I have been watching, and drooling with, Tyler Florence for years. He’s always been one of my favorite chefs. I was thrilled in 2007 when the Food Network asked if I would lend my kitchen for a Thanksgiving special featuring Tyler.
There was a lot of preparation and cleaning before I could deem my kitchen worthy of national television. The toughest part was taking down the Halloween decorations. In TV Land the program was taped a month in advance in mid-October.
Tyler arrived on the shoot day without an ounce of diva in him. He was gracious and funny, and well, impossibly handsome. He moved effortlessly around my range, bantering and concocting spectacular holiday side dishes. I took secret pleasure every time he lifted my pepper grinder or used any of my beloved utensils.
At the time, Tyler had two sons, to whom he was utterly dedicated. A year later his daughter arrived, which may have prompted him to write his newest cookbook, Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted So Good.
Family Meal is Tyler’s homage to the people in his life that love, support and inspires him. The book is organized by his family at home, his extended family, and his restaurant family. One chapter celebrates the recipes of his friends and neighbors. All the recipes, whether they’re handed-down, replicated or created by Tyler, are mouthwatering.
Angel Hair Pasta with Chile, Lemon and Arugula
Courtesy of Tyler Florence
Serves 4 to 6.
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, slivered
- 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
- Grated zest of one lemon
- 1 pound angel hair pasta
- 2 cups gently packed baby or wild arugula
In a skillet combine the panko with two tablespoons of the oil and toss to combine. Toast over medium heat, stirring, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a small bowl.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining 6 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 10 to 12 minutes to infuse the oil and gently cook the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon zest and remove from the heat.
Bring a large pot if well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 3 – 4 minutes, or until al dente. Drain the pasta well and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately add the arugula, the infused oil with garlic, and the breadcrumbs. Use tongs to gently toss everything together. Mound the pasta on a large platter and serve.
Tyler refers to this as one of his “go to” recipes for nights when there’s not a lot of time and your cupboards are a bit bare. I love this dish so much that the ingredients have become staples in my refrigerator and pantry. There may not be milk but there is always a hunk of Parmigianino-Reggiano.
Family meal can mean a Sunday potluck, a backyard BBQ, a harvest lunch or the dinner restaurant staffers share together before evening service. No matter what, it’s about conversation, conviviality and shared food. It’s one of the simplest and most meaningful pleasures in life.
You will never run out of impressive dishes to prepare for your tribe with Family Meal: Bringing People Together Never Tasted So Good. Don’t miss out on this lovingly assembled tome.
There’s always room for one more cookbook in the collection!