Thursday, May 27, 2010

Capellini Piedmontese

I love Italian food. I also love the Food Network. So it makes sense that trying Giada De Laurentiis's recipes is something I would do. One of my bridal shower gifts was her "Everyday Pasta" cookbook. While I try to get around to my various cookbooks and test recipes as much as possible, I hadn't used her cookbook in a while. The last recipe I made from this book was an artichoke pesto. Sticking with this theme, this pasta dish is a walnut pesto.

It has a fancy sounding name, capellini piedmontese, so I was expecting a fancy pasta. It looks very pretty- adding the bell peppers does make a difference- and tasted good, but I wasn't as happy with this dish. First, it was very oily. I know that pesto dishes are oily, but I think if I make this again, I will definitely cut back on the amount of olive oil. Second, it seemed to be lacking something to give it a more distinctive flavor- it needed a 'kick.' Overall, it was good, but not great.


Walnut Pesto-

2 cups (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup toasted walnuts *
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
2 leeks, thinly sliced crosswise and well rinsed
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound capellini or angel hair pasta
8 ounces fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until fragrant and golden brown; stir them once or twice as they toast and watch to see that they don't get too dark. (You can also toast them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, tossing as they toast.) Transfer to a bowl to cool.

For the pesto, combine the parsley, walnuts, thyme, and garlic cloves in the bowl of a food processor; blend until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the 1/2 cup of oil, processing until well blended. Season the pesto with the salt and pepper.

Heat the 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, leeks, and the finely chopped garlic. Saute until the bell peppers are crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the capellini and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often to prevent the pasta from sticking together, about 4 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the pesto, bell pepper mixture, and cheese, adding enough reserved pasta water to moisten. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

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