Pesto Pronto by Brandy Fernow

As a chef instructor, people always ask me “do you cook like this at home every night?” And my answer is a swift “nope!” Yes, I am a chef, but I am also a busy mom of two active 1st and 2nd grade boys. That means I’m running all week from school, to sports, to cub scouts, volunteering, doing homework, playdates, cleaning, cooking, and of course teaching classes at Marcels!

So no, I don’t cook every night and it’s certainly not a gourmet meal every night either. We do eat at home every night and I have learned to cook smart. Cook one night, then turn that into 2 more meals that I can make in 15 minutes or less.

One of my favorite go-to’s for this technique is a simple pesto sauce. What probably comes to mind is the traditional basil, parmesan, pine nuts and olive oil. I certainly make this version to toss over pasta or accompany chicken, but I also use the same fundamentals to make a dozen other “pestos” which to me is generally an herb, nut, cheese and oil – whipped together in seconds with the help of my food processor.

Now – to make this a million other ways, you just swap the herb, nut and cheese combos. For example, Mexican night – use cilantro, pepitas, queso or cotija cheese, and a dash of red pepper flake. Or sweeten it up a bit by swapping arugula for basil, pecans for pine nuts, adding 2 tablespoons of honey and ½ cup ricotta. Or try parsley, almonds, and asiago.

This way you can pour over ANYTHING! Pesto variations are great poured over steak pork, chicken or fish, tossed with pasta, quinoa or favorite grain, drizzled over roasted veggies, you name it.

Bonus – you can freeze in portions and re-use. Why haul out that food processor more than once? Make big batches of a few kinds and freeze in portions. Pull out and enjoy on that frenzied night you’re trying to get something fresh, but fast on the table.
I’m featuring this favorite pesto technique in a private event this month at Marcels for a group of moms looking to cook once, eat twice. We are serving the pesto over flank steak, then recycling it to a pasta for the next meal. If you have a group that is looking to learn something specific or want to have a good time with your friends, let Marcels know and they can customize your own private event!

Fresh Basil Pesto
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  2. ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  3. Zest and juice of a lemon
  4. Handful of fresh parmesan
Instructions
  1. Add all to a food processor and add olive oil until you have you preferred consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Let Italians Save Your Dinner: A Recipe for Pasta Carbonara by Robin Nathan

It’s dinner-time and you’ve been running all day. The kids will be home in a few minutes, your other half is right behind them, and all they want to know is “what’s for dinner???”  Allow me to introduce you to your new dinner best friend … pasta carbonara.

“Carbonara?” you say. “I’ve been eating that for years. What the heck is so special about that??” Well, my friends, you only think you’ve been eating it for years. If you order it in a restaurant and one of the ingredients is heavy cream, it’s not an authentic carbonara. The classic, authentic Roman creation contains only 4 ingredients – pasta, eggs, romano cheese, and bacon. That’s it. For many of us, these are ingredients that are always in our fridge and pantry. Welcome to dinner. Or brunch. Or midnight post-party snack.

The first time I had this dish was in the kitchen of a former Italian boyfriend, and man, was it a revelation. (The pasta, not the boyfriend.) So simple, so soulful, so satisfying.  (Again, the pasta, not the boyfriend.) Just cook the pasta (I love it with fettucine or pappardelle), cook the bacon. Drain the pasta, put it back in the pan with a tablespoon of bacon drippings. Pour in beaten eggs and grated Romano cheese, and use a tongs to toss and stir. The heat of the cooked pasta turns the beaten egg into a thickened, satiny sauce in about a minute. Tumble in the cooked bacon, tong it through. Pile into bowls with loads of grated Romano cheese on top. The boyfriend is a memory, but the pasta remains. Dinner is served!!

Pappardelle a la Carbonara
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Ingredients
  1. 12 oz. Pappardelle
  2. 5 Strips thick cut bacon, cut into ½” dice, cooked slowly until crispy-chewy and rendered
  3. 5 eggs, beaten to blend
  4. 2 T. Grated Pecorino Romano cheese (plus more for garnish)
  5. 1 T. reserved bacon drippings
  6. Black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente. Cook the bacon while the pasta cooks. Scoop out the cooked bacon pieces and discard all but 1 T. of the bacon drippings. Beat the eggs with the 2 T. grated cheese in a bowl. Season with black pepper.
  2. When the pasta is barely al dente, drain it and put it back into the pot. Pour in the warm bacon drippings, and quickly toss. Add the egg mixture all at once and toss with tongs for one-two minutes, until the egg mixture becomes slightly thickened, satiny and clings to the pasta (This must be done off heat, otherwise you’ll have scrambled eggs and pasta. No bueno.) Tumble in the cooked bacon pieces and toss once more.
  3. Tong into serving bowls with a generous handful of grated Pecorino Romano. Buon Apetito!
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/