Everyday Gourmet

Study, play, eat

Aug. 26, 2010

By Kim Dannies

The school schedule is kicking into full gear this week, and fast healthy food is paramount for ravenous students, athletes and people pushing the revolving door of activity. Fortunately for cooks, there is a mother lode of great produce just waiting to be turned into a meal that will please everyone.

Orecchiette (oh-rayk-kee-EHT-the), also known as “little ears” pasta, is fun to eat. The disk-shape cradles the sauce, delivering a fresh burst of flavor in every bite. For weekend guests, ricotta stuffed ravioli provides an excellent up-tick to the dish. This recipe is very forgiving — I recently tossed in leftover grilled corn and sliced kalamata olives, and they proved to be nice additions. Prep is super-fast, do-ahead, and the best part is packing lots of nutrition into a fun meal without your busy bodies noticing.

Tomato & Basil Orecchiette

In a large glass prep bowl, combine the following: 4 to 6 tomatoes (1.5 pounds), rough cut with skin and seeds; 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced; zest of 1 lemon, plus the lemon juice; 2 cups zucchini, finely diced; 3 tablespoons of olive oil; 1 fist-full of fresh basil, ribbon-cut; 2 big pinches of sea salt; fresh pepper to taste. Prep this mixture up to 24 hours ahead; store covered at room temperature.

To serve: Add 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese to the tomato mixture. Add 2 cups cooked cubed chicken or shrimp (optional).

Cook 8 ounces of Orecchiette for 10 minutes in boiling, salted water. At the 10-minute mark, scoop 1/2 cup of the cooking water into the tomato mixture. Drain pasta and toss into sauce. Serve immediately; reheats beautifully in the microwave. Serves 4 hungry people; doubles nicely.

On the side: Toast slices of Tuscan bread and slather with fresh or store-bought pesto.

For dessert: Microwave peach halves for 2 minutes; fill cavity with a scoop of non-fat Greek yogurt. Top peaches with a mixture of hazelnuts, fresh mint and warm honey.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to