- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Add the word “chef” to a recipe, and it’s easy to become intimidated. After all, chefs have a

range of skills mere mortal cooks haven’t acquired — and what the average person would consider exotic, say lemon grass, is an everyday ingredient in a professional kitchen.

But Dave Lieberman, the affable cook-star of the Food Network, isn’t a typical chef. He has a crazed schedule and a circle of friends he enjoys sharing his time with, so most times, dinner isn’t a big production in his kitchen any more than it is in yours.

“When I entertain, I do simple stuff because it’s not about impressing my friends but enjoying their company,” says Mr. Lieberman, the author of “Dave’s Dinners” (Hyperion). “I like one-pot dishes and big bowls of salad and a big pot of pasta.”

You don’t need a full house to cook, however, he says. “There’s so much to be said for fresh food you cook yourself. There’s the aspect of creating a home and an environment.”

Cooking for two is more than getting a meal on the table; it’s the pleasure of being together and unwinding as you prepare a recipe.

Mr. Lieberman, who is a spokesman for “Live Tastefully,” a campaign featuring Amstel Light beer, suggests couples crack open a beer and relax as their dinner comes together.

His recipe for pasta with garlic, peas and bacon is easy, delicious and quick. Here is an adaptation that serves two.

Farfalle with garlic, peas and bacon

6 ounces farfalle (butterfly pasta)

Salt

Water

Extra-virgin olive oil

4 bacon strips, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Cook the farfalle in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and toss with 1 or 2 teaspoons olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.

Meanwhile, brown the bacon over high heat in a large skillet, stirring occasionally. Pour off half the rendered fat then add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, being careful to prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the peas and cook until heated through but still bright green. Toss the peas, garlic and bacon with the pasta. Stir in parsley.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or more, to taste, before serving. Makes 2 servings.

Bev Bennett is the author of “30-Minute Meals for Dummies” (John Wiley & Sons).

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