkin pie! blackberry!) and read up on ice cream basics in David Lebovitz's book, "The Perfect Scoop." My family christened the summer of 2010 "the Summer of Ice Cream," though they certainly had no complaints.

Now that I've gotten you all hyped up on my ice cream maker, I must tell you -- it's still at my parents' house in the U.S. It is too heavy and I'd never be able to fit it into any luggage to bring it over here to Rome, plus it requires a Kitchen-Aid standing mixer to attach to (also at home -- sob). In any case, I'm not alone in this, because I've realized that most other people do not have an ice cream maker handy, either. 

Enter this semifreddo, which requires no ice cream maker, fits into this month's no-heat, low maintenance recipe theme, and, most importantly, is an easy solution for any homemade ice cream cravings I've had. Now, if you've never heard of a semifreddo, let me explain -- it is a frozen dessert, and kind of a cross between mousse and ice cream (with a texture that is a bit softer than ice cream). This pistachio semifreddo is divine, sublime, blissful, off-the-charts good, one of my new favorite dessert recipes. It tastes just like a pistachio -- not like that wimpy bright green "pistachio" ice cream of my youth -- and is even dotted with bits of pistachio which up the pistachio factor and give the dessert a little crunch and texture. It is cold and refreshing, just what you need on a sweltering Summer day (or night -- this also makes a great midnight snack when it's too hot too sleep. I speak from experience). 

Notes: I toasted the pistachios to intensify the pistachio flavor, but feel free to use regular pistachios if you want to keep this completely heat free. I froze the semifreddo in a Tupperware container with a cover which I found very convenient, but any 2 quart container will do. To garnish, I sprinkled each serving with some raw chopped pistachios and chocolate shavings, but I bet it would also be great with chocolate sauce if you want to make things really fancy. Finally, this semifreddo would probably also be great with hazelnuts, pecans, or almonds in place of the pistachios -- I'll be trying those soon. Enjoy everyone!

PISTACHIO SEMIFREDDO

Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (6.5 ounces) shelled, salted pistachios
6 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
In a food processor, blend 1 cup pistachios with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar until very finely ground. Add remaining 1/2 cup pistachios and pulse until just coarsely ground.

Beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, then increase speed to high and beat until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks.

Beat cream with the vanilla extract in a wide bowl with mixer at high speed until it just holds soft peaks.

Fold the meringue into the whipped cream gently but thoroughly, then fold in the ground pistachios. Spoon into a 2-quart dish (or a large Tupperware) and freeze, covered, until firm enough to scoop, about 4 hours. Serves 8-10.


Very slightly adapted from www.epicurious.com




Honey Cinnamon Glazed Peaches

When I was in middle school, my 8th grade class was assigned a new history teacher, named Ms. Farnum. At 25, Ms. Farnum was the youngest of all the teachers. She wore no make up, brought her lunch to school every day, and had a tattoo on her upper arm that she told us she had to hide when at school. Her first name was Becky, we learned. Her handwriting was such that she wrote the letter "r" in uppercase (even in the middle of lowercase woRds) and she told us she had a best friend who had moved far away, to Belize. On your birthday, she made your favorite dessert for you and the whole class, carefully keeping track of everyone's date of birth and sweet of choice with a list on her desk. Ms. Farnum hated chocolate -- even white chocolate -- preferring shortbread cookies, fruit pies, and vanilla ice cream (I remember finding this one detail shocking -- spinach, seafood, or cilantro were understandable, but how could someone not like chocolate?!) She was funny, easy-going, and understanding, everyone's favorite teacher that year.

I remember Ms. Farnum for more than just her dislike of chocolate or her handwriting, of course. Middle school was a tough time for me, as it is for many people, I think. I was incredibly shy with braces and acne (never a winning combination) and was excluded on a regular basis by the class's group of "popular" girls (it really is shocking how nasty a group of pre-adolescent females can be). I spent most of my tween years trying to blend in, go unnoticed, and get by. During a time where all I wanted was to fit in, Ms. Farnum made me feel included, always quick to offer a kind word, a compliment, or a listening ear. During free periods, she would look over my Math homework (always a disaster) and she would help me prepare for the next history test during free periods. She was a good listener, and told me not to bother with the mean girls -- that things would get better next year, once I got to high school, and this wouldn't even matter when I was older (she was right).

Ms. Farnum ended up moving away not long after she started working at my school -- I suspected a broken heart had something to do with it -- but thirteen years later, I still remember her as being one of the kindest teachers I've ever encountered. I bake a lot of super chocolate-y desserts -- this cake, these macaroons , these cupcakes -- but whenever I prepare the rare chocolate-free dessert, I inevitably think of Ms. Farnum. These summer-y and light Honey Cinnamon Peaches are most certainly Ms. Farnum-friendly, and a great dessert for that one person in your life who has never taken a liking to the most delicious ingredient in the world chocolate. They are reminiscent of a peach pie but without the pie crust, lattice, or extra work, and served with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, taste like Summer on a plate.

Notes: If you want something a little more elegant than ice cream, these peaches can be served with freshly whipped cream, mascarpone, creme fraiche, yogurt, or even a dollop of ricotta. You could also use nectarines, plums, or any other stone fruit in this recipe. If you really like cinnamon, feel free to up the dose from 1/4 of a teaspoon. Enjoy!


HONEY CINNAMON GLAZED PEACHES

Ingredients:
4 large peaches
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus a little extra for the baking pan
3.5 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Place the peaches in a lightly buttered baking pan. Whisk together the melted butter, honey, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the glaze evenly over the peaches. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the peaches are juicy and slightly softened. Serve warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream. Serves 4.






Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Pasta

July is here! In Rome, this means that the heat wave has arrived and settled in for the next few months (make yourself at home, 90 degree temperatures)! It also means that I find myself staying in the office later than necessary to take advantage of the air conditioning (my apartment doesn't have any,) strategizing on where to best position the few fans we have, and marvelling at the Italians I see still wearing jeans (yes, jeans -- in July). As you can imagine I am now at that point in the Summer where the lazier, easier, and more low-maintenance the dish, the better. Indeed, signs of my pending Summer laziness have already appeared: I've gone from baking fancy layer cakes and tartlets to whipping up this 5 minute avocado basil dip,  this no-bake mascarpone with raspberries, and now this sun-dried tomato pesto pasta. 

But this pesto! Just a few ingredients and a whirl or two in the food processor and you have one of the most exciting sauces ever to be tossed with pasta. Don't estimate the short ingredient list, either, as all four pack a punch: intensely flavorful sun-dried tomatoes, peppery garlic, fresh and sunny basil, and salty rich Parmesan makes for a loud in-your-face sauce (in a good way). And if you needed any more convincing, it takes two seconds to make and requires no stove, oven, or grill, and the pasta is great served room temperature.

A couple of notes: Despite the fact that this recipe is short and simple I went ahead without reading it carefully (whoops) and put the Parmesan directly into the food processor. This turned out just fine, but if you want bigger pieces of cheese stir it in at the end like the original recipe says. The recipe can easily be doubled and served over more pasta if you're feeding more than four. I drained some of the oil off of the tomatoes here out of habit, but feel free to just dump all of the contents of the jar right into the food processor. Finally, I used farfalle pasta but feel free to use any shape you want.

Stay tuned for more lazy recipes -- after all, pasta needs to be boiled, and by August that will be asking a lot (if July is the time where my cooking gets lazier, August is when popsicles and gelato become a completely acceptable meal option). Enjoy!

SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO PASTA

Ingredients:
1 (8.5 ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 clove garlic
1 cup basil, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
12 ounces farfalle pasta or any other pasta of your choice

Directions:
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. 
Meanwhile, blend the sun-dried tomatoes and their oil, garlic, and a little salt and pepper, to taste, and basil in a food processor and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the Parmesan.


Add the pasta to the pesto and toss to coat, adding enough reserved cooking water to moisten. Serves 4.
 



Recipe slightly adapted from www.foodnetwork.com (Giada di Laurentiis).