Excellent Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

Despite a stupid chef trick performed while prepping this dish, it turned out delicious!  Suffice it to say you should not turn the oven off when the directions say to turn it down from 450º to 400º.

Here’s the recipe:

Baked Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

Servings: 6

1/2      teaspoon  Kosher salt — plus more for pasta water

1/4      teaspoon  ground black pepper

3/4         pound  Mezzi Rigatoni

4        tablespoons  Olive oil — divided

1        large  head of cauliflower — cut into small florets 2-2 1/2 lbs

3        tablespoons  fresh sage leaves

2        tablespoons  capers — drained

4             cloves  garlic — divided

1/2      teaspoon  grated lemon zest

1/3      teaspoon  crushed red pepper flakes

2               cups  Italian Fontina — shredded

1                cup  fresh ricotta

1/2           cup  panko

6        tablespoons  Pecorino cheese — grated

2        tablespoons  fresh parsley — chopped

3             slices  prosciutto

Preheat the oven to 450°. In a bowl combine 3 cloves of garlic, cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper. Spread onto parchment paper lined sheet pan and roast until crispy and browned on the edges 20-25 minutes.  On another sheet pan spread out three slices of prosciutto and roast until crispy, 15 minutes or so, remove and crumble. Reduce oven temperature to 400º

In a large pot of boiling salted water cook pasta until al dente, according to the instructions on the package. Drain and pour into a very large bowl. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water.

Add the additional clove of minced garlic and olive oil to the pasta.  When Cauliflower is finished roasting also add to pasta and stir to combine, adding pasta water.

Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, crumbled prosciutto, to the bowl and stir carefully. Stir in the Fontina. Spray  a 10 x 13 x 2–inch rectangular baking dish with vegetable spray. Place 1/2 pasta/cauliflower mixture into dish. Spread ricotta on the pasta and spoon the remaining pasta mixture over ricotta. Stir together the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle it evenly on top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until browned and crusty on top. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve.

Here’s a picture right out of the oven:

Baked Pasta w/Roasted Cauliflower

Baked Pasta w/Roasted Cauliflower


Eat Well…Be Well!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment



After reading a few recipes for Pesto recipes I decided to jump in and prepare my own concoction with ingredients in-house!  Pistachios have always been good substitute for Pine Nuts in traditional pesto, good place to start.  Mint, parsley and spinach all good candidates, also lemon looks like a good way to go with the greens for more brightness.

I created the recipe and decided to toss it with pasta, crispy prosciutto, and peas. But I wanted a creamy sauce so looked at the plain Greek Yogurt as a way to make that happen.   When I realized that I didn’t have enough long fusilli for both of us I added a medium spiralized zucchini and we had an amazing meal!

Here’s the recipe for the pesto, the lemon brings a completely different layer to the flavors and the yogurt, to make it a creamy sauce, is just brilliant!!

Pistachio-Mint-Spinach Pesto with Greek Yogurt

Servings 4

1/2      cup           packed fresh mint

1          cup           packed baby spinach — stemmed

1/3      cup           packed fresh parsley

2          tsps           lemon rind — finely grated

2          tbsps       lemon juice

1/2      cup           Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese — grated

2          cloves      garlic — coarsely chopped

1/4      cup           dry-roasted unsalted pistachios

1/2       tsp            kosher salt

3          tbsp          olive oil

1/2      cup           2% plain Greek Yogurt

Drop the garlic cloves thru the feed tube of a food processor while it is running.  Once fully chopped; add  pistachios, and process until finely chopped. Add the mint, parsley, and spinach, pulse a few times to coarsely chop then add lemon zest, cheese and salt; pulse to combine. Add lemon juice and pulse twice to combine then with machine running add 3 tablespoons oil; process until blended.

Just before adding pesto to pasta stir in yogurt.


For our dinner I sauteed a chopped shallot, added the spiralized zucchini, crisped and crumbled prosciutto, defrosted frozen peas, boiled pasta and 1/2 cup pasta water, once combined I stirred in the pesto and yogurt and served in warmed pasta bowls with garlic bread!  Dinner was declared a requested rotation addition!


Eat Well….Be Well!!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hors d’oeuvres for 125

Last Thursday’s Book-signing Cocktail/Hors d’oeuvres Party for 125 was a resounding success.  My clients hosted a wonderful evening for Gerald Weaver, the author of: The First First Gentleman   There were two readings from his novel, and no it’s not about Bill Clinton! LOL!  He signed books purchased by the invited guests and schmoozed with 125 people from many walks of life who discovered that they had more in common with each other than imagined.

The overflow of Publishing Industry, Movie & TV stars, Agents, Writers, etc. kept the two bartenders very busy. The food was very well received, or should I say devoured?  The centerpiece on the table was a 3D model of the White House that my grandsons help me assemble two weeks ago while we were teen sitting them in Rhode Island!

Here’s the menu followed by the few odd pictures that we were able to capture!

Assorted Crudites with Artichoke Lemon Dip

Cheese Board: Comte, Gorgonzola, P’tit Basque, Gouda, Camembert, Mixed Nuts, Grapes and Dates, assorted crackers, crostini, and flat breads.

Skewered Hors d’oeuvres:

Watermelon, Feta, Olive with Balsamic Glaze

Caprese: Cherry Tomatoes, Boccancini

Antipasto: Tortellini, Cherry Tomato, Provolone. Pepperoni

Meat/Seafood/Chicken Platters

Smoky Roasted Garlic Shrimp Cocktail

Peppered Beef Tenderloin Crostini w/Horseradish Sauce & Chives

Lobster “Roll” Mini Phyllo Cups

Asian Meatballs w/Thai Chili  Dipping Sauce

Endive Petals with Chunky Chicken Salad and Cranberries

Vegetarian Platters

Spicy Pimento & Cheese Stuffed Celery

Eggplant Caponata w/Parmesan Mini Phyllo Cups

Radish on Pumpernickel Squares w/Olive Butter

Chopped Egg with Capers & Dijon on Pumpernickel Squares


Salted Chocolate Mini Cookie Cups


Assorted Macaroons

Here are some pics:

Roasted Garlic Shrimp


Cheese Board


Antipasto Sticks


Caprese Skewers


Watermelon, Feta, Olive Skewers



Lobster Rolls


Caponata Mini Filo Cups






As my client predicted:     They came for the Author and a Drink and stayed for Dinner!!

There was a complete hush over the rooms while the readings were happening and once they were completed the true grazing of the hors d’oeuvres buffet continued with amazing vigor!  The party was to be from 6 to 8 p.m.  We re-filled the last of the food @10 p.m. And there were still close to 50 grazers on hand!

We called it a successful party! Happy clients, impressed media types and all were smiling!

Eat Well…Be Well!!







Posted in Chef Jim Menu, Client Party | Tagged , , | Leave a comment