Saturday, March 24, 2012

Review Of "America's Test Kitchen Pasta Revolution" and a Recipe [24]

Pasta Revolution by The Editors at America's Test Kitchen
Boston Commons Press, ISBN 978-1936493043
March 1, 2012, 336 pages

If you have read any of my reviews of other America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, you may already know where this one is going.
Yes, I am a big ATK fan, of the TV show, the website, the newsletter and, most of all, of the cookbooks full of their uniquely tested and tasted recipes. Pasta Revolution does not disappoint.

With more than 200 recipes in 14 categories, there is something for just about every taste. There is a whole chapter of skillet pastas, another of casseroles and one I especially loved of dishes made with whole wheat pastas. For something a little different they include a chapter of Asian Noodle and Dumpling recipes, as summer approaches a section on Fresh Pasta Salads, and for those quick weeknight dinners, a chapter of recipes with only 6 ingredients. Throw in the classics, some special dishes for entertaining, and recipes made just for two, and as I said, there really is something for anyone who like pasta.

My only problem was picking just one recipe to test, so many of them looked so good. Speaking of looking good, this is a very attractive book, with very nice full page photographs of a lot, if not all, of the dishes. And for those with an eye on their waists, there is a nice list in the back, near the index, giving the nutritional breakdown of about 50 of the recipes that have less than 600 calories, many under 400.

Happily the book, like all of ATK's books, includes a huge amount of additional information, which so appeals to my inner cooking geek. Each recipes starts with a discussion of why the recipe works, which I find really interesting and very helpful in learning more about cooking, in why some thing work and others don't. There are many Smart Shopping Tips and Quick Prep Tips as well as a whole introductory chapter out pasta; how to buy it, how to cook it and the best tools to use. The best frozen peas, the best reasonably priced skillet, how to toast your garlic to take the bite out...novice or accomplished cook, every reader will find things to learn in this book.

OK, so what recipe did I pick to make?
Well, again it was Friday, so we were looking for something meatless. Would it be Penne with Butternut Squash and Sage..or Spinach Lasagna..or Fusilli with Asparagus, Peas and Argula. Well, they will have to wait for another day, because I choose...

Garlicky Tortellini with Shrimp and Arugula
  • 1 lb. extra large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 11 garlic cloves, 9 minced and 2 minced to a paste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 12 oz. bag dried cheese tortellini
  • 5 oz. baby arugula
  • 2 tbs. minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest and 2 tbs. lemon juice

1. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and leave in bowl, covered, in frig. until needed.
In separate bowl combine garlic paste and 2 tbs. olive oil.
2. Cook remaining oil, minced garlic and pepper flakes in dutch oven, stirring constantly, until garlic is stick and golden, about 4 minutes. Add wine, increase heat and simmer until wine is almost evaporated, about 2 minutes.
3. Stir in water, broth, tortellini and cook at vigorous simmer, stirring gently, until tortellini are tender and sauce is thicken, 6 to 9 minutes.
4. Fold in shrimp and cook until shrimp are  cooked through, about 3 minutes. Take off heat and stir in garlic-oil, arugula, parley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

All made in one pot, pretty fast and easy. A little spicy, lemony and a bit garlicky.
It may sound like a lot of garlic, but it really was not. The majority gets very mellow and a bit sweet from the long cooking at the start and the uncooked garlic-oil at the end just adds a nice zip. The peppery arugula and the zest and lemon juice adds a nice fresh ending.
I used Barilla Tortellini, the brand ATK recommends, but as they say, you could use frozen or fresh tortellini, about a 20 oz package, increasing the broth to 1 1/2 cups and cutting the water to 1 cup. And if you can't find or do not like arugula, they suggest elsewhere in the book to replace it with baby spinach. I used an 11 oz. can of College Inn chicken broth, saving the rest that was in the can after taking out a cup, to add a dash more of liquid at the end to get the sauce to the right consistency.

And I finished my plate off with a dusting of grated cheese, because..well, I love cheese!


My thanks to Amazon Vine for providing a copy of this book for review.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Caite - Your cooking and plate photos are AMAZING! I am seriously dying for shrimp and tortellini now at 6:00 in the morning! I will have to keep an eye out for this cookbook. Thanks for telling us about it :)

  2. Oh my goodness! That pasta looks fabulous. My son doesn't eat prawns/shrimp so no point in making it just for me, but it is pretty enough to just sit and look at for a little while!

  3. Marg, make it and just don't give him any least that is what I would do. why should you suffer? ;-)

  4. Beautiful presentation! There's a whole new career waiting for you! I love ATK too and am always pleased with their recipes. This sounds wonderful but for the shrimp for me. I could use chicken I guess. I just can't eat shrimp. I made their mac and cheese with tomatoes this week and it was to die for! I'm posting it next week but for this week check out my Chewy Granola Bars

  5. oh, I saw that one on their TV looked so good. I love mac and cheese. or just the mac..or cheese.

  6. You know I'm also an ATK fan -- I haven't seen this book yet but I'm sure we'd love it -- it's ATK and it's pasta, a sure winning combo. Love the ease of that shrimp dish and the one-pot cleanup.

  7. My mouth is watering just looking at the finished dish. Looks and sounds wonderful!!! Great job, wee Caite.

  8. I just found my Friday Lenten dish for next week; that Garlicky Tortellini with Shrimp looks so delicious and your photo is fabulous.
    ATK always does a first-rate job with their books.

  9. Great choice! Your dish looks fantastic. I love the ATK, too, and definitely pasta, I'll have to look for the book. Thanks for the heads up!

  10. I could eat pasta every single day. I NEED that book!

  11. What a beautiful job you did with that dish. It looks sooooooo delicious. I'm a shrimp lover so will definitely have to try this. Thanks!!

  12. Yum! Who doesn't love pasta? The perfect recipe makes all the difference in making a basic pantry staple into something impressive, right? I used to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated [published by ATK]. I love their recipe presentations.

  13. I also could eat pasta every day. More than once a day, in fact. This recipe looks so good. I love shrimp in pasta. and of course cheese.....

  14. This sounds and looks totally yummy! I have heard a lot of good things about ATK, I will have a look for their books over here.

  15. Another pasta fan! That dish looks just perfect for a Lenten Friday or any other spring day.

  16. Oh my goodness!! I recently learned that my husband can eat shrimp (we both thought he was allergic but turns out he's not!), and this looks like the perfect recipe to test out.

    Pasta. Mmmmmmm...

  17. This looks mouth-watering! I agree with Joy-perfect Lenten meal. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  18. One of the best things about anything coming from ATK is that they give us more than the usual recipe. I like that they test all the products and check variouus methods. I inow that when I try a recipe it will be the best it can be. Your Shrimp Tortellini must have been perfect.

  19. Great post. I need to work out how to photograph my food better. You are an inspiration.

  20. You know this book is on my to-be-purchased list! I, too, have drunk the ATK Kool-Aid :)

    Thanks for sharing your 'thumbs up' and this recipe.

  21. I just love pasta :) I am not sure if this book would be vegetarian friendly but I am always looking for good pasta recipes to try :)

  22. I need this cookbooks. I have to admit I'm a pastaholic. That dish looks delicious.

  23. Hi Caite,

    Anything to do with pasta or rice and I'll be right there. Any variety of pasta will do, with just about any sauce, meat or fish .. I'm really not fussy.

    Looks like a great book.


  24. Rikki cited this on her Weekend Cooking post today, Have printed it and am looking forward to trying it out.

  25. oh my goodness. I made this dish on Monday for dinner and it has moved to my favourite meals file. We all loved it. I did substitute frozen tortellini and followed the liquid changes. It was wonderful and as you said, not overly garlicy. Thanks so much for sharing this. Will have to check out this cookbook.


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