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*July 2011 COTM, BATALI II: Antipasti

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

Molto Gusto: Vegetable Antipasti; Seafood & Meat Antipasti
Italian Grill: Antipasti

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  1. Chickpeas with Leeks – p. 27 – Molto Gusto

    So simple to pull together and such a flavourful, delicious dish. This recipe calls for 1 cup of Leek Ragu, a recipe that appears on p. 93 of this book. Here’s a link to my review covering how that dish comes together:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7932...

    This dish is prepared by combining a can of chickpeas that have been rinsed and drained w the leek ragu, some EVOO, flaky sea salt and, some hot pepper flakes. We’ve made this on several occasions and can attest to the fact that this dish improves w time so is a great candidate to be made a day in advance if you’re entertaining. Lovely on it’s own or, as a topping for bruschetta.

     
     
     
    4 Replies
    1. re: Breadcrumbs

      Looking at this recipe which calls for "leek ragu" recipe on p. 93, I see that on p. 92 there is basically the same recipe for "onion ragu" using sweet onions.

      Leeks is one of my bugaboos about spending (the other is fennel) in my market. I would love to use these two vegetables all the time; and garden-growing is not an option.

      My question: Has anyone even tried - or thought of trying - this recipe using the "onion ragu" on p. 92.

      1. re: Rella

        Rella I think the onion ragu flavour would be fine. The only caution I'd have would be around the texture as I find sweet onions in particular, tend to break down very easily whereas the leeks are definitely a separate component in this dish (not mushy like onions tend to get). My first thought for a substitute that would be similar in texture and flavour to the leeks are green onions. I think they'd pair nicely w the chickpeas too. Alternatively maybe you could omit the water from the onion ragu recipe to help them retain their structure. I hope you're able to try the dish and look forward to hearing how you've made it. Enjoy!

        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          Thanks for the info. I have plenty of green onions in my garden at the present time. I'm gonna do it come next week. Thank you.

      2. re: Breadcrumbs

        Chickpeas with Leeks - Molto Gusto - p 27

        One last Batali recipe for the month. I had some leeks from the CSA, and this seemed like a simple, tasty way to cook them up. The leek ragu is just some leeks and garlic, sauteed in olive oil, then water is added and the mixture is covered and simmered until soft.

        To make the chickpeas with leeks, a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas is added to the leek ragu, tossed with some more olive oil and hot pepper flakes, and seasoned with salt to taste. The one thing I did differently than instructed was to simmer the chickpeas for a while in the leek ragu to let them soften up some more and let the flavors blend. I am not a big fan of the texture of canned chickpeas straight from the can. This was, as expected, simple, but good. It was good enough that next time, I think it would be worthwhile to cook my own chickpeas instead of using canned.

      3. Cauliflower with Olives – p. 48 – Molto Gusto

        This is one of my favourite dishes from this book and we’ve made it on several occasions. I adore the sweet caramelized flavour of the cauliflower and, how beautifully the lemon oil works w this dish.

        Despite having a few ingredients, this dish is quick and easy to pull together.

        Cauliflower is trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces then tossed w some olive oil and sea salt before being spread out on a baking sheet and broiled until slightly charred and, tender (approx 15 mins). Cauliflower is placed in a bowl along w olives, capers and red pepper flakes and lemon agrumato oil. MB notes that EVOO w grated lemon zest can be used in place of the argumato oil. I have to say, I haven’t even heard of argumato oil so I warmed EVOO and added the zest to create a flavourful oil. Prior to serving the cauliflower is seasoned to taste.

        This is a lovely dish. The lemon oil really elevates the flavours of the caramelized cauliflower and compliments the capers and olives. I could make a meal on this alone!! Happy to recommend this one.

         
         
         
        24 Replies
        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          I made this last night as a side dish and agree it was delightful. I was in a rush so didn't grill the cauliflower quite enough - it was tender but not as browned as I'd like it - but was still delicious. I also used lemon zest and olive oil as I've never heard of lemon agrumato oil either. We had it with spicy chicken sausage (a first for us as chicken sausage isn't that common here, but we have a new North African grocers) and roasted peppers and it was perfect. Am looking forward to the leftovers!

          1. re: Breadcrumbs

            Both of these look and sound fantastic. Going straight on my to make list. Thanks.

            1. re: LulusMom

              Thanks LM, they really were delicious. Actually mc bc has asked if I can make a batch of the Chickpeas w Leeks for his weekday lunches this week . . . for him to go meat free is a big deal so it's safe to say he loved these! I was sad that there wasn't any cauliflower at my farm market yesterday because I've been craving that dish as well!

            2. re: Breadcrumbs

              Made this one last night and it is definitely a keeper. I did discover some extra-virgin olive oil with lemon flavoring in my pantry that my daughter had given me, so used that--it wasn't specifically labeled "agrumato oil" so perhaps it wasn't the real thing. Anyway, I wished there had been more lemon flavor so next time I think I'll try the lemon zest-EVOO mixture that Breadcrumbs used.

              I did have salt-packed capers but did not have the foresight to soak them overnight. So I just soaked them in several changes of water for two hours and to my uneducated taste-buds, they weren't too salty at all.

              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                Cauliflower with Olives

                Now that I've done a little googling of agrumato oil, I definitely want to get some. As opposed to being infused with lemon, it is made by milling the olives and lemons together. But I went the lemon zest in olive oil route for the time being. I warmed them together a bit earlier in the day, then let the flavors mingle. I made a larger amount than required, and also used it in the main course.

                Breadcrumbs nicely describes the preparation of this dish above. I did not soak my salted capers overnight, as I hadn't planned this dish that far in advance. I normally just rinse the salt off under running water. This time I did let them soak for a bit, but apparently not long enough to taste a difference from the rinsing method.

                Anyway, we loved this dish! I liked the char that broiling brings to the cauliflower, and all the ingredients work well together. This dish would also work well as a tapa in a Spanish themed menu.

                 
                1. re: L.Nightshade

                  Another beautiful dish LN and you've now convinced me that I need to get on an Agrumato oil mission . . . that sounds wonderful! I wonder if it has a "bright" taste. I purchased a lemon oil once and all I could think of was furniture polish, somehow the flavour was deep but lacking the brightness of lemon. I ended up tossing it out.

                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                    Too funny, I didn't even think of that. Would not want my dishes tasting like my furniture polish!

                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                      Chicken a la Pledge? Pine Sol de Poulet?

                      Nope.... not for me!

                      1. re: smtucker

                        Very funny smtucker!! You're right though, it just wasn't pleasant!!

                    2. re: Breadcrumbs

                      Our little town, where one cannot buy a duck breast, fresh lamb, or buffalo mozzarella, and where all of our favourite restaurants have gone out of business, and left us with student hangouts with blaring tvs, now has a shop called Drizzle, which sells all types of olive oil and infused balsamics. I used the agrumato (yes, lemons were actually pressed with the olives to give it the flavor, it's not an infusion) in my second attempt at this cauliflower-olive dish. Sampled the blood orange agrumato, but preferred the lemon for this recipe Not even a whiff of furniture oil around the plate. Delicious with the cauliflower.

                      A night earlier, I mixed agrumato with fig balsamic, drizzled it over a Spanish blue cheese/roasted garlic flan, cuddled with figs and flowery greens.

                      I'm going to be a regular at this new-hard-to-find-little shop. Never saw myself as a big vinegar fan, but I'd like a shot glass of some of these versions, please. Mmmmmm.

                      Here's a peek at the flan if you are interested: http://www.chow.com/photos/663241

                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                        How wonderful for you! I just reorganized my kitchen and pantry and was shocked by the number of vinegars I have. And I need to own all of them. Welcome to the club.

                        1. re: smtucker

                          Thanks for the welcome! I can see I am going to have to start delegating more space. The fig balsamic is bottle number 10. I had no idea. And now, more to come!

                        2. re: L.Nightshade

                          Clicking on your name, I see you are from Bellingham, WA. In the 70's I looked to buy a house there. I see from your email it must've not have changed too much over the years. At the time, I thought, "Well, we're not far from Vancouver, B.C." Are you ever able to shop in B.C. to stock up? I see from your photos that you are able to make wonderful dishes of food in spite of the lack of readily available ingredients. I face that problem here, about 50 miles as the crow flies to enormous food ingredient possibilities. But it seems to be getting somewhat better with "Giant" stocking their stores. They have run out across the street Kroger and Food Lion which were across the street.

                          1. re: Rella

                            LNightshade,

                            I buy the bulk of my oil and vinegar from a "club" that ships out of southern california. They deliver 1 bottle of vinegar and oil each quarter, along with some other yummy thing. Thet produce all their oils and vingears themselves and everything I have tasted from their shop is wonderful. Let me know if you would like me to post their link.

                            1. re: dkennedy

                              dkennedy - Thanks for that info, I think I saw you mention your club in another post, and I was interested in it. But since this new oil and vinegar shop opened downtown, I want to give them all my business. I really hope they are able to keep going!

                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                Sometimes I buy stuff I don't need immediately just to ensure that a shop is still there the next time I need something.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  That's actually a good idea. I'm also thinking of shopping there for a backup supply of hostess/housewarming/etc gifts.

                              2. re: dkennedy

                                DKennedy, would you mind posting that link? I also remember seeing it but con't remember where!

                                1. re: Goblin

                                  Of course!

                                  http://www.globalgardensonline.com/club/

                                  if you do end up joining, please give them my name and also drop me a note (here) because they give members a $5.00 gift card when new members join! Enjoy.

                                  The last shipment included a peach cinnamon vinegar and the one before that was passion fruit vinegar. Yum! You will also want to order a bag of their not-to -be missed trail mix. It is expensive but addictively good. Note that they offer free shipping to members so you can order more between shipments as needed.

                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                    dkennedy, I joined and gave your name. I think the gift card is now $10!

                                    1. re: Goblin

                                      Goblin,

                                      Thanks for letting me know! I hope you enjoy your shipments as much as I do. BTW, their walnut oil and truffle oil are also wonderful.

                              3. re: Rella

                                Rella - We do go over to Van on occasion. But traffic has gotten so bad, and the border so unpredictable, even with nexus. We don't just bop over for short trips anymore. But I do stock up if we're going for the weekend. We had a market a mile from my house that was pretty good for some ingredients, although still not the obscure ones. They've been bought out by a big corp. and everything is slowly dumbing down. Very sad to see.

                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                  I had to google Bellingham, WA to find out where it is. I love the fact that it's in Whatcom County, which I kept misreading as Whatnot County! If we ever do our road trip to Vancouver from SF, we'll have to drop in.

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    Absolutely drop in! There is hardly a decent restaurant left here, so you'll have to let us cook for you.
                                    I like Whatnot County. The county shares its name with a big lake here. When we first came Mr NS kept calling it Lake Whatnot or Lake Dotcom.

                      2. p. 30 – Italian Grill - Asparagus Wrapped In Pancetta with Citronette

                        I’ve made similar versions of this in the past however they’ve called for prosciutto so I was keen to try this Pancetta version. So happy I did as we loved this dish. The fattiness of the pancetta adds a richness to the dish which is perfectly balanced by the delicious, tangy Citronette Sauce. Loved the sweetness of the caramelization on the asparagus as well. Simply prepared by wrapping asparagus stalks in the prosciutto. The colder your meat the better here I think as you can press and hold it in place as you go. I did this step in advance and refrigerated until it was time to grill. The Citronette is made by whisking together orange juice, mustard and olive oil then seasoning to taste. I had some extra lemon juice on hand so I did a 50/50 blend. The plated dish is topped w some zest as well. Wonderful, we served this as a side dish however it would also be excellent as part of an antipasti spread.

                         
                         
                         
                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                          Asparagus Wrapped In Pancetta with Citronette p. 30 Italian Grill

                          This will likely be the last week of fresh asparagus this season, so this recipe seemed like a must. We've made something similar, but used guanciale instead of pancetta. BC gives good advice when she says the colder the meat the better -it makes it much easier to work with. Delicious results with minimal effort. We'll definitely make this again.

                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                            p. 30 – Italian Grill - Asparagus Wrapped In Pancetta with Citronette

                            We had leftover asparagus from our salmon in cartouche, so tried this dish.
                            We loved this, only there was one giant departure from the recipe. We erroneously used prosciutto instead of pancetta. Due to sleep deprivation, I suppose. I looked at the photo and thought, oh, prosciutto, I have that. It wasn't until I was reading the footnotes or something that I realized I was supposed to use pancetta. Oh well. We enjoyed it anyway. We'll try it with pancetta next time.

                            ~TDQ

                             
                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Not to worry, TDQ. It's classic with prosciutto.

                              1. re: Gio

                                You know, I thought the recipe was a little pedestrian, even with the lovely cirtrus, somewhat beneath Batali, until I realized he called for pancetta... Then it all made sense!

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  I looked here at chowhound or a discussion on the differences between prosciutto and pancetta. I wonder if this would be a "definitive" answer, as to their interchangeability. Or is there such a nuance to the taste, that 'it does matter."

                                  http://womansday.ninemsn.com.au/food/...

                                  "Pancetta is an Italian cured meat made from the belly of pork, salted and lightly spiced, but not smoked. Prosciutto is an Italian-style raw ham, a specialty of Parma, salt cured and air dried. It is usually cut into tissue thin slices as it has an intense flavour and deep pink colour. They can be used in place of each other."

                                  1. re: Rella

                                    I don't really find them interchangeable to be honest. They each have a distinctive taste, and the fat content [and flavor] is just different. I am coming to the realization that I am actually not crazy about Prosciutto. Something in my taste buds has changed and I get a real bitter taste in my mouth from this meat. Sad really.

                                    1. re: smtucker

                                      And then there's Prosciutto di San Daniele. Also, Prosciutto di Carpegna from the Marche, Prosciutto Toscano, Prosciutto di Padova and Prosciutto Veneto Berico-Eugeneo from Venito and Prosciutto di Norcia in Umbria.

                                      Here's a link:
                                      http://www.altacucinasociety.com/prod...

                                      1. re: Gio

                                        Wow, seems as complex as winemaking. This is the kind of fascinating information that I like to read, but unfortunately can't really incorporate into my lifestyle. Food "footnotes" to my life, I suppose. Not complaining, just observing.

                                      2. re: smtucker

                                        I never really knew there was that much difference beween the two until I made a similar recipe from Jamie Oliver: asparagus bundles wrapped up in pancetta and broiled. The first time I made it, by mistake with prosciutto, the texture of the meat was rather oily and not fully cooked through by the time my ( admittedly slim ) asparagus spears were al dente. The second time I correctly used pancetta and it was much more satisfactory. The pancetta cooked through more quickly, more in keeping with the asparagus-timing.
                                        So maybe sometimes they can be interchangeable, and sometimes not!

                            2. p. 49 - Lentils with Pancetta - Molto Gusto

                              This was a great little meal to throw together for a small lunch. Add lentils, carrot, onion, celery, dijon mustard, pancetta (I used bacon because I didn't have pancetta and needed to use up my bacon) and water to a pot and simmer until the lentils are tender. Then you discard the vegetables and chop up the meat to toss back into the lentils, which you then put olive oil and salt and pepper on. The quick broth to cook the lentils in is very simple, yet adds plenty of flavor to the final dish. I did add some chopped parsley because it looked like it needed some color, and this added a nice note of freshness. It even looks like Batali did this in his picture of the recipe, he just didn't write it in. If you need something easy to go along with a meal, this is perfect.

                              1. Mussels with Peperonata – p. 74 – Molto Gusto

                                Mussels, sweet peppers and chilies combined in a flavourful tomato sauce produce a fresh-tasting dish that can be served warm or, at room temperature. This was my first time making this recipe and I’m pleased to say it was well received by our guests. mr bc isn’t a big fan of mussels so I take every opportunity I can to serve them when we have company!

                                This recipe calls for ½ cup of olive oil which seemed excessive and unnecessary given the other liquids in the dish. I reduced the quantity by half with no ill effects. Prep is straightforward though a few pots/pans are called for. The recipe calls for Pomi strained tomatoes to be simmered and reduced by half so I got that started right away so it could simmer while I prepped the other ingredients. Oil is heated in a sauté pan prior to adding garlic, which is cooked until softened. Chopped bell peppers and sliced chilies are added and cooked until soft. MB calls for red and green peppers. Since my red pepper was fairly large, I chose not to use the green pepper. Note that green peppers are not visible in the book’s photo of this dish on p. 68. I also noted that despite the fact that the recipe calls for chilies to be thinly sliced, the chili in the photo is a large piece. Once peppers are cooked, pan is removed from heat and set aside.

                                Remaining oil is heated in a large pot and remaining garlic is added and cooked until softened. Wine and mussels are then added, the pot is covered and left to simmer until the mussels are cooked. This took 5 mins in my case. Though MB has you cover the pan, the next note in the instructions is to “remove the mussels as they open”…huh?! I disregarded that comment. Once the mussels are done, you drain the mussels and separate the broth which is then returned to the heat where the tomatoes and peppers are then added and brought to a simmer.

                                The intent is that the mussels are then tossed in the sauce and served warm or, at room temp. I elected to plate the mussels in individual serving dishes and pour sauce over top.

                                We served this at room temp and it was very tasty.