A New Year, A New Plan in the Kitchen

Andrew Mueller

andy mueller | in the kitchen with chef andy | jan. 2020

As we face the new year, even though the busiest few weeks are in the rearview mirror, schedules just don't seem to lighten up. Add to that all the resolutions you've made that require you to give up just about everything and it could impact your diet in a negative way.

I've made a few resolutions and a few have to do with food, and I'm sure I'll stick with them until the second week of February, but I'm careful not to go too far. One thing I'm resolute about this year is making sure I utilize my time better, without sacrificing great food. Saving time in the kitchen is the easiest way to free up time to do other things I can't seem to find time for.

Putting together a great meal can take time but it doesn't always have to. When I think about a meal that can satisfy a hearty appetite, can have countless different flavor profiles and can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes, I always turn to pasta. By the time your fettuccine or mostaccioli are finished cooking, your prep work is done and you're ready to plate.

Pasta is like a canvas to an artist — it can take on any flavors and colors the artist desires, and a masterpiece is minutes away. Don't be afraid to experiment, as pasta can be very forgiving if you cook it right. Have your "mise en place" (meez en plahs) or "everything in its place" before you go to the plate and you'll be amazed at how easy things come together. In this type of situation, this means while the pasta is cooking, organize all your prepped ingredients in one area as pasta will continue to cook as you lift it from the water. If it sits too long, it will become mushy and overcooked. You always want to slightly undercook pasta to what Italians call "al dente" or firm “to the tooth" which gives the perfect texture to your accompanying sauce. Give this recipe a try and see how easy delicious can it be!

Pasta Balsamico

Cook fettuccine or wide linguine for four servings according to the package directions to come out al dente. As the pasta is cooking add to a large mixing bowl:

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

2 tablespoons basil pesto

1 cup diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup chicken broth

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

This recipe is great on its own, but you can bring it to the next level by adding diced, cooked chicken, cooked shrimp or your favorite vegetables.

After the pasta is cooked al dente, add it to the mixing bowl and toss to combine.

Place into four bowls, divide residual sauce from mixing bowl over each portion, then top with more grated parmesan to taste. Finish with fresh cracked black pepper.

— Enjoy!

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