capricci with slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and cream√

Serves 4.

Note: "Capricci is one of the many whimsical pasta shapes now on the market," writes Domenica Marchetti in "The Glorious Vegetables of Italy." "It isn't always easy to find, and I've seen a couple of different variations. They are either tight coils or tight ruffles, and in either case are excellent at trapping sauce. If you are unable to find them, substitute another short, coiled pasta shape, such as fusilli or gemelli."

• 1 1/2 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• Fine sea salt

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

• 1 shallot

• 2 to 3 fresh thyme sprigs

• 3/4 c. heavy cream

• 1 tbsp. coarsely chopped basil

• 1 lb. dried capricci (see Note)

• 1 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Arrange cherry tomatoes cut-side up on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a grinding of pepper. Roast tomatoes until they are somewhat puckered and shriveled but still juicy, about 90 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt generously. In a large, deep sauté pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. When butter has just begun to foam, stir in shallot. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallot is softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Scrape in tomatoes and any juices that have collected on the baking sheet. Add thyme sprigs and pour in cream. Heat gently to a simmer over low to medium-low heat. Right before dressing the pasta, turn off heat and stir in basil.

Meanwhile, add pasta to boiling water and cook according to manufacturer's instructions until al dente. Drain pasta in a colander, reserving about 1 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot and spoon two-thirds of sauce over it. Add 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Toss gently to combine. Add 1 tablespoon of reserved pasta water, if necessary, to loosen sauce, and toss again.

Spoon dressed pasta into a warm serving bowl or individual bowls. Sprinkle with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on top and serve immediately, with remaining sauce passed at the table.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 880 Fat 37 g Sodium 865 mg Saturated fat 18 g

Carbohydrates 106 g Calcium 410 mg

Protein 31 g Cholesterol 84 mg Dietary fiber 8 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 7 bread/starch, 1½ medium-fat meat, 6 fat.

chocolate zucchini cake √

Serves 8.

Note: From "The Glorious Vegetables of Italy."

2 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 c.), shredded on the large holes of a box grater

• 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1/2 c. boiling water

• 2 eggs

• 1 1/4 c. sugar

2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract

2 tbsp. Punch Abruzzo, Grand Marnier or dark rum, optional

1/2 c. flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1/2 c. almond flour or almond meal

• 1/4 tsp. baking soda

• 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Powdered sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch round baking pan with olive oil. Sprinkle a little flour into the pan and coat the interior, tapping out any excess.

Place the shredded zucchini in a medium bowl lined with paper towels to absorb some of the liquid. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar until pale, thick and frothy. Slowly whisk in olive oil until well blended. Stir in cocoa mixture, vanilla extract, almond extract and liqueur, if using.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda and salt. Pour flour mixture into egg mixture, whisking all the while to avoid lumps. Using a silicon spatula, stir in shredded zucchini. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and set on the rack to cool to room temperature.

Transfer cooled cake to a decorative platter. Dust the cake lightly with powdered sugar right before serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 390 Fat 23 g Sodium 135 mg Saturated fat 4 g

Carbohydrates 45 g Calcium 39 mg

Protein 5 g Cholesterol 47 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 bread/starch, 1 other carb, 4½ fat.

minestrone verde √

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: From "The Glorious Vegetables of Italy."

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

• 1 oz. pancetta, diced, optional

2 medium leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly washed, halved lengthwise, and sliced thinly, crosswise (about 2 c.)

2 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut crosswise into small wedge-shaped pieces

• 1/4 tsp. sea salt

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 6 to 7 c. vegetable or chicken broth

• 2 c. tubettini, ditalini or other small soup pasta

• 2 c. fresh or frozen peas, thawed if frozen

• 4 handfuls (about 4 oz.) fresh baby spinach leaves

• 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, optional

• 3 to 4 tbsp. fresh basil pesto, see recipe


Put olive oil, pancetta (if using) and leeks in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until olive oil and pancetta begin to sizzle, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, until leeks are softened and pancetta is just beginning to turn crisp.

Stir in zucchini and season with salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until zucchini is tender but still holds its shape. Pour in 6 cups of broth and raise the heat to medium-high. Bring broth to a boil and slowly pour in pasta, taking care not to let the broth boil over. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook the pasta for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in peas and spinach and cook until pasta is al dente or even a little bit more tender; cooking time will depend on the shape and brand of pasta you use. Add more broth to thin the soup, if you like.

Remove from the heat and stir in cheese, if using. Ladle the soup into shallow bowls, top with a dollop of pesto — no more than 1/2 tablespoon — and drizzle a little olive oil over each serving.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 290 Fat 11 g Sodium 865 mg Saturated fat 2 g

Carbohydrates 40 g Calcium 72 mg

Protein 9 g Cholesterol 3 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 2 bread/starch, 2 fat.

fresh basil pesto √

Makes about 1 cup.

Note: From "The Glorious Vegetables of Italy."

• 2 c. firmly packed fresh basil leaves

• 1 garlic clove, cut into pieces

2 tbsp. pine nuts or blanched slivered almonds

• 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt

• 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 c. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino cheese, or a mix of the two


Put basil, garlic, pine nuts and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. With the motor running, dribble in olive oil through the feed tube until mixture forms a loose paste. Using a spatula, scrape pesto into a small bowl and stir in cheese. If not using immediately, transfer pesto to a small container with a tight-fitting lid and press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface on the pesto to prevent discoloration. Cover the container with the lid and store pesto in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.

To freeze pesto, omit cheese and freeze in a plastic container for up to 6 months. To use, let pesto thaw to room temperature and stir in cheese.

Nutrition information per serving of 1 tablespoon:

Calories 82 Fat 8 g Sodium 112 mg Saturated fat 2 g

Carbohydrates 0 g Calcium 52 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 2 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1½ fat.