Tomato, Watermelon, and Basil Skewers
Everyone seems to love this simple combination of clean, fresh flavors. If watermelon is not in season you can substitute cantaloupe, but for a burst of pure flavor that really plays off the herbal flavor of the tomatoes, you can’t beat watermelon. Stacking the skewers vertically and serving them upright looks especially elegant. 6 to 8 servings
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 4- to 5-pound seedless watermelon
60 small basil leaves (or torn larger leaves)
16 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse or kosher salt
Special equipment: 16 (6-inch) wooden skewers
Combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Cut the top and bottom off the watermelon, then make 4 straight cuts down the sides so you have a cube of rindless watermelon. Cut the cube into 1½-inch slices, then cut the slices into 1½-inch cubes. Assemble the skewers by pushing a basil leaf to the end of one skewer. Then skewer a cube of watermelon, then a tomato half. Continue with another watermelon cube, basil leaf, and tomato half, ending with a basil leaf. Repeat to make 15 more skewers.
Drizzle the skewers with the reserved balsamic syrup and the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Serve.Whole-Wheat Linguine with Green Beans, Ricotta, and Lemon
Serves 4 to 6 servings
Not all cream sauces are super-rich. This pasta gets its creamy sauce from a combination of part-skim ricotta and pasta water, which come together to make a really easy, lighter cream sauce. Don’t leave out the lemon zest; it brightens the flavor and adds a wonderful lemony aroma as well.
• 1 pound whole-wheat linguine
• 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 pound French green beans (haricots verts), trimmed and halved lengthwise
• 1 garlic clove, chopped
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
• Zest of 1 lemon
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, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Transfer the hot pasta to a large heat-proof bowl and add the ricotta. Toss to combine.
Meanwhile, in a large, heavy skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans, garlic, salt, and pepper and saute for 4 minutes. Add the reserved pasta cooking liquid and continue cooking until the beans are tender, about 4 more minutes. Add the ricotta-coated pasta to the pan with the green beans and toss to combine. Add the tomatoes and toss gently. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with the lemon zest. Serve.
Excerpted from Giada's Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis. Copyright © 2008 by Giada de Laurentiis. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.