Originally published in 1979, "Silver Palate" set the bar for a certain kind of upscale home cooking that defined the '80s — and its influence echoes on to this day. There was pesto. There was quiche. There were little bites and artfully brunchy foods.
The book was a reflection of its authors, Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso, who paved the way for Martha Stewart and Ina Garten by launching their empire from the world of catering. To this day, the recipes retain a vibe of relaxed entertaining, the sort of food you'd serve on artfully mismatched dinnerware. And, like a classic Kate Bush track, they're still absolute bangers.
At a recent dinner party, a friend served the book's famed signature dish: an olive- and prune-infused Chicken Marbella. I was floored at how sensational it was.
"The Silver Palate" was the first cookbook I ever bought because I had a friend who worked at a Williams-Sonoma who got me a discount. Whereas other cookbooks seemed like they were written by and for wives and mothers, "Silver Palate" seemed to beckon with a voice that said, "Let's party!"
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I still lean on the recipes — and the lessons on choosing cheese and making coffee — that I learned thumbing through my now battered copy of that book. In the summertime, I can't get enough of a lazy pasta dish that Lukins and Rosso enticingly claimed to have discovered while dining "in a beautiful home in Sardinia."
How can something so simple be so good? Some things, I guess, just never go out of style.
Inspired by The Silver Palate Cookbook from Sheila Lukins and Julee Rosso
- Chop the tomatoes into small-ish chunks. Put them in a large bowl.
- Add the cheese, basil, garlic, EVOO, salt and pepper. Give it all a stir.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it hang out on the counter for 2 hours or more.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the instructions on the package.
- Drain the pasta before adding it to the bowl with the tomatoes and cheese. Stir everything together. Add more pepper on top, if you like.
- Serve immediately with a very lemony salad.
If you have them on hand, reach for heirloom tomatoes.
Forgot to make the sauce ahead of time? If you make it while the pasta is boiling, the sauce won't have as complex a flavor, but it will definitely still be a weeknight dinner hero.
You can tweak this recipe to your heart's content. While "The Silver Palate" suggests linguini, I think this dish is better with short pasta. Mint, meanwhile, makes a fresh alternative to basil. I also don't cut off the rind of the brie; it's expensive — and you should get your money's worth.
of our favorite easy pasta dishes
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