Mangia: Mussels And Panzanella

A general view showing a partially empty beach at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik, Egypt, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. An oceanic white tip shark badly mauled four Russian tourists swimming close to their beach hotels in two separate attacks at an Egyptian Red Sea resort, a local conservation official said. (AP Photo/Hussien Talal) AP Photo/Hussien Talal

If you're craving Italian but also want a light summer meal, the Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring has the ideal menu for you.

Chef Michael White, executive chef at four restaurants, including "Fiamma Osteria" in New York City and "Fiamma Trattoria" in Las Vegas, offers his modern interpretation of Italian cuisine on a $40 budget.

The menu includes: Watermelon Panzanella, Tagliolini with Mussels and White Wine, and Affogato Shots.

The following are his recipes:

Panzanella
Grilled Tuscan Bread Salad with Watermelon, Aged Goat Cheese, Olive Oil
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
6 thick slices of Tuscan bread
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar to taste
2 cups watermelon, cubed
4 oz aged goat cheese, crumbled
1 bunch arugula, washed, and torn handful of fresh basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Method:

  1. Brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and toast on grill or grill pan about 2 minutes per side. Cut slices into medium sized cubes and place in a large bowl.

  2. Add cubed watermelon to bowl, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Add half of the arugula to the mixture. Gently stir bread and watermelon together.

  3. Divide salad among 4 small plates. Top each plate the rest of the arugula and basil, and then with 1 oz of aged goat cheese. Drizzle salad with 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil and vinegar, depending on your taste, and serve.


Tagliolini con Cozze
Thin Ribbon Pasta with Mussels, White Wine, Breadcrumbs, Parsley
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 pounds Prince Edward Island mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 cups dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound Tagliolini (thin ribbon pasta), fresh or dried
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 medium zucchini, sliced
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley plus additional to sprinkle over dish
1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs

Method:

  1. In a saucepan with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.

  2. Add the mussels and white wine, cover, and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the mussels open; cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until done. Season to taste with salt and pepper; keep warm over low heat.

  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in the pasta; cook until al dente, about 2 to 3 minutes or according to the directions on the package, and drain.

  4. Meanwhile, quickly saute the zucchini and tomatoes in a little olive oil for about a minute, until vegetables are slightly softened.

  5. Turn the sauce into a large metal bowl, add the pasta, vegetables and 4 tablespoons of chopped parsley, and toss to combine.

  6. Discard any mussels that do not open.

  7. Divide the pasta among 4 large, flat bowls, sprinkle on a little parsley, top with the toasted breadcrumbs and serve.

Affogato Shots
Vanilla Bean Gelato topped with Espresso, Whipped Cream
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients
1/4 cup chocolate sauce
1 pint Vanilla Bean Gelato
1 cup freshly brewed espresso
1/4 cup heavy cream, softly whipped (optional)

Method:
  1. In 4 small glasses, place one spoonful of chocolate sauce and then one large scoop of vanilla gelato.

  2. Fill the glasses with espresso, top with a spoonful of whipped cream, and place a small straw in each glass. Serve at once.
  • Tatiana Morales

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