Zucchini Sweet Corn Penne

A Salute to Summer Pasta with Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil


Diane Rossen Worthington

Zucchini Sweet Corn Penne

When this book came across my desk, my first thought was this was just another vegetable book with a clever title. How wrong I was. The Vegetable Butcher should be an essential part of your cookbook library. It is THE guide for selecting, preparing, slicing and dicing and of course cooking all things vegetable. You will find butchery essentials interspersed throughout the book. Dishes like corn fritters, celery root pot pie and eggplant steak with salsa verde will make you want to run to your local farmers market and start cooking.


This pasta is replete with summer’s bounty. Zucchini, corn, and basil naturally go together and prove that combining them together creates a fourth flavor. I’d keep this recipe on hand as the summer continues since you may have lots of these ingredients on hand. This bright summer pasta is flavored with fresh lemon juice and studded with pine nuts and mozzarella. Author Mangini rightly reminds us that salting the pasta water is imperative because it flavors the simple sauce. Enjoy this with a chilled Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.


Tasty Tips

  • To shuck the corn, hold the husked corn on the vertical and slide the chef’s knife down the sides releasing the corn kernels. There are now corn tools that will strip the kernels right off the cob. You can find them at your local gourmet store.
  • Use a swivel peeler to grate the cheese into thin shards.
  • Toast the pine nuts by placing them in a nonstick skillet on medium heat and toss them until they turn light brown and smell fragran 3 to 4 minutes. Cool.
  • Chop the basil just before cooking so it stays green.
  • Look for fresh mozzarella.


Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne with Pine Nuts and Mozzarella


Serves 4 to 6

Fine sea salt

3/4 pound good-quality dried penne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red or yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch by 3-inch sticks

Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

2 ounces mozzarella cheese, torn into bite-size pieces

2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Your best extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it generously (add 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts). Cook the penne according to package instructions until just shy of aldente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving at least 2 cups pasta water for the sauce.
  2. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown lightly, about 5.minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the zucchini, turn the heat up to high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini softens, 6 to 8 minutes. (You will need to add up to 1 cup of the reserved pasta water, a little at a time, as the zucchini cooks and becomes dry and sticks to the pan.)
  3. Adjust the heat to medium and add the corn, ½ teaspoon of salt, the red pepper flakes, and the butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes more. Add the penne and ½ cup of the pasta water, and stir well to incorporate. Cook, stirring often, until the pasta is well coated and the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and add half of the basil, the pine nuts, and the mozzarella. Add the lemon juice to taste and stir well to incorporate it. Scoop the penne into individual shallow bowls, making sure to evenly distribute the zucchini and corn. Top with the remaining basil, a fresh shaving of Parmesan, and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges if you wish.

Roast Loin of Pork with Mustard Crust Brings out “Wows” at The Table


If you are tired of making the same holiday ham  I hope you’ll try this delectable recipe. When I developed this idea I thought about how good a mustard crust would be on a loin of pork. I was happily surprised at the resounding “wows” I received from the lucky tasters at my table.

Sounds complicated? In fact this recipe is so easy to make it might become a standard at your table during any of your holidays. The cognac sauce adds welcome flavor to the meat and the mustard applesauce is reminiscent of the classic pork chops and applesauce.

Remember that pork is 30% leaner than it was just a few decades ago so it will dry out if overcooked. In the past it was thought that pork had to be cooked until well done to avoid the risk of trichinosis. Make sure you cook the pork 5 to 10 degrees lower than you want it to be because it continues to cook as it rests. It’s okay if it is slightly pink inside.

Perfect for a dinner party, this moist pork roast is complemented by a savory Cognac and mustard sauce. Try serving this with braised spinach and rice pilaf. Or consider serving this with roasted Potatoes and Green Beans. For dessert, how about a chocolate pie?

To Drink? The two sauces are the keys here, so match the dish’s sweet and spice elements with a wine that delivers both. If white is your preference, select an off-dry Riesling from New York, Washington or Germany. For a red, a supple yet spicy flavored Australian Shiraz or Californian Zinfandel will be sublime.


Roast Loin of Pork with Mustard Crust


Serves 6 to 8


Mustard Apple Sauce

2 cups favorite apple sauce (Trader Joe’s Chunky-style is good)

2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard


Mustard Coating

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon favorite seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil


1 (3 1/2 pound) pork loin roast, tied


Cognac Sauce

1/2 cup cognac

1 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons crème fraiche or heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Pinch coarsely ground white pepper


  1. To make the applesauce: combine the applesauce with the mustard in a small serving bowl and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate until serving.


  1. Combine all of the mustard coating ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Preheat the oven to 375F. Place the roast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Using plastic disposable gloves spread mustard coating evenly all over the roast.


  1. Roast the pork for about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 140F. Remove from the oven and transfer the roast to a carving board. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. Place the roasting pan on the top of the stove.


  1. To make the Cognac sauce: Add the cognac and stock to the roasting pan, and increase the heat to high. Bring to boil, scraping up the brown bits. Boil until the alcohol has burned off and the liquid is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. Whisk in cream and mustard and bring to boil. Cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Add pepper and whisk well. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Strain the sauce into a gravy boat of bowl.


  1. Remove the string from the pork and slice the pork. Arrange the slices on a platter and spoon over some of the Cognac sauce. Garnish with parsley. Serve with the remaining cognac sauce and the applesauce on the side.


Advance Preparation: The applesauce mixture and mustard paste may be prepared 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.


The Clever Cook Could:


  • Make this dish using pork tenderloins; figure 3 (1 1/4 pound) tenderloins and make sure not to let them touch when baking. Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the roast registers 140F. Pork tenderloin is very tender and the sliced pieces will be smaller than the loin


  • Try the mustard crust on leg of lamb




Chicken Matzo Ball Soup: A Passover Favorite


I’m not exactly sure why we begin each Passover meal with gefilte fish followed by chicken soup with matzo balls but I have been to enough Sedars to know that this is the unofficial beginning to a long and hearty repast. I love chicken soup year-round and especially when I am feeling the least bit low or sniffly. I am such a chicken soup lover that I always have a quart of this magical potion ready for any emergency stocked in my freezer. Every person who makes it has their own special touch, whether it’s the herbs, vegetables or how they make their matzo balls.

For Passover, however, I like to make my soup up a two or three days ahead to let the flavors mingle. Some of my friends insist on making it a month ahead and freezing it. That works well if you are just going to serve the broth and not the chicken and vegetables. I have made my share of chicken soup recipes. I find that this one, featured in my book Seriously Simple, is my current standby. This recipe gives you a head start because you begin with a good quality store-bought broth which immediately gives the chicken flavoring a headstart.. (Make sure to look for “Kosher for Passover” on the label.)

Skinless bone-in chicken breasts add more chicken flavor. (The bones help to enrich and slightly thicken the soup). The sweet carrot and parsnip flavor are accented by the onion-flavored chopped leeks. For a slight twist, I add tiny cherry or grape tomatoes 0along with chopped fresh mint.

This chicken soup cooks slowly on the stove until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are just tender. The chicken is cut up and returned to the soup awaiting its final pairing with the herbed matzo ball. If you prefer a lighter soup, strain out all the vegetables and chicken and just serve the broth with the matzo balls. (Use the reserved chicken to make chicken salad.

Matzo balls can really get a conversation started. There are those who love floaters and others who love sinkers. I think it has to do with ones early taste memories. I am a light matzo ball appreciator so you will find that these matzo balls are fluffy and floatable. What are my secrets? I use seltzer water to lighten them and I use schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) to enhance the flavor. Chopped fresh parsley and chives add both flavor and color to the pale beige dumpling. You can make up the matzo balls in the morning and keep them at room temperature in a little water until warming them in the chicken soup.


Help is on the Way:


  • Since the chicken soup begins with chicken broth that usually has some salt in it, salt the soup at the end of cooking
  • Schmaltz can be found in the frozen meat section of many supermarkets. You will also find it at kosher meat markets. Make sure to melt it before using.
  • Use Kosher for Passover oil if you can’t find schmaltz.
  • To lighten the matzo balls even further, separate the eggs andwhip up the egg whites separately. Fold the whites into the matzo ball mixture


Quick Chicken Vegetable Soup with Herbed Matzo Balls


Serves 6 to 8


2 medium whole chicken breasts, halved, skin removed, bone in

8 cups chicken broth

6 cups water

3 medium leeks, light green and white part cleaned, finely chopped

4 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick

2 ribs of celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/2-inch thick

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

4 cherry tomatoes, halved

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish


Matzo Balls

1/4 cup rendered chicken fat (schmaltz) or vegetable oil

4 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 cup matzo meal

2 tablespoons fresh parsley plucked and finely chopped

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup seltzer water, any sparkling water


  1. Place the chicken breast, stock and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Skim the soup. Add the onions, carrots, celery, parsnip, mint and tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 1/2 hour or until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are just tender. Skim periodically. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. Remove the chicken breasts from the soup and cool slightly. With your hands remove the meat from the bones, making sure to discard any bone or cartilage; tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup. Cover the soup and refrigerate.


  1. To make the matzo balls, blend schmaltz or oil and eggs together with a whisk. Add the matzo meal, chopped herbs and salt to the egg mixture and stir together mixing well. Add the seltzer water and blend well. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for half an hour for the mixture to thicken enough to make the matzo balls.


  1. Bring enough water in a large wide pot to come up 3/4 of the way to a boil on medium-high heat. Make the balls by rolling them very lightly into 1 1/2-inch balls. (The more you roll them, the tougher and heavier they will become.) Reduce the flame and drop the balls into the barely simmering water. Cover the pot and cook about 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through.


  1. When ready to serve, remove the soup from the refrigerator and carefully remove any fat layer from the soup. Reheat the soup on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add the matzo balls at the last minute just until heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in large bowls and garnish with parsley.


Advance Preparation: The soup may be made completely ahead up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. The matzo balls can be made up to 4 hours ahead, covered and left at room temperature.



Kale Salad: It’s Good For You And Tastes Great


Kale, that curly dark green leaf, is ubiquitous. I even saw it in Whole Foods today in the chip section… as in kale chips in savory flavors. I’ve baked and roasted it and added it to soups and sauces. But I hadn’t prepared it raw. How happy I am to report that it is delicious as a salad and is now a family favorite.

I tasted this at The Napa Valley Grill in Los Angeles and thought it would be even better with a few changes. I used currants instead of raisins and Spanish Marcona almonds instead of California almonds. I also like the idea of combining crispy sweet romaine lettuce with the slightly bitter kale. It is a happy combination of flavors.

The lemony whole-grain mustard dressing is just the ticket to dress these mixed greens. Remember that you can use this vinaigrette with any other green salad with equally satisfying results. If you can find Meyer lemons use them for an even richer citrus flavor. And tiny diced pears, peaches, nectarines, plums or even dried apricots make a colorful substitute for the currants. Serve this salad as a side dish with grilled fish or poultry or as a main course for lunch.

Cook’s Notes;

  • To cook the quinoa, rinse ¾ cup quinoa, combine quinoa with 1 ½ cups water or chicken stock and boil it for 10 minutes. Let cool.


  • To shred the kale and lettuce, stack leaves on top of each other, roll up tightly and then thinly slice through the leaves until you have shredded greens.


Shredded Kale and Romaine Salad with Quinoa, Currants and Almonds

Serves 6 as a side dish or 3 to 4 as a main dish


5 ounces shredded kale (½ 10 ounce bag)

1 medium head of Romaine lettuce, dark green leaves removed, shredded

1 1/2 cups cooked cooled quinoa

1/3 cup dried currants

1/3 cup toasted almonds, preferably Marcona, coarsely chopped



1/2 cup olive oil

¼ cup tablespoons lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium shallot, minced

1 ½ tablespoons Dijon style whole grain mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


2    tablespoons freshly shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish



  • In a salad bowl combine the kale, lettuce, quinoa, currants and almonds together and toss.


  • In a food processor combine the salad dressing ingredients. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning.


  • Just before serving, toss the dressing with the salad ingredients and garnish with the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts: High-Heat Roasting Gives Unique Flavor to A Colorful Side Dish


Who9_CB_BrusSprout_033587 doesn’t like Brussels sprouts? Actually most people I know. But once they experience my take on these baby cabbages I find that many Brussels sprouts naysayers become happy converts. I think I know the reason why.

Something happens to Brussels sprouts when they undergo high-heat roasting. They turn from a watery, blah-tasting green to become little gems, caramelized, slightly crisp on the outside and just cooked through on the inside. Really, all that is necessary is a light coating of olive oil and a good quality seasoning salt to bring all the flavors together.

If you are lucky enough to have any left over, you can use it to make a jewel of a vegetable salad with a glistening of your favorite vinaigrette. For an extra punch of flavor omit the pomegranate seeds and add some crumbled, crispy bacon bits just before serving— but make sure there are no vegetarians in the group.

This is a great side dish in the cooler months. For even more color and texture add 1/2 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces, to the sprouts, along with an extra tablespoon of olive oil, and roast until the carrots are tender .The pomegranate seeds look like tiny red jewels and offer a festive winter touch.

Serve the sprouts as a side dish for simple grilled meats, roasted chicken, or roasted lamb. You can double the recipe; use two baking sheets, place them on separate oven racks, and switch them halfway through the roasting time.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Seeds


Serves 4 to 6


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved if large

2 tablespoons olive oil

Favorite seasoning salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Arrange the Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Using tongs, evenly coat the sprouts with the seasonings. Make sure that the sprouts all lay flat on the pan.


  1. Roast, turning the sprouts once with the tongs, for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. The timing will depend on the size of the sprouts.


  1. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately.


Advance Preparation: Make ahead up to 4 hours ahead through step 2. Cover and keep at room temperature. Reheat in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes.



Chicken with roasted tomatillo sauce a great dish for small gathering

sns-201509151130--tms--foodstylts--v-e20150915-1-20150915I am always surprised when people think that Mexican sauces are just different types of salsa. Actually, Mexican sauces can be complex and incredibly flavorful. If you’ve never tasted an authentic mole sauce, you owe it to yourself to seek one out. Full of rich smoked chile flavor and accented with Mexican chocolate, mole sauce is in a word “soulful.” That’s the good news. The bad news is that you need to plan a day or two to prepare it.

When I am in the mood for Mexican flavor but don’t have lots of time, I make this far less time-consuming dish. It’s pretty simple to cook once you roast and peel the chilies and take the husks off of the fresh tomatillos. Remember that this dish can be as mild or hot as you like. For the mild version use the gentle Anaheim chile; for the hot version use the spicier poblano. If you are unable to find fresh chilies, the canned variety will do.

Tomatillos are small, round, green and resemble large cherry tomatoes. They have an herbal, slightly tart flavor and are often used in sauces, soups and stews. Known as tomates verde, tomatillos are easy to clean and use. To remove the husks, hold the fruit under warm running water, peel off the husk and rinse off the sticky residue that coats the skin. When selecting tomatillos, look for firm, green fruit with unwrinkled husks. Remember that when the tomatillos are cooked they become sweeter and less acidic than when they are eaten raw.

This chicken, fragrant with tomatillo, cumin and cilantro sauce, is a great dish for family and friends. Begin with a bowl of guacamole and fresh chips. Serve the chicken with vegetable rice and don’t forget warm corn or flour tortillas. I also like to serve Mexican beer with the chicken.

Chicken with Roasted Chile Tomatillo Sauce

Serves 4 to 6

3 medium Anaheim or poblano chilies (Tip: When working with chilies, always wear rubber gloves. Wash the cutting surface and knife immediately afterward.)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 medium chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut up

2 medium chicken breast halves, skin and bone attached

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cups chicken stock

6 medium garlic cloves, minced

11/2 pound tomatillos, husked and quartered

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Corn or flour tortillas

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. To peel the chiles, place on a broiler pan and broil approximately 6 inches from the heat until blackened on all sides. Use tongs to turn. Close tightly in a brown paper bag. Let rest for 10 minutes. Remove the chilies from the bag, drain and peel. Make a slit in each chile and open it up. Core, cut off the stem and scrape out the seeds and ribs. Chop the chilies into 1/4-inch pieces. Reserve.

2. Dry the chicken pieces carefully. In a large saute pan heat half of the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken until lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches, adding the remaining oil as needed. Remove to a side platter.

3. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until soft but not brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and deglaze the pan by turning up the heat and scraping the brown bits off the bottom.

4. Add the garlic, reserved chiles, tomatillos, cilantro and cumin. Bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer. Add the browned chicken pieces and simmer on low, covered, turning the chicken once to cook evenly. Simmer until the chicken pieces are just done, about 20 minutes. (Remove the smaller pieces and breasts first.)

5. Transfer the chicken onto a serving platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

6. Add the lime juice to the pan and then reduce the sauce until slightly thickened. Add the salt and pepper. Taste for seasoning. Pour over the chicken pieces. Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas and garnish with the fresh cilantro leaves.

Mediterranean-Style Chicken Starts the Jewish New Year Off Right

IMG_0777            Growing up my mom would serve a large lunch after services that included simple roasted chicken with carrots and potatoes. It’s one of those taste memories that makes everything seem ok. While I loved that simple dish, I have elevated it with capers, olives and dried fruit to now become our family tradition. Know that this dish will fit in for any dinner party or holiday entrée, as well as Rosh Hashanah.

Adapted from the Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella, this sweet and savory chicken can be served hot right out of the oven, at room temperature, or chilled for a luncheon buffet. I’ve added black and green olives and dried apricots for a tangy twist. Make sure to use a roasting or jelly roll pan to catch any juices. Just make sure that the chicken is one layer so it can cook evenly. My friend uses a disposable aluminum roaster pan for easy clean up. You can easily double or triple the recipe for a crowd.

I like to serve this with rice, farro or quinoa pilaf. Make sure to add some sautéed chopped leeks and carrots to the pilaf for a colorful presentation. Accompany with green beans for a complete main course. To drink? The versatility of this dish gives you flexibility of a wine choice. Aromatic whites such as Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc mirror the recipe’s herbs and fruit. A Syrah or Zinfandel would also be delicious. It’s hard to make a mistake with this wine pairing!

Mediterranean-Style Chicken with Capers, Plums, and Olives

Serves 6 to 8


15 small garlic cloves

2 tablespoons dried oregano


Freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned and finely chopped

1/2 cup dried whole pitted apricots

3/4 cup dried whole pitted plums (prunes)

1/3 cup pitted green olives

1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives

1/3 cup capers with some brine

16 chicken thighs skin and bone on

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

3/4 cup dry red wine such Zinfandel or Syrah

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for garnish

  1. To make the marinade, in a bowl, stir together the garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, vinegar, oil, leek, apricots, plumes, olives, and capers until blended. Place the chicken in a large lock-top plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Turn the chicken in the bag to coat them evenly. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to overnight.
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the chicken in baking pans in a single layer, skin side down. Arrange the marinade ingredients around the chicken. In a small bowl, dissolve the brown sugar in the wine, stirring to blend. Pour half over the chicken.
  1. Roast the chicken for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn chicken skin side up with tongs. Pour over the remaining wine and roast for another 25 minutes, basting once, or until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through, and no pink color remains.
  1. To serve, arrange the chicken pieces with the fruit and olives on a platter and top with some of the pan juices. Garnish with the parsley or cilantro and serve immediately.

Advance Preparation: Make up to 1 day ahead through step 1, cover, and refrigerate. Or make 1 day ahead and serve cold or at room temperature.