A Flavorful Day at Union Square Cafe

By the time we’d made it halfway through our culinary week of adventures in New York, it was time to spend a day than in the kitchen with renowned chef and seasonal cooking extraordinaire, Carmen Quagliata.

Our day started like that of true farm-to-table chefs, browsing the seasonal selection of produce at the Union Square Greenmarket. Chef Carmen introduced campers to his favorite fruit, vegetable, and fish farmers, and also snuck us a taste of some sweet summer strawberries and some not- so-sweet onion blossoms.

Soon campers were taking over the Union Square Cafe kitchen! Only two ingredients in our line-up of fruits and vegetables did not come straight from the Greenmarket — now that’s what we call local!

On the menu for the day was Frascatelli, Panzanella, and Chocolate Chunk Cookies. It was clear that we had our work cut out for us, and campers were more than ready to get chopping, slicing, baking, and grilling. With Chef Carmen’s help, we added a new pasta making technique to our repertoire; using only ingredients of flour and water, we made Frascatelli by separating clumps of dough from flour and cooking it quickly in boiling water before sautéing the pasta with butter, shallots, sweet corn, and cream to each make our very own pasta creations.

After culinary campers enjoyed plates piled high with fresh greens and creamy pasta, we put our sensory skills to the test with a blindfolded smell exercise in which everyone had to try and identify eight different spices and ingredients — no peeking allowed! In the mix were items like Dijon Mustard, dark chocolate, cinnamon, and basil.

We’re so grateful to have Chef Carmen help us with our knife skills, spice identification, and flavoring techniques. Though we were working hard in the kitchen, he kept campers engaged and smiling all day long. Before we left, we got a taste (or two) of the best chocolate chunk cookies in town; what a great way to end our day in the kitchen!


To get in on this culinary action, test out Chef Carmen’s Frascatelli and Panzanella recipes below. Still amidst the sweet produce of summer, there’s no better time to use the season’s colorful fruits and vegetables in new ways! For even more flavor, head to Union Square Cafe for a taste of Chef Carmen’s cooking.

Frascatelli with Sweet Corn


Makes 2.5 servings

  • 2 cups of Frascatelli
  • 2 tablespoons of Guanciale
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • ½ cup of corn stalk
  • ½ cup of heavy cream
  • ½ cup of parmesan (Extra tablespoon for topping)
  • Pecorino to finish
  • Chives to Garnish
  • Salt to taste


Render sliced guanciale in pan and let cook in its own fat until crisp, then drain. Have corn kernels cleaned off the cob. Reserve stalks to make corn stock later.

Add butter to pan and cook corn with guanciale. Add Cream, black pepper, and stock. Bring to simmer and add cooked frascatelli to pan. Season and cook pasta, finish with a dab more butter and parmesan cheese adjusting with more stock if necessary.

Portion pasta into bowls and top with grated pecorino and chive garnish.

Tomato Trimmings Panzanella


  • 4 cups Tom Cat sourdough batard or other rustic Mediterranean bread, large dice
  • 4 – 5 cups heirloom tomato scraps
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons + ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red onion
  • 12 – 15 basil leaves, torn
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pecorino Romano
  • 1 tablespoon Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 – 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper


Toss the bread with the 3 T of olive oil. Spread bread out flat on a sheet tray and brown under a broiler just once. Toss the hot toasted bread with the chopped garlic and basil leaves.

In a separate bowl, pour the vinegar over the onions then put the tomatoes on top and add the salt and pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Stir the tomatoes with the other ¼ c of olive oil, then add the bread mixture and cheese to the tomatoes and toss gently once or twice. Serve immediately.