Julie's Special Pasta Dish

As part of a special six-part series called "Impress The Chef," each of the anchors was given an assignment: Prepare a home-cooked meal for resident chef Bobby Flay.

After watching Hannah Storm cook for the chef, Julie Chen thought she had a tough act to follow. "I'm making a reservation at Hannah's house for my segment, OK?" Chen said.

She was actually being modest. Try out her recipes for Grapefruit Salad, and Pasta with Garlic, Tomatoes, and Basil and follow her great tips.

And CLICK HERE for more tips and funny outtakes for the series.

Grapefruit Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 head butter lettuce
1 ruby red grapefruit
Sherry mustard vinaigrette (or fresh lemon juice, or dressing of your choice)

Method:
First, peel grapefruit, making sure to remove white pith completely.

Second, carefully cut grapefruit into sections.

Third, wash lettuce; dry with a clean tea towel or a salad spinner.

Fourht, leaving lettuce leaves whole, arrange in a bowl with grapefruit sections.

Fifth, drizzle dressing over the salad just before serving.

Tips: Julie and Bobby both prefer to leave the butter lettuce leaves whole -- they think they look prettier when you serve them that way, but you can tear the leaves into pieces if you prefer.

Bobby's tip for peeling grapefruit: Cut a slice off one end of the grapefruit to flatten it so it will stand on the cutting board without rolling. Then cut the peel off the fruit, aiming the knife away from you, and turning the grapefruit as you go. Bobby says this is much safer than Julie's method of peeling the grapefruit in the air, holding it in one hand with the knife in the other, like you would peel an apple.

Pasta with Garlic, Tomatoes, and Basil
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 package fresh angel-hair pasta
2 cloves fresh garlic (or more, to taste)
2 fresh plum (Roma) tomatoes
Olive oil
Fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add 1 tablespoon salt and a little oil.
  2. Chop garlic finely, or pass through a garlic press.
  3. Chop tomatoes into small pieces, including skin and seeds.
  4. Make a chiffonade of the fresh basil by piling several leaves on top of each other, rolling them up like a cigar, and cutting across the roll in fine slices.
  5. Cover the bottom of a skillet or sauté pan with olive oil.
  6. Add garlic to pan and sauté for a few seconds; add the chopped tomatoes.
  7. As the garlic and tomatoes cook, toss the angel hair pasta into the boiling water, being careful to separate the strands and give them a stir so they don't stick together. (Julie uses chopsticks to stir the pasta.)
  8. Boil pasta for about 2 - 3 minutes checking doneness periodically until the white center of the strand disappears, but the pasta still has some bite to it. Remember: fresh pasta cooks much more quickly than dried.
  9. When pasta is done, drain in a colander and add it to the sauce in the skillet along with the fresh basil, and toss to combine. (Save a little pasta water to add to the sauce, in case it's too dry.)
  10. Correct seasoning, adding more salt, if necessary, and a few grindings of pepper
  11. Plate the pasta and garnish with a whole basil floret.

Bobby Flay's tip: Pass freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Bobby's tip for peeling garlic: Put the cloves on a cutting board; lay a broad-bladed knife over them, one clove at a time, and gently strike the flat of the knife, crushing the clove under it, releasing it from the skin.

Julie's tip for chopping tomatoes for this recipe: She says there is no need to peel and seed the tomatoes for this recipe, which helps to make it quick and easy to prepare.

She also offers this tip from her Chinese heritage: Use wooden chopsticks to stir the pasta as it cooks. They won't scratch non-stick pans, and because of their length, you can hold your hand high over the pot and away from the steam. She also uses the chopsticks to combine the pasta with the sauce. Julie also says using fresh pasta helps make this dish convenient because it cooks faster than dried and saves time, but you can use dried pasta, if you like.