Category Archives: Pasta

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas from ‘Heather Cooks!’

Let’s face it, there’s nothing more romantic than a home cooked meal and nothing more unromantic than eating over-priced pre-fixe menus in crowded restaurants. Here are some of my favorite things to make for my sweetie on Valentine’s Day (or any day.)

Creamy Spaghetti Carbonara:

Seared Scallops with Sage Brown Butter:

Butternut Squash Risotto:

Roasted Chicken with Herbs:

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Meat, Pasta, Uncategorized, Winter

Simple Suppers: Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs


I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Vermont this winter with my family.  And like most family gatherings, I took it upon myself to make a huge complicated feast for everyone to enjoy. I spent an entire morning obsessing over what kind of roast to make, compiling shopping lists, researching horseradish cream sauce recipes and brainstorming the ideal winter-vegetable side dish. When my list was finally complete, I breathed a sigh of relief and looked up from my work and out the window to see that the fat, puffy white snow flakes that had been falling since the night before were now coming down twice as fast.

Now, if you live in Vermont, you would look at this and know that it means you should put another log in the wood fire place and not leave your house for any reason. Having been gone for twelve years, I looked at it and thought,

“So Pretty!” and yelled, “Let’s go to the store now! I have to get a beef tenderloin!”

Apparently, my mother, who has lived in Florida for the past eight years had lost this logic as well because she responded, “OK!”  Then she, my two cousins and I hopped in to the car and drove head first in to one of the most dangerous blizzards I’ve ever encountered.  About fifteen minutes in to the most utterly terrifying trip to the grocery, (which at this rate was going to take three-hours) our car had skidded around like an Olympic figure skater (except less gracefully) and I was in the middle of my third consecutive panic attack.

“I have homemade meatballs in the freezer.” My mom said. “We could make spaghetti.” So we turned around.

That night we all sat around the table next to the warm fireplace, safe and sound. Spaghetti and meatballs had never tasted so good.

A few weeks later, I found myself back home in LA craving the classic combo. This recipe is simple and easy. It calls for only beef but feel free to add ground pork or veal in to the mixture. I like to make the meatballs large so the can be broken up into the sauce.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Heather Platt, Main Course, Meat, Pasta

Grow Your Own Garden: Orzo Pasta Salad with Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes and Mozzarella


It’s that time of year again, tomato time. I’ve been considering not eating tomatoes during the rest of the year. They don’t taste as good when they’re not in season, and why not save my appetite for the good stuff? I’m feeling particularly fond of the over-abundance of sweet, flavorful  tomatoes that take over our gardens and counter tops during this hot and sunny time of year.  This is my first summer growing my own garden. And the tomato plants are stroking my gardening ego, and making me feel like I’m actually good at this as they’ve grown quickly and heartily into big plump juicy red fruits.

And then the question becomes, what to do with all of these red guys. We had so many tomatoes when I was a kid that my mother made tomato sauce and froze it in dozens of plastic bags to save in our basement freezer for the winter.

Basil

Basil plants like the summer sun too, so to embrace our garden’s  bounty so far, I made a summer pesto pasta salad with orzo, pesto, cherry tomatoes, and mozzarella. This simple and delicious dish is great served hot our cold and is an awesome side to bring to a barbeque or potluck. I served it with grilled trout.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta, Side, Summer, Vegetarian

Fine Cuisine for the Starving Artist: Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara

I’m not starving. Obviously. I have a food blog and I work at a restaurant so it goes without saying that I am, at least, an extremely well-fed aspiring actress. But like many actors, writers, and musicians I know, we’re on a budget. This does not mean, however, that we’re willing to settle for non-delicious food. In fact, most of my actor friends from college ended up serving or tending bar in some of the finest restaurants in New York City, turning them in to highly discerning unintentional epicureans.  It’s a bit of a predicament; the broke artist with the well-developed palate.  This pasta dish is one of my answers to said predicament. It is incredibly creamy and delicious. Don’t be fooled by how simple it sounds. It’s one of the most delicious pastas you’ll ever taste.  It combines two of my greatest loves, carbonara and anchovies.  And unlike traditional carbonara, which calls for guanciale or bacon, this one requires things you probably already have on hand. I recommend serving it with a mixed green and avocado salad with parsley green goddess dressing. I had it for dinner tonight and I’ve never felt richer.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Dinner, Eggs, Heather Platt, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta

Summer Sides: Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s time for camping trips, picnics in the park, hikes, outdoor barbeques and a general feeling that life is good, and nothing is more important than spending time with your family and friends. And when it comes to cooking during this beautiful time of year, we want things that are easy, delicious, healthy, and can travel easily on your hike or to a picnic or barbeque. I kicked off this beautiful season with a Memorial Day Birthday barbeque for my boyfriend’s one-year-old nephew.  Which was adorable and so much fun! To compliment all of the delicious grilled chicken, fish, steak, corn and veggies, I decided to show up with a salad that would taste great with everything. And as much as I love a perfectly grilled steak, I often find that the side dishes are what steal the show at a barbeque. This Mediterranean couscous salad was a huge hit! It is the perfect go-to summer salad. It’s healthy and light, while still being well-rounded and satisfying. It would be the perfect addition to a picnic spread, or packed for lunch on a hike.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Pasta, Side, Summer, Vegetarian

Spring Forward: Tagliatelle with Asparagus, Leeks and Bacon


Spring is finally here. I, for one, couldn’t be happier that winter is over. I know, I live in Los Angeles. What winter? It’s true; the cold season here isn’t exactly cold. And if anyone knows about this it’s me. I grew up in northern Vermont where the ground was frozen solid with a blanket of snow from November until April. The morning commute to school involved scraping an inch of ice off the windshield, crossing your fingers that the car’s frozen engine would start, waiting desperately for the heat to start working which usually happened as you pulled in to school, and noticing that the hairs in your nose had turned to icicles during the walk from your car in to the school building.  One winter when I was in grade school my mom looked out the window at my brother and sister and I huddled together at the end of the driveway waiting in the snow for the school bus and yelled “Get in the car!” From that day on she insisted on driving us to school.

The truth is that I thought this was normal. It wasn’t until my freshman year at NYU when my new friends from California and other parts of the country were shivering and gasping in disbelief as New York City began to get cold. I realized my childhood winters were extraordinary and I didn’t know whether to resent my parents for it or to thank them for making me so hearty as a result.  “This is nothing.” I would mutter to my seemingly wimpy new friends.

We don’t have a real winter here in Los Angeles. In fact, I have a moment now and then when I completely forget what time of year it is. It’s a very disorienting feeling. Thankfully, I work at restaurant who’s menu is driven by local seasonal produce. So now I know what time of year it is based on what delicious produce is in season. Hearty winter fare is out and bright green delicious spring vegetables are in!  I celebrated the first day of spring with a light spring vegetable pasta dish.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Dinner, Heather Platt, In Season, Lunch, Main Course, Pasta, Spring

Romantic Pasta Dishes: Fettuccine with Clams, Tomatoes, and Spinach

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, some of us might be finding ourselves unsuccessfully scrambling for a dinner reservation or a restaurant that isn’t serving an outrageously expensive  seven-course prix-fixe menu. Congrats to those who have succeeded and to everyone else, here’s my advice: stay home. Because what could possibly be more romantic than a fresh meal, made in your own home with lots of love? Nothing. (Except maybe the 4-course Valentine’s pre-fixe at Lucques, but I know for a fact it’s all booked up). But seriously, sitting down to a delicious meal at home is probably my favorite thing in the world. And it’s not just the eating part, it’s the whole experience of prepping and transforming ingredients into something wonderfully edible, all while you’re sipping a glass of wine.

For those of you who don’t like to cook, don’t think you have time or always feel too tired, make this dish. It’s easy, and the word “clams” in the title makes it sound fancy. A few nights ago, I came home after a 14-hour sleep-deprived day in my worst state, cranky and hungry. And despite my boyfriend’s offer to pick up “a number 17″ from our favorite pho place, which I could proceed to eat in my pajamas and avoid thinking or standing up again, I just needed to eat something fresh and homemade. So I forced my cranky, exhausted self  to stand up, walk to the kitchen and start chopping. And something amazing happened. Before my boyfriend could finish saying ” What are you doing? I can’t believe you’re cooking right now. Are you crazy?” It was finished and I was sitting at the table stuffing heaping forkfuls of delicious, fettuccine into my mouth.

I don’t think  my mood swing  from rotten to purely  joyful and energetic was just because my blood-sugar level might have been low. My impromptu meal had been made with what was already in my house, my exact purpose for my column Perfect Pantry. The word “pantry” in the restaurant world refers to non-perishable ingredients that don’t need to be refrigerated. I work at a restaurant where the chefs go to the farmer’s market throughout the week to get the freshest most seasonal produce, meats, fish, and dairy to make their masterpieces. I see this as my role model: food should be fresh daily and not many things should be sitting in the pantry. In a perfect world (and often I think that world is called France), we would all live next door to a local organic butcher shop, get fresh produce every day, stroll to our local baker for fresh bread whenever we wanted to, have our own herb gardens and raise chickens that lay fresh eggs. But the reality is that I can’t grow an herb garden to save my life. I’ve killed two basil plants in the last 6 months. And quite frankly, who has time to even go to the store everyday much less the farmer’s market? So in my imperfect world, I’ve concluded that it’s okay to use canned foods sometimes. Yes, this dish might be better with fresh clams. I wouldn’t know because I had mine with canned ones and it was good enough for me and my Valentine.

Enjoy!

Heather

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Filed under Heather Platt, Main Course, Pasta