En español | I love pasta, and my kids love it. My son, Nico, adores it with mushrooms, but his all-time favorite is carbonara. We still make a lot of Calabrian pastas I learned how to cook from my family — ditali with cannellini beans, ziti with Italian canned tuna, great tomato sauces. I've never moved away from my Italian background; I just add to it.
When I was diagnosed recently with a gluten intolerance, I was heartbroken, because I knew pasta would be difficult. Much of the gluten-free pasta I first tried was terrible. But quinoa is a wonderful substitute. Our recipe for quinoa salad with pomegranate and pistachios is my wife Felicity's creation. It makes a great, very light side dish for Thanksgiving. She sometimes adds feta or goat cheese. I like adding raisins, for kind of an Arab touch.
We love to cook together. We just make things up, and they often become family favorites.
Felicity and I met through a shared love of cooking. And it's now a nurturing way to keep our family anchored. I know I shouldn't be saying this, but sometimes I wish I could just stay home and cook all day. Only kidding. I love my job, but cooking has such a pull.
Quinoa With Pomegranate and Pistachio
- 2 cups quinoa
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 6 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, plus 2 tablespoons for serving
- 3 tablespoons salted pistachios
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 1 orange, peeled and sliced into rounds (optional)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for the orange
1. Rinse the quinoa in cold water to remove its bitterness.
2. Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Dress with the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
3. Gently mix the pomegranate seeds, pistachios and scallions into the quinoa. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
4. Serve with sliced oranges dressed with olive oil, if desired.
Nutrients per serving: 137 calories, 17g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 10g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 192mg sodium
Roasted Sea Bass
This is a classic branzino (sea bass) recipe that you will pay a lot for in restaurants but is so quick and easy to do yourself. Cooking the whole fish like this gives the flesh so much more flavor and makes for a beautiful presentation. Don't be intimidated by the idea of filleting it, as you can lift the flesh off the spine easily for serving. This is my fish-loving daughter Camilla's favorite.
- 1 whole medium sea bass, gutted and scaled, head and tail on
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/4 lemon, cut into semicircular slices
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Season the cavity of the fish with salt and pepper, then stuff it with the garlic, lemon, herbs and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil.
3. Rub the skin of the fish with the remaining oil; place the fish in a roasting pan. Pour the white wine over the fish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, gently turning the fish once, until the skin blisters and the flesh comes away from the bone.
Nutrients per serving: 230 calories, 36g protein, 1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 11g fat, 80mg cholesterol, 347mg sodium
Stanley Tucci's new cookbook with his wife, Felicity Blunt, is The Tucci Table: Cooking With Family and Friends.
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Go to the AARP home page for more on food and nutrition