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GOOD COOKING

A Market Improvement

September 20, 2000|ABBY MANDEL

Pasta and fresh vegetables make for one of the easiest dinners around. When preparing these, I'm often inspired by what's in season at the farmers market.

Here are three recipes that can be served either hot or at room temperature. Though the vegetables are so prominent that these may seem like salads, they should not be served chilled.

Fettuccine with fennel, leeks and tomato uses about 2 cups of fennel for a pasta dinner for two. You can substitute broccoli or cauliflower florets, diced peeled squash and other vegetables, but the cooking time is longer for the florets (1 1/2 minutes) and squash (2 to 3 minutes).

The other two recipes use quick-roasted tomatoes and tender baby spinach leaves. Although these recipes are geared for two servings, they can be easily increased for a crowd.

*

Mandel is a cookbook author.

Farm Stand Fettuccine With Fennel, Leeks and Tomato

Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes * Vegetarian

1 cup diced, seeded tomato

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Red pepper flakes

1/3 pound dried fettuccine

2 fennel bulbs, cut crosswise into thin slices (keep covered in water then drain when ready to cook)

1 cup sliced leeks (white and light green parts)

1/4 cup thinly sliced basil

2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

* Place tomato, oil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes to taste in large shallow bowl. Set aside.

* Cook fettuccine according to package directions. About 1 minute before it's completely cooked (test it by tasting it), add drained fennel. Add leeks 30 seconds later. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain contents, place in reserved bowl with tomato mixture. Toss several times until well mixed, adding cooking liquid if mixture is too dry. Toss in basil and cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or warm. Pass more grated cheese separately.

2 servings. Each serving: 482 calories; 348 mg sodium; 5 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 70 grams carbohydrates; 14 grams protein; 1.52 grams fiber.

Quick-Roasted Tomatoes, Sweet Onion and Garlic on Pennette

Active Work Time: 10 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Add a little red wine vinegar to the finished dish to balance the acidity if your tomatoes aren't full-flavored.

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored, halved crosswise

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup roughly chopped sweet onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary

Freshly ground pepper

6 ounces pennette

Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

* Bring large pot salted water to boil.

* Place tomatoes, cut side down, in single layer in non-aluminum baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees in lower area of oven 10 minutes. Remove from oven. When tomatoes are just cool enough to handle, pinch off skins and discard. Pour juices into small dish; reserve. Cut tomatoes in coarse chunks and return to baking dish. Toss with oil, onion, garlic, rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Bake 5 minutes more.

* Cook pennette as directed on package until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

* To serve, toss drained hot pasta with tomato mixture. Add reserved tomato juices (strain if desired). If mixture is dry, also reserved cooking liquid as needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or warm. Pass grated cheese separately.

2 servings. Each serving: 453 calories; 171 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 67 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams protein; 2.03 grams fiber.

Farfalle (Bowties) With Spinach, Bacon and Goat Cheese

Active Work Time: 20 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 40 minutes

I prefer to use applewood-smoked bacon.

4 slices bacon

5 cups baby spinach leaves, loosely packed, stems trimmed

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 1/2 cups dried farfalle pasta

1/3 cup soft goat cheese, crumbled

* Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and blot dry. Crumble and set aside.

* Place spinach, oil, balsamic and red wine vinegars, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste in large shallow bowl. Set aside.

* Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta, put in reserved bowl with spinach mixture. Toss several times until well mixed, adding cooking liquid if mixture is too dry. Taste and adjust seasoning.

* To serve, divide between 2 plates; garnish with bacon and cheese. Serve hot or warm.

2 servings. Each serving: 518 calories; 1,077 mg sodium; 18 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 55 grams carbohydrates; 20 grams protein; 1.25 gram fiber.

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