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TODAY
updated 9/28/2005 2:21:20 AM ET 2005-09-28T06:21:20

Each year Food & Wine picks 10 young chefs it thinks are destined to become culinary stars. After tasting the food at hundreds of restaurants across the country the magazine chose Scott Conant as one of this select group for creating the outstanding Italian cuisine served at L'Impero, located in New York City. Conant was invited on the “Today” show to demonstrate some of the recipes that helped him become one of the rising forces of U.S. cooking. Here they are:

Recipe: Fettuccine with Escarole and Wild Mushrooms (on this page) Recipe: Maccherroni with Spicy Garlic Shrimp, Baby Tomatoes, and Breadcrumbs (on this page) Recipe: Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil (on this page) Recipe: Fresh Linguine with Fresh Corn, Asparagus, and Chilis (on this page)

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Recipe: Fettuccine with Escarole and Wild Mushrooms

Ingredients
  • 1 medium head of escarole, any wilted outer leaves discarded, well washed and dried, and chopped into 1- or 2-inch pieces
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • About 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • About 8 ounces domestic or wild mushrooms (a mix is nice), wiped clean, stemmed, and sliced or broken into bite size pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • About 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Preparation

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. When the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Take the pan off the heat and cook the garlic in the hot oil, stirring or swirling it to prevent scorching, until the garlic is very fragrant and has just started to take on some color. Return the pan to the heat, add the mushrooms, season with ample salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms release most of their liquid. This takes about 4 minutes. Add the chopped escarole and cook, stirring, until wilted. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until just al dente. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta and about 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta cooking water to the escarole and the mushrooms, then return the heat to medium-high, and toss everything together well. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the escarole can use a good amount of salt to bring out its flavor. The pasta sauce should seem a bit creamy from the starch released by the pasta; if too dry, add a bit more of the cooking liquid. Divide the pasta among four warm bowls and sprinkle each with some parsley and cheese.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Maccherroni with Spicy Garlic Shrimp, Baby Tomatoes, and Breadcrumbs

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp, shelled, de-veined, and cut unto large chunks
  • 1/2 pint small tomatoes, such as pear, grape or currant tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • About 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
  • About 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry, unseasoned, coarse, breadcrumbs, preferably Panko brand
  • 1 pound spaghetti
Preparation

In a large sauté pan, toss together the shrimp, tomatoes, the 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, parsley, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper and keep the pan off of the heat for now. In a small sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a plate to keep the residual heat from the pan from burning them.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente.  Before draining, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. When the pasta is done, put the waiting sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti and a little of the reserved cooking liquid, and cook, tossing the pasta and crushing the tomatoes lightly, until the shrimp just beings to turn pink, adding more liquid to the pan as necessary to keep the pasta moist. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the spaghetti to warm bowls and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Basil

Ingredients
  • About 20 ripe plum tomatoes
  • About 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to finish the dish
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 6 to 8 fresh basil leaves, well washed and dried, stacked and rolled into a cylinder and cut thinly crosswise into a chiffonade*
  • 1 pound spaghetti, either high-quality dry or homemade
Preparation

To peel the tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about five tomatoes in the pot and cook, let boil for about 15 seconds, then promptly move them to the waiting ice water. (Do this with the remaining tomatoes.) Pull off the skin with the tip of a paring knife. If the skin sticks, try a vegetable peeler using a gentle sawing motion. Cut the tomatoes in half and use your finger to flick out the seeds.

To cook the tomatoes: In a wide pan, heat the 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium-high heat until quite hot. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften. Then, using a potato masher, chop the tomatoes finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Serving

To serve: Bring a large pot of amply salted water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti until just shy of al dente. Reserve a little of the pasta cooking water. Add the pasta to the sauce and cook over medium-high heat, gently tossing the pasta and the sauce together with a couple of wooden spoons and a lot of exaggerated movement until the pasta is just tender and the sauce, if any oil had separated from it, now looks cohesive. (If the sauce seems too thick, add a little pasta cooking liquid to adjust it.) Take the pan off of the heat and toss the butter, basil and cheese with the pasta in the same manner (the pasta should take on an orange hue) and serve immediately.

Tips

To chiffonade is to stack the leaves one on top of the other and roll tightly into a cylinder. Then slice the cylinders of leaves crosswise into thin strips.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: Fresh Linguine with Fresh Corn, Asparagus, and Chilis

Ingredients
  • About 3/4 pound farfalle
  • 1 large or 2 small ears of corn
  • About 1/2 pound asparagus
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and very finely chopped
  • About 1/4 cup pecorino Romano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preparation

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels off of the cob or cobs; you should have about 1 cup of kernels. Snap the tough end off of the asparagus. Cut the asparagus into pieces the size of the corn kernels (more or less); you should have about 1 cup.
Cook the penne until just shy of al dente. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and the jalapeno and cook until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the corn and the asparagus and cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking liquid and cooking, tossing, until the pasta is fully cooked and has absorbed some of the flavor of the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top the pasta with some grated pecorino.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

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