Star-Worthy Pastas to Make at Home

by in Recipes, July 24, 2013

Nikki DinkiWhen it comes to cooking in the Food Star Kitchen, mediocrity will never suffice. Week after week, Star finalists must turn out camera-worthy meals that are both deliciously inspired and intelligently presented. But just because mentors demand excellence on the plate doesn’t mean the rivals have to concoct complicated dishes that take hours to prepare; easy-to-make, quick-cooking offerings are also acceptable, and the finalists proved that with their preparations of classic pasta dishes during last week's episode.

Damaris PhillipsDamaris', Stacey's and Nikki's pastas were among the simplest prepared during the Mentor Challenge, so much so that you can make them easily in your home kitchen. Nikki's Fire Island Burst Tomato Pasta with Lemon Herbed Goat Cheese Balls is a family-friendly plate that puts seasonal cherry tomatoes to work. Nikki starts by sauteing the tomatoes with garlic until they're soft and sweet, then she tosses the sauce with linguini and tops it with a sprinkle of fragrant basil and mint. For an indulgent finish, she studs each plate with a few goat cheese balls, which she's rolled with bright lemon zest and fragrant basil, mint, rosemary and thyme.

Stacey Poon-KinneyDamaris and Stacey opted for meatier offerings, the former making Linguini Bolognese with Pancetta, Beef, Tomato Sauce, Herbs and Parmesan. After cooking pancetta with onions, garlic and carrots, Damaris adds the beef, tomatoes and thyme, then cooks the mixture for a few minutes until the flavors have married. Finish the dish with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese for a salty bite.

Instead of cooking the meat in her sauce, Stacey simply tops pasta with chicken in her recipe for Chicken Saltimbocca with Brown Butter Angel Hair Pasta. She tosses pasta with fresh garlic, nutty brown butter and lemon zest before fanning atop the noodles juicy chicken wrapped with crispy prosciutto.

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Comments (38)

  1. BillO says:

    I'm going to have to pay more attention in the future. I thought that they were given 30 minutes to prepare these dishes, but they range from 50 minutes to 2 hours to prep and cook.

    • Admiral Boumont says:

      Ahhh, don't be a wuss. If it tastes fabulous, it's worth it.
      Still nowhere near as bad as Thanksgiving dinner.
      We want a mighty fighting force in the food world. A kitchen
      warrior, craving the strategic implementation of deliciousness to the masses, like a true Marine! Semper Fei!

    • Cindi says:

      I haven't been paying any attentions to the amount of time the contestants were given........but none of these dishes should take that much time

      • BillO says:

        I'm just reading the times printed on the recipes

        • Cindi says:

          I went back & read the times as well....but given the directions, it seems the times may be off. I'm going to watch the repeat tomorrow & see if they give a time limit...

  2. Foodie3 says:

    I could make a fabulous pasta meal in less than an hour, which I think most people could as well. One of the easiest ingredients to work with IMO.

  3. Ken says:

    Wow!! Where did you find that one in the dark blue? I think my tv is melting. If she can cook, I'm in!

  4. msjs0315 says:

    Count me in as one of the unimpressed.

    Nikki served squashed tomatoes and cheese balls on pasta.

    Damaris cooked a somewhat ordinary meat sauce. No eye-opening ingredients at all.

    Stacey's portions are huge, a half-pound of pasta plus a chicken breast and three slices of prosciutto. She calls it saltimbocca, but there's no chicken stock or wine or the add-ons that give a depth of flavor to real saltimbocca. If that recipe is followed as written, the chicken/prosciutto atop the pasta will probably be tough and/or dry and/or covered in grease.

  5. iloverecipes says:

    I believe that Nikki is the only one that could have a cooking show viewers would watch. Now, if she would just get her hair styled--I don't like hair in my food. It will be between Damaris and Nikki as finalists.

    • Sheri says:

      Damaris has already proven she is the better Chef.. She's vivacious yet less wound-up than Nikki.

  6. Leslie says:

    They are likely the final two. I like both of them but Nikki is too much like Andre.

  7. Guest says:

    Stacey (the poser) is a restaurant owner and not a cook.

  8. Carla says:

    Giada,

    When I watched last year's show, I notice you didn't pick one black person for your team. And then on this show, I noticed you really have it in for the two blacks on the show. You helped send one home just now and I just wonder if on the next show, the other black person will be gone because of you. You really like the guy from New Orleans, when you can't understand a word that comes out of his mouth. He's the guy I remember not understanding a word that he says... Remember, you have to be able to understand a person for them to be on TV.

    • BillO says:

      Carla, you must have been right up front for the Paula Deen lynching. Yeah, there's a racist behind every lemongrass stalk at Food Network. And the guy from New Orleans is from Baltimore

  9. Bob Toren says:

    For me, Damaris and Nikki are the two that are more and more rising to the top.
    I think Nikki has the strongest point of view and pretty good cooking chops, and Damaris also has proven herself to be a good cook. I don't think Damaris has quite as strong of a point of view but I like her personality a little more than Nikki's. I would watch a show from either of those two.
    Damaris, if you ever want to hang out let me know. Just sayin.

    • Barbara says:

      I think you're right. It's probably between those two. Damaris's point of view has a broader appeal and I think she has a better sense of humor.

    • gmjjh says:

      I think Damaris is pretty clear on her Southern Cooking point of view. Actually I think she is easier to follow than Trish's Southern Cooking. I like Nikii, and her style..Why in Gods name are the guys still on there and Nikki gone??? What qere you guys smoking? Well maybe next show you can influence the the 2 to get it right and give the title to Damaris.

  10. Sonia says:

    Clearly, Damaris is a considerably more accomplished cook than Nikki.

    • Joyce says:

      I agree that Damaris is tops! How much longer will Rodney and Russell be pushed to us! It is time!