I have to say, of all of the chefs on TV and in the limelight these days, I think the one chef that has the most consistently good dishes is Giada De Laurentiis. Try any of her "top 100 recipes" here, and I can guarantee the dish will be very good!
I've made her chicken piccata, her butternut squash lasagna, her bolognese, her cioppino (oh that soup was wonderful), to name a few. Tonight after watching a new episode of Giada at Home, I made one of her "comfort food" dishes: Trenette with Eggplant and Basil Pesto. I substituted penne for the trenette and walnuts for the pine nuts in the pesto and left out about 1/2 the cheese but it was still quite wonderful. I recommend making it on a cool night and on an empty stomach!
Trenette with Eggplant and Basil Pesto
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis
Prep Time: 14 min
Inactive Prep Time: --
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see Cook's Note)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
1 pound trenette or other short-cut pasta
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan, plus 1/2 cup
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (1 1/2 pounds) medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pesto: In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the oil until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the cheese and pulse until just incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta into a large serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Toss until coated.
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant turns golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Add the pesto and toss until the eggplant is coated.
Add the eggplant mixture to the serving bowl with the pasta and toss until all of the ingredients are coated. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.
Cook's Note: To toast the pine nuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 5 to 6 minutes. Cool completely before using
Chow for now! :)