For our July Pasta Spotlight, we sat down with Laura Davidson, the wonderful woman behind the popular food blog known as Blogging Over Thyme. We love Laura’s blog because of her ability to create unique, beautiful recipes that are still approachable. We talked to Laura about her cooking philosophy, her go-to summer meals, her favorite pasta dishes and more! Continue reading to see what she had to say!
1. Where did your love for food begin?
Oh my goodness! That is a difficult question. In many ways, I feel like it’s in my blood and I was just born with it. It’s hard for me to pinpoint a time when my love for food began, but my family has probably been the biggest influence on my passion for cooking and for food, in general. I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by very talented home cooks (my mother, my grandmothers—one of which ran a very successful bed and breakfast for years, and my godparents—who spoiled me with home-cooked gourmet meals and cheese courses from a very early age). From a very early age, food fascinated me. It helps you understand different cultures and connect with people. In my mind, there is no better way to show your love for someone than to cook them a good meal!
2. What is the best part about being a food blogger/recipe developer?
My absolute favorite aspect of food blogging is my readers and the creative process behind it. It’s a multi-faceted job: it is artistic, technical, and challenging on a daily basis. From creating a recipe to photographing and styling it, the writing, and then finally, sharing it amongst my readers. Nothing makes me happier than hearing that someone halfway across the world has spent the time and energy to try one of my recipes and enjoyed it! There is no better feeling than that.
3. We love your cooking philosophy of creating fresh, seasonally inspired meals that showcase quality ingredients! Now that we’re in the peak of summer, what are some of your favorite summer dishes?
My favorite summer meals are simple ones that I can throw together easily. There are so many amazing vegetables and fruits available during the summer months that I really don’t like to cover them up or spend too much time fussing with them. Basil is one of my all-time favorite ingredients to use during the summer months. I’ll make pesto and toss it with fresh pasta or slather it on bread (with sliced heirloom tomatoes and burrata—for a very easy meal!), or make fresh basil oil and drizzle it on top of grilled vegetables alongside a nice piece of grilled fish or chicken. I’ll even use it as a salad dressing!
4. What pantry staples do you always have on hand?
Obviously, and this goes without being said, I always, always, always have dried pasta in my pantry. Other pantry staples include a good quality olive oil, canned tomatoes, breadcrumbs or panko, anchovies, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, canned beans (garbanzo, cannellini, and black beans are my personal favorites!), dried grains, rice, kalamata olives, dried red pepper flakes, and fresh garlic.
As far as my fridge, I always have a hunk of parmigiano-reggiano, butter, eggs, milk, yogurt, as well as fresh lemons and limes on hand at all times.
5. You share a ton of mouth-watering pasta dishes on your blog. What are some of your favorite ingredients to use in pasta dishes?
Thank you! In all honesty, I’m surprised I don’t have more pasta dishes on my site considering how often I eat the stuff. My favorite ingredients to use in pasta dishes also happen to be my favorite pantry staples. Canned tomatoes often make an appearance, alongside lots and lots of fresh garlic, dried oregano, bay leaves, and fresh basil. One of my favorite weeknight pasta dishes involves spicy Italian pork sausage, sautéed rapini or shaved Brussels sprouts, kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and lots of dried red pepper flakes. Fresh zucchini and Italian eggplant are often involved as well.
6. We know from reading your blog that you traveled to Italy (and we’re jealous!) Can you discuss the differences in terms of the Italian food served there versus the Italian food served in the United States?
Yes! I’ve been lucky enough to travel to Italy twice in my life. My most recent trip (in Spring 2013) was to Naples and the Amalfi Coast, specifically Sorrento, Positano, Ravello, and Capri. My grandfather, on my mother’s side, was born and raised in Italy—so I have Italian blood running in my veins. Obviously, the food is one of the biggest highlights of traveling to Italy. One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had in my life was at Gino Sorbillo in the historic neighborhood in the heart of Naples. It wasn’t fancy in the slightest. We feasted on classic margherita pizzas, which were flopping off of the plates, and drank water out of plastic cups. It was spectacular and, by far, the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life.
With that being said (besides the pizza), I’ve had equally as good Italian food (if not better!) in the states as I have had in Italy. The most noticeable difference between Italian food here versus Italy is the atmosphere, sense and respect towards tradition, and the higher instance of locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients.
7. Finally, can you share one of your favorite pasta recipes with our readers?
If you’re looking for something that tastes delicious but doesn’t require a lot of cooking time, I love this Pasta with Fennel, Kale and Lemon. This dish combines sautéed onion, fennel, lacinato kale, lots of garlic, some red pepper flakes and is finished with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Simple, but delicious!
Laura Davidson is a culinary school graduate, recipe developer, and food photographer behind the food blog, Blogging Over Thyme. After taking a leap of faith, Laura enrolled in professional culinary school to pursue a career in the food industry. To further hone her cooking skills, she went on to work as a professional cook in a nationally acclaimed Washington, DC restaurant before transitioning to managing marketing and communications for a national fine foods distributor. In August 2015, Laura left her job to pursue her blog and freelance career full-time. Her recipes and photography has been featured on popular food websites including Better Homes & Gardens, The Cooking Channel, Tasting Table, Martha Stewart Living, Food52, Buzzfeed, and The Kitchn.