HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


October 2008 COTM Batali: Primi

October 2008 Cookbooks of the Month:

Mario Batali’s Babbo, Molto Italiano, and Simple Italian Cooking.

Please post your full-length reviews of primi recipes here, including pasta, risotto and soup recipes. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing and the book and page number, if possible, as well as any modifications you made to the recipe.

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

Thanks for participating!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Risotto with Barolo (Molto Italiano, p. 145)

    What's not to like? Risotto made with a little Barolo we had leftover after a dinner party a few weeks ago. It was my first time making risotto with red wine, and we both liked it. Classic recipe - risotto rice (I used Vialone Nano), olive oil, onion, and wine, finished with butter and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rubee

      Fregula Soup w/Clams - Molto Italiano, p. 138

      Although we liked this soup a lot, we weren't wowed by it, yet it definitely grew on us. Actually, I liked it a lot better for lunch the next day. We used regular fregula, because that is what I had (I don't think I've ever seen Saffrron Fregula.) That would probably have made a big difference.

      1. re: mirage

        I've not compared his recipe to the one in my Sardinian cookbook, but I loved that version and typed up the recipe here for JoanN:


        And, I've never heard of saffron fregula either.

    2. Linguine with Monkfish, Thyme and Zucchini (MI p. 179)

      Made this exactly as written and we loved it. Once you've made the basic tomato sauce, this is very easy and quick to put together.

      On the basic tomato sauce I just want to say one thing - the recipe says it makes 4 cups. It makes more , so just be prepared for that with whatever you're planning to keep it in. Also, I didn't chop up my thyme for that ... just stuck the whole thing in there and let nature take its course. By the time the 30 minutes of simmering was over, most of the thyme had fallen off and into the sauce.

      4 Replies
      1. re: LulusMom

        For the tomato sauce, did you use whole canned tomatoes? Did they melt down into a sauce consistency? I used diced and after 30 minutes, it was still pretty chunky and I had to whip out the immersion blender. Then again, I do love any excuse to use the immersion blender.

        Yes, I threw the whole thyme branches in too, much easier that way.

        1. re: yamalam

          I used canned whole tomatoes, but did break them up with a wooden spoon.

          Just adding that this is the Basic Tomato Sauce in all three books (Molto Italiano p. 71, Babbo p. 220, Simple Italian Food, p. 84). Ingredients are extra virgin olive oil, onion, garlic, fresh thyme, shredded carrot, and canned tomatoes. I made it a few weeks ago for the caponata recipe and froze the rest.

          Recipe link:

          1. re: Rubee

            I never put thyme in red sauce before this book, and I really like it. I don't usually take them off the stem -- if the stems are woody, you can pull them out after it's cooked and the leaves have fallen off.
            I now have one and two cup bags of this in my freezer - super adaptable and handy.

          2. re: yamalam

            I did the same as Rubee - used whole tomatoes and just broke them up each time I walked by the simmering pot. But I love my immersion blender too!

        2. Spaghetti with Garlic, Onion and Guanciale (Molto Italiano, p. 186)

          I made half the recipe for dinner the other night, and had the leftovers for lunch yesterday. Overall delicious - sort of a carbonara without the egg. A couple of changes that I'd make - it calls for 1 tsp for the 1 lb of pasta, and I thought it was way too much heat - I don't mind heat, but here I thought it overwhelmed the dish. Next time I'd start w/ 1/2 tsp, and adjust accordingly. Hmm ... now I'm wondering if I accidentally added 1 tsp though I only made half the recipe. I thought there was a little too much oil, so I might drain a little of it off before tossing with the pasta. Lastly, I used parmesan, not pecorino, because I didn't have the latter, but I do think the sharpness of pecorino would be better with this dish, and a nice contrast to the guanciale.

          8 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            CARBONARA p.184
            for the rest of your guanciale...this is of course delicious in that simple creamy porky carbonara way. Guanciale is really an over-the-top kind of ingredient. I love to make this with very fresh farmer's market eggs -- carbonara or ceasar salad around here on weekends.

            I like his idea of separating the eggs and nesting the yolks in the pasta, but this could skeve some people. I lurve it. It reminds me of raw egg on rice and greens japanese style breakfast.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I made this a while back and love it too. I used thick pancetta instead of guanciale though.
              And whenver I make Carbonara, I ALWAYS use this method. I love the egg yolk, that is my favorite part!

              1. re: MMRuth

                At today's prices, pecorino is the new parmesan in my house. :+)

                MMR, I hate to admit it but I've never bought guanciale. Is it like pancetta?

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I guess it's the type of cure that makes it different - more salt, more fat, more herb
                  guanciale is intense...

                  1. re: oakjoan

                    Guanciale has a smokier flavor than pancetta, and has more fat.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      I bought the Parma stuff and think it is too salty. A little goes a long way. It is hard to recalculate my seasoning when using it and not get dishes too salty. Wahhhhhhhhh Life is so hard!

                      1. re: Scargod

                        when I'm cooking with guanciale, I use no additional salt...

                  2. re: MMRuth

                    Spaghetti with Garlic, Onions and Guanciale – p. 186

                    Delicious! We arrived home from a day of running errands and were absolutely starving so I needed something quick and easy. I happened to have this book in the kitchen and a quick flip through the pasta section landed me here. I keep guanciale in my freezer because it’s easier to slice or chop when partially frozen so luckily, I had all the ingredients to pull this dish together.

                    I agree w MMRuth’s comment that the EVOO should be reduced. Once my guanciale had rendered, I drained some of the oil/fat from the pan, as there just seemed to be far too much liquid for the amount of pasta. I do find that the heat level varies greatly with red pepper flakes and in our case, the suggested quantity was perfect. mr bc isn’t a big fan of “hot” pasta dishes and he found this dish nicely balanced. The heat was in the background but definitely not overwhelming. Essentially this came together in the time it took to cook the spaghetti. I happened to have some fresh basil on hand so I tossed that in along w the chopped parsley. Peppercorn Pecorino was grated atop and it’s earthy flavours worked beautifully with the dish. I’d definitely make this again.

                  3. PICI with LAMB SAUCE p.220 MItaliano (and must be online, since I saw it on MM)

                    LOVE this sauce - chunks of lamb with a big bunch of fresh basil, carrots, pancetta/bacon, white wine
                    make the noodles or not (you roll them like a snake when you're making a coil pot in kindergarten), or use a dry artisinal pasta with a rough texture and little bit of thick toothiness

                    the sauce is perfect for end of summer basil bounty

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: pitu

                      Pitu, did you make the pasta? And if so, was it fairly straightforward?

                      1. re: NYCkaren

                        I've made the pasta before and it was easy enough. Not my favorite shape of pasta but they were good.

                        1. re: arizonagirl

                          agreed, it's pretty easy
                          but I don' usually bother

                      2. re: pitu

                        I made this on Saturday and boy was it good. I made a double batch, and cutting up the lamb shoulder chops into 1/2 inch chunks was a complete pain, but worth it, and I now have lots frozen. It also used up the last three cups of tomato sauce I had in the fridge. I served it with DeCecco orecchiette (sp?). He doesn't mention adding cheese, but I added some grated aged Pecorino Sardo.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          (high five for the lamb sugo!)

                          I don't know which book it's in (not Babbo or MI, the two I have) but Batali's LAMB WITH ARTICHOKE STEW is one you'd love, MM. It's on Food Network as a lamb and cardoon recipe, but on the show he did it with artichokes. Artichokes that are weirdly pared down - you chop the top of the leaves off, just above the choke, and pare off the outer leaves, peel the stem and quarter.


                      3. Cauliflower soup p. 130 M Italiano
                        a little cauliflower, a little chili flakes . . . I think the pasta is too "ribsticker"-y, so I now use half of what is called for. And I like it as well with veg broth instead of chicken. I haven't tried the suggested tomato juice variation, which sounds kinda good.

                        cavolfiore ("cavol - FI - O' - re") = cauliflower. Isn't that pretty?

                        1. BUCATINI ALL'AMATRICIANA (p. 148 Babbo)
                          The Babbo recipe (I now see) uses less basic red sauce
                          (1 1/2 c v. 2c) and that's the one I like...more fun with the guanciale, chili flakes

                          I use whatever thick chewy pasta I have, since my regular grocery doesn't have bucatini...the guanciale that I get is pretty salty, herbed with rosemary, black pepper, coriander...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: pitu

                            Made this last night, but used pancetta instead of guanciale. Followed the MI version with 2 cups of basic red sauce and it totally drowned out the pancetta flavor. Don't bother making this unless you have gunaciale. Needed more chili flakes too in my opinion.

                            1. re: yamalam

                              This recipe is a family favorite but I've adjusted it from the first time I made it. I use pancetta but double the amount since I have to agree that the flavor is drowned out by the sauce.

                            2. re: pitu

                              If there's a Trader Joe's near you they carry a Durum wheat pasta they call Bucati.
                              It looks and feels for all the world just like Bucatini. I've used it for the Amatriciana in the past and it's fine.

                              1. re: pitu

                                I made this the other night, used guanciale - a little more than called for - I was making half a batch and used up the 7.5 oz I had left, rather than six. It was quite good, though I think I prefer the NYT recipe that I've used in the past. I do love the red onions, which reminds me of the River Cafe recipe (with rosemary and oregano - unorthodox, but delicious). I used penne rigate as I didn't have any bucatini on hand.

                              2. Maccheroni alla Chitarra with Hot Pepper, Roasted Tomatoes, and Bottarga (Babbo, p.147)

                                I'm a big fan of bottarga ever since making a Hazan recipe, so on my last trip to Boston I planned a trip to the North End's Salumeria Italiana and brought some back with me. The prep ahead of time is making toasted bread crumbs, the Oven-Roasted Tomatoes (p. 146) and the Basic Tomato Sauce (p. 220). I used Rustichella d'Abruzzo Chitarra pasta. Chitarra is similar to spaghetti, but square instead of round since the fresh pasta is cut on a chitarra/guitar (a frame strung with wires). Garlic and red pepper flakes (which I substituted for the habanero) are sauteed in olive oil, and then Oven-Roasted Tomatoes and Tomato Sauce are added. The cooked pasta is finished in this sauce with some fresh parsley. It's served dusted with grated bottarga (I used a microplaner) and sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs.

                                I served this as a first course. The rest of the menu is here:

                                19 Replies
                                1. re: Rubee

                                  Oh boy, that sounds and looks heavenly.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    It was delicious. My first time eating the Bottarga and I loved it. Even my picky husband thought it was really good.

                                  2. re: Rubee

                                    Oven-Roasted Tomatoes (Babbo, p. 146)

                                    Roma tomatoes are cut in half, seeds and membranes removed, and tossed with sugar, extra virgin olive oil, s&p. Roast cut-side-down for 4 hours. I also peeled off the skin. Like all slow-roasted tomatoes, these were sweet and full of concentrated flavor. They were delicious in the above pasta dish.

                                    1. re: Rubee

                                      Everything looks great, Rubee! At what temp. do you slow roast the tomatoes? His recipe in Simple Italian Food calls for roasting at 150F for 10 hrs. He says to do this overnight, but I don't feel comfortable leaving my oven on while asleep.

                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                        Thanks CL!

                                        The recipe in Babbo calls for 4 hours at 200 degrees.

                                        1. re: Rubee

                                          CL: Are you sure you're not looking at "Oven-dried Tomatoes"? His recipe for those in Molto It., calls for 10 hours in the oven.

                                        2. re: Carb Lover

                                          It does look wonderful - I'm starting to wish I had the Babbo book - I've been cooking from Molto Italiano all weekend, but I'm starting to get a little annoyed with his instructions and am wondering how Babbo compares - may post on the main thread about it tomorrow. Off to check my Pollo alla Diavola (Diavolo?) - I'm highly suspicious of the 1/4 cup of pepper called for the 'topping' for it!

                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                            Looking forward to your report - I bought the jalapenos this weekend and actually planned on making the spicy oil today. 1/4 cup of ground black pepper for a 3-pound chicken, I guess he likes his food spicy! The bottarga recipe actually called for one habanero, though I used chili flakes which he suggests.

                                            1. re: Rubee

                                              Yes - it was a paste - impossible to brush on as he says to. I'm wary at this point!

                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                Isn't that a mustard/black pepper paste that you coat the whole chicken with? I did a variation (didn't measure, put it on with a spoon and my hands instead of a brush) but I liked the seal the mustard paste gave the chicken.
                                                Curious about your final result . . .

                                                1. re: pitu

                                                  It is - full report and photos tomorrow morning. Maybe I did something wrong.

                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                              Just caught this. Funny thing -- I was going to bring up the very same question, except that I only have the Babbo cookbook and was wondering whether or not I should get Molto Italiano. It seems that this month's COTM has more recipes from Molto Italiano versus Babbo, probably because MI is not as involved (this is totally from conjecture as I don't have the MI cookbook and haven't looked any of the recipes posted online).

                                              I've only made a few recipes from the Babbo cookbook. But every recipe I've made has been fabulous. FYI, this is what I've made:

                                              Cool roasted shitakes with barbecued onions and basil oil (p. 36)
                                              Gulf shrimp and mahogany clams in a green chile-basil brodetto (p. 53)
                                              Steamed cockles in a habaerno chive broth (p. 54)
                                              Barbecued octopus with yukon golds and spicy tangerine citronette (p. 66)
                                              Asparagus Milanese with Parmigiano and a Duck Egg (p. 69)
                                              Crostini Toscani (without the fennel pickles and kale) (p. 79)
                                              Warm Lamb's Tongue in a Black Truffle Vinaigrette with Pecorino and a Three Minute Egg (p. 80)
                                              Warm Tripe alla Parmigiana (p. 85)
                                              Spaghetti with Sweet 100 Tomatoes, Garlic Chives and Lemon Basil (p. 143)

                                              I haven't experienced the issues you and some other hounds have had regarding the MI book. I was debating whether or not to purchase the MI book. But after reading these threads and also having Marcella Hazan's book, I think I will pass. DH and my overstuffed bookshelf is probably thanking me now!

                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                Molto is my first Batali cookbook and I find it refreshing. Of what I've tried, the recipes are not difficult and ingredients not hard to come by. I might agree that some recipes are even simple and basic. I like simple or rustic.

                                                I like the layout of the recipes in the book and often there is a picture of the dish on the opposite page. Sometimes there are several recipes in a row without a picture. I think it is a clean layout and easy to follow. Just enough fluff.

                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                  And I know I was complaining, but most of the dishes have been wonderful, and I've learned just to read the recipes carefully, and if something doesn't make sense, I adapt. I'm definitely glad I have the book at this point.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Scargod, do you have the Babbo cookbook? I do have to admit that recipes from the Babbo cookbook are generally not everyday cooking fare as I don't have a lot of these ingredients lying around in my kitchen -- ie. lamb's tongue. But as I have Hazan's book, do you or anybody else think the Molto Italiano book would be redundant? The mozzarella sandwich that MMRuth made from the MI book does look really yummy. But I'm TRYING my very best to curtail my cookbook purchasing habits.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      There is a lot of overlap - a good number of the Babbo recipes are in MI. Plus, there are a lot of Batali's recipes online- I've been able to find recipes for all of the COTM posts I've written, and most that I've read. Between FN, Fine Living, the Babbo website and his website... I'd save my shelf space for another book.

                                                      1. re: yamalam

                                                        Thank you! Yeah, I still am waiting for a few more cookbooks to come in from Amazon. Sigh -- my name is Miss Needle and I'm a cookbook addict.

                                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                                    I'm thinking of making the roasted shitakes as part of a Batali pot-luck - do you think they'd be good sitting at room temp for a while?

                                                    Tomorrow night I'm making the porcini dry-rubbed grilled ribe-eye, and probably that Asparagus Milanese (though the one with black pepper-pecorino zabaglione on the following page sounds good too).

                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                      I think the shitakes would be excellent at room temperature.

                                                      Sorry I haven't been posting on the COTM threads of the dishes I've made. Problem is that I've made them a while ago that I don't remember the exact details or anything like that. I just remember whether I liked them or not and how much I liked them.

                                          2. I don't know if this is in any of the books; I got it off the web and made it last night because I had a whole bunch of sage from my CSA. I made homemade pasta for this which really made this dish outstanding. We absolutely gobbled it up.

                                            Pasta with Sage Butter

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: DGresh

                                              I love brown butter and sage sauce with pasta - and the lemon juice is an interesting addition - I'll have to try it.

                                              (Don't see it in Molto, though there is a recipe for Tortelloni with Sage Butter - no lemon juice in that one.)

                                              1. re: DGresh

                                                Did you use Mario's recipe for the fresh pasta? Or a different one?

                                                1. re: NYCkaren

                                                  I used the recipe in Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian book; though it's barely a recipe; just a ratio of eggs to flour (though God defend me, I did it in the food processor, added a bit of water to get it to come together, and worst of all, used a manual pasta maker to cut it out)

                                              2. Garganelli with Duck Ragu (Garganelli al Ragu d'Anatra, MI, p. 217)

                                                The ragu - pretty straight forward, after I tracked down the four duck legs (which thawed quite quickly under running cold water). It did take a lot longer than I would have thought to remove the skin/fat from the legs - some of it pulled apart quickly, but then I resorted to scissors and a knife. I cut one leg in half at the joint as instructed, but it was difficult, so I left the other three whole. The only difference that I noticed was that the two smaller pieces browned more quickly, but when I eventually got around to pulling off the meat, it was all tender, and in the future, I wouldn't bother cutting the legs in half. The other ingredients are diced onion, carrot, garlic and celery, and I did make a point to make it a small dice as called for. I used a Sangiovese wine, Better than Bouillion for chicken stock, and tomato paste from a tube, rather than a can (which I find has a tinny flavor - fortunately about half way through my squeezing, I realized that the paste was double concentrated, and stopped squeezing). After browning the duck legs, removing, sauteeing the vegetables, adding the stock/wine/tomato paste, adding the legs back in, you simmer for about 60 minutes. Then, remove the duck legs and, when cool enough to handle them, shred the meat and add it back to the pot. I thought there was a lot of fat floating on top, so I did remove some of it. Then simmer the shredded meat in the pot again for about 30 minutes, and season.

                                                Garganelli is, apparently, a fresh pasta that is formed into quill shapes, and penne is suggested as a substitute. But, I think this kind of sauce is lovely with fresh pasta, so I had bought some papardelle (sp?) from Borgatti in the morning (though I think it was cut a bit thinner than that). A wonderful dish - I have a lot of sauce leftover - it's very rich, so you really don't need a lot of it. Served with grated parmigiano-reggiano on top.

                                                12 Replies
                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  That sounds, and looks, wonderful. I think it's going to have to be one of the few recipes I copy from the book before I return it to the library. That, and the roasted potatoes.

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    It looks incredible ... I had this dish at one of his restaurants a few years ago and loved it. Glad it was a hit for you (especially after all that work on the skin/fat).

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      I'm really happy to read this because my father adores duck and I had been thinking about making this recipe for him but feeling a bit gun-shy about MI. It sounds as though this recipe worked out well though.

                                                      1. re: GretchenS

                                                        I'd definitely make this again - was so nice on fall evening with a nip in the air.

                                                      2. re: MMRuth

                                                        MMR: Which Better than Bouillon did you use? I love the mushroom base, but that's the only one I've ever tried.

                                                        1. re: oakjoan

                                                          I used the chicken one, and occasionally use the beef one.

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            "tomato paste from a tube, rather than a can (which I find has a tinny flavor - fortunately about half way through my squeezing, I realized that the paste was double concentrated,"
                                                            I haven't ever seen this! I don't like that metallic taste either. Brand?

                                                            BTW, I really like the chicken "Better than Bouillon", too (but haven't tried any others).

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              I use the Montali brand tomato paste in a tube. Not only does it taste better, but it's such a pleasure to be able to squeeze out a few tablespoons and not have to deal with what's left in the can. Just put the tube back in the fridge and it's good to go the next time you need it. I buy it at Fairway.

                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                I think the mushroom is great. Haven't tried the others and so will make the wild claim that mushroom's best without any evidence at all.

                                                                1. re: Scargod

                                                                  Count me as a fan of the the tomato paste in the tube also. For larger amounts, I use the paste in the can, but always keep a tube in the fridge. I just checked and I have "Amore" brand. I also have an unopened tube of the Montali brand JoanN mentions. I've been able to find it in most local grocery stores, but definitely gourmet food stores and Italian markets.

                                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                                              MMRuth ... thought of you and your duck pasta last night as I dined in one of the Batali restaurants in NY (Lupa this time) and had this pasta. It was still as heavenly as I remembered. I think I need to find a way to track down some duck down here!

                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                I'm looking forward to your trip report!

                                                            3. Spaghetti With Garlic, Onions, and Guanciale, Molto Italiano, Pg. 186

                                                              A very simple pasta dish, this, which anywhere else would be a Primi course but at casa G & G was the Secondo. Because I did not have guanciale, I used a very fine pancetta but that was the only deviation from the recipe I made.

                                                              Basicaly, red pepper flakes, diced red onion, garlic and pancetta was cooked till brown. When the spaghetti was cooked to al dente it was tossed into the sauce pot. Some grated Pecorino Romano was added and tossed through over high heat for about a minute. When served parsley leaves were sprinkled over top to garnish and more grated cheese added. A mixed vegetable salad with a red wine viniagrette rounded out the meal. Lovely and simple.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                Did you think it was v. spicy? (Of course, I know I'm asking the wrong person that question!) I also thought it was delicious.

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  After posting my report of this dish I went up thread to re-read yours.... I have to say that we didn't think it was overly spice, MM. In fact, as he usually does, G added more RPF to his serving.

                                                              2. Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham. Pasticcio di Maccheroni. (Molto Italiano pg. 190.)

                                                                Okay, I'm a sucker for the ooey, gooey cheesey in life....I had this recipe in the back of my mind for just this reason. Fortunately most of the ingredients managed to come to the front of my mind when I decided to make this while standing in the grocery store late yesterday afternoon.

                                                                But, in Mario's introduction to the book, he writes: "with the best products it is much easier to prepare a perfect meal." Well, upon returning home, I discover that I have (shudder) run out of carrots and all I have are 2 sorry looking stalks of celery that only a stock-pot could love. But life goes on. I can live without the half carrot I need and decide to utilize the last of the gardin's eggplants which is screaming to be used. Oh and evidently I used up all my penne making other eggplanty things. So I subbed rotini.

                                                                Anyway, this recipe calls for sauteeing cubed ham and adding onion, celery and carrot. (I used half an eggplant, diced instead of the carrot.) Then red wine is added and, brought to a boil, then reduced by half. I must say, it is smelling heavenly....

                                                                Then comes the problem. One is supposed to add the BASIC TOMATO SAUCE to the meat and let cook for 50 minutes. Although I read the recipe through a couple of times, (third time really IS the charm, I guess) I didn't have 50 minutes. Sorry, you get ten, while I dice and grate cheese. I will forgive my ham if it isn't falling apart....

                                                                But, here is the fatal flaw in the writing of this recipe. First you are supposed to add the tomato sauce to the meat/veggie mixture. THEN you are to add the tomato sauce to a cheese mixture of ricotta, and diced provolone. So which is it? Tomato sauce with the meat or tomato sauce with the cheeses? And at one point I thought you were supposed to mix everything together. Fortunately, I caught that one. One is upposed to layer the meat mix (with pasta tossed in) and the cheese mix. In the end, I added the recommended amount of sauce to the meat, and then some more to the cheese.

                                                                But, as Mario writes in the introduction to the recipe: "Pasticcio is a full-on party for Easter-in one beautiful mess." And it also makes for great, Tuesday night comfort food. I liked the way the cheeses both blended and held their distinction. The dish came out quite good and my 15 year-old chowpup didn't even notice there was eggplant in there. Ha ha, snuck one by her....

                                                                Here's pictures of my "mess."

                                                                Note: no pots or pans were harmed during the making of this dish.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: clamscasino

                                                                  Loved reading your great review, Clams. I have this recipe marked to make and so I thank you for the clarification of sauce to meat & sauce to cheese.

                                                                  1. re: clamscasino

                                                                    Terrific post, this recipe wasn't on my list but now it is, with your clarifications noted. I think the eggplant sounds like a great addition!

                                                                    1. re: clamscasino

                                                                      I'm a sucker for ooey gooey cheese too. Wouldn't have thought of making this (I don't eat ham) but I'm thinking maybe with a smoked turkey or something like that it might work, and yours looks so good.

                                                                      Really bad that they messed up the instructions like that.

                                                                      1. re: clamscasino

                                                                        Great report and thanks for all the helpful details. I'm having a small Chowhound Batali potluck this week, and I had marked this as a tentative recipe. Well, your pics have moved it up to a definite!

                                                                        Re the recipe instructions: I had looked at this earlier and actually didn't think there was a flaw. To clarify in case anybody else makes it, this is the way I understood it. In step #2 he says to braise the meat in the wine and tomato sauce, but then remove the meat to a bowl. In step #5, he says to add the cooked pasta to the bowl with the meat, while the tomato sauce is to be combined with the cheese mixture. This is then layered.

                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                          I actually just substituted cottage cheese for the fresh ricotta, and I got a hunk of provolone from the deli counter at my local grocery.

                                                                          Interesting take on the directions...but I'm not sure that was what was meant. I think one needs the tomato sauce in with the meat in order to coat the noodles with it. Dividing the tomato sauce up worked well though.

                                                                      2. I made the risotto with mushrooms and vin santo and paired it with the lamb chops with garlic confit and mint.. I had vegetables from another meal that you see on the plate.
                                                                        I used vermouth, instead of vin santo and dried porcinis and at the end I added a few wild mushrooms on top. Those are the ones laying on top of the risotto, in the picture.
                                                                        I used too small a skillet. I use an Allclad 9-1/2, I think it is.... By the time I was halfway through it had filled the pan to a point where stirring was dicey. I t was done before I used all the liquid. Perhaps that was because of how deep it was in the skillet. Still, the texture seemed right and it was delicious and very rich. I'm having it tonight with "chicken in the style of Canzano" (another Batali dish).

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Scargod

                                                                          I find with risottos generally that the amount of liquid needed varies - I also heat up more than the recipe called for, so that I have plenty hot liquid on hand.

                                                                          1. re: Scargod

                                                                            Thanks for the report - I have that risotto on my list to make too. "Delicious and very rich" sounds great!

                                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                                              Whoa... Very nice indeed! I might just give this a try after I'm done with this horrible code in my node.....

                                                                            2. Linguine with Crabmeat, Radicchio and Garlic (MI, p. 175)

                                                                              I was really looking forward to this one, and in the end was disappointed. Nothing really wrong with it, but it seemed like a waste of delicious jumbo lump crabmeat. We liked it ok, but I think we both agreed that some other, less expensive seafood (maybe salmon?) would work just as well - and heck, the pasta without would still be good. I love love love crabmeat, and it was overwhelmed by some of the other stuff in this. Oh well.

                                                                              1. Tortelloni with Sage Butter(pg 231)

                                                                                I got te ingredients for this recipe with the best of intentions, but the evening I had decided to make it I was exhausted so I took a shortcut. Rather than making my own pasta I used the dried pasta I had on hand, fussili, and made a deconstructed version of the recipe. I used the ingredients as called for, but rather than stuffing the pasta, I made the ricotta, Parmigiano, nutmeg and parsley mixture and used it as a bed for the cooked pasta that I tossed with butter and sage. Even though I am not a huge Reggiano fan, this dish was really nice, and my husband ADORED it.

                                                                                My Yummy Life

                                                                                1. Linguine with Manila Clams, Pancetta, and Chiles.

                                                                                  Simple Italian Cooking, page 115.

                                                                                  This recipe is very easy to make. I did make some changes. I did not have pancetta in the house, so I subbed bacon. Also, some of the people eating hate bacon (!) so I sauteed the onions in the butter he calls for, and added in the bacon at the end, after plating the bacon haters (!) pasta. I also took most of the clams out of the shells in advance to make it easier for people to eat.

                                                                                  My favorite linguini with clams recipe is Macella Hazan's, and I could not help but repeat some of the steps she mentions....Batali's recipe calls for steaming the clams in the sauce and then just adding in the pasta, but I was worried about sand getting into the sauce, even though I scrubbed the clams well.....so I steamed the clams and then ran the sauce through a lined strainer to catch any sand. I also cut the clams in half.

                                                                                  I used count neck clams (littlenecks), because that is what we can get here in MA.

                                                                                  Overall, I liked it, but Macella Hazan's recipe is still my favorite.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: liamsaunt

                                                                                    Thanks for that report, it looks delicious! I have this on my list too. Hazan is my favorite recipe too; it will be interesting to compare.

                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                      Mine too, but I like the idea of the pancetta in it.

                                                                                  2. Risotto alla Milanese (MI, p. 144)

                                                                                    I made 2/3 of the recipe, to go with the osso bucco. He calls for a lot more liquid than Hazan does, noting that you might not need it. I wish I'd thought of it at the time, but, because of that, rather than adding the saffron to the hot broth, I'd dissolve in a small bowl with broth and add it in, so as not to lose any saffron. The dish was rich and creamy - and I did, for the first time, add some butter in, though only 1 T.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      Risotto Milanese, Simple Italian Food, p. 127

                                                                                      That looks great, MMRuth! Your post reminded me that I made Batali's risotto Milanese to accompany osso buco back in Jan. of this year. To be honest, I'm not sure if I followed his recipe to a T, but I definitely followed it pretty closely since it was my first time making Milanese style risotto. It was truly delicious...amazingly rich and poetically paired w/ the osso buco. I guess this is a classic combo for good reason!

                                                                                      I don't think I used Batali's osso buco recipe in the book, rather I made up some sort of hybrid between his and Molly Steven's recipe in All About Braising. I think I did follow his gremolata recipe on p. 202 (parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest) which was simple yet such an essential finisher to the dish. Given that veal shanks seem to be on sale regularly at my meat counter, I think I'll be indulging in this one again soon as the weather gets cooler. Thanks for the reminder!

                                                                                    2. Spaghetti alla Carbonara - Simple Italian Food, p. 124


                                                                                      This pasta dish is one of our favorites. I don't make it that often because if I did, we'd eat it until we popped. I chose the one from this Batali book because it had cream in it. Yes, I know, that's not authentic, but we like carbonara with and without. I'm going to make the recipe in Molto Italiano (no cream) next week to compare which one we liked the best.

                                                                                      I couldn't find guanciale locally, so used a very good pancetta (Fra'Mani - found it at Whole Foods). This is diced and cooked with minced onion and then cream is added. The cooked pasta is added to the pan and tossed to coat, add fresh grated pecorino, egg whites, and tossed to coat again. Finally, finish by topping each serving with an egg yolk, more pecorino, and lots of fresh blacked pepper. I halved the recipe, and it turned out perfect. I also liked the silky richness from stirring the egg yolk into the pasta right before eating. We thought this was an excellent version of carbonara. We took one bite and both made the same comment - "mmmmmm".

                                                                                      Recipe link:

                                                                                      Had to take this one quick, so excuse the blurry pic:

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Rubee

                                                                                        Nice photo and report, Rubee! I haven't made carbonara in a loooong time, so will put this on the list for a quick weeknight supper. I haven't tried cream in carbonara before, so I'll see how I like it...

                                                                                        1. re: Rubee

                                                                                          Did this dish (from Molto Italiano), last night, with a twist.
                                                                                          Working in the garden, I was surprised to find a few mature green beans. I chopped and braised them a little in chicken stock and added them at the last stage, with the egg whites. I also had fresh shitakes so I couldn't stop myself from adding some. I also used fresh linguine. Fresh parmesan and ground black pepper to finish it off. We really enjoyed it.

                                                                                          1. re: Rubee

                                                                                            Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Molto Italiano - p. 184)

                                                                                            Well, up until now E thought he liked carbonara better with a bit of cream, but we both agreed that we liked this recipe just a little better than the one in SIF because you could taste more of the richness of the egg yolk and the pancetta. I halved the recipe and it was plenty for two of us, though I could have eaten the batch for four. In this version, pancetta (or guanciale) is sauteed in a little olive oil until crispy and the fat is rendered, and set aside. A little pasta water is added along with the cooked pasta, and heated for a minute. Finally, remove from heat and toss with egg white, Parmigiano, and fresh pepper, and then present the egg yolks "in nests of pasta". Another delicious carbonara.

                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                              What is SIF? I still need to try his carbonara recipe, but need to get more guanciale.

                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                Oh, sorry for my laziness - from Simple Italian Food (the first version of carbonara I made).

                                                                                          2. Pasta Fagioli, Molto Italiano, Pg. 124

                                                                                            Another very simple and easy recipe that had a nice comfort food feel. To start a quick sauté of pork fatback (I used olive oil), chopped parsley, chopped Spanish onion and tomato paste. Chicken stock and Borlotti beans are added and simmered for 30 minutes. (I used canned red kidney beans per MB's recommended substitution.) The next addition to the soup is 2 cups of dried pasta scraps. (I used broken dried lasagna noodles because I had a half box to use up... I now have 1/4 box.....)The soup is simmered for 10 minutes, removed from the heat, seasoned and allowed to rest for 10 more minutes. I really wanted to grate some Pecorino over top but didn't bother. The soup could have used something extra, I thought, but it was fine as it was. In fact G said it was delicious and he loved it..

                                                                                            1. Trenette with Pesto, Beans and Potatoes (MI p. 169).

                                                                                              I cheated and used premade pesto (I have an excuse - just back from 4 and a half days away, and wanted something that wouldn't require a trip to the store, and the produce around here cannot be counted on to last that long ... my green beans only just made it), and had to go with regular linguine. Basically you cook boiling potatoes, green beans, pasta and stir all together with the pesto. Easy and delicious. The potato really adds a nice textural touch. Husband thought it was slightly dry and drizzled his with olive oil; Lulu thought it was "dirty" - the look of the pesto bothered her (so much for my perfectly chowish daughter), but I was happily surprised by this one.

                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                That looks lovely, LLM. I would never think of eating potatoes and macaroni together. Just as I would never eat bread and macaroni. Mother did not serve two "starches" together. Funny how some childhood no-nos follow one into adulthood.

                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                  I've made other versions of this and really liked it. What visually bothered me, was all the green and tan. It looked so bland. So, I chopped up seeded tomatoes to give it a bit more color and flavor.

                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                    I know, I have that too, although a couple of years ago I had a fantastic pizza with potatoes and pesto - pure heaven. That is what got me interested in this recipe, and I'm really glad I made it. Atkins and his ilk be damned!

                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                      It's a traditional Ligurian dish, I believe. I've made the recipe from MI and loved it. It is a carb-fest! Especially with a hunk of bread alongside.

                                                                                                      1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                                        LOL.... double trouble!! Guess I'm going to have to make this CarbFest .

                                                                                                        1. re: NYCkaren

                                                                                                          Yep, this is the classic Pesto al Genovese - I thought it was weird too the first time I tried it but it's delicious.

                                                                                                    2. Linguine with Monkfish, Thyme and Zucchini (Linguine con Coda, MI, p. 179)

                                                                                                      I had 1/2 a pound of monk fish leftover from another dish and so made it last night. It's quick and esy - saute chopped red onion,sliced zucchini and thyme, add the chopped monkfish to the pan, then add the tomato sauce and white wine. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, add parsley and toss. I forgot the parsley, and mistakenly used fettucini, as I just realized. Interestingly, while we were eating this, my husband said he thought it would be better with a thinner pasta. This pasta dish was fine, but not rave worthy - maybe could have benefitted from some red pepper flakes.

                                                                                                      1. Cauliflower Soup (Minestra di Cavolfiore, MI, p. 130)

                                                                                                        I thought this was on the boring side - or maybe I'm just making too many dishes that call for the tomato sauce. The cauliflower is sauted in olive oil for about ten minutes, then you add red onion, garlic, bay leaf and red pepper flakes, and cook another five minutes. Then add chicken stock and tomato sauce, bring to a boil, and simmer for twenty five minutes. At that point, add more water, and add pasta - I broke up some leftover spaghetti that wasn't enough for a full portion, rather than the mezza ziti. I did add some parmesan on top, though not called for. Don't think I'll make this again - no photo, as battery died.

                                                                                                        1. Spaghetti with Carmelized Onions, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs (Spaghetti con Salsa, MI,p. 173)

                                                                                                          We both really liked this dish, though it's very rich, and I think it might be better as a small primi before a plain-ish roasted fish secondi. I served it with an arugula salad with tomatoes and ricotta salata. You carmelize onions, then remove the onions, and saute garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil, add salt packed anchovies (filleted, rinsed, and soaked in milk), and cook for five minutes or so until the anchovies dissolve. He says to use one pan for the onions and another for the other ingredients, but that seemed silly to me, so I used the same one. You then add the onions back in, simmer, add the cooked spaghetti and chopped parsley, and stir to coat. Put in bowl and add the bread crumbs. I toasted the fresh bread crumbs a la Goin, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and baked in the oven. I did find that the garlic, pepper flake and anchovy mixture stuck to the pan a bit, so instead of draining the pasta, I pulled it out of the water with tongs, added it to the sauce and simmered a bit, scraping the bits off the bottom of the pan.

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                            This I have yet to make. It looks yummy.... MM, you could have added a little bit of the pasta water to the pan with the sauce, then simmered.

                                                                                                            The pasta with zucchini, above, holds no appeal for me at all cooked MB's way. I like to either dry fry the rounds or roast them in the oven for a bit to brown around the edges, and I don't like monkfish. If I do make the dish, I think I'll use halibut and roast the zucchini.

                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                              Yes - I thought it was just faster to put the pasta in, with the residual pasta water, than draining it, then adding water. Always looking for the short cuts - enough water drips off the pasta and the tongs.

                                                                                                            2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                              I have this on my list to make next week (although I'm going to have to toast the bread crumbs in a pan ... still no oven, and don't get me started), so I'm glad to hear it was such a hit. Will take your tips into account.

                                                                                                              I've noticed that MB often has these silly instructions where you use 2 pans, and I've just been ignoring him (as you did).

                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                Our turn on the Spaghetti with Carmelized Onions, Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs, and we both thought it was wonderful. Not much to add to what MMRuth said - I did end up using regular olive oil packed anchovies, so skipped the milk soak. I added probably about a cup and a half (guesstimate here) of the pasta water to the onion mix. Oh, and of course making breadcrumbs without a working oven was interesting. I ended up toasting the bread, then the food processor, then toasted in a pan - not perfect, but not bad either. It definitely is rich, so we didn't have anything else - just an indulgent, wonderfully carby main.

                                                                                                              2. Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham (Pasticcio di Maccheroni- Molto Italiano pg. 190)

                                                                                                                ClamsCasino's delicious-looking pics above motivated me to make this dish as a contribution to a Batali potluck at my home this weekend.

                                                                                                                Ham (I used Fra'Mani rosemary ham) is cubed and browned in olive oil, carrot, onion, and celery added (oops, just realized I forgot the onion!), and simmered in red wine and Basic Tomato Sauce (p. 190) for about 50 minutes. The ham is removed and tossed with cooked ziti (I used ziti rigati), and the sauce is mixed with fesh ricotta thinned with pasta water, and cubed caciotta cheese. This is then layered a couple of times, starting with "a ladleful of cheese and sauce" and then a layer of pasta and meat topped with grated Parmigiano.

                                                                                                                It's a comforting, satisfying pasta dish - I especially liked the chunks of flavorful ham - though it's a bit heavy for a dish as part of a big buffet spread. I had a lot left over, but we'll be enjoying it the rest of the week!

                                                                                                                (complete Batali buffet menu here):

                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                  I'm interested in where folks live who are buying the Fra' Mani ham, pancetta, etc. The company was started by Paul Bertoli, a chef at Chez Panisse for several years and co-author of Chez Pan. Cookbook with A.W.

                                                                                                                  He then went on to open Oliveto in Oakland, a very good restaurant which he sold a few years ago when he went into the salumi (sp?) business.

                                                                                                                  It's just interesting to see how wide his distribution is.

                                                                                                                  This is also interesting because Mario B's parents have a cured meat business in Seattle...or used to. Salumi again.

                                                                                                                  1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                                    I bought the Fra'Mani ham (and also pancetta and sopressata) at Whole Foods in Scottsdale, AZ. They have the chorizo and salami too.

                                                                                                                    I looked into ordering salumi for the party from Armandino's (Batali's dad's company in Seattle you mention). One of these days....

                                                                                                                    I should add that I ordered the caciotta, and other cheese for the cheese platter, from Artisinal in NYC - they've just dropped their shipping rates. I HIGHLY recommend - my first time ordering from them. Huge selection of course, packed in a well insulated package with cool packs, and shipped overnight, and my shipment included a free sample (French banon) and a $15 gift certificate. Shipping for my order (orders up to $75) was only $8.99.

                                                                                                                    Artisinal Cheese:

                                                                                                                    1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                      You've got to try Armandino's Salumi shop. The meat is awesome and everyone in there is just so nice.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                    This turned out delicious. I've made it several times myself and like you said it's comforting and satisfying but also very filling.

                                                                                                                    I thought the rosemary ham was really good in this.

                                                                                                                  3. Tuscan Cabbage and Bean Soup Molto Italiano pg. 133

                                                                                                                    Now I love that saying "cook like a peasant, eat like a gourmet" and I love making soup on a Sunday afternoon, so I tried this recipe for the "mother of all minestrone."

                                                                                                                    I halved this recipe but pretty much followed it precisely (up until the last 15 minutes) except that when I went out to the garden I discovered that the kale had disappeared, and I couldn't obtain black cabbage or collard greens from the local grocer. So I went with all white cabbage and had to guess just how much a pound and a half is. I was also wary of the lack of garlic in the recipe (just two cloves for a recipe that requires an 8 quart pot?) so I doubled that.

                                                                                                                    Anyway, this recipe calls for sauteeing the classic quartet of onion, carrot, celery and potato. It also calls for leeks (yeah, I got those). Rosemary, thyme, garlic and a bay leaf are added to the veggies. Cook for a bit and then add the cabbage. Cook some more and then add tomato paste. Cook some more and add cannellini beans. I cheated here and used canned ones. Cover with water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes.

                                                                                                                    Right away it was looking pretty dull. So in went more tomato paste. Still dull - but I decided to be patient. Soup does have to evolve, after all. Then it was down to the final 15 minutes of simmering. Still dull. Odors of herby soup weren't wafting around the kitchen although addmittedly the smell of my daughter's Amish Friendship Bread baking trumped everything else - even the old dog. I quickly minced and added another clove of garlic. I threw in another sprig of thyme and more rosemary. Five minutes later my chief stirrer/taster took a taste. "It needs more garlic" she said. I was till looking for more kick so added about a half teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Didn't help much...

                                                                                                                    So, my conclusion: pretty dull, but not terrible. I think it would have been better with some stock instead of water and maybe some tiny meatballs floating around. Or maybe a rind of cheese added to the pot...and maybe a bit of pasta to make it a more substantial dinner soup. In the end it didn't matter because we had Amish Friendship bread. (For those of you who don't know, this a diabolical food pyramid scheme designed to make one fat.)

                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                      Great report; you make me chuckle. The Amish bread sounds intriguing...The soup sounded like it should be good, but too bad it was flat tasting. Did you add plenty of salt given that the ingredients like beans, potato, cabbage need quite a bit?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                                        In my kitchen, salt is considered the spice of last resort...but I did think I added plenty. :0

                                                                                                                        The Amish bread IS intriguing. It is a starter yeast type thing that requires 10 days to ferment, or whatever it is doing. On day 6 one adds some ingredients, including milk. (Thought we might die!) Other days, one merely stirs it. On day 10 one adds some more stuff and then divvies up the starter into four portions. (The idea is that you pass the extra portions of yeast starter on to friends so they can make their own. ) The remaining portion is mixed with lots of ingredients, including vanilla pudding mix and cinnamon. The result is a sweet (oxy-moron here) quick bread that smells heavenly while baking. It started here as a science project in the middle school and is working its way around the community like an annoying chain letter.

                                                                                                                        More info at www.armchair.com

                                                                                                                      2. re: clamscasino

                                                                                                                        I wanted to make a ribollita a couple of weeks ago, read through that MI recipe, and decided against it. Something about it just didn't call to me. I'm not exactly pleased to read that my instincts were correct. I ended up making this one


                                                                                                                        instead and thought it was very good indeed. And I think you're absolutely right about the cheese--and not just the rind, either. This one, by the way, was so substantial it was almost like a vegetable stew. I ended up thinning the leftovers with additional chicken stock just to make it more of a soup.

                                                                                                                      3. Fettucini with Lemon, Hot Peppers, and Pecorino Romano (Fettucine al Limone), Molto Italiano, p. 206

                                                                                                                        We both thought this was very good - lemony but with a nice amount of heat. It's pretty quick too. Sliced red onion and red pepper flakes are sauteed in olive oil, sliced jalapenos added, lemon juice and zest, and then butter. Fresh fettuccine is tossed in this mixture, along with fresh grated pecorino. I halved the recipe (one lemon was plenty), and used store-bought fresh pasta, Sini Fulvi Pecorino Romano, and Plugra butter.

                                                                                                                        1. Fettucini with Lemon, Hot Peppers, and Pecorino Romano (Fettucine al Limone), Molto Italiano, p. 206

                                                                                                                          I give it a 2/5. Ridiculously sour. Zest and juice of 3 lemons for 4 servings?!? The lemon juice was so overpowering, the delicate flavor of zest was lost. I suggest zest of 3 lemons and juice of 1 lemon at the most. Even if made correctly, it is a pretty basic recipe and doesn't really inspire any jumping off points.

                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: jaykayen

                                                                                                                            I agree that three lemons sounds like too much. I thought so too when I read the recipe. As I mentioned above, for pasta for two, I used the juice of only one lemon, and that was plenty. I should have added that I used grated lemon zest in the sauce, but for flavor garnished the finished dish with strips of lemon zest.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                              Wish I had read your post before making it last night!

                                                                                                                              I think the picture and simplicity sucked my BF into it.

                                                                                                                            2. re: jaykayen

                                                                                                                              I totally agree. I wish I had read your post before making this dish. The description sounds so yummy but the lemon was way too much. I've had great success with other MI recipes so I think this is a fluke.

                                                                                                                            3. Chickpea and Pasta Soup (Minestra di Ceci e Pasta, MI, p. 127)

                                                                                                                              This soup is reminiscent of one of my favorite Hazan soups - chickpeas, rosemary, tomatoes, garlic, pasta ... but it's not as good. However, it's a lot of faster, provided that you have the tomato sauce made. One part of the instructions that I did like is to puree half the chickpeas in the food processor before adding them to the soup - rather than removing some cooked ones and running them through the food mill as Hazan calls for - this is less messy. I liked the saffron in this recipe, and did throw in some extra rosemary sprigs, as well as some better than bouillion to boost the flavor. You drizzle on a tablespoon of olive oil in each bowl before serving, and I added some grated aged Pecorino Sardo to boot. It was quite good, but next time I think I'll try 'merging' his recipe with Hazan's.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                This soup didn't do much for me either -- I forgot that I made it last year until I read your report. It seemed like a good idea, but...meh. I'll have to try Marcella's.

                                                                                                                                1. re: pitu

                                                                                                                                  The Marcella one is excellent ... prefect for rainy days like this one.

                                                                                                                                2. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                  CHICKPEA AND PASTA SOUP p. 127 MOLTO ITALIANO

                                                                                                                                  Better late than never: I just wanted to comment that the Molto book has been the source of many wonderful meals for me and I do like this Chickpea, tomato, saffron soup very much. I've made it quite a few times, most recently last week. I use prepared marinara sauce from an Italian store as the base and I omit the pasta, but last week I did add a few red lentils. The saffron is essential and I would not bother making this without it. I tried to find other recipes (have not located the Marcella version yet) using tomato and saffron and came across very few. I did find one pasta dish ("della Perdonanza") from Abruzzo, source of most, if not all, of the saffron grown in Italy.

                                                                                                                                  One improvement that I might make next time is to increase the amount of chickpeas to two cans (from one) so to have more to process and therefore thicken the soup. The thicker these soups are, the more satisfying I find them since I serve them as a main course with good toasted bread.

                                                                                                                                  An all time favorite in the same book is on p 128, ONION SOUP EMILIA ROMAGNA STYLE:

                                                                                                                                  I've made it at least a dozen times and it is a favorite winter dish in my house. I use a combo of boxed broth and good, almost home-made stock (bought at a farmer's market from a poultry vendor)

                                                                                                                                  Again, the soup should be made with a minimum of liquid so it is more a stew than a soup. Very easy and inexpensive. The only pain is slicing all those onions. I've never gotten them to the "rich, brown color" that he specifies and it takes me closer to 2 hours than the 30 minutes that he dictates. There is just too huge a mass of onions to brown well at one time, even in a large Dutch oven. But once the onions are browned (better to do this in two batches, I think), the rest is simple.

                                                                                                                                  Again i serve drizzled with good olive oil and with toasted, good bread on the side (not in the bowl since I like my bread crispy and not soggy).

                                                                                                                                  Thanks for letting me share! I love this onion stew!


                                                                                                                                3. Penne con Cavolfiore (Penne with Cauliflower), Molto Italiano, Pg., 170

                                                                                                                                  Lots of EVOO, chopped garlic, and cauliflower broken into florets are cooked till the cauliflower is softened and quite tender, then seasoned with salt and pepper.
                                                                                                                                  Cooked and drained penne is added to the sauce pan along with finely minced parsley. After tasting, DH decided to add RPF then served the pasta with freshly grated Parmigiana. Grilled chicken/jalapeño sausages accompanied the pasta. I thought the sausages saved the dish. DH loved it and thought it was very tasty.

                                                                                                                                  My note:
                                                                                                                                  I love cauliflower and have made a similar sauce with cut macaroni except I add tinned anchovies. That makes quite a difference, IMO.

                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                    Gio, I also make a pasta with cauliflower, RPF and anchovies, and I agree - I can't imagine it would be half as good without the 'chovies. It's a big favorite around here.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                      I do a similar dish but with bacon and a little chilli as well as cauliflower. It works really well.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                        Oy! RPF. That took me a while since I call it CRP. ;-)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                          Sorry JoanN!! RPF/CRP and anchovies make everything taste fab. And you know, the amount of red pepper flakes we toss into a dish doesn't make the dish over-powering hot.... just a little zesty.....

                                                                                                                                          Sometimes I use diced pancetta instead of the 'chovies, as LLM calls 'em.....The Italian bacon.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                            Couldn't agree more. Just stumped, momentarily, over the "initialism." (See what we learn on Chowhound!?!)

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, I don't have MI so can't verify whether this recipe is similar -- but it does add tomatoes:

                                                                                                                                          Basically, same idea: cook chopped cauliflower florets until tender, add tomatoes, anchovies, penne, bread crumbs, parsley. Really satisfying, and no one ever knows there were anchovies in it...

                                                                                                                                          1. re: theannerska

                                                                                                                                            That Does look appetizing, theannerska! There are no breadcrumbs in Mario's recipe but other than the addition of tomatoes the two recipes are similar.
                                                                                                                                            I like that blog....thanks.

                                                                                                                                        3. Minestra di Ceci e Pasta, Molto Italiano, Pg., 127

                                                                                                                                          In hot olive oil garlic, rosemary and saffron threads are cooked till garlic is brown. Tomato sauce and some hot water are added and brought to boil. One half can of chick peas are pureed then added to the pot with more hot water and the remaining beans. Broken pieces of fettuccini are added and everything is cooked till the pasta is al dente.

                                                                                                                                          My notes:
                                                                                                                                          1. I had some leftover spicy bison tomato sauce, so of course I used that instead of MB's Basic Tomato Sauce.
                                                                                                                                          2. Instead of the fettuccini I used leftover Penne with Cauliflower from a few nights ago.
                                                                                                                                          3. Three words: Dee. Lish. Us.

                                                                                                                                          1. Tagliatelle with Mushroom Ragu (Molto Italiano, p. 201)

                                                                                                                                            A simple, no-fuss recipe. I used portobello mushrooms and dried fettucine, which rendered very good results. With porcini and fresh egg pasta as the recipe calls for, it undoubtedly would be excellent.

                                                                                                                                            1. Pappardelle with Boar Ragu (pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale), Molto Italiano, p. 221

                                                                                                                                              This was delicious, and seemed to get better every day. I'm glad I made a double batch. I had split an order of wild boar boneless shoulder special-ordered from Hobe Meats (Phoenix) with ArizonaGirl ($10.99 lb).

                                                                                                                                              The first step was to make a batch of Basic Tomato Sauce (p. 71), which I did earlier in the week - evoo, garlic, onion, shredded carrots, and whole canned tomatoes.

                                                                                                                                              For the ragu, first saute onion, carrots, and celery in olive oil, and then add anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and the above tomato sauce. Chunks of the wild boar are then simmered (no need to brown) until the meat falls apart. I cooked this a bit longer than the recipe - about 2 hours instead of 1-1/2. Then everything is processed in a food processor until it makes a thick sauce. I actually only did this with half the meat, and shredded the other half for texture.

                                                                                                                                              I served it with one of my favorite Italian imported pastas - Spinosi pappardelle http://www.olioeolivestore.com/spinos... along with garlic bread and a nice bottle of brunello (Oriel Brunello di Montalcino Altezza). It made a nice feast for two Chowhound friends - ArizonaVinesandWines and EatingSlow. Later that week E and his son both had seconds, and the last of it made a nice lunch over polenta.

                                                                                                                                              Basic Tomato Sauce, boar, pasta , and polenta:

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rubee

                                                                                                                                                I made this last night, and it was really good! I can't wait to make some again.