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Sep 13, 2006 09:03 PM

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking: Vegetables and Salads [CoTM Sept 2006 and Nov 2013]

September 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Please post your reviews of vegetable and salad recipes from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Zucchini with Tomato and Basil:

    I picked up the book a few days ago and was anxious to try something right away, using whatever I had on hand, which was zucchini.

    This was a really big hit in the taste department. Even better the next day for lunch - served just slightly warm, with left-over rice.

    In the preparation department- it took longer than I had anticipated for the final stage in the oven. If I had waited for the liquid to evaporate, as stated in the recipe, the zucchini would have been way over cooked. I did a workaround, by removing it from the oven, to take out some of the liquid, and then returned to the oven until the desired stage. The basil on top at the end adds a nice freshness and flavor punch.

    I will make this again (family loved it), but will cook down the tomato mixture more to have less liquid.

    All in all - very good.

    1. Gratineed asparagus w/ parmesan. Very good.
      Smothered cabbage. Yum, yum.
      Gratineed cauliflower w/ butter & parmesan. Teenaged proclaimed cauliflower asked for it to be made again!
      Eggplant patties – both variations – w/ onions & tomatoes & w/ mozzarella. Yum, yum.
      ** baked potatoes, onion & tomatoes, apulian style. Wow! I have made many times.
      Sliced potatoes w/ porcini & fresh cultivated mushrooms. Molto yummy.

      1. Fava Beans, Roman style: excellent. Worth the work (especially if your friends help you out). But if you double-peel them, they cook in only five minutes, I've found.

        Braised Carrots with Parmesan Cheese: delicious. Easy.

        Braised Finocchio with Olive Oil: delicious. Easy.

        Baked Red Beets: I can't account for it, but Marcella is the only person who bakes her beets for as long as I find I have to. All these other recipes that have you wrap up your beets in foil and claim they'll be done in 30 minutes! Phooey!

        Beans and Tuna Salad: delicious. Easy. Use canned beans.

        1 Reply
        1. re: heidipie

          You're right on about the beet cooking time.

        2. Sunchoke Gratin-one of my favorite comfort foods.
          Baked Potatoes, Onion and Tomato Apulian Style-always a welcome potato side dish at my house.
          Fried Zucchini in Vinegar and Garlic-time consuming, but Yum!! I even like cold leftovers.

          1. I admit it, I jumped the gun!!! I loved this idea of all of us cooking from the same cookbook, so I started scouring recipes and picked the two perfect ones for what I have been craving recently. Since experiencing the Zuni Chicken and Bread Salad recently, it’s been in mind lately on how to recreate at home. So I decided to do the Two Lemon Chicken and Panzanella, or Bread Salad. This post of course is about the Bread Salad.... :)

            We started with three little loaves of Ciobatta bread from the Bread Bar. Although the recipe called for the crust to be taken off, I kept it on as I like the chewy texture and the crust wasn’t that thick to begin with. As per the instruction we toasted them carefully in the broiler:


            Another reason why I chose this recipe, is that it called for lots of tomatoes. Tomato season has just about hit it’s peak here and I knew I could buy some lovely ones. The recipe calls for a tomato to be pureed inorder to soak the bread. So I decided a pump brandywine would be a great good sacrifice.


            Assembling this recipe really was easy. Except for one step...the Onions. Marcella does this thing of soaking and squeezing the onions which I had never heard of to take away the ULTRA sharp taste and enhance the sweetness. In keeping true to the recipe, did it a bit ahead of time while prepping everything together...


            I pretty much added everything the recipe called for EXCEPT the Anchovies. I can’t stand Anchovies. And once the onions were done (And Marcella was right, the flavor of them was more mellow and sweeter! YUM!!) the salad came together wonderfully!! :



            Except for the onion thing, this recipe was simple and quick. The flavors played WONDERFULLY together, especially with those sweet heirloom tomatoes and crunchy cucumber. The taste was simple and fresh. Perhaps I’ll add more herbs in next time (Or use a Rosemary Bread!!) and perhaps cut the bread pieces a little smaller.




            4 Replies
            1. re: Dommy

              That looks great Dommy! Rick Bayless has a similar technique of rinsing onions in cold water - he calls it "deflaming".

              1. re: Dommy

                I also made the panzanelle salad last night, but substituted diced radish for the cucumbers since I didn't have any, and mashed my beautiful heirloom tomato with my hands since I don't have a food mill. I was too lazy to soak and squeeze the onions, but I let the onions sit in the vinegar/capers/anchovy mixture for awhile to take away some of the bite. And as dubious as I was about the merits of soggy bread, it was delicious. I was glad I was alone and didn't have to share :) A good way to mark the end of the summer.

                1. re: Dommy

                  Panzanella Salad

                  As Fall is settling into New England, I have begun baking bread once again. Lately, I am been cultivating a natural levain which I use as the sponge. The results were two lovely loaves of bread, both only partially eaten before becoming stale. The tomato plants outside are desperately trying to produce more ripe fruit, so I had about 6 perfect tomatoes. What else could I make?

                  I admit, I have only see Panzanella Salad on food shows. I have never eaten it before. But that has never stopped me before, and this recipe couldn't be easier. I started with thinly slicing some locally grown, fresh red onion, and began the soaking and squeezing. And then began working on the bread. I sliced the loaf ends and put them under the broiler and set the timer. [I do forget things under the broiler.] Meanwhile, I created a paste with the anchovy, caper and garli in a mortar/pestle I did add a bit of sea salt to encourage the bits to get smoother. Flip the bread, squeeze the onions, and now to the tomatoes. I finished the dressing with a 1/4 cup of oil and the two tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Tasted, and added a bit more sea salt. The bread was done, so I created the cubes as directed.

                  I did not pull out my huge food mill to process just one tomato. Instead, I crushed the tomato with my hands, and then worked it through a mesh strainer. The bread drank up the tomato juice quickly, and I found that as I worked the tomato through the sieve, I needed to toss the bread to evenly coat.

                  Cubed the remaining two skinless tomatoes, and dropped the tomatoes and dressing into the bowl. Since my DH doesn't eat cucumbers, I omitted them, but I would have enjoyed that flavor. I think some fresh basil could be a good garnish as well.

                  Anyhow, this stuff was good! Having only seen this salad on food shows, I was surprised by the soft bread texture. Each bite of bread had this great burst of tomato flavor, supplemented by the dressing.

                  1. re: smtucker

                    you just reminded me of the food mill that I'll pull out today and use it for my one really large tomato.