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*July 2011 COTM, BATALI II: Pasta, Insalata, Vegetables

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the following chapters:

Molto Gusto: Pasta; Insalata
Italian Grill: Vegetables

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  1. Thanks so much Caitlin, happy to kick things off w a review of a dish we loved below

    1. p. 230 – Italian Grill - Waxy Potatoes in Chianti Vinegar

      What a delightfully different dish, we absolutely loved this! I must confess though, we didn’t have Chianti Vinegar so I used Pinot Noir vinegar which worked well since we were serving Pinot Noir w the meal as well. Prep is straightforward. Potatoes are scrubbed and par-boiled then cut into slices and tossed in a mixture of olive oil, celery seeds and scallions then placed on a skewer. I made some substitutions here, since I have a massive crop of chives this year, I used chives in place of the scallions and, I used fennel seeds instead of celery seeds. Skewers are then grilled until potatoes are browned and tender. The book has you toss hot potatoes in a mixture of Dijon, EVOO, vinegar, scallions, salt and pepper yet if you look at the photo in the book, you’ll see that the potatoes are actually plated on the their skewers w the dressing drizzled over the top. We opted for the latter approach to avoid having the potatoes get crushed during the tossing process since we had guests, I felt this made for a nicer presentation. This was absolutely fabulous and my new favourite way of preparing potatoes. Happy to recommend this dish.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Breadcrumbs

        Waxy Potatoes in Chianti Vinegar - p. 230 - Italian Grill

        I made this last night. Made everything as directed. BC describes the process. The only difference is that I did not make substitutions.

        This recipe makes a ton of vinaigrette. I made the full recipe, but didn't use all the vinaigrette on the potatoes. The dressing is very mustardy. This kept it in emulsion even when it sat on the counter for quite a while. The picture in the book shows a somewhat separated dressing that doesn't really look like what I got from making the recipe. BC's picture above looks more accurate. The description describes the dressing as "creamy". One thing I am starting to notice about this book is that the photos don't seem to match the recipes very well.

        That said, we really enjoyed this dish. Kind of like a German potato salad, but grilled, and therefore, better. Definitely worth repeating.

        1. re: MelMM

          Glad you enjoyed that Mel and I totally agree w you about the photos in the book not matching the recipe, I've noticed this on a few occasions now. Your observation regarding German Potato Salad is right on the money and, it made me think about weaving a slice of bacon around the potatoes on the skewers next time I make this . . . mmmmm!

          1. re: MelMM

            Couldn't agree more on the photos. It is almost like the photos were all produced by a food stylist, who might or might not have actually followed the recipe. Or maybe they took pictures before testing the recipes? Modified the recipes and never bothered to reshoot?

            I was just telling my guests the other night that there should be a truth-in-photo law for cookbooks, and that this one would fail.

            1. re: smtucker

              It's quite odd really. In my experience, the recipes have been solid so why wouldn't you want, or insist that the photography reflects the recipe as written?

              I watched an interview of Mario where he sung the praises of Quentin Bacon who typically does the photography in his books. MB was critical of cookbooks where the food doesn't look "real" and is overly stylized or staged. His new photographer for Italian Grill must have missed part of the memo. Her food looks real but it would appear that, in an effort to style plates, she's gone off course using incorrect saucing and garnishes.

          2. re: Breadcrumbs

            p. 230 – Italian Grill - Waxy Potatoes in Chianti Vinegar

            Tried these last night. I don't have much to add. They were quick and easy. My husband loved them, I thought they were a little too bitter, perhaps due to inferior ingredients (we used ordinary red wine vinegar instead of chianti vinegar), I'd pull back on the mustard next time.

            We'll do these again, maybe changing up the flavors, because we're always looking for ways to do potatoes on the grill.


            1. re: Breadcrumbs

              Waxy Potatoes in (Burgundy) Vinegar, p. 230.

              I had small fingerling potatoes, so I didn't parboil or slice them. I treated them as called for, only substituting Burgundy vinegar for the Chianti. Since they were so small, I didn't skewer them, but placed them in a grill basket instead.

              I dressed them as written, and we enjoyed the taste of these potatoes quite a bit. With the vinaigrette, I agree with MelMM, it does remind one a bit of a warm potato salad. Our main dish had pancetta in it, which would have been better placed in these potatoes.

              I'm not even going to post my ugly photo, as the fingerlings just look like a plate of in-shell peanuts.

              1. re: L.Nightshade

                LN I laughed out loud at your last line! Glad you enjoyed your peanuts!! ; - )

              2. re: Breadcrumbs

                Waxy Potatoes in Chianti Vinegar, Pg. 230, Italian Grill

                My turn for these ever popular potatoes. Used Alessi red wine vinegar which comes from Tuscany, home of Chianti Classico, so in effect I used Chianti vinegar. Used 5 Yukon gold potatoes and celery seeds, EVOO, but had no scallions so subbed sliced red onion. We steamed the potato slices, then after cooling them down tossed them in 1/2 mixture of the dressing.

                My skewers were very long and after trying to put a few slices on it soon became obvious that was not going to happen so G grilled them on the indoor grill pan. I probably didn't slice the potatoes wide enough. Anyway, after the slices were cooked more dressing was drizzled over.

                These were quite tasty and I'll probably make them again the way Molto intended. But for last night's dinner they were fine.

                1. re: Gio

                  I made the Waxy Potatoes last night too. I used Cab. vinegar as I couldn't find Chianti. I liked the dressing very much. I used tiny, tiny potatoes so I skewered them whole. I think this was a mistake as I didn't have any whites exposed to toast up. Never the less, a very tasty potato side dish. I would make this again. I served this with the Asparagus wrapped in Pancetta, and I loved, loved, loved this dish. The dressing was very refreshing! Though I 1/2ed the dressing recipe, I still have tons left over, so I am planning on using it on tonight's salad.

              3. p. 177 in Molto Gusto - Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu

                This was the first recipe I made from Batali, and it was good. I had some fresh homegrown Swiss chard just waiting to be used and when I saw this I knew I had to make it. It really brings out the Swiss Chard and makes for a great pasta dish. The bread crumbs really make the perfect topping as well. My family called it 'a keeper.'

                1. Penne all'Arrabbiata, Pg. 164, Molto Gusto

                  All these years I thought I made a pretty tasty and spicy arrabbiata. Not quite so. This was different. No garlic, no basil, no oregano, no parsley, all of which appear in other recipes from Bugialli to Esposito. Also, Rao's uses Pecorino Romano. Batalli uses Parmigiano Reggiano. And, he does not heat the oilive oil.

                  So, what does he do? First, 1 1/2 cups of strained Pomi tomatoes are simmered till reduced by half. A quarter cup of tomato paste is mixed with 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes and heated till fragrant then the reduced sauce is added. The pan is now taken off heat. Cook the penne till al dente, drain and add to the sauce along with 1/2 cup pasta water. Put the pan over a medium flame and toss the pasta till well coated with sauce. Taste for seaoning adding Maldon salt if necessary, then add 1/4 cup EVOO, mix all together and serve with grated Reggiano on the side.

                  This was really very nice. Fresh tasting even though boxed tomatoes were used. The tablespoon of RPF were not too hot at all and by not heating the oil it seemed more like a warm macaroni salad rather than a heavily spiced pasta dish. Excellent.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: Gio

                    I've been wondering what strained Pomi tomatoes are as we don't have them in the UK. Could I substitute passata?

                    1. re: greedygirl

                      Hi gg, I made a mussel dish that called for Pomis and, the same technique employed in Gio's dish. Essentially Pomi's strained tomatoes are pureed Italian tomatoes. In my experience, passata is a cooked sauce so I think if you could buy a can/box of Italian tomatoes, whole or chopped and, puree them, you'd be in good shape.

                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                        Passata in the UK is just sieved tomatoes - not cooked afaik. So sounds like I can just use that. I do find it strange that most American recipes specify canned Italian tomatoes - all tinned tomatoes in the UK are Italian!

                      2. re: greedygirl

                        I simply strained whole tomatoes in a sieve. I would have used a China cap if I had one.

                        1. re: greedygirl

                          I often saw Pomi tomatoes in France. A bit surprised you don't have them in the UK. Here is a link to the box. What I like about them is the size. With only two eating in the house these days, a large can can be too much.


                          1. re: smtucker

                            Never seen them here, but there are loads and loads of similar products. Is Pomi meant to be a particularly good brand? As for size, 14oz is the regular size for a tin of tomatoes, but you can get them half that size as well.

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              That is what I have been told, but haven't done a scientific taste test. We have very few products packaged this way. It is still fairly novel. Personally, if a large can of San Marzano is not too much for your family, I think they taste a bit better.

                              1. re: greedygirl

                                Pomi brand tomatoes are Italian tomatoes, from Italy. What's great about Pomi is that there are no additives whatsoever. It's just tomatoes and nothing else--whether strained or chopped.

                                I used to buy exclusively San Marzano canned tomatoes, but at least in the States the name has become corrupted in the past few years. There are lots of canned tomatoes on the shelves with labels that say San Marzano that aren't. I read not too long ago that even the DOP designation on the label of well-known brands has been faked. In fact, the problem was so widespread, that the manager at Fairway told me they stopped carrying any brand of San Marzano tomatoes because they couldn't be sure they were getting the real product for the premium price they were paying. That's when I switched to Pomi and have stayed with it ever since. Very fresh flavor, no added sodium, practically unlimited shelf life. I even found them in Guatemala--although granted at a steep price in a specialty import store. Really surprised they're not available in the UK.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  I just tried them for the first time, and they do taste very fresh. The box is 750g, about 17.5 ounces, 3 cups for the strained.

                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    I just saw this... The cartons I have are 26.46 oz. From Amazon, of all places:

                                    1. re: Gio

                                      Gio, of course that is correct, the equivalent of 750g. Don't where my conversions skills - or memory - had flown off to when I posted. Am embarassed now, of course, immortalized as my error is!

                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                        Caitlin, I hate to say this but you're certainly not alone in that immortalized error camp. I cringe every time I see my typing errors...which is all too frequently.

                          2. re: Gio

                            Penne all’Arrabbiata – p. 164 – Molto Gusto

                            Holy moly, our penne was MOLTO arrabbiato!!! As Gio notes, this dish calls for
                            1 tbsp of hot red pepper flakes which did seem like a lot. I mean, we like it hot…truly, we love hot spicy food but this was pretty darn hot, a little too “angry” for our tastes.

                            In sales they say “KYC” …. know your customer. Well here I say KYC. . . know your chilies!!! I went w the 1 tbsp against my better judgment but Mario hasn’t let me down yet so I blindly followed along . . . foolishly! In a sick kind of way, I couldn’t stop eating this, I mean that’s what chilies do . . . right?! They grab you with their addictive properties, make you want more pain!!! Poor mr bc, sweat was beading on his forehead, his eyes were tearing up (all the while I’m smiling and telling him he looks fine even though his ears had turned the colour of purple beets!!)…. I’d even tossed some chicken in his bowl to appease his “it’s not dinner if there isn’t meat” tendencies but alas, the heat beat him down and, for the first time in a very long time, he couldn’t finish his meal.

                            My chilies were just too powerful for this dish. Nonetheless, as Gio said, I still appreciated the intense tomato flavour achieved by reducing the Pomi and, I admit, I had to add some fresh basil, I mean I’m harvesting it by the bushel at this point so if you’re consuming something at our house, chances are you’ll have some basil in it!!

                            I’d still recommend this but caution to add chilies to taste. I’ll make this again. . . . once mr bc is feeling better!!! ; - )

                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                              Oh dear, colored ears -- I know that feeling. In our house we're way behind the rest of the world in appreciating heat in food, so this account grabbed me.
                              And it's funny that Gio described this as "warm macaroni salad" !
                              As always, interesting review, Breadcrumbs.

                              1. re: blue room

                                Thanks blue room. mr bc still hasn't forgiven me!!

                          3. Penne alla Paplina - page 179 - Molto Gusto

                            Something went wrong. Was it me? Was it the instructions? I don't know, but I found this pasta dish meh which makes no sense. Pork, cheese, eggs, peas and pasta; what could go wrong?

                            I made a half recipe and was shocked to discover that I didn't have enough penne rigate in the cupboard. I substituted a DeCecco No 7 Linguini Fini.

                            So, this is pretty straight ahead. Get the water boiling, drop in the pasta and heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the oil and prosciutto that has been cut into 1 inch squares. Cook for 5 minutes until crisp, turn off the heat and add the peas. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. When the pasta is done, reserve some of the water, and drain the pasta.

                            Add the pasta to the prosciutto and eggs and turn the burner to medium high. Add some oil and reserved water to the eggs, whisk and add to the pan. Turn off the heat and start mixing with a spoon.

                            The minute those eggs hit the pan, they wanted to scramble. In fact, some of them did scramble. Toss in and mix the cheese. If needed, add more of the pasta water but my mixture didn't seem to need it.

                            By the time the pasta was in the bowls, it had tightened up and I wish I had added more water. Add lots of black pepper. DH did, I didn't.

                            To me, this dish seemed just heavy and clumpy. The combined flavors seemed less than each flavor on its own. I don't understand why we hit the pan with tons of heat just as the eggs were going to go in. And there isn't enough interest to make this a main course. Perhaps a little swirl between antipasti and a real main would be better, but I doubt I will try this one again.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: smtucker

                              Bummer. Thanks for taking one for the team. As you say, how could you go wrong with those ingredients, but sometimes it's just too much, I guess. I've got some CSA peas and this would have been a contender, so thanks for warning us off it.


                              1. re: smtucker

                                smtucker so sorry this dish underwhelmed. I too had it marked and imagined it would be like a Carbonara w peas. I wonder if MB erred in suggesting that the pan be at medium high when the eggs are incorporated? When I make carbonara I prefer the heat at med-low to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Thanks for your review, if I do make the dish, I'll definitely have your experience in mind.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Very sorry to read this report. My CSA is chock full of peas (three kinds, in fact) so I had my eye on this one. Even your description of the process sounds tasty.
                                  Like Breadcrumbs, I'll take your words under advisement. And, since I've never made carbonara, I will probably follow Breadcrumbs suggestion of lowering the heat.

                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    Interesting. The only carbonara I make is Marcella Hazan's and the eggs and cheeses are in the pasta bowl. The pasta, pancetta, oil, etc. is added to that. Yeah, why would you hit the heat when doing that?

                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      Penne all Papalina – p. 179 – Molto Gusto

                                      A surprisingly hearty, delicious dish that I’m happy to recommend, with caution.

                                      smtucker reviewed this dish up thread and observed that the eggs wanted to scramble in the pan. Despite having the benefit of her experience and, making some adjustments, I had the same issue. Luckily, since I was expecting there may be a problem, I was able to adjust and the dish didn’t suffer significantly.

                                      smtucker’s description of the prep up thread is spot on so I’ll just pick up where I changed things. Once I’d stirred in the pasta over medium heat, I removed the pan from the heat to stir in the tempered egg mixture. I started slowly and, good thing I did as the first egg mixture to hit the pan started cooking despite my furious stirring. I let the pan cool down somewhat and carried on with no further issue.

                                      Other adaptations at casa bc were, the use of fresh peas instead of frozen and, my prosciutto was a smoked variety carried by a local Italian deli.

                                      I imagined this dish to remind me of Carbonara and while it did, we particularly liked the use of prosciutto, especially in 1” squares as it brought nice flavour and texture. The penne rigate was also nice for a change as we tend to make Carbonara w spaghetti. Some of the peas snuck inside the pasta and added a nice little surprising pop as you bit down on the macaroni.

                                      Despite the mishap, we loved this dish and I’d happily make it again, with my further revised method. I think the penne retains more heat than spaghetti and may contribute to the scrambling issue. I’d use them again but just let the pan cool slightly before adding the egg mixture as I did above.

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        Just a suggestion, but next time try taking a spoonful or two of pasta out of the pan and stir those into the egg mixture off the heat, before incorporating the egg mixture into the pasta on the stove. This will allow the eggs to thicken but not scramble before they are added to the hot pan.

                                    2. Pennette with Swiss Chard Ragu – p. 177 – Molto Gusto

                                      I couldn’t resist a massive bunch of chard I spotted at the market on Saturday and I was grateful to find this recipe that would allow me to make use of the lot. This pasta is quick and easy to pull together and, a little different than chard/greens pasta dishes I’ve made in the past in that butter is a key component in the sauce.

                                      Prep consists of toasting fresh breadcrumbs in EVOO, slicing an onion, crushing garlic, and trimming then slicing the chard.

                                      I started preparing the sauce prior to dropping the pasta as MB indicated that the chard needed to simmer for 20 mins. In the end, mine cooked much quicker so I simply took it off the heat until just before the pasta was cooked. Also, speaking of “setting aside” – MB indicates that this ragu can be prepared ahead and, refrigerated for up to two days. Personally, I can’t imagine doing this w cooked greens as I find their structural integrity deteriorates very quickly and they tend to get slimy. I’ll be interested to hear whether others have been successful in doing this.

                                      Sauce is made by combining EVOO, onion, garlic and chard in a large pan over med-high heat and stirring until chard begins to soften at which point chard is seasoned, water is added then the heat is lowered, pot is covered and supposed to simmer for 20 mins until the chard is very tender. Mine was quite tender in under 10 mins.

                                      Prior to serving, butter is stirred into the chard, pepper is added before the penne and some pasta water are tossed in to incorporate. Parmesan is stirred in then pasta is served, topped w breadcrumbs and, additional Parmesan. MB does indicate that additional pasta water can be stirred in to “loosen” the sauce. I didn’t really have a “sauce” so to speak as the noodles seemed to soak up all the liquids in the pan however, when I tasted a noodle, they were flavourful so I decided not to incorporate additional pasta water and risk diluting the flavours.

                                      This is not a dish w big, bold flavours however it is a well seasoned dish that allows garden fresh chard to shine. The breadcrumbs add a wonderful textural element with their toasty crunch. I’d definitely make this again. Last night we served grilled spicy Italian sausage alongside and this paired nicely.

                                      1. Basil Pesto – p. 172 – Molto Gusto

                                        With a variety of antipasti in the fridge and, some lovely fresh tomatoes just begging to be used, I decided to do a self-serve bruschetta bar for lunch yesterday. The tomatoes were so beautiful, I wanted to serve them simply so I sliced and salted them and served a bowl of Mario’s basil pesto on the side so folks could drizzle at will.

                                        This pesto is a standard recipe where basil, pine nuts and garlic are chopped in a food processor before drizzling in EVOO. Mario has you stir in the Parmesan cheese just prior to serving. I usually add mine along w the pine nuts but can’t say I noticed any difference w this slight variation in prep.

                                        As expected, this pesto was fresh and flavourful and perfectly paired w the tomatoes. I halved the recipe and felt that this amount would have been adequate for a pasta dish if that had been its intended purpose.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          This pesto recipe is my favorite and I've made it multi times. It's grest with perfectly ripe everything and a really good extra virgin olive oil. I love it as a condiment for fish instead of a gramolata or tartar.

                                          1. re: Gio

                                            Funny you should say that about the fish Gio as I have that salmon dish on the menu for tonight (the one you made last week) and I reserved a bit of this pesto jic we too found the flavours of the fish to be bland! I agree, it's a lovely pesto that would elevate any fresh produce.

                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              Ah.. That Fish. You'll probably have much more luck than I did, especially if you have a different variety of salmon and add a bit of the pesto. I await your report...Goodly Luck!

                                            2. re: Gio

                                              Basil Pesto, Pg. 172, Molto Gusto

                                              A little note about the Pesto. Last night we had 3 steamed lobsters with which I was going to make a lobster salad. Just a simple, regular run-of-the-mill L. salad. It took the better part of an hour to pick all the meat from the shells and as I sat there contemplating my dressing and other world problems it occured to me that Mario's pesto combined with aioli would be something a little different. And it was.

                                              Made the pesto, made the aioli, added the aioli to the pesto a little bit at a time till it tasted "just right." Of course to do that G & I had to taste as we went along making sure we left enough to serve.

                                              Instead of tossing the lobster meat with the dressing I simply laid down a few leaves of green leaf lettuce, heaped the meat on the leaves and used the dressing as a dipping sauce. Molto bene...!! Grilled potatoes and green beans with charred onion were the side dishes. Great dinner.

                                              ETA: Mario's aioli recipe:

                                            3. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              This is my favorite standard pesto. A few years ago an Italian woman alerted me to make pesto with any of these: Italian parsley, sorrel, arugula - all or any combination thereof, and more that I probably am forgeting..

                                              Your calling attention to Mario's p. 172 basil pesto alerted me to his "broccoli rabe pesto" recipe on p. 173. That's a new one on me, but I'll bet it's pretty good. Dijon mustard is an unusual addition, tho.

                                              1. re: Rella

                                                Very interesting Rella, I'd flagged that Broccoli Rabe recipe and hadn't noticed the Dijon. Just a teaspoon though so I'm imagining it won't be a prominent flavour, perhaps just a contrast to the sharpness of the vegetable. I'm really looking forward to trying this when I can get Broccoli Rabe at the market again.

                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  I reported on the broccoli rabe pesto below (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7932... ), and I couldn't taste the mustard in the finished pest. Not to say it doesn't play a role in the flavor of the dish, just that you don't taste the pesto and think, Mustard!

                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                    Good to know about the mustard Caitlin. I just read your review below and understand what you mean about the strength of the flavour of raw garlic. I didn't have this issue w the basil pesto however, the cloves I used were quite small. That said, I did have the same issue last night w the Beef Braciole pinwheels I made, I thought the raw garlic was too pronounced in the stuffing and would simply rub the beef w a garlic clove next time and leave the chopped out all together.

                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                      Thanks for linking your previous review.

                                                      Re your: "The blanching until tender removed most of the bitterness in the broccoli rabe, so it was quite mild going into the pesto"

                                                      When I first started cooking rabe, I read about the bitterness. One suggestion was to blanch the rabe, but to use the water that you blanch it in to boil the pasta, to give the pasta more flavor. I did this a few times. I didn't really notice any real difference, but think it's a good idea for a couple of reasons if one is blanching the rabe.

                                                      For whatever reason, I never notice any bitterness that I used to experience when I first started eating rabe. No blanching needed at our house :-)) HOWEVER, eating it almost raw might be a different story.

                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                        Well, in the case of this recipe, I think that was a byproduct rather than the reason for the cooking - a green that hardy needs cooking before it can be blended into a sauce like pesto, I'd assume..

                                              2. Corn as Italians Would Eat It - p. 221 - Italian Grill

                                                I don't usually fuss much with corn, as it is so good just plain. But this recipe has you grill the corn plain, then as it comes off the grill, roll it in a balsamic vinegar/olive oil mixture, then in Parmigiano Reggiano, then sprinkle mint and red pepper flakes over top. It was really good that way, and I'll be making this again.

                                                9 Replies
                                                1. re: MelMM

                                                  We made this last summer as the first recipe out of this book. Freshly picked corn from the farm, finely minced mint, aged Reggiano...and all the rest. Isn't it delicioua?

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    Corn As Italians Would Eat It, Pg. 221

                                                    The first time I made this recipe was on 7.11.10, last night was almost a year to the day. Last year we grilled the corn then rolled each ear in the mixture as Mel described above, but last night we fire-roasted them as described on page 11. With this method each ear was sprinkled with seasoned vinaigrette, double wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil, then placed around the edge of the fire. Roast for 30 minutes. During the last 15 minutes G grilled spicy Italian sausages on the grate above the roasting corn. Really a neat way to grill two different things simultaneously.

                                                    While we did like the roasted corn we both thought we would have liked the corn a little more charred than they were. We've roasted corn o/t cob so many times through the years and used so many different methods but we prefer the ears directly on the grate. Regardless it was a very tasty meal with grilled Sausages and Peppers on page 193, and Runner Beans in Tomato Sauce from Happy Days with the Naked Chef.

                                                  2. re: MelMM

                                                    Corn as Italians Would Eat It - p. 221 - Italian Grill

                                                    Not much to add to this. We liked it too and would do this again.


                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      Ye gods that looks...incredibly especially good!

                                                    2. re: MelMM

                                                      Corn as Italians Would Eat It

                                                      The cooking and garnishing is well described above. I'm just chiming in to say that we really enjoyed this preparation. I agree with MelMM that fresh corn is so good plain, I usually don't do much with it. But this was something different, easy, and very very tasty. We had this with the sausage and peppers dish in the same book.

                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                        ...cooking and garnishing ARE well described...
                                                        Good grief, I need a red pencil.

                                                      2. re: MelMM

                                                        Wonderful! Like Mel and LN, we tend not to mess w our corn and enjoy it best straight up . . . boiled w a little butter and salt so this was a real departure for us. Happy to say that we loved this, it made for a tasty change of pace. I used basil instead of mint.

                                                        1. re: MelMM

                                                          Corn as the Italians would Eat It

                                                          Good thing it is August and time to move on, we had this corn for dinner, and this was the first Batali dish that neither of us liked at all.

                                                          Funny because, aside from the obvious fact that lots of others love it, I tried a little of the cheese with pepper flakes and mint mixed on my finger, and thought that flavor combination was terrific, also tried some corn with just the oil and balsamic, and though that was pretty tasty too, but somehow the sum of the parts just didn't work for us.

                                                        2. Thousand-Ridges Japanese Eggplant - p. 213 - Italian Grill

                                                          This recipe calls for 6 Japanese eggplant, which should come to 2 lbs. I used small white eggplant that were the same weight/eggplant. The hardest part about this recipe is cutting the diagonal slashes, 1/4 apart, to make a crosshatch pattern on the cut side of each eggplant half. You then mix together olive oil, oregano, and garlic, and rub into the cut sides. Then season with salt and pepper, and grill.

                                                          We thought this was OK, but not great. I was wanting more seasoning on the eggplant. I used the amounts specified in the recipe. Of course eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge, so it seemed like not enough olive oil. Mine definitely came out a bit drier looking than the eggplant in the photo. I think I really just prefer stronger seasonings with my eggplant, though, so I'm not going spend time trying to fine tune this recipe.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: MelMM

                                                            I've made this twice in the last couple of weeks and liked it a lot. Didn't think the cross-hatching was an issue. Agree that mine didn't look as moist as the picture. I liked the seasoning because it didn't overwhelm the eggplant. Like this well enough that I'm serving at a little dinner this weekendd.

                                                            1. re: bobcam90

                                                              Didn't mean to imply that the cutting was an issue, just that the recipe as a whole was very simple.

                                                              1. re: bobcam90

                                                                Fixed these yet again last night. I didn't brush on the oil til just before grilling. They were moister looking. I'm really loving this recipe.

                                                              2. re: MelMM

                                                                MeIMM, I always salt cut eggplant for 20-30 minutes before cooking. The salting makes its membranes shrink and it does not absorb oil like crazy any longer. Try it once and see the difference.

                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                  I often salt eggplant. Didn't do it this time because the recipe doesn't call for it. Some preparations I do with eggplant that I do like do not need salting. I'm thinking mostly of Asian dishes. Frankly, I think my response to this dish has a lot to do with my own feelings about eggplant. I like it some ways, and not others. Ratatouille, for example, has never been a big hit with me. On the other hand, I love eggplant in Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian preparations, as well as some middle-eastern ways.

                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                    I am with you on ratatoulle and love Asian eggplant dishes too. Indian chared eggplant with apples is wonderful. Recently made Hazan's marinated eggplant for a cooking club dinner appertiser - not a piece was left! and I worried all week about it as it was marinating. Must make again as she says it keeps for a long time in the fridge.

                                                                2. re: MelMM

                                                                  Thousand-Ridges Japanese Eggplant - p. 213 - Italian Grill

                                                                  I remembered that there were a couple of eggplant recipes in this book and ran across a little vegetable stand yesterday that sold a few kinds of Asian and Italian eggplant. Ironically, I bought the Italian-style eggplant assuming that that's what Batali would call for. Maybe I'd feel differently about this recipe had I used the proper style of eggplant, but I agree with MelMM: ok, but not great. Certainly not bad, just nothing special. I didn't find the cross-hatching to be that cumbersome, but I didn't do a spectacular job of it either.

                                                                  Sorry, no photo. The phone rang.


                                                                3. Linguine with Zucchini & Bottarga - p. 161 - Molto Gusto

                                                                  I made this for a weeknight dinner. The recipe calls for a combination of yellow squash and zucchini, but I used only the former, as my garden is overflowing with it right now. This is a really straightforward vegetable (but not vegetarian) pasta dish. While bringing the pasta water to boil, you saute onions, then add the squash and cook until soft, then add red pepper flakes, mint, and a plain tomato sauce (made from reducing strained tomatoes). When the pasta is ready, you add it and a small amount of pasta water to the squash mixture. Serve topped with breadcrumbs and grated bottarga.

                                                                  This is not a fancy meal, but it sure is a good way to use up some squash. I liked that the bottarga added a saltiness, much like grated cheese would, but a with a lighter, briny taste. One apparent error in the recipe is that it called for three cloves of garlic in the ingredients, and but the instructions never had you add them to the dish. I just skipped the garlic, as I didn't feel it was really needed. There was a lot of flavor going on in this dish without it.

                                                                  1. Hot & Cold Summer Squash - p. 37 - Molto Gusto

                                                                    I played fast and loose with this recipe, so you can take this review with a grain of salt or two.

                                                                    The recipe has you saute some garlic in olive oil, add zucchini or yellow squash (I used yellow squash as my garden is overflowing with it), and some parsley, then saute until the squash is tender. You add red pepper flakes and orange zest, then transfer to a bowl. Here's where I set my own course. I didn't have any oranges on hand. I did have lemons and limes, but when I thought about the taste of orange zest and chiles, it brought to mind red yuzu koshu, an ingredient I've been using while cooking from "The Japanese Grill". It is comprised of the Japanese citrus fruit yuzu, red chiles, and salt. So I used that in place of the orange zest and red pepper flakes. The dish is finished by incorporating a tomato sauce which is simply strained tomatoes reduced by half. The dish is served at room temperature or chilled. I served at room temperature, or perhaps a tad warmer.

                                                                    This was a good dish. I won't claim that my yuzu koshu substitution gave the same results as the recipe intended. It was still good, but I think if you are in an Italian frame of mind, you'd do better with the ingredients specified. Still, this is not a didactic sort of recipe. It's just vegetables for a weeknight dinner, and even with an asian twist, the recipe was good. Nothing fancy here, just a nice squash dish to go along with whatever else you might be having.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: MelMM

                                                                      MelMM, I liked this dish, too and pretty much shared your assessment. I posted about it here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7932... I liked it more the next day - the orange and chile flavors were brought out well with the overnight sit.

                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                        While on vacation in Mammoth I was able to sneak in one opportunity to cook out of ITALIAN GRILL. The resort we are staying at has a full kitchen and a shared grill so I quickly reviewed the ingredients I had with me and decided I could pull together the T Bone Fiorentina with Sauteed Spinach, with some variations.

                                                                        I used three boneless rib eyes instead of T bones and I left out the sage. As for the spinach, I followed the recipe to the letter except I substituted french green beans in place of the spinach, as it was all I had on hand. Ingredients are hard to come by up here and terribly expensive. My family could not stop raving about the green beans declaring them the best green beans I've ever made.

                                                                        The flavors of the Fiorentina really compliment the flavors in the green bean dish so I would recommend serving them together. I look forward to making this again at home without the substitutions.

                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                          I realize I posted this in the wrong section! Should have been under antipasti.

                                                                      2. Misticanza (Salad) – p. 115 – Molto Gusto

                                                                        If you look at p. 111 of the book you’ll see a salad that doesn’t resemble the prep method described in this recipe. Yet another example of MB’s photographer taking artistic license and ignoring the recipes. I honestly can’t think of another one of my cookbooks where the photos just don’t depict the recipes in the book. As I mentioned elsewhere, I saw an interview w MB at some point and he was singing the praises of Quinten Bacon (a photographer he typically uses) and he was quite critical of highly stylized, glam shots of food. .. ok I’ll get off my soapbox now!

                                                                        Prep for this dish is straightforward. A fennel bulb and radishes are thinly sliced on a mandoline then tossed w some arugula and, a Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe covered in a fava bean dish from this book…I’ll add the link below). Flaky salt is added and the salad is served w additional vinaigrette on the side. We didn’t need any.

                                                                        We loved this salad. Somehow the combination of ingredients brought out the nuttiness in the arugula and the radishes and the subtle acidity of the lemon was a nice contrast to the sweet, nutty flavours. We found the anise flavour of the fennel to be somewhat muted and if there is anything I’d change next time around, I might add more fennel.

                                                                        Overall, a very nice, refreshing dish that paired nicely w our Pollo Avellino from MB’s Molto Italiano, a past COTM.

                                                                        Review of Pollo Avellino here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5614...

                                                                        How to make Lemon Vinaigrette – covered in my review of MB’s Favas:


                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                          Glad to hear I wasn't the only one thinking the photos were off base. At least the recipes are pretty solid. But I'm beginning to feel like the pictures are wasted pages in these books. Why bother? I know that those glossy photos contribute a lot to the cost of a book, so if I had my druthers, I'd rather have more recipes and fewer inaccurate, useless photos. I'm saying this as someone with a great appreciation for good photography.

                                                                        2. Pennette with Summer Squash & Ricotta - Molto Gusto, p. 176

                                                                          I only used half a pound of pasta, but used three-quarters of everything else, and this was the right decision, as I thought the ratio of "sauce" to pasta was good: enough to feel appropriate for a main dish, but not overdressed at all. I made two additions to the dish, noted below.

                                                                          While water comes to a boil and pasta cooks, olive oil, warm water, and grated parmigiano are stirred into ricotta and zucchini or yellow summer squash (I used the former) that have been cut in half moons are sautéed in olive oil until tender and starting to brown, salted, and taken off the heat. The al dente pasta and a bit of its cooking water are added to the pan with the zucchini and all is stirred over medium heat, then covered to steam together for 2 minutes. Chopped mint leaves and salt and pepper are stirred in, it goes in a serving bowl, and the ricotta is dolloped over (I did stir it through the dish before plating). My additions: three cloves of chopped garlic and a shake of red pepper flakes sautéed with the zucchini.

                                                                          This was very good. The zucchini and mint tasted bright, the ricotta added creaminess, and the parmigiano depth. I was glad I added the garlic, which was fairly mellow, and the red pepper flakes, as they definitely enhanced it. I'd make it again.

                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                            Pennette with Summer Squash & Ricotta – p. 176 – Molto Gusto

                                                                            As soon as I spotted Summer Squash at the Farmer’s Market on Friday, Caitlin’s review of this dish came to mind and onto the menu it went last night. This is such a delicious dish and for us, an unusual application of the vegetable as we couldn’t ever recall serving it in a cheesy pasta before. That said, we loved this dish and will definitely make it again.

                                                                            Caitlin thoroughly covered the prep above (big thanks!!) and I took her lead in bringing some additional flavours to the dish by adding garlic and some chili flakes. In my case I sliced 2 fairly large cloves of garlic and, took advantage of the opportunity to use some garlic scapes as well, likely about ¼ cup chopped went in at the same time as the squash. I used about ½ tsp of the chili flakes and, also put them out on the table should anyone wish to add more heat. Finally, since I have the good fortune of an abundance of basil in my garden, I used basil in place of the mint.

                                                                            Earlier in the day I made a MB COTM antipasti and commented on a technique that I hadn’t seen before, so I got a chuckle later on when I found the same technique in this recipe. As Caitlin mentions, MB has you whisk some EVOO into the ricotta. Though I’ve made countless Italian dishes over the years, I haven’t encountered this in a recipe. I’m wondering if the EVOO aids somehow in binding the ricotta as in the past I’ve found even the smoothest ricotta tends to take on somewhat of a granular texture when heated (as it separates) but it didn’t seem to do so in this dish. I’d love to hear if others are familiar w the technique and could shed some light on this.

                                                                            We served this dish as a “primi” in a multi-course menu that also included some bruschetta as antipasti, grilled steaks and mixed greens w a balsamic vinaigrette and some Niagara cherry gelato for dessert. This dish was a real stand-out and guests commented on how well this application highlighted the texture and flavour of the Summer Squash. If I were to do anything differently next time it would be to use a higher heat initially to get a nice sear on most of the pieces of squash as I especially enjoyed the caramelization that occurred on some but not all slices. While I think the dollops of whipped ricotta make for a nice presentation, I think the dish benefits from incorporating it while the pasta is nice and hot so I’d recommend tossing the pasta asap.

                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                              Made this for dinner last night using courgettes (zucchini) instead of summer squash and loved it. It's a simple dish which really highlights the flavour of the courgettes. Unlike Caitlin and Breadcrumbs, I didn't use garlic or chilli flakes and thought it was delicious as written.

                                                                              A great way to use up that zucchini glut!

                                                                              1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                Thanks for the reminder about this one gg. Funny, I've pulled my MB books off the shelf too. They seem to be chock full of great summery dishes!

                                                                                1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                  Well this is a pleasant happenstance! I have some yellow squash to use up before CSA pick-up tomorrow and 1/2 lb. of penne. Perfect for this recipe. No mint so I'll use basil as BC did.

                                                                                  As for the whipped ricotta, Batali uses the same technique for his recipe Black Kale with Ricotta on page 60 of Molto Gusto. We made it on last week-end and loved the texture and taste of it. Milky creamy.

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    It's very yummy. I wouldn't add garlic or chilli flakes - I think it's the purity of the flavours that makes this one good.

                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                      Thanks GG. "Purity of flavors" sounds good. Perhaps I'll just put a small bowl of chili flakes on the table and Mr. G can use if he wishes...

                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                        Although I love bold flavours, I've realised on my visits to Italy over the years that sometimes simple really is best, and not everything needs garlic and chilli!

                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                      Just going to put in a plug for the zucchini curry in Gourmet Today for those of you with a glut of zucchini. I really love that recipe and think even a serious meat lover would be happy with it.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        I know I have that one tabbed, so thanks for the reminder, LLM. I also loved the mussels in zucchini basil broth in Gourmet Today, which tastes so fresh and bright.

                                                                                  2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                    Pennette with Summer Squash and Ricotta, Molto Gusto, Pg. 176

                                                                                    We did make the recipe last night and Greedygirl was absolutely correct. Less really Is more with this dish. Had to substitute a couple of items but neither detracted from the original. Used 1/2 pound of farfalle instead of pennette, which I've never seen around here, and used basil not mint. I had 2 medium sized yellow Summer squash which were just right. Loved the the ricotta with added oil, etc. Whipping it creates a creamy consistency and delicate mouth-feel. We're supposed to get courgettes today so will make it again with mint this time, I think.

                                                                                    Served roasted chopped eggplant, suntan peppers, scallions. onions, and garlic with Mario's luscious dressing from his Grilled Vegetable Salad Caprese recipe on page 38 of Italian Grill.

                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                      Pennette with Summer Squash & Ricotta - Molto Gusto, p. 176

                                                                                      Grrr this is my second time writing this as it disappeared the last time I did it. Not a dish I would ordinarily have been drawn to, but all the recent attention made me curious. We had company for dinner last night so I decided to give it a try. Rave reviews all around and even my daughter asked for seconds. She also polished off the leftovers this morning. Perfect as written and I wouldn't change a thing.

                                                                                      I served it alongside a mixed bean salad inspired by this Barefoot Contessa recipe. I 1/2ed the vinaigrette recipe and used snap peas, haricot vert, and yellow beans.


                                                                                      Also served this super easy hand pie recipe from Bon Appetit. I made it even easier by using TJs frozen pie crust.


                                                                                      All in all, a wonderful meal!

                                                                                    2. Arugula with Tomato Raisins - Molto Gusto, p. 125

                                                                                      This is a very simple salad, just arugula (I used baby "wild" arugula), the "tomato raisins," and lemon vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice and zest) with salt and pepper. The tomato raisins are cherry or grape tomatoes (mine were assorted colors and sizes, from small marbles to pears) which are tossed with olive oil and salt and roasted on a lined sheet pan (I used a Silpat) at 250º F for 3 to 4 hours, until they are shriveled, collapsed, and lightly browned. I did this this morning, and then left them at room tempurature until dinner.

                                                                                      I doubt I have to tell you about the tomatoes - if you've ever slow-roasted them, you know that they were full of sweet and concentrated flavor. This was offset wonderfully by the peppery arugula and tart lemon, and the combination was a good complement to the creamy and mellow Pennette with Summer Squash & Ricotta.

                                                                                      14 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                        Arugula with Tomato Raisins - Molto Gusto, p. 125

                                                                                        I had completely overlooked this recipe probably thinking there were real raisins in this. Like Caitlin, I made the tomato raisins in the morning, and by the time it came to make the salad I had fewer tomatoes than intended, because I would pop one into my mouth each time I walked by them in the kitchen (so sweet and delicious). The sweet tomato raisins were a wonderful complement to the wild arugula from my garden and the lemony vinaigrette.

                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                          Those of you with experience with tomato raisins...
                                                                                          Planning on doing this in the next few days. Did you do any kind of puncture in the tomatoes? When I slow roast large tomatoes I always halve or quarter them, so it's not an issue. I don't see anything about a puncture, but I don't want exploding tomatoes in my oven. I've got some bad memories associated with an exploding cherry tomato.

                                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                            Nope, no puncturing and no exploded tomatoes. I think because these are roasted at such a low temperature, it's not an issue. They just sort of collapse and wrinkle up, as the recipe indicates. They do get juicy, so definitely line the pan with parchment, foil, or silpat.

                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                Speaking of silpats, how do you clean yours Caitlin?

                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                  See this from the Silpat Web site:


                                                                                                  I was concerned at one point that my Silpats were getting badly stained and I couldn't clean them. Found this info and just decided not to worry about it. Hasn't affected how well they work, and it's not as though I'm serving on them so company can see what they look like.

                                                                                                  1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                    Ahh, my concern exactly Caitlin, thanks so much for that link. I love my Silpats but the stains kept worrying me. This made my day!! Thanks!

                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                      Doh! Sorry Joan, I don't know why I typed Caitlin's name...huge thanks to you for that link!!

                                                                                                  2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                    I understand they can go in the dishwasher (why not, they can withstand temps well over that of boiling water), but I just wash by hand with dish soap and hot water, using a light-duty scrub sponge (the kind you can safely use on nonstick) if it seems oily or has residue from baking.

                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                      I see per JoanN's link that silpats shouldn't go in the dishwasher, something I hadn't actually done (good thing, I guess!). I also don't worry about discoloration.

                                                                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                        I rec'd an inexpensive 100% silicone one in a gift basket I bid on at a charity auction. It doesn't have any of the fibreglass mesh inside so I guess that's why its instructions said it could go in the dishwasher. I haven't bothered doing that though because it's very floppy and there really didn't seem to be a good way of putting it in there.

                                                                                                        I've had my "real" Silpat mats forever it seems. I bought them years ago at New York Cake & Baking in Manhattan. I just love them but recently noticed they were discolouring and wondered about that. So nice to know they're ok!

                                                                                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                Arugula with Tomato Raisins

                                                                                                Did a "ravioli tasting" menu last night and made this salad to accompany. Not much to add as prep is covered above.

                                                                                                Learned one interesting thing about the tomatoes. I went out of my way to find cherry tomatoes of the red and the yellow variety. Once they were cooked, however, there was no readily apparent difference in color. So that was a bit disappointing, but the taste? No disappointments there. Love those roasted tomatoes, and they work very well in this simple salad.

                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                  Arugula with Tomato Raisins - p. 125 – Molto Gusto

                                                                                                  Like all those who have gone before me, I loved this dish! Such simple ingredients with such wonderful flavours that blended in perfect harmony.

                                                                                                  Though I’ve roasted tomatoes on a number of occasions, I’d never thought of semi-drying them before and boy were they scrumptious. We had to stop ourselves from gobbling up the whole lot right off the baking tray! I ended up doing a smaller batch in the toaster oven as I decided to use these lovely little nuggets instead of sun-dried tomatoes in another dish I served over the weekend, the Grilled Scamorza from Italian Grill.

                                                                                                  We loved this recipe!

                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                    I liked this dish too. I added some lamb's lettuce to the rocket salad because I didn't have enough rocket but I think it would be better with just rocket.

                                                                                                2. Penne alla Puttanesca – p. 165 – Molto Gusto

                                                                                                  We love Puttanesca and we were keen to try this version by Mario.

                                                                                                  Prep is straightforward and especially quick if you’re not using capers and anchovies packed in salt. In my case my capers were brined and my anchovies in oil so both just needed a quick rinse. If you’re using the salted versions, give yourself an extra 20 mins for rinsing then soaking the anchovies and, make a note somewhere that Mario wants you to soak your salted capers overnight!

                                                                                                  Once we’ve got that out of the way, it’s smooth sailing! Pomi strained tomatoes are simmered to reduce by half which seems to be a favourite technique for MB as I’ve done this for a few recipe now. Oil is heated in a large pot (recipe calls for 6 tbsp, I used 3 and that was plenty) then chopped onion, sliced garlic and anchovies are added and stirred until the onions brown lightly and the anchovies break down. Pomi and chili flakes are then added in and stirred until fragrant. Pan is removed from the heat until the pasta has cooked. Don’t forget to reserve some pasta water as that’s stirred into the sauce along w the cooked penne. Everything is tossed to incorporate then the olives, capers and parsley are added. Dish is plated and Parmesan is served alongside.

                                                                                                  This was really nice but it wasn’t my absolute favourite Puttanesca. I felt the anchovies overwhelmed somewhat and must take full responsibility for this since I didn’t use the salted kind MB called for. Nonetheless, this was a tasty dish that didn’t disappoint.

                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                    I often use salted capers because I prefer them and have a good local supplier. I've never soaked them overnight - just given them a good rinse and they're not too salty at all. I do normally go easy on the seasoning of the dish as a whole though if using salted anchovies or capers.

                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                      I thought that "overnight soak" for capers seemed excessive too. I can't believe I didn't have any in my pantry, its usually something I keep a good stock of. I'm having a terrible time finding salted anchovies though, not even in Italian grocers.

                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                        And when you do, they are very expensive. I save the salted ones for meals where the capers are the "star" of the dish for this reason.

                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                          I'd been having difficulty finding salted anchovies as well, and then found them at Eataly. I realize that doesn't help you any. Don't know whether this will or not, but PennMac.com sells them, and at a better price than what I paid at Eataly (no surprise there, I guess). Don't know if PennMac ships internationally (Web site doesn't say no, but doesn't say yes either). I order nearly all my pizza-making ingredients from them and have been very pleased with their service. And their shipping charges, at least to the States, are quite reasonable. Worth sending them an e-mail to see if they'd ship the salted anchovies to Canada.


                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                            Joan thanks so much for that link, what an amazing store! How did you discover it? I called and the woman I spoke with didn't know whether they'd ship to Canada so she's going to have someone call me back. I sure hope so because I've already got 5 items in my cart!! What a find Joan, thank-you! If they do ship, I'll be back to ask you what items you recommend if you don't mind.

                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                              I believe I first discovered PennMac many years ago on the PizzaMaking.com Web site. And as I said, I order most of my pizza-making ingredients from them: 6-1 ground tomatoes (that was before I discovered Pomi ground tomatoes); tipo “00” flour (much better prices than KingArthur); Saf-Instant Yeast (can’t find it locally and also a better price than King Arthur); Ezzo pepperoni (the best!); Grande: Shredded 50/50 Blend (part-skim 50% mozzarella and 50% provolone; love this on pizza; they recommend not freezing it, but I do and afaic, it freezes just fine).

                                                                                                              They’ve expanded their product line tremendously since I first started ordering from them and I must admit I haven’t really explored what’s available recently. But everything arrives promptly and is very well packed. I’ve always been impressed with their service, their prices, and their products.

                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                Thanks Joan, I'm really keeping my fingers crossed, they have such a dazzling array of products. That shredded cheese and pepperoni sound amazing and they'll be in my cart if I can order. mr bc has taken an interest in pizza making so I'm sure he'd like to take a look around their site as well. One of the things in my cart is the apron like the Italian flag for mr bc. He should have been born Italian!!

                                                                                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                  What a great site. Thanks. Your reply could be a subject for its own thread IMO.

                                                                                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                              BC, do you have Nicastro's in Toronto? They carry salted anchovies in somewhat large round cans. Just recently saw a smaller can at another Italian grocer and will get some when I am back at home from the vacation. Have not seen salted capers anywhere.

                                                                                                              1. re: herby

                                                                                                                Thanks herby, I checked their website and I truly wish they did have a store here! What a great shop! I'll have to head to little Italy in Toronto and see how I make out there. I was in Woodbridge and hit a variety of Italian grocers/delis but with no luck getting the anchovies.

                                                                                                                1. re: herby

                                                                                                                  Or a Whole Foods? I've found them here.

                                                                                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                  Don't know if you are still looking for salted anchovies, or if this will help you, but I ordered salted anchovies from Amazon. $19.80 (plus pricey shipping) for almost a kg. So a bit more expensive, but maybe you can get them sent to Canada through Amazon.
                                                                                                                  Surprised at people being unable to find salted capers. I find them in mid-range grocery stores now right next to the brined capers and pickles. Not the great ones I get at a deli or specialty shop, but OK.

                                                                                                            3. Broccoli Rabe Pesto - Molto Gusto, p. 173

                                                                                                              For this pesto, broccoli rabe is cooked in boiling, salted water for 7 minutes, until tender, then shocked and drained well; he doesn't tell you to, but I squeezed the excess water out. The pesto is made in a food processor in the usual manner, with the cooked broccoli rabe, garlic, toasted pine nuts (I subsituted walnuts), a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and olive oil. Grated parmigiano is stirred in after it comes out of the processor.

                                                                                                              While I made the pesto as written, I did not follow his instructions for serving (1 pound pennete, 2/3 cup pesto, 1/4 cup pasta cooking water plus more as needed, more grated cheese for serving). I cooked half a pound of whole-wheat penne, and stirred in a larger amount of pesto proportionally, along with around 1/4 cup of cooking water and around a cup of ricotta. I decided I wanted a heavier dose of pesto because it would be tempered by the ricotta, and it didn't feel like too much for my personal tastes when all combined.

                                                                                                              Overall, I liked the flavor of the pesto quite a bit. The blanching until tender removed most of the bitterness in the broccoli rabe, so it was quite mild going into the pesto. The problem with the pesto as written, however, is too much garlic. I noticed that all three pesto recipes each call for three cloves of garlic, and I wager it's equally too much in the other pestos. The sharpness of too much raw garlic was no doubt tempered a bit by being mixed with the ricotta, but it was still present and even more than being sharp, I felt the problem was that the garlic overwhelmed the other flavors a bit. So I'd recommend cutting back to one or at most two cloves of garlic, unless yours are quite small (mine were not). To be clear, I don't think the issue with my finished dish was the amount of pesto (i.e., using too much), but the balance of flavors. Even had I used half the amount on the pasta, it would have been overly garlicked.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                And this is a problem with recipes in general! My garlic cloves, as an example, vary in size depending on where it was grown, which variety and time of year. I much prefer things like 2-3 cloves garlic, 1 tablespoon minced; or 1 bunch parsley, 1/4 cup chopped, etc.

                                                                                                                Actually, I love by weight, but I don't expect cookbooks published in the States, geared towards the general audience of 30-minute home cooks, to add weights anytime soon.

                                                                                                              2. Spaghetti alla Gricia, Pg., 148, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                This was a completely different pasta dish for me...and of course, G. After doing a little research I found that the Gricia sauce is actually the basis for the classic sauces: Carbonbara, and Amatriciana. To quote Mark Bittman, "The crispy bits of cured pork that elevate the eggy sauce are actually the building blocks for three of the great classic pastas made in and around Rome. The most basic of them, pasta alla gricia, contains no more than the meat and grated sharp cheese. With eggs added to the sauce, it becomes the familiar spaghetti alla carbonara, and if you add the sweetness of cooked onions and the acidity of tomatoes, you have pasta all’amatriciana." Mario's version incorporates an onion and both Parmegiano and Pecorino at the finish but other than that it seems like the classic sauce.

                                                                                                                So, while water for the pasta is coming to the boil heat EVOO in a sauce pan and add either sliced guanciale, pancetta or "good American bacon." I used pancetta. Also add a thinly sliced red onion at this time. Cook until the onion softens and the meat has browned. After about 10 minutes stir in one tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper. For the record, I blitzed tellicherry peppercorns in my dedicated spice grinder. Take pan off the heat after adding the pepper.

                                                                                                                Cook the spaghetti till just about al dente, drain and reserve a cup of pasta water. add the pasta to the sauce pan with about 1/4 cup of the pasta water. Over medium heat stir and toss the pasta till it's coated with the sauce. If necessary add a little more water to loosen the sauce. Now add 1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano, 1/2 cup FG Pecorino and 1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley. I used basil instead.

                                                                                                                This is a pasta dish I'll be making often from now on. It was so very flavorful. We both Ohhed and Ahhed our way through, loving every fork full. I served it with the Grilled Vegetable Salad Capri-Style from the Italian Grill book. That was fab also.

                                                                                                                Link to Mark Bittman's quote and his recipe:


                                                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                  Nice review. I have a chunk of pancetta in the fridge and I think I now know how to use it! What do you think of subbing some ricotta salata for the parm & romano blend? I still have a bit left and certainly don't want to waste it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                                    Since the ricotta salata is a salty cheese and the sauce very much needs the addition of "sharp" cheese Try it. I say add it by increments, though, so it won't overwhelm the other cheeses. We really did notice the 2 different flavors even though they were amalgamated into the sauce. I tell you SM, this is a really tasty pasta dish.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      You tell, I listen. :-)

                                                                                                                      The salata that I bought at capone's isn't that salty, or even that distinctive. I added a bunch to some goat cheese and herbs last night to make a bruschetta topping. Not bad actually with some fresh tomatoes diced/drained on top.

                                                                                                                  2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    I too am oohing and aahing only after reading this. Thanks for the great report.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                      I'm excited to see your review this morning Gio, I have this on the menu for tomorrow night. I picked up some Italian (Roman) guanciale when I was downtown Toronto on Friday.

                                                                                                                      I love your idea of substituting basil for the parsley and will definitely do this as well. We've never had such flavourful basil as we do this year and thankfully, our supply is abundant!

                                                                                                                      Great review Gio!

                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                        I sure like the idea of ohhing and ahhing through a meal, loving every forkful --
                                                                                                                        nice to see this review!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                          Oooooh Aaaaaahhhhh. I had totally passed this recipe by. Thank you Gio for noting it.

                                                                                                                          As usual, I made a few minor adjustments. I cut the pancetta and onions into "same" sizes, though he didn't indicate that you should. I used cappellini because that is what I wanted tonight, and I skipped the black pepper since I don't care for it. And like Gio, I used basil. Tons of basil, perhaps as much as a cup. My basil in the garden is going nuts, and is so tasty that this dish was the perfect opportunity to use a bunch.

                                                                                                                          Both of us LOVED this dish. He added tons of pepper at the table. I was told to forget those rich egg dishes, and stick to this one in the future! He will eat this anytime.

                                                                                                                          There is plenty leftover for lunch tomorrow. I will add a bit more fresh basil before reheating just because I can. Sometimes it is the most simple and easy to prepare dishes that knock you off your feet.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                            Spaghetti all Gricia – p. 146 – Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                            Wonderful! Gio did a fabulous job describing how this dish comes together and, she inspired me with her suggestion to substitute basil for the Italian parsley. Otherwise, I made this as described with the guanciale. This is the very first time we’ve had this dish and we’re happily adding it to the list of our tried & true favourites. The guanciale was so rich and paired beautifully with the sweetness of the onion and the tang of the Parmesan. Simple and delicious, what more could you ask for!!

                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                              Spaghetti alla Gricia, Page 148, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                              I love it when Gio posts on a dish. I often get a fun little culinary history lesson.

                                                                                                                              I did the recipe as written, using guanciale and parsley. I made this with homemade pasta, and I don't yet know how to convert the stated weight for dried pasta to the weight of fresh homemade pasta, so I ended up stirring too much pasta into the sauce. It was still great! The red onion was so sweet, and such a great contrast to the guanciale and the cheese. Ditto on the oohs and aahs, I'll make this again.

                                                                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                Oh Yay! So glad you liked the Gricia sauce, LN. And, thanks tor your kind words...

                                                                                                                            2. Grilled Vegetable Salad Capri-Style, Pg. 38, Italian Grill

                                                                                                                              As Mario states in his end notes, the vegetables listed in the recipe are simply guidelines. Use whatever is freshest and seasomal... so I did. Also, I roasted all the vegetables. At the end of a busy day G didn't feel like baby-sitting the grill because of the various grilling times. But, we feel the salad had such bold and exciting flavors that roasting worked very well. I'm definitely making it again this weekend because there are other vegetables I want to use with the tantalizing vinaigrette. I'm hoping to convince the dear boy to relax outside with a brew and flip the zucchini. (^_~)

                                                                                                                              Make the dressing first because it's drizzled over the vegetables before cooking. In a small bowl whisk together, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, dried oregano, ground cumin, Coleman's dry mustard, hot red pepper flakes, EVOO and the juice of an orange. Zest the orange first and reserve for garnish.

                                                                                                                              There's a list of wonderful vegetables to prepare for the salad and I chose those that I had an abundance of: 2 Asian eggplants, 2 zucchini, 2 onions, a few garlic scapes and scallions. Clean, trim, then slice the eggplants in rounds, the zucchini lengthwise then in 1/2 rounds, the onions in wedges.

                                                                                                                              Here's my variation of the cooking method: I placed all the sliced veggies on a large baking sheet in one layer. Some of the vinaigrette was drizzled all over and the veggies were sprinkled with Maldon salt. Into a pre-heated 425F oven the tray went to roast for 20 minutes then the vegetables were flipped over and roasted for another 20 minutes. When the tray came out of the oven the remaining vinaigrette was drizzled over and the vegetables were garnished with the orange zest and basil ribbons.

                                                                                                                              OMGoodness. The combination of those spices was/is delicious. Addictive. Hot/sweet/exotic. I can't wait to taste it again. In fact there's a small amount of leftovers and I think they'll be great in lettuce cups, or a pita, or right out of the container....

                                                                                                                              14 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                That sounds wonderful Gio, I'll be sure to go easy on the chili flakes though!! ; - )

                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                  I read your report of the arrabiatta and I think you must have extra hot crushed red pepper flakes. Mine come from Penzey's: Crushed Californian Red Pepper (20,000 heat units).
                                                                                                                                  There's another variety: Crushed Indian Red Pepper (40,000 heat units)...too hot for us.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                    Mine were Italian, I purchased them on Thursday and should have known to proceed w caution given the drawing of what looked like a big red time bomb on the package!! I suspect, as you say Gio, they must have been an "extra-hot" variety.

                                                                                                                                    My previous batch was from Dean & Deluca - I picked them up in DC earlier this year.

                                                                                                                                    I'm now going to have to taste my Olio Piccante as I suspect it is "molto" piccante. I made it up last night as we planned to have the Grilled Scamorza as a starter tonight. I imagine I'll be diluting it w some extra EVOO!!

                                                                                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                  This sounds so very good! Would you (or someone else) with Italian Grill be willing to give the quantities for the vinaigrette? Since you had success with roasting, Gio, this is something I can do in my grill-less home.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
                                                                                                                                    3 garlic cloves, minced
                                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
                                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon cumin
                                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
                                                                                                                                    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
                                                                                                                                    juice of 1 orange


                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                      smtucker's got you covered on the dressing Caitlin. Just in case you're interested, here's a link to the full recipe online:


                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                        Thanks for that link, Bc. We're going away for a couple of weeks and had intended to bring these two books but forgot them. Down the right side of that page are a bunch of MB's recipes. I'm looking forward to trying some of them.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: bobcam90

                                                                                                                                          You're welcome bobcam90. Here's something that may help you out as well. Eat Your Books (wonderful cookbook search engine site) has added links to any of the recipes in the two COTM books that appear online. On the right hand side of the page you'll see "bookmark" boxes for each recipe and, if there's an online version of that recipe you'll see a "recipe online" notation right beneath that "bookmark" box.

                                                                                                                                          Italian Grill:


                                                                                                                                          Molto Gusto:


                                                                                                                                          You don't need to be an EYB member to use this feature.

                                                                                                                                          Enjoy your trip & happy cooking!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                            Thanks. I'm familiar with EYB and keep meaning to sign up. Not much for those two books but Mario is pretty easy to source what with Food Network and other places. Thanks again.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                          If anyone is interested the above link to the Grilled Vegetable Salad Capri-Style I reported on is defunct. Here's the new link...

                                                                                                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                        Grilled (Roasted) Vegetable Salad Capri-Style

                                                                                                                                        Many thanks to Gio for her enthusiastic report on this recipe, and the suggestion to roast the vegetables, which very much inspired me to try it. I agree that the bold, complex vinaigrette combined with the orange zest and basil is just terrific and would complement just about any grilled or roasted vegetable. I actually used only half the liquid components, but almost the full amounts of the seasonings, except red pepper flakes of which I used less. This was a perfect amount for the vegetables I had: a few zucchinin, a large red bell pepper, and a large sweet onion.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                          I made this for a party last night, roasting the vegetables as well because I wanted to make it ahead. I used fennel, aubergine, courgettes, red onion and peppers - very nice.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                          As Gio et al have said, the dressing is the delicious star of this dish. I grilled a combination of patty pan squash, red onions, and Italian (flat) beans. I didn't have Coleman's dry mustard, so I used my Oriental dry mustard. I also grilled tuna according to his Fiorentina recipe, but I liked it better with the salad marinade.

                                                                                                                                          I wish we had leftovers, because I'm sure the marinated veggies would be great the next day. But we were running late, so I didn't want to ask DH to grill any more vegetables than we needed for dinner. Next time for sure.

                                                                                                                                        3. Broccoli with Pecorino Romano pg 47 Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                          Easy & delicious. Blanch broccoli florets in salted boiling water for 3 minutes; run under cold water to stop cooking Whisk together grated pecorino, a little hot water, and olive oil. Stir in the florets. Chill for 1/2 hour. He suggests you could season with a little Maldon salt if necessary (not necessary, the cheese was plenty salty) and pepper and serve.

                                                                                                                                          This is a definite keeper.

                                                                                                                                          It's not much to look at, but photo attached anyway.


                                                                                                                                          11 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                            Welcome back DQ, so nice to "see" you and your delicious-sounding dish! I'll be making this w the first broccoli of the season for certain, thanks for the review!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                              Broccoli with Pecorino Romano, Pg. 47, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                              This simple but tasty dish was one component of last night's dinner. The others being: slices of leftover meatloaf heated on the grill, a Spicy Turkish Tomato and Onion Salad from the Planet Barbecue book (pg. 327), and steamed basmati rice. The whole menu came together nicely with the broccoli adding a farm fresh flavor. When the chilled broccoli came out of the fridge I did sprinkle a little Maldon salt over top because my Romano was sharp but not terribly salty. This dish confirms the idea of using the freshest and finest ingredients possible...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                I like the idea of combining the cheese with some water and oil to make an emulsion. Thanks for calling my/our attention to this recipe. I wouldn't have paid much attention to it otherwise.

                                                                                                                                                Was there a reason that you chilled the broccoli in the fridge? Was it timing constraints.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                  Hi Rella, The recipe calls for chilling the finished dish in the fridge for 1/2 hour before serving. Thus it really becomes a mild broccoli salad. A side benefit is that it gave us time to complete the other dishes...

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    My reason for asking was that the recipe at the bottom p. 47, last sentence says, "let stand for 30 minutes before serving."

                                                                                                                                                    I didn't see any chilling - where did I go wrong. At any rate, neither here, nor there; chilling or not chilling.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                  Sounds like a delicious combination of ingredients Gio! Our broccoli hasn't made an appearance at the farmer's markets yet but I'm definitely looking forward to trying this dish when it does. I'll have to check out that Turkish salad in PB as well - it's sounds wonderful!

                                                                                                                                                  Speaking of the finest, freshest ingredients, we had some of the most juicy delicious peaches last night. Our neighbour brought them back from a day trip to Niagara. Sitting on the deck, peach juice dripping down our chins . . . summertime perfection! btw, I started a Cooking From the Farmer's market thread so we'd have a place to share those non-COTM dishes/recipes etc:


                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                    I saw that thread, BC... great idea...! We got peaches last week at our farmers' market and they too were sweet and juicy. Lovely sliced into a dish of Fage yogurt.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                      Mmm, I'll have to try that Gio. . . great idea! Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                        BTW: If you do try that Turkish tomato and onion salad from Planet Barbecue, note that after tasting the finished salad but before serving I added a drizzle of Balsamic vinegar. The 2 tablespoons of lemon juice that is a component of the dressing is just too mild for the amount of veggies. In fact, if I make it again I'll definitely use another ratio of oil to acid...

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                          Gio, I hope you don't mind but I cut and pasted your comments about the PB salad to the GRILLING BOOKS thread so I can reference it later. For those of you who are grilling this month, please consider posting your results. Here is a link:

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                            Nope, don't mind at all DK..Thanks. The only reason I posted the result here is because I first mentioned it here...

                                                                                                                                              2. Penne with Pomodoro Cotto – p. 163 - Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                A Marinara by any other name . . . Yes, this is essentially a marinara sauce and although Mario only has you simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, it does produce a tasty, flavourful sauce. Much to the credit of the quality of the Pomi chopped tomatoes I suppose.

                                                                                                                                                A classic Italian recipe where the final result is much greater than the sum of it’s few good quality parts. Quick & easy to prepare, I’ll definitely use MB’s recipe again when I’m in need of a quick marinara as we both thought the sauce was delicious.

                                                                                                                                                Sliced garlic is cooked in olive oil until golden at which point the tomatoes are added, heat is reduced to med-low and the sauce simmers for 5 mins before being removed from the heat to await the pasta. Once pasta is added, the pan is placed over medium heat until the pasta is well-coated w the sauce. Mario suggests you add 1/4cup of pasta water along w the penne but our sauce tasted great at that point so I didn’t mess w it. Additional EVOO is stirred in and dish is plated w Parmesan served alongside.

                                                                                                                                                I added some garlic scapes along w the sliced garlic since we have an abundance and, love them so. I also tossed in a big handful of julienned basil.

                                                                                                                                                Delicious 5 minute marinara.

                                                                                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                  Penne with Pomodoro Cotto,Pg. 163, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                  I completely forgot we made this for dinner last night. Not that the finished dish was forgettable, it was just that I make a tastier marinara. And I do say so myself. Mario's sauce is akin to a crudo in that it only cooks for 5 minutes, and the traditional sauce cooks for 25 minutes longer. Also, Mario uses just 2 cups of Pomi tomatoes, not a large tin, no onion (which I use occasionally per family history) , no parsley or basil. but that's OK. Everyone has a variation on the theme.

                                                                                                                                                  We followed Molto's direction exactly, using strained Pomi, 5 large cloves of thinly sliced garlic and EVOO. Breadcrumbs describes the procedure above very well. After tasting the sauce but before tossing the Penne into the sauce we tasted it then added 2 t red pepper flakes. We didn't add pasta water, but did strew a chiffonade of basil on each serving after topping the dish with freshly grated Parmigiano.

                                                                                                                                                  Additionally, I roasted fresh Swiss chard stems and cauliflower florets with EVOO, S & P in a 425F for 30 minutes and served that along side the pasta. Nice meal...easily made for a quick weeknight dinner.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                    Sounds great Gio, I love roasted cauliflower but have never roasted the chard, I'll have to give that a try.

                                                                                                                                                    I prefer my own marinara as well but I was really impressed w Mario's version . . . I thought it was pretty tasty for a 5 minute sauce. While mine only cooks for 30 mins, I make it in big batches and it's the peeling and then slicing of all that garlic that takes so much time that when I think of marinara I tend to think I need to block off a bit of time to make it.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                      Hi BC... just be clear, I roasted only the chard Stems with the cauliflower. There's a recipe in The New Spanish Table that utilizes chard leaves and new carrots which I will make tomorrow night so I wanted to cook the stems separately.

                                                                                                                                                      I had a beautiful bunch of Swiss chard with very white stems from our farmers' market which I thought would both taste terrific roasted and look nice with the cauliflower. The stems were rinsed, de-strung (if you know what I mean) and sliced more or less to the length of the florets. The roasting really accentuated the sweetness of the chard stems and that was a tasty counterpoint to the cauliflower...

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                        The chard stems with cauliflower sounds terrific. Chard stems are seriously underrated. In fact, chard was originally bred for the stems, not for the greens. In Europe, many recipes call for trimming the chard stems and discarding the greens! A student once told me about staying with a Swiss family who were very eco-conscious, waste not want not kinds of people, so she was shocked when they discarded the chard greens. A friend who lives in France says her neighbors and in-laws think she is very strange to eat the greens as well as the stems.

                                                                                                                                                        I agree about the wide, white stems. The colored ones are pretty but they tend to be skinnier and lack the succulence of the wide, white ones. Though there's a variety called Golden Sunrise that grows fairly wide, and I have no doubt they could breed wide colored ones if anyone put their minds to it. I had a peppermint striped volunteer one time that I tried to save seeds from, but it was in my front yard garden and became so unsightly that I gave up on it. Oh well.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                                          I have chard that has naturalized and is always available in our garden. I rarely use it, as I prefer dinosaur kale. I am so happy to learn about this tasty use for the stems. Thank you!

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                                            I make a terrific tart with gruyere and swiss chard stems. You can then wilt the leaves and serve them with it as a side dish.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                                                                                                                                              Your post made me recall that when I was younger, the Italian mother of a friend used to send him over with wide chard stems, covered with breadcrumbs and herbs, and fried. No greens in sight. I didn't even know what chard was then, and it seemed so exotic. Probably not the healthiest use of a vegetable, but I sure loved them!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                              Gio thanks for clarifying, I didn't catch that. I'll keep an eye out for the white-stemmed chard at the market this Friday. So far, I've only seen the rainbow this year but I just love your idea and can't wait to try it.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Gio


                                                                                                                                                            Would you mind sharing how you make your marinara?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigSal

                                                                                                                                                              My excruciatingly simple and very basic marinara sauce is:

                                                                                                                                                              4 - 5 cloves chopped garlic
                                                                                                                                                              1/8 cup EVOO
                                                                                                                                                              *1 - 28 oz. can Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes OR 1 can Hunts organic whole tomatoes
                                                                                                                                                              2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes because G likes that
                                                                                                                                                              a couple teaspoons each dried oregano & basil - OR - fresh (more if seasonal)
                                                                                                                                                              1 teaspoon sea salt & 1 teaspoon FGBpepper

                                                                                                                                                              Put the water on for the macaroni.
                                                                                                                                                              Fry the garlic till golden
                                                                                                                                                              Add the HRPF and heat through
                                                                                                                                                              Add tomatoes & S & P
                                                                                                                                                              Stir, bring to the boil
                                                                                                                                                              Reduce heat and simmer till pasta is just al dente then drain.
                                                                                                                                                              Toss pasta in sauce and gently stir though.
                                                                                                                                                              Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano or Romano sprinkled over...

                                                                                                                                                              *After using the Pomi tomatoes for a few dishes this month I'm thinking of continuing to use them.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for sharing the recipe!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                  I see that I left the dried oregano & basil hanging. Just add them when the tomatoes and S & P are added to the pot...

                                                                                                                                                          3. Beet Salad with Robiola – p. 120 - Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                            Let me start by saying I didn’t make this dish exactly as Mario envisioned it in that he calls for the use of the beet greens in the salad. Sadly, my beet greens didn’t survive the weekend’s heat so I had to move to plan B, and I used baby arugula in place. If the dish suffered because of the substitution, we didn’t realize it because we really enjoyed this yummy salad. The sweetness of the beets and beet-infused dressing of course worked beautifully with the somewhat bitter, nutty greens, but what differentiated this dish from other roast beet salads we’ve had in the past is the impact the rich creaminess of the Robiola. The cheese made this dish decadent and almost sensual with the contrasting textures.

                                                                                                                                                            Simple to prepare and a joy to eat, this dish is a winner. Beets are roasted then skinned and cut into 1” chunks and transferred to a bowl. Beet juice is reduced then stirred into Mario’s Red Wine Vinaigrette – p. 23. The dressing is added to the beets and tossed w the greens before plating, seasoning and topping w dollops of the Robiola.

                                                                                                                                                            Simply delicious.

                                                                                                                                                            1. Linguine (or spaghetti?) with Clams, page 162, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                              We made our own pasta last night, on the smaller of the two settings, so it was probably spaghetti. I'm not sure how to translate fresh from "1 pound dried linguine," but ours was definitely a smaller amount. On the other hand, unless this is meant to be a first course, the called for one pound of clams is pretty scant for the six people this is supposed to feed. We used almost two pounds for four servings, only a very few ounces of clam meat per serving.

                                                                                                                                                              Other than the amount variances, the recipe was pretty faithfully followed. Garlic is sauteed in olive oil until soft, then white wine, red pepper flakes, and clams are added. Clams are removed as they start to open. Clams and wine sauce are tossed with pasta, chopped parsley is added. The recipe calls for adding a bit of pasta water to the sauce, but I didn't think that was needed, but I might have been a bit generous when adding the wine.

                                                                                                                                                              When I make this again (and I will) I will not add quite as much pepper flakes. I will also probably saute a small mix of chiles in with the garlic. As written, it had a bit too much bite, and a bit too much of a one-note pepper taste. I had very fresh and spicy pepper flakes, so maybe one tablespoon was not the right amount, considering.

                                                                                                                                                              This is a pretty classic dish. Our clams were wonderful, as was the homemade pasta. It was easy to prepare, and definitely goes into the favorites list.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                Wow, I'm very impressed with your expert pasta-making skills LN, fantastic!! I have this recipe tabbed and appreciate your feedback on the chilies. I seem to have an especially hot batch so I'm cutting back anyway but I'll proceed w extra caution here and, like you suggest, add just a little along w the garlic then taste test. Your finished dish is beautiful!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for your kind words, Breadcrumbs! I'll be looking forward to hearing your report on this dish.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                  This is how I always make Spaghetti alla vongole - bianco, as I first had it many years ago in Positano. So many versions call for tomatoes, but I much prefer it without.

                                                                                                                                                                3. Penne with Pomodoro Crudo - p 164 - Italian Grill

                                                                                                                                                                  I've had really good tomatoes lately, so I thought about making this recipe, and kept deciding not to. Why? Well, this is a dish that I already make a lot (not necessarily with penne), and I felt that my version was better. But last night I decided, what the heck, it won't kill me to follow this recipe. So I did.

                                                                                                                                                                  The recipe is a little awkward, in that it has you bring the chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup of the (reserved) pasta water to a simmer. Well, that means you can't do that until after the pasta is cooked. And in the meantime, your pasta is sitting there getting sticky. The recipe gives no instructions about dealing with this. To avoid a problem, I preheated the pot for the tomatoes while the pasta was still cooking. My pans are heavy and take a while to come to heat, so if I hadn't done this, it would have taken a while for the tomatoes and water to simmer, and the pasta would have been just sitting there. With the pot preheated, I just threw the tomatoes and pasta water in, and they simmered very quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                  You are then supposed to season with sugar and sea salt to taste. Now, in my mind, tomatoes like the ones I have do not need sugar. But I added just a pinch anyway, just to give Batali the benefit of the doubt. At this point I also threw in a little bit of basil, because, like some others here, I have it growing like a weed out in the garden. Then you toss in the pasta, add some olive oil, and serve, with parmigiano.

                                                                                                                                                                  So this was fine. Good, really. But I still feel like my version is better. I take the trouble to peel the tomatoes - I just dunk them in the boiling water in the pasta pot before putting the pasta in. Then I chop them and put them in a bowl which I have rubbed with half a garlic clove. I add some basil, because if I have tomatoes good enough to make this, I've got basil too. When I drain the pasta, I put it and a tiny bit of the pasta water back into the same pot it cooked in, and toss in the tomatoes, and add some olive oil. No simmering necessary. This process flows better, dirties fewer pots, and yields a better result (to me) than the one in the book. So I'll be sticking with my method.

                                                                                                                                                                  Funny how with such an incredibly simple dish, little stuff matters.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                    Correction to above. That recipe was from Molto Gusto, not Italian Grill.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana – p. 145 – Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                                    Delicious! I’m going to paste a link to Gio’s review of Spaghetti alla Gricia up thread as she describes the fundamentals of how this comes together since that dish is, the building block of this one. Here’s the link:


                                                                                                                                                                    As Gio points out, once the bacon (or guanciale in my case) has browned, tomato is added. In this version of the dish Mario has you stir in some tomato paste, chili flakes and strained Pomi that have been reduced by half (a common technique in his dishes). This is removed from the heat until the pasta is cooked at which time the pasta is tossed w the sauce and some pasta water over medium heat. Instead of Italian Parsley, we topped ours w a chiffonade of basil in addition to the Parmesan.

                                                                                                                                                                    This is a surprisingly hearty dish. The guanciale and onions provide a rich foundation for the deeper flavours created w the addition of the tomatoes. The sauce is very balanced and although we expected it to taste like a tomato sauce, it did not. I’d highly recommend this one.

                                                                                                                                                                    Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I added some sliced garlic along w the onions and we appreciated this additional flavour element . . .but then, we're garlic addicts here at casa bc!!

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                      Looks especially wonderful. I really appreciate the pictures posted.

                                                                                                                                                                      I take this moment to add a recommendation of a product I use that others might try in case they can't find Pomi brand or would like to try another brand.

                                                                                                                                                                      Bionaturae makes it in puree and strained tomatoes

                                                                                                                                                                      which I use and keep on hand at all times. I like it also because it is in jars.

                                                                                                                                                                      You can review this product at Amazon. The links I put here do not stick, so I have deleted them.

                                                                                                                                                                      I find mine at several groceries that are mainstream, not Amazon prices, and reasonably priced for this product; I have been using for several years now and love it and keep about a dozen of each on hand at all times.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks Rella and that's a great tip for the tomatoes. I know some folks have been having difficulty getting the Pomi brand so that's really terrific that you've shared an alternative.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Spaghetti with black truffles, p142

                                                                                                                                                                      I came home from my truffle-hunting adventures with Trilli the golden cocker spaniel in Italy with two lovely little black summer truffles. And Mario provided the perfect recipe to highlight my precious bounty.

                                                                                                                                                                      It's so easy - while your spaghetti is cooking, melt butter in a large saute pan. When it's browned a little, and smells toasty, add your shaved truffle and immediately remove from the heat. When you pasta is al dente, drain, reserving some of the cooking water, and add to the butter and truffle mix, along with a little of the pasta water to make a nice sauce. Add grated cheese (he specifies cacio de roma, I used a 32-month aged parmesan I got in Italy) and serve.

                                                                                                                                                                      This was a deliciously simple way to use my black truffle. The recipe actually specifies canned truffle, but I imagine that's because they're easier to find. It worked perfectly with my fresh ones, and we were transported back to Le Marche for the night on a perfect British summer's evening, where we were actually able to eat outside in the garden! We were two very happy diners.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. (Fettuccine) alla Carbonara, page 144, Molto Gusto.

                                                                                                                                                                        I mentioned somewhere in this thread that I had never made carbonara. With a box of beautiful fresh farm eggs, and some excellent local bacon in the fridge I decided last night was the night. Batlali's recipe calls for pancetta, but the pancetta at our market is awful, and we had wonderful bacon on hand, so that's what I used.

                                                                                                                                                                        The recipe is online on the book's Amazon page here:

                                                                                                                                                                        It's quite simple and comes together quickly. Funny that when I decided on carbonara, I bought cream, assuming it would be called for, but in this recipe, it is not used.

                                                                                                                                                                        We used homemade fettuccine instead of the spaghetti called for. Actually, we first tried spaghetti, but it was so hot and humid in the kitchen, we couldn't get the strands to come out correctly. The dough got smooshed back together and made into fettuccine, which came out just fine.

                                                                                                                                                                        I cooked up the bacon, set it aside, and separated the eggs. Once the pasta had cooked, a bit of the pasta water was returned to the bacon pan and brought to a simmer. Then the egg whites were added and whisked "furiously" per direction. After the pasta goes back in to the pan, parmesan and pecorino are added, and it all gets pleasantly creamy.

                                                                                                                                                                        After dishing up the pasta, an egg yolk was placed in the middle of each plate, and black pepper was ground over the dish, and another bit of grated cheese was tossed on. Quick photo at that point, then the yolk is stirred into the hot pasta.

                                                                                                                                                                        Bacon and eggs for dinner: Rich and delicious!

                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting method which is a bit different to the usual. Classic carbonara doesn't have cream- doesn't need it IMHO.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                            When I looked up carbonara on EYB, many recipes called for cream (including Jamie Oliver's, Dorie Greenspan's, and Donna Hay's, among others). So without having chosen a recipe, I just put it on the list. But notice that none of the authors mentioned are Italian!