Artist and author Jackie Clark Mancuso doesn’t fool around in the kitchen. Her recipe for pasta with cherry tomatoes came together so quickly that I actually sat on the couch and read my book before dinner! Today, I’m thrilled to share her delicious, lightening-quick recipe and favorite fast meal ideas.
Jackie is the author and illustrator of two darling children’s books. Paris-Chien tells the tale of her adorable Norwich terrier, Hudson, as he adjusts to life as an “expat dog” in France. She continues his adventures in Hudson in Provence (just released!), which sees the young pup summering in the south of France and inspired by the beauty. Though Jackie currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and Hudson, the books were inspired by her Paris sabbatical. Jackie’s drawings are absolutely charming and Hudson is a winning narrator. (Lucy is a HUGE fan!) Today I’m delighted to welcome Jackie and share her quick cooking tips!
On her weeknight routine:
“We’ll have a glass of wine and snack on carrots / olives / pistachios / pâté while we throw together a simple salad or pasta from ingredients we have on hand. We normally follow with cheese. And maybe some fruit in season.”
On food as art:
“I enjoy making a salade composée with leftovers. It might be roasted radicchio, beets, a spoon of burrata or some cubes of feta, a few anchovies, sliced tomatoes. For me it’s painting with food.”
Three quick salads:
1) Arugula with a can of sardines on top, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
2) Belgian endive with bleu d’auvergne, dressed with olive oil and champagne vinegar I get from Monsieur Marcel French grocery.
3) Arugula, radicchio, endive with homemade mustard vinaigrette.
On ad-libbing with pasta:
“While the water is boiling, we’ll sauté some garlic in olive oil. Add a pint of halved cherry tomatoes, capers, olives if we have them, tinned anchovies if we’re in the mood. We improvise. This also makes a terrific sauce for pan-roasted fish. Even quicker and just as delicious is cooked pasta topped with fresh breadcrumbs that have been sautéed with minced garlic or anchovies.”
Combine, roast, combine:
“Roast vegetables in the oven with olive oil and salt on a large old cookie sheet. My favorites are radicchio, Brussels sprouts, red and yellow peppers, halved roma tomatoes.”
On cooking for one:
“When I’m dining alone, I eat everything out of bowls, usually in front of the TV. A bowl of granola, a bowl of popcorn, a bowl of ice cream, a bowl of herring in sour cream, a bowl of scrambled eggs sprinkled with leftover anchovy breadcrumbs. Not all at the same meal. But sometimes more than one.”
Her foolproof time-saving cooking tip:
“Make enough to have leftovers. Most dishes taste even better the next day anyway.”
Pasta with cherry tomatoes
Adapted from a recipe by Jackie Clark Mancuso
“I first fell in love with this pasta when my friend Mari made it for us in San Francisco,” says Jackie. “Adapted from an Alice Waters recipe, it’s best with homegrown or farmer’s market tomatoes and basil. The crunch of the coarse breadcrumbs is essential. I make them quickly in a food processor then hot skillet with just a little olive oil.”
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
1 lb spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, made from a sturdy country loaf
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling (optional)
Slice the tomatoes in half. Cut the basil leaves into a chiffonade. In a large bowl, squish the halved tomatoes with your hands. Stir in the basil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Allow this mixture to sit for at least 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
Cook the pasta using your usual method, until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring until golden.
When the spaghetti is finished cooking, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain and add it to the tomato mixture, tossing together with dashes of the pasta water, if necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the crushed garlic clove. Serve sprinkled with toasted fresh breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese, if desired.
(Non-pasta images from Jackie Clark Mancuso.)