Tuscan Orzo Salad

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I’m happy to announce that I will be doing some writing for DailyBurn, a fitness start-up focused on helping you get to a better, stronger, healthier you.

If you’re looking for a way to use up some of summer’s last bounty, check out this Tuscan Orzo Salad. Combining ripe tomatoes with fresh arugula and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese is my version of bliss.

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Arugula, Ricotta, Lemon Spaghetti

My mother makes tantalizingly good lasagna. She is semi-famous in our family for it (and for accidentally broiling a turkey on Christmas Day). Layer upon layer of oozing cheese and fresh tomato sauce, this lasagna is a staple for family get-togethers. Unfortunately, a whole lasagna is time-consuming to make and large for someone living on their own in college. Not to mention, it’s not exactly the lightest of meals. Cue: Arugula, Ricotta, Lemon Spaghetti.

This dish provides the comfort that is home-cooked lasagna. In no time at all, you will have a plate full of warm pasta, coated lightly with cheese and tossed with a healthy handful of fresh arugula. I would not be ashamed of serving this dish at family functions. This is a bold statement, since my family eats well.

Arugula, Ricotta, Lemon Spaghetti

From Food52

1/2 lb spaghetti

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Zest from one lemon

Juice from one lemon

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1 cup ricotta

4-6 tbs drained pasta water (or whey from ricotta)

4 cups arugula

salt

Bring pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.

Chop garlic. Place sauté pan over low heat and add oil, garlic and pinch of salt. Let garlic infuse oil. 

While pasta is cooking, turn heat under pan as low as possible. Add ricotta, zest and red pepper flakes. 

Drain pasta and add to sauté pan. Toss, adding arugula and pasta water or whey. Taste for salt. Add lemon juice.

Mamma Maria, Boston

For Mother’s Day, I treated my mom to a wine tasting tour of the North End. My whole family ended the tour with a spectacular dinner at Mamma Maria, which is one of my parent’s favorite restaurants. This was my first visit and from the impeccable service, to the fabulous food, I can’t wait to go back. We were seated in a private dining room, since my mom had called earlier that week requesting a table near the window. They ended up seating us in a small room with just a four-person table–an awesome surprise.

The bread was fresh, and the pesto homemade:

We ordered the Antipasto Tower, which was a hefty $56, but oh-so-worth it. I tasted my first oysters ever, which were mind-blowing. The mozzarella is imported from a farm in Italy. The cheese was the creamiest, most delectable piece of mozzarella I’ve ever eaten.

Scallops cooked with blood orange were also a favorite part of the “antipasto tower.” Perfectly cooked, with a little crunch and citrus flavor.

My entrée was wild-mushroom ravioli:

My parents both ordered the Clam and Crab pasta:

The take-away message: wow.

If you are in the North End (and are willing to spend some dough on a meal), eat here. You will not regret it.