HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


*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

The Chowhound Team has asked me to remind you that verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  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:


    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


                            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!


                                  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


                                      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.


                            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!


                                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."


                                  "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:

                                      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.

                                1. Preserved Tuna - page 73 - Molto Gusto

                                  The recipe calls for a pound of tuna, far too much for us, so I bought 1/3 pound sashimi grade tuna from my local Korean store. The picture has the tuna in strips, but the recipe says 1" cubes. I think the strips are prettier, so that it was I did.

                                  Mix together fennel seeds, celery seeds, salt and sugar and rub the sliced tuna with the mixture and let rest for 20 minutes. Then place in a baking dish, cover with oil and cook in a 250º degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool in the oil.

                                  To serve, drain the oil and drizzle lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley.

                                  This was really good and very flavorful. The fennel with tuna was a surprise, and I really liked it. There is some leftover, so we will enjoy this a second time.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    Another great sounding dish. My mouth is watering. Do you get the feeling the leftovers will last a while? How cooked did it end up being? And could one serve it as the main, along with some of these other incredible sounding starters as sides?

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      I am not sure if I would serve tuna this way as a main. The flavor is very strong and you might get overwhelmed/tired of it when serving a normal 4oz-8oz portion. He has some other tuna recipes later in the book. But this Japanese cut of our tuna did not lend itself to sear-methods of preparation.

                                      Oil poaching is traditionally a preservation method, so I anticipate that as long as the tuna stays submerged in the oil, it will last for at least some time. However, it won't make it past lunch today. :-)

                                      1. re: smtucker

                                        Thanks smt, everything you said against it as a main makes total sense.

                                    2. re: smtucker

                                      This sounds sensational and the cooking method will be new to me for fish. Thanks for pointing this out smtucker, I can't wait to try it! Did you serve it cold or, at room temp?

                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                        It was room temperature, which was perfect given that the meal was all antipasti. The only hot items on the table were the "fried" zucchini blossoms which have to be eaten immediately.

                                        1. re: smtucker

                                          Perfect smtucker, thanks...that's how I'd like to serve it as well. We LOVE fried zucchini blossoms! We actually planted zucchini for the first time this year just for the blossoms!! Sounds like you had a lovely meal.

                                    3. Ceci - pg 92 - Molto Gusto

                                      This is a simple dish that was very easy to make, and we enjoyed. In the future, I might add some roasted garlic or a splash of lemon juice to up the flavor quotient.

                                      Sautee thinly sliced red onions with red pepper flakes in some olive oil. Drain canned chickpeas. After the onions are softened, add the beans and reduce the heat. Cook for 5 minutes.

                                      Since I wanted to spread on bread, I threw the mixture into the blender. Food processor would be a better choice. I had to add about 3 tbl of water to get the machine to cream. Love having these as leftovers.

                                      1. Fresh Fava Beans w Ricotta Salata – p. 24 – Molto Gusto

                                        When we arrived at the farmer’s market yesterday I was greeted by one of my favourite vendors who was happily munching away of fresh favas, right out of the pod. She said they were the last item they picked before heading to the market and, after one bite of these lovely, nutty-sweet beauties, I bought her final 3 baskets.

                                        I was excited to find this recipe that called for fresh favas. Unfortunately I didn’t have any Ricotta Salata in the fridge so we used Parmesan instead in this tasty dish that truly allows the freshness of the beans to shine.

                                        Prep couldn’t be easier. Beans a shucked and rinsed. In my case a par boil wasn’t necessary as the outer skin was super-tender . . . what a treat for these otherwise fussy beans! No peeling necessary, right into the bowl they went where they were dressed w a Lemon Vinaigrette made by whisking EVOO, lemon juice and lemon zest (unless you happen to have some of the lemon marmellata on hand that MB evidently carries in his store in NYC). Beans are tossed w the dressing, seasoned w S&P and topped w grated cheese. So simple but so delicious. The final dish far greater than the sum of its parts. I could easily have made a meal out of these alone. Happy to recommend this one.

                                        Served this as part of an antipasti course along w a plate of roasted veggies served over some wilted baby beet greens.

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                          Nice report! I have the ricotta salata AND the fava beans AND the lemon marmalade. It was on tonight's menu except it is to darn hot and humid tonight, so I dumped the two cooked veggie dishes and only made a salad and pasta.

                                          Can't wait to try this tomorrow.

                                          1. re: smtucker

                                            Fresh Fava Beans w Ricotta Salata – p. 24 – Molto Gusto

                                            Won't repeat Breadcrumbs well executed synopsis, but my beans were not as tender so I blanched them for 30 seconds and peeled those little suckers.

                                            Toss in the vinaigrette just before serving, and add some cheese. I used some Meyer lemon marmalade that I made over the winter.

                                            These were so surprising. Light, fresh and really delicious! I used less vinaigrette and less cheese than Batali. I wanted to taste the beans.

                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                            I'm drooling. That was high on my to-try list . Wish I could find the kind of favas you did, but I don't think that's going to happen.

                                            1. re: JoanN

                                              smtucker, thanks and I'm looking forward to hearing how you like it. I'm betting it will be delicious w the Ricotta Salata.

                                              Joan, thanks so much and I hope you're able to find them. If you love favas, I'm sure you'd love this dish.

                                            2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                              Fresh Fava Beans with Ricotta Salata--page 24 Molto Gusto.

                                              I made this recipe this week also--I got four pounds of fava beans in my CSA box last week! Peeling them was a bit of a pain, but the end result was well worth it. So light and refreshing. I was hoping for more beans in this week's box but no luck. If you have access to fresh favas definitely make this recipe!

                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                Fresh Fava Beans with Ricotta Salata (page 24)

                                                After all the raves for this recipe, I just had to try it while I could still get fresh favas. I made it more or less as directed, taking a tip from smtucker and using homemade Meyer lemon marmalade, but also adding a bit of lemon zest for good measure. The recipe calls for the cheese to be grated; in the photo, it’s obviously shaved. It’s also obvious, looking at the proportions in the photo, that far less than the three ounces called for in the recipe was used. I shaved, thinking it might emphasize the cheese (not at all sure it did) and used probably little more than an ounce.

                                                As everyone has said, it’s light and fresh. But I far prefer the pairing of favas with Manchego or even pecorino (both also sheep’s milk cheeses) and didn’t think this held a candle to Zuni’s Salami with Raw Favas, Mint & Manchego. But then, that recipe is on my all-time greatest hits list, so perhaps it’s not fair to compare.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Glad you enjoyed it Joan, yours looks delicious too. We quite enjoyed the tang of the Parmesan w the salad and I even added more when we had the leftovers.

                                                  Thanks for pointing out the Zuni recipe. If I'm able to get any more favas at the market, I'll definitely give it a try. I arrived too late yesterday and the little they did have were gone.

                                                2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                  Breadcrumbs, smtucker, liamsaunt, and JoanN - all of your photos are just lovely. That summery green color really pops with that white cheese. Thanks for all your write-ups. I've had my eye on this one, but haven't found any favas yet, so I'm envious!

                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                    Oh I do hope you'll be able to find some at your local farmer's market LN, this is too good to miss in my view and thanks to Joan, we have another fresh fava dish to try as well!!

                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                      Favas, or broad beans as they're called here, are in my farmer's market at the moment. Must get some so I can try this. I love broad beans.

                                                      Breadcrumbs - there's a fantastic broad bean, radish and preserved lemon recipe in Ottolenghi: The Cookbook, which you should try. It's my favourite broad bean recipe.

                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                        Thanks so much greedygirl! I pulled my cookbook and that dish sounds fantastic, I really appreciate your pointing it out.

                                                        I hope you enjoy this dish!

                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          Now I understand why you are so prolific, you stay up all night reading cookbooks and planning dishes!

                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                            Too funny LN!! Actually, I'm such a morning person! I especially love that "quiet time" when no one else is up and I can putter around in the kitchen or garden. During the summer, it's not at all unusual that I get up between 4 & 5am. Our old neighbour's daughter used to get a kick when she'd come home from her "clubbing" to find me in the garage w my coffee potting plants or doing some such thing!!

                                                            Oh, and btw. . . what are YOU doing up? Don't tell me you haven't gone to bed yet!! LOL!

                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                              I get to be my true night-owl self when Mr. NS is out of town. You are right, it is great to be able to get things done, when everyone else is asleep, whether it is done by getting up early or staying up late. I did cooking experiments and cookbook rearranging into the wee hours last night!

                                                              1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                I'm a horrible insomniac. When I lived alone, I'd get up and bake a cake to take to work. No matter how tired I was, I was feeling the love from my co-workers. Can't really do that these days ... But I get up around 5 anyway.

                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                  I remember those days of living alone; I used to paint, play music, and work on projects during the night. Seems like I used to get a lot done during those hours. Now, it's kindle or a cookbook and a booklight!

                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                          Just made myself an individual serving of the Fava Beans with Ricotta. What a treat! This will definitely go on my short list of lunches for just me. My family does not like favas so I seldom get to include them in our meals, but I think I may try to sneak this recipe past the radar.

                                                          We will be having the Beets with Pistachios tonight for dinner (page 62) served alongside the Beet Green Salad (page 129) and a lentil dish.

                                                    2. Roasted Peppers (piquillo peppers) with Capers - Molto Gusto, p. 36

                                                      A note at the end of the recipe says that the vinaigrette is also good with jarred roasted piquillo peppers, which I like a lot, so I used them, cut in strips. Garlic is cut in thick slivers and cooked in olive oil until golden, and the oil and garlic are whisked into balsamic vinegar and capers and seasoned with salt and red pepper flakes. This is poured over the peppers. I made half the amount of vinaigrette for one jar of piquillo peppers, and it was more than enough; I ended up lifting the peppers, capers. and garlic out of the excess liquid to serve. I don't have any salt-packed capers (which you are meant to soak overnight), so I used drained brined capers.

                                                      This is obviously a basic combination but is very tasty, and I enjoyed it with the sweet and slightly spicy piquillos.

                                                      17 Replies
                                                      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                        Having looked everywhere for piquillo peppers, which I assume is the Spanish peppers of Spain
                                                        I have never found them except online at an exorbitant price. Have you found them on shelves in a store?
                                                        I have always thought I'd substitute the Costco red peppers from Peru in a receipe that called for pequilllo peppers, but hesitated at the last minute.
                                                        Do you have any advice for me?

                                                        1. re: Rella

                                                          Rella, I've used regular jarred roasted red peppers as a substitute for the piquillas in the past. i've never seen them in my area either...

                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                            If you ever really want them, Capones in Union Square carries them. They are imported from Spain and very tasty. Only bought them once for a special dinner, but I don't remember that they were over-the-top expensive; just imported food expensive.

                                                            1. re: smtucker

                                                              I'd certainly buy some (not online) if I saw them just to compare the tastes, since I've read so much about them.

                                                              I'm wondering if you recall any particular difference that you can put into words --

                                                              Thanks for replies, Gio and smtucker.

                                                              1. re: Rella

                                                                I have been fortunate to find them on a fairly regular basis at our HomeSense stores (this is a TJX store I believe branded as HomeGoods in the US). Perhaps you could give HomeGoods a try and see if they carry them. Most recently the brand name for the ones I found is Coquet Gourmet imported from Spain and packed in water. They come in a 9.5oz jar and were only $3.99. They have carried other brands as well.

                                                                I make a sweet potato stuffed Piquillo tapas dish regularly enough that I like to have then on hand at all times. I did share the recipe w a friend of mine who lived in California at the time (a few years ago now) and I recall her telling me she was able to find them at Trader Joe's however I don't think they were imported from Spain. . . somewhere in Latin America if I remember correctly. Not sure if they still carry them.

                                                              2. re: smtucker

                                                                You know, I've never stopped at Capone's even though my daughter lived quite near there for a time. Now I have an incentive. Would you say it's wheelchair accessible?

                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                  There is a reserved handicap parking space on the corner of Walnut, but no cut out to get back to the other side. [someone wasn't thinking]. There are also quite a few spaces on Capone's side of the street and they have quick turnover. Right before his store, there is a hydrant, so you could do a drop off there if none of the spaces are open.

                                                                  There are no stairs into the shop. The only thing I am unsure of is how wide the door is. I think it is a very standard glass door for a commercial space. The store itself is one aisle with product down one side and the freezer and fridge cases down the other. This is clearly wide enough, though you might have to do a three-point turn to reverse direction.

                                                                  For you, I would go down with a tape measure. Just say the word!

                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                    You really are a super cyber friend I must say. I'll probably just send G in with a detailed list and have him do all the asking and shopping A Million thanks for your offer...

                                                                    1. re: Gio

                                                                      If you like ricotta, Al makes a ricotta that is worth every calorie. you can buy it by weight or pint/half pint, etc. His Dad was the Haymarket cheese guy until the 90's, so his selection of cheeses in general is really good, and well-priced. Sometimes he has some really terrific salamis. Bulk olives are a favorite of mine, plus of course the grocery items.

                                                                      As much as I love this shop, I am not crazy about their fresh pasta. A little too thick and clunky for my tastes, but the frozen empanadas are terrific!

                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                        I'm making a list as I type... Thanks!

                                                              3. re: Gio

                                                                Trader Joe's has jars of piquillos for $2.99, best price I've seen, but my local market also has a couple of brands, from Spain, Portugal, or Peru variously.

                                                                As for the difference from sweet bell peppers, piquillos are a longer, thinner shape with pointy ends and when roasted, are sweet but also have a zesty, slightly spicy flavor - not spicy like chiles, just a little extra dimension. The jarred ones are also a bit firmer in texture than regular jarred roasted pepper, which is nice. I've become quite partial to them lately.

                                                                Luckily, this recipe actually calls for roasting your own bell peppers, and I made a suggested sub.

                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  Thanks for the heads-up about TJ's havin piquillos. I have looked many times in the past at TJ's and not seen them.

                                                                  But, since TJ's has not served me well for my food shopping needs, I haven't shopped there in the past couple of years. Maybe it's time to look again when I get a chance to go to the "big city," which is anywhere else but where I reside. :-))

                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                    Many thanks for the info about TJ's, Caitlin. There's one about 2 miles from where I live and is one of our Saturday stops!

                                                                2. re: Rella

                                                                  Here in the northwest, I found them in a jar on a supermarket shelf. An ordinary, not very comprehensive supermarket. They are smaller and firmer than the regular roasted red peppers I find in a jar, better for stuffing, and for picking up with one's hands. I used them in this recipe, where you can see a photo of them. I'd say keep trying supermarkets and delis, as I was able to find them in a very non-international area!

                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                    Beautiful photos depicting exactly what I am looking for. I am always looking. I never give up! :-))

                                                                    1. re: Rella

                                                                      Thank you for your kind comment, Rella. Good luck in your search!

                                                                3. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                  Made this with home roasted pepper, didn't have caper berries, so skipped those, did have salted capers, so used those. Yum! I really liked this dish, a hands down winner.

                                                                4. Hot & Cold Summer Squash - Molto Gusto, p. 37

                                                                  I made a half recipe. Zucchini are sliced in rounds and sautéed in olive oil with garlic (and minced tender parsley stems, but the stems of my parsley weren't very tender so I skipped them) until tender. Orange zest and red pepper flakes are stirred in, all is removed to a bowl, and the process is repeated (if you are making a full recipe). Strained tomatoes that have been reduced by half are stirred in, and it rests at least 10 minutes and up to an hour before serving. I added minced parsley leaves at the end in service of adding parsley flavor despite no stems.

                                                                  Another nice dish, either warm or room temp. I liked the orange zest here, combined with the zucchini and tomato. There is just enough tomato to coat the zucchini, so it's not saucy and the reduction gives it a nice, concentrated flavor.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                    I had the rest of the Hot & Cold Summer Squash today and really like what a sit overnight did - made the spice of the red pepper flakes and the flavor of the orange zest more pronounced, both welcome developments.

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      Mae this tonight, and I have to say, it's one of my favorites so far from the antipasti section of Molto Gusto. Even though mine didn't sit for very long (2 hours) it was full of flavor: the orange zest adds a lovely note. I served it slightly warmed, after letting it sit for a few hours, and it was great. I also didn't have enough to make 1/4 cup tender stems of parsley as specified in the recipe so I chopped up leaves AND stems and I thought there was a very pleasant, fresh herbal taste from them.

                                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                                        I made this last night and I have to say I didn't care for it that much. Maybe I put too much in but I thought the orange zest flavour dominated. Perhaps I added too much as I microplaned it directly into the dish - but more likely I'm just not that keen on orange zest.

                                                                  2. White Beans - Molto Gusto, p. 50

                                                                    A simple and nice staple recipe to use as antipasto, throw on a bed of greens, for topping bruschetta, etc.

                                                                    Dried cannelini are soaked overnight, then simmered until tender with smashed garlic cloves, a halved carrot, halved celery rib, halved red onion, and various fresh herbs. He calls for a bay leaf, preferably fresh, and sprig each of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme; I used two fresh bay laurel leaves, plus parsley and thyme. He also calls for cooking the beans in the soaking water plus more, but I drained them and cooked in fresh water. The vegetables are set aside to cool a bit and all is drained, then the vegetables are chopped in 1/4-inch pieces and added to the beans, which are dressed with a bit of soaking liquid, some olive oil, salt and pepper, and minced thyme leaves.

                                                                    My beans took a bit longer to soften, so I lifted out the vegetables after about 40 minutes and they were very tender, but not mushy at all. After tasting, I added a small splash of red wine vinegar.

                                                                    1. Fresh Robiola Wrapped in Mortadella p. 34 Italian Grill

                                                                      Robiola and a basil leaf are placed on a slice of mortadella and then folded into a little packet and secured with a toothpick. Grill 2 minutes a side and serve with a lightly dressed salad of bittergreens. This was a delicious little antipasto. Grilling not only melts the cheese, but also adds a little char and texture to the dish. I didn't have dandelion greens, so I used mizuna from my garden. Next time I will make this with the dandelion greens, because I think the bitterness of the greens would better compliment the rich, cheesy mortadella packet

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: BigSal

                                                                        Fresh Robiola Wrapped in Mortadella – p. 34 – Italian Grill

                                                                        “Perfect, best antipasti ever” is how mr bc described this dish! While I may not have gone as far as mr bc, I have to say these incredibly tasty, unique little bundles were a huge hit with all our guests and I’ll happily make them again.

                                                                        Big Sal did a terrific job of describing how this all comes together. After 3 stops at grocers and markets I gave up on trying to find Robiola and opted for a substitute that’s attributed to Lydia Bastianich online. I mixed fresh ricotta w some mascarpone and of course, at that point, I knew we were going to enjoy this little (calories-be-damned) indulgence! Since some descriptions I’d read of Robiola described it as having a “tang” I also used my microplane to grate in some Parmesan as well.

                                                                        Though the recipe’s instructions have you roll these up burrito-style, I’d note that once again, Beatriz Da Costa’s photo in the book has these assembled more like “envelopes” than rolls. Why she can’t depict the dishes as written is beyond me!
                                                                        Having never worked w Robiola before I can’t attest to its density however my cheese mixture was very soft and the burrito-style assembly seemed to make perfect sense to ensure the mixture stayed securely inside the Mortadella. I’d also suggest that it makes sense to place the cheese mixture slightly off centre and commence rolling from that side as the Mortadella is quite thin and doesn’t easily tuck under the cheese mixture.

                                                                        Since these were the only items to go on the grill last night, we didn’t bother firing up the charcoal and instead opted to use the gas grill (woefully in need of retirement!). mr bc felt he could achieve a better “char” on the charcoal grill though and said he’d use that next time as everyone agreed, those “charred bits” were absolutely scrumptious!!

                                                                        We served this with some baby arugula tossed in a light dressing of balsamic vinaigrette (vs the red wine vinaigrette MB suggests). As Big Sal points out, the slight bitterness of the greens and, the subtle acidity of the vinegar contrast beautifully w the richness of the meat and cheese. The basil leaf infused the cheese with its flavour and offered a nice textural element to these yummy little bundles.

                                                                        Happy to recommend this dish to one and all, a real treat!

                                                                      2. Green Beans with Charred Onions - pg 34 - Molto Gusto

                                                                        Another easy to prepare dish. Blanch green beans for 3-5 minutes in salted water, drain and chill with running water. Slice a vidalia onion into 1/2 inch slices and place into a dry 12-inch sauté pan. Cook until they are charred. Towards the end, toss in the beans just to warm through. Empty into a bowl, and toss with balsamic vinegar, orange juice, and olive oil. Let sit for 10 minutes, up to an hour.

                                                                        I confess that I don't really care for Vidalia onions. I find them too sweet. But I married a Georgia boy so I try to serve them once a year. Here we have a winner! Wow. The balsamic vinegar counteracts the cloying sweetness of the onions. This was really terrific, and has the extra bonus of being great at room temperature.

                                                                        In the future, if we are grilling another portion of the meal, I would actually grill the onions. Be easier on my pans, and heat the kitchen less. This one will get made again.

                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                        1. re: smtucker

                                                                          No Vidalia onions in my neck of the woods. Would red onions be a good substitute?

                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                            I think that cipollini or Spanish onions would be a better match. Both have that sweet component, along with just all around good flavor.

                                                                          2. re: smtucker

                                                                            Green Beans with Charred Onions--P. 34, Molto Gusto

                                                                            SMTucker's review is very complete and I agree with her that this recipe is savory and worth making. I love summer sides like this that can be served at room temperature.

                                                                            My only minor change to the recipe was this: after I had charred the onion slices in a heavy stainless steel skillet, a lot of flavorful-looking dry "fond" (don't know what else to call it) remained in the bottom of the pan--not burned, but dark brown in color. When I re-warmed the beans the pan heated up again and I then deglazed it with the basalmic vinegar-orange juice-EVOO mixture, scraping up the onion-fond and pouring it all over the beans and onions. I think it added even more flavor.

                                                                            I made this with three other vegetable sides from Molto Gusto as part of a buffet supper and I was agreeably surprised by how easy and fun it was to make his recipes--as well as how good they tasted and how attractive they looked (The other recipes I made I will review later in this thread.)

                                                                            1. re: Goblin

                                                                              Thanks to SMT and you, Goblin, this recipe is going on my to make list. Both reditions look very nice indeed. G & I both like Vidalia's but the chipollini is worth considering too. The farm we'll shop at this coming Sat. usually has chipollini so I'll have to decide when I get there.

                                                                              1. re: Goblin

                                                                                Green Beans with Charred Onions--P. 34, Molto Gusto; Round 2

                                                                                Thanks Goblin. This dish was even better tonight when I used your deglazing idea. I also used freshly squeezed orange juice which brought a nice brightness. The eating partner has requested this again!

                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                  Made this tonight, and thought it was ok, but just ok. Mr. QN, however, really liked this a lot, especially the onions. Using the info above I did de-glaze, and used fresh orange juice, it all worked just fine, but for me this ia a little too sweet a flavor for a side dish especially for beans, if you like your green beans a tad sweet, though, it should be a winner.

                                                                                  1. re: qianning

                                                                                    Interesting. I didn't find this sweet at all, and I really hate sweet savory dishes. Perhaps we used a different sourced balsamic? Some balsamic vinegars are quite sweet.

                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                      could have been the vinegar, but my hunch is that it was the very sweet orange juice (fresh) + very sweet onions that put it over the top for me, mostly its just that for me green beans and sweet flavors aren't so compatible (never much like bean salads that have any sweet component for example), where as I know lots of folks like that pairing, certainly Mr. QN liked this dish a lot more than I did.

                                                                              2. re: smtucker

                                                                                I made the Green Beans with Charred Onions last night, and really enjoyed them. I do love the sweetness of caramelized onions, etc., so the charred sweet onions work for me. I used fresh-squeezed OJ and Walla Walla onions, and deglazed the pan with the dressing.

                                                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                                                  Green Beans with Charred Onions, Pg. 34, Molto Gusto

                                                                                  Cooked these last night as a side to a cold lobster dish and a riff of the grilled potatoes with Chianti vinegar. Initially I thought the vinaigrette was going to be too acetic with orange juice combined with the balsamico, but that was not the case. I used 2 medium Vidalias, green beans from our farmers' market and orange juice from TJ's. Even after reading all the previous threads I forgot to deglaze the pan. I liked the dish well enough but G loved it and scoffed up every last bit... It went well with the other components of the meal.

                                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                                    I really enjoyed this. The leftovers taste even better than the original, and are good at room temperature, so they were great in my lunch.

                                                                                    I cooked the green beans a bit longer than Mario suggested, because I don't like them to be too crisp. Since I don't have a kitchen scale, I just had to guess how many green beans constituted a pound.

                                                                                    Instead of two medium Vidalia onions I used one large Walla Walla onion. My gas stove tends to run hot, so I originally set the heat more toward "medium" than "high." However, the onions weren't charring all that much, so I had to crank the heat up to a true "medium high," which is what the recipe recommended.

                                                                                    I bought some Maldon sea salt for the first time, especially to try with this recipe. I have to say I prefer regular salt. The huge Maldon flakes interfered with my usual goal of heavy, even salt coverage. Maybe I just need time to get used to it.

                                                                                  2. Cherry Tomatoes with Creme Fraiche & Chives--p. 35--Molto Gusto

                                                                                    Prep couldn't be simpler: 12 ounces of cherry tomatoes are tossed with sherry vinegar and flaky sea salt and marinated for 10 minutes in a serving dish; meanwhile a topping of creme fraiche and olive oil is whisked together. This is dotted on top of the tomato mixture, which is also drizzled with EVOO and sprinkled with chopped chives.

                                                                                    I don't think I've ever had a cherry tomato salad like this served with creme fraiche and I loved it! The unctuousness of the creamy topping married well with the mild acidity of the sherry vinegar. And the finished side looked pretty and somehow festive on the table--must be the red-white-green combination! Anyhow, I am definitely going to make this again.

                                                                                    I'm really enjoying this book.

                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                                      Stunning Goblin and, your description of the dish had me salivating...can't wait to try this one!

                                                                                      1. re: Goblin

                                                                                        Cherry Tomatoes with Crème Fraiche & Chives – p. 35 – Molto Gusto

                                                                                        It was Goblin’s appetizing description of this dish that enticed me to give it a try and I’m happy to report we also really enjoyed this.

                                                                                        I’d be interested to learn whether it is common to mix EVOO w Crème Fraiche in Italy, certainly this isn’t a technique I’ve ever seen before however I loved how the fruity olive oil somehow cut through some of the richness of the crème fraiche. We also felt that the sherry vinegar really enhanced the fresh flavour of the tomatoes. Ours were first of the season grape tomatoes from the farmer’s market and I typically don’t mess with those, we usually enjoy them “straight-up” perhaps w a dash of salt. I supplemented MB’s suggested “chive sticks” with some chopped chives which I felt better matched the scale of the dish and, would be easier to eat.

                                                                                        A truly lovely antipasti that also made a great salad alongside our Italian Prosciutto Cotto sandwiches.

                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                          Breadcrumbs, your photos are always so appetizing and attractive! Glad you enjoyed this dish. Besides tasting good, the dish is also so pretty and fresh-looking that it's worth adding to the menu. And the dish does recreate the colors of the Italian flag!! ;-)

                                                                                          I also had never whisked EVOO into creme fraiche--sounds rather multi-cultural to me! ;-) --must be typically Italian if Batali uses it (?)

                                                                                          Finally, I didn't know what "chive sticks" meant exactly so I also just chopped mine up and I thought this looked better too.

                                                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                                                            Thanks Goblin, you're too kind! Totally agree about the presentation, this truly is a beautiful dish . . . a bit "wasted" today served w our humble lunch. I'll definitely put this on the menu when we have guests this summer!

                                                                                      2. Broccoli with Pecorino Romano--p. 47--Molto Gusto.

                                                                                        As with other recipes in this section, everything depends on treating the ingredients with respect--in this case, not overcooking the broccoli florets and using imported pecorino romano cheese. A large bunch of broccoli is cut into 1-inch florets (stems are used for another purpose) and boiled just until crisp-tender. One half cup of coarsely-grated pecorino romano is whisked together with 2 TBS of warm water, and then with 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil to make a "loose emulsion." Toss the florets with this mixture, season with s & p if needed, and let stand 30 minutes before serving.

                                                                                        The cheese flavor is not overpowering--it's rather subtle in fact, which lets the broccoli flavor stand out. (What IS broccoli flavor? Sort of sweet and green to me.) Like other Batali recipes in this section, the final careful seasoning with salt (he specifies flaky sea salt) and pepper is important to the dish. He does not specify drizzling with olive oil before serving, but I wish I had done so: I felt that the broccoli got just a tad dry as it rested on the buffet table.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Goblin

                                                                                          This sounds very nice Goblin and it looks as though your broccoli was cooked perfectly. Thanks for the great review, we'll have to try this one as well. mr bc doesn't love broccoli but I'm hoping the cheese will entice him to give this a taste.

                                                                                          1. re: Goblin

                                                                                            I made this last week and didn't report. Well, I began to report and as I read the recipe and remembered what I had done, let's say, it wasn't even close. My version was pretty awful. Yours, on the other hand, looks great. Based on your review, I will give it another try when I see fresh broccoli at the market.

                                                                                          2. Grilled Peppers with Anchovies, Capers and Bread Crumbs p. 45 Italian Grill

                                                                                            I had some peppers that I was looking to use and this seemed like a good way to do so. I've made different iterations of this recipe, but I was pleasantly surprised by the additions of anchovies, cucumbers and breadcrumbs.

                                                                                            Grill and peel red and yellow peppers (I did not use any oil to do this), cut into triangles 1 x 2" long (I just cut into pieces), add thinly sliced cucumbers, salt-packed anchovies (filleted and soaked in milk for an hour), capers, thinly sliced orgeano, fresh thyme, oregano (I used wild), olive oil and vinegar. This rests for at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, scatter caperberries and toasted "fat boy" bread crumbs. The breadcrumbs add another texture to the dish, although mine were probably a little crunchier than they should have been.

                                                                                            I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. To my surprise, the addition of cucumber was delicious and refreshing. The next time I make this, I will chop the anchovies into smaller pieces. The additional flavor they add is great, but perhaps because my anchovies were quite large, a bite of the mixture with the anchovies threw off the balance of the dish. I may also skip the caperberries. It may be because of the brand I used, but I can live without them unlike the lovely little capers.

                                                                                            1. Broccoli Rabe - p. 91 - Molto Gusto

                                                                                              Making broccoli rabe for a number of years, this looks like my way of making it, with the exception that I put the red pepper flakes in at the same time as the garlic, so as to toast the flakes a bit.

                                                                                              Sometimes I will add a pre-cooked (I pre-cook them) sliced-up hot sausage and back down a little on the red pepper flakes usage.

                                                                                              I sometimes serve this with some sort of pasta (we like it with penne).

                                                                                              When it includes sausage, I do not usually use grated cheese.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Rella

                                                                                                My family has opted to stay in today and watch the Harry Potter marathon playing on TV. It has given me a chance to catch up on everyone's posts. I am looking forward to getting home to my grill and to Mario, so I can begin participating. The fava beans and cauliflower recipes will be on the top of my list, followed by the mortadella bundles.

                                                                                                1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                  Enjoy the marathon dk, looking forward to having you back!!

                                                                                              2. Broccoli Rabe with Mozzarella Crema – p. 49 – Molto Gusto

                                                                                                Fresh from the farmer’s market broccoli rabe was the inspiration for this delicious recipe that was “new to me.”

                                                                                                Essentially this is an antipasti dish of blanched broccoli rabe with a creamy sauce made of fresh mozzarella mixed with some of its brine, along with some EVOO. I made the crema while the rapini cooled in a bowl of ice water. The recipe notes that the addition of the EVOO is to emulsify the crema. I found my whisk to be inadequate to achieve a smooth texture and ended up pulling out the Bamix. I’ll be interested to hear how others make out. After drying the rapini w a kitchen towel I plated it then sprinkled it w some sea salt before drizzling the crema over top. The sea salt was my own addition as, after tasting the rapini and the crema I felt the salt would balance the flavours of the dish.

                                                                                                I’ve made other comments about the photos in this book not matching the ingredients or, preparation method of the recipes and this would appear to be no exception. MB clearly has you drizzle the crema over top whereas the dish in the photo appears to have been tossed in the crema.

                                                                                                This was simple, perfect for a weeknight antipasti and, delicious. The creaminess of the sauce neutralized some of the broccoli rabe’s bitterness and brought its own fresh flavour. I used Italian Buffala Mozzarella that Costco is now carrying.

                                                                                                Happy to recommend this one.

                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                  Thanks for including your pictures and indicating that there is a difference.

                                                                                                  Alas, I had broccoli rabe yesterday. The MB recipe and picture was not of interest previously to me as I continue making the same rabe recipe, but now I am interested thanks to your well-documented efforts.

                                                                                                  I purchased a Bamix "years ago," but DH and I both find it too cumbersome to seriously try again, but it scratched the heck out of the bottom of a new wonderful SS pan, so it is another appliance that sits. So am wondering what your advice is if the mozz/brine/evoo would emulsify in a food processor.

                                                                                                  Costco carries a wrapped (round) mozz (not a block); they also carry sometimes balls of herbed brine mozz balls in a container; and not very frequently a plain mozz in brine in a container. Is it the last type of mozz that you use?

                                                                                                  Thanks for your posting.

                                                                                                  1. re: Rella

                                                                                                    My Costco consistently has a container of plain buffalo mozz. The container holds 4 balls [I think] and is very well priced.

                                                                                                    1. re: smtucker

                                                                                                      I'm going to be looking at a few different Costco warehouses in the next month or so. Our Costco here in Winchester, VA is very inconsistent about the mozz types they sell. I do recall the plain balls in a container, but haven't seen them recently.

                                                                                                      I was disheartened that they have even stopped sellling Poly-O ricotta (in 3# contianers.) Now I have to wait until I go to another Costco to pick up twice as much as I would normally need.

                                                                                                    2. re: Rella

                                                                                                      Hi Rella, thanks so much for your kind words. I think a food processor would work just fine to whip up the crema, maybe just give is short pulses so as not to add too much air as you'd get bubbles.

                                                                                                      The mozz balls from Costco are as you suspected they are plain and come in a two tub pack. Each ball is 250g. and I believe the price is $6.99 (in Canada). I hope you're able to find them as the quality and price are great.

                                                                                                      Looking forward to your comments if you get a chance to try this dish . . . don't forget the salt, I think it made a big difference and it's rare I'm advocating for salt!

                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                        Salt: an interesting subject Ad infinitum

                                                                                                      2. re: Rella

                                                                                                        Around where I live the term "fresh mozzarella" means that round, wropped ball you mention, Rella. Mozzarella di bufala is a whole 'nother animal.

                                                                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                                                                          I like what is probably the 'di bufala' better (in water or brine in a container) than the round wrapped ball. I'm not sure which is better on a margharita pizza, the di bufala or the round wrapped ball. What's your preference, if you make your own pizza.

                                                                                                          Last week I was reduced to using a block of mozz which I hadn't used in several years -- it was so salty in comparison, and the pizza tasted like one in some restaurants.

                                                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                                                            I like both kinds of mozzarella for different applications. The "fresh" (called Fiore di latte/from cow's milk) is great on pizza, eggplant parm, and lasagne. I like the way it melts and gets stringy, also the way it combines with ricotta. The bufala is wonderful with pasta. But, to tell the truth, I think they're really interchangable. FWIW, the fresh I buy isn't at all salty. It comes from our local salumeria...it's lovely, soft and fresh tasting. It has a realitively short shelf life, though. Perhaps that's why your selection was salty...

                                                                                                          2. re: Gio

                                                                                                            I was under the impression that buffalo mozzarella meant that it was made from the milk of buffalos. The stuff sold in water not necessarily being buffalo mozzarella, but more frequently cows' milk. We can find a lot of that around here, but I've yet to find real buffalo mozzarella outside of the "big city" cheese shops.

                                                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                              Bufala mozz is made from the milk of Water Buffalos. Not what we think of as bison. It's sold in a container, usually four pieces/small balls, in either water or brine. Fresh mozz is made from cow's milk and sold as a larger ball wrapped in plastic... or, as I buy it, cut from a large bin to weight and wrapped in butcher's paper.

                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                Interesting, the fresh mozzarella we get here, in balls in water, is definitely cows' milk, not buffalo. Local cheesemaker says he's unable to get the water buffalo milk. I think the stuff wrapped in plastic in the grocery store is a Goodyear product.

                                                                                                                1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                  <"I think the stuff wrapped in plastic in the grocery store is a Goodyear product.">

                                                                                                                  Too funny. No wonder it tastes like rubber...

                                                                                                                2. re: Gio

                                                                                                                  Gio, that's how it is in your area, but in mine, like L. Nightshade's, much fresh mozzarella - cow's milk, fior di latte, and I buy a locally made one - is sold in a container of water, both as a tub of bocconcini and as an 8 oz. ball in liquid. It's sold that way at my local independent market with a good cheese selection as well as specialty shops.

                                                                                                                  ETA: I do think there are places here that sell fresh wrapped in plastic, too (other than Trader Joe's, which I know does). I know in NYC I bought it both ways, depending on where.

                                                                                                        2. Sardines in Saor - Molto Gusto, p. 77

                                                                                                          Not long ago, I checked out a freezer case in a local market the contents of which I'd never examined before and found one-pound bags of Sea King brand wild-caught Monterey Bay sardines for the princely sum of $1.99. So I felt there was no point in NOT trying this recipe, in which raw sardine fillets are marinated in a sweet-and-sour vinegar mixture which "cooks" them in the way ceviche is "cooked" by citrus juice.

                                                                                                          The real labor in this dish is in the filleting of the fresh sardines: remove head, tail, and fins, slit belly and remove guts, remove backbone. Sardines are the only fish I've butchered from a completely intact state, and I'm not great at it; I pretty much only do it to serve myself if they need to be filleted, because I invariably mangle the flesh a bit. The recipe suggests that slitting the belly and pulling out the backbone and guts is "a messy job but quite easy." Messy goes without saying, but I can't simply pull the frame out, and need to do a bit more knife work, so easy it's not, at least for me. I just need to do it a lot more, I guess!

                                                                                                          Once the fillets have been rinsed and patted dry, they're placed skin side up in a single layer in a baking dish and salted, and shaved fennel bulb is scattered over. Champagne vinegar, sugar, a bay leaf, ground cinnamon, and raisins (I subbed currants) are boiled for three minutes and poured over the fish and fennel. It is allowed to cool before serving, or can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; just before serving, toasted pine nuts and the reserved fennel fronds are sprinkled over.

                                                                                                          I ate some of this once it had sat and cooled, and some the following day. While the color of the fish's flesh didn't change and whiten as it does when cooked, the proteins had denatured as they do in ceviche, and it was tender but firm and tasted appropriately "done." There were four fish in my pound, and two were a bit larger. Those larger fillets didn't seem quite ready after the initial cooling time, but were fine the next day. I'm not sure they'd really stay nice for three days sitting in the vinegar mixture, but I don't know. I liked the flavors; the sweet/sour with the cinnamon worked well against the fennel and the sardines. If you enjoy sardines, have a source of fresh ones (or frozen "fresh"), and are willing to do the dirty work - or are lucky enough to have a fishmonger or friend who will do it for you - I recommend this dish.

                                                                                                          25 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                            Sounds terrific, Caitlin. I love fresh sardines but I'm stuck in the "dredge in seasoned cornmeal and pan fry" mode. Also, I've never looked in the frozen fish case. Time to change old habits. Thanks.

                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                              I really like sardines. Not sure about this recipe, though. Raisins? Usually a red flag for me. And somehow, the combination of raisins and sardines sounds like something kids would make up to win a gross-out competition. Not sure even your recommendation, Caitlin, could make me want to try it.

                                                                                                              I'm responding, though, because, as I say, I do love sardines. You have Fish Without a Doubt, don't you? Check out page 351. The instructions are for butterflying sardines, but one quick snip and you've got fillets. This method is still messy; I don't think there's any way around that. But Moonen's directions seem a lot easier, and at least somewhat less messy, than Batali's.

                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                Joan, this would work just fine without the raisins - I might skip them next time myself - and would still have the sweet-and-sour effect (there's a bit of sugar in there). The whole raisins, pine nuts thing seems to be of the same school as using those together in sauteed greens. I like the combo there, but think this dish would certainly be no worse without the fruit.

                                                                                                                Butterfly is what I did, to be clear. I just didn't get Batali's instructions to pull the backbone out with the guts (huh?), then open out the fish and cut the fillets apart. As I said, I'm sure I'd find it easier if I did it more often. Cleaning/gutting and cooking whole? No problem, if still messy. Fish Without a Doubt is still on my wish list, unfortunately. Someday soon, I hope to rectify the situation. I'm sure Moonen's instructions would help, over my ad hoc method.

                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                  Well, when I think of raisins and vinegar, I think a Sicilian preparation. Or at least southern Italy. (I also suppose there'll be many refutations on that idea..)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                    Me, too [ETA: re Sicilian, not refutations!]. He doesn't give background on the source of the dish, but googling "fish in saor" reveals that it's a Venetian dish, marinating fish (usually fried, in an escabeche-type treatment) in a vinegar mixture, always with raisins, though maybe golden raisins, and pine nuts.

                                                                                                                    This one in the NY Times is typical of what I saw: http://events.nytimes.com/recipes/235...

                                                                                                                    There's one on Chow, too: http://www.chow.com/recipes/11194-sol...

                                                                                                                2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                  There's a pretty famous pasta dish that uses raisins and sardines, so I can see how this would work.

                                                                                                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                    Interesting. Had never heard of it. Just checked Marcella, and there it is: Sicilian Sardine Sauce. With raisins. She, too, by the way, has instructions for cleaning sardines which are almost exactly the same as Moonen's.

                                                                                                                    Don't know what it is. Just some bugaboo. Like raisins and currants well enough in sweet preparations, but in savory? I know I've tried one or two recipes that I liked and should have had me rethinking my aversion.

                                                                                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                      Thanks for pointing out Marcella's instructions. I hadn't really noticed that recipe, so hadn't seen the instructions within it. Good to know they match Moonen's and I'll remember them as a reference.

                                                                                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                        Didn't you make the Sicilian Lifeguard style squid a couple of years ago, also a Batali dish? I'm normally with you on the raisins in savory thing, but somehow the currants in that worked nicely. Of course you could easily skip them in that too. Anyway, if you haven't made that, it is great - with or without, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                          How in the world do you remember that?!? From nearly three years ago, no less. I'd completely forgotten that that recipe had currants in it. (And I'd forgotten, too, how terrific I thought it was; time for a revisit--and thanks for reminding me.)

                                                                                                                          Another savory with currants that I liked a great deal was Simon Hopkinson's Salmon in Pastry with Currants and Ginger.

                                                                                                                          Not sure why I think I don't like them. Too many of those little red Sun Maid cartons in my kindergarten snack box?

                                                                                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                            I had it in the back of my mind that it was your review of the recipe that made me think "that one I have to try!"

                                                                                                                            I've gotten more open minded about the whole sweet with savory thing, probably due to Arabesque month, but I'm still not really sold on the idea. And the idea of eating raisins on their own is totally unappealing (I type quickly before Lulu reads over my shoulder and starts shunning them).

                                                                                                                          2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                            I have always wanted to try that dish (and didn't order it on my one Babbo visit). That freezer case had cheap boxes of cleaned whole Monterey Bay squid from the same company...

                                                                                                                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                              It's really good. Highly recommend it if you can find the squid pre-cleaned.

                                                                                                                              1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                I'll have to double-check that box. I'm kicking myself for not looking in that freezer case for so long. Frozen whole anchovies and sardines for $2/lb., squid I think was nearly as cheap, all from the same company, wild-caught in nearby Monterey Bay, putting it all at the top of the MB Aquarium Seafood Watch recommended list, as well. The sardines were fine, quality-wise.

                                                                                                                        2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                          It would surely work for me. Of course I love a lot of those weird combinations. Especially that dish of sardines stuffed with raisins, pine nuts, and anchovies. Mmm.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                              Curious that your search didn't bring up the Scicilain Sardine Sauce I mentioned above since that's also from Essentials.

                                                                                                                              1. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                Probably bcause I have Marcella's Italian Kitchen not Essentials...and only searched my own bookshelf. My brain is on the slow burner this evening...

                                                                                                                                1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                  Let me preface my observation by saying I had a very long tiring day and a glass of wine w my antipasti so I can't say my brain is functioning well either but....funny thing, when I click on your link Gio, it gives me results from my own bookshelf!

                                                                                                                                  That's taxing my already taxed brain!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                    Same thing for me, your brain is fine. Probably because we are already signed in.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                      BC & LN: Let's just forget I posted that link and have another drink. (I do think LN has the answer, tho.)

                                                                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                        Ahhh, I'm glad someone's on the ball LN!! That makes total sense! For what it's worth I have 11 recipes for that dish in my books, one of which is, as Gio suspected, from Sicilian Home Cooking.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                                                                                                    Gio's search for pasta con sarde turned up only recipes with that term, so it didn't hit Pasta with Sicilian sardine sauce from Essentials when those of us with it viewed the linked search in our own bookshelves. When I searched "pasta sardine raisins" in the entire EYB library, this is the result, mostly Sardinian-style with fennel, pine nuts, etc. variations: http://www.eatyourbooks.com/library/r...

                                                                                                                                    Ironically given where this all started, that list doesn't include the pasta con le sarde from Molto Gusto, because he doesn't include raisins in his recipe.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                      Tonight's dinner was a combination of Beets with Pistachios on page 62 and the Beet Salad on page 129, both out of Molto Gusto. Both recipes call for roasting the beets in the same way. Both call for the same red wine vinaigrette, except for the addition of beet juice in the salad recipe. So here is what I did:

                                                                                                                                      I roasted the beets, peeled them, and put them in the fridge to enhance their flavor - a trick I learned from somewhere, I think it was a Zuni tip. Made the vinaigrette, set it aside. Made the pistachio butter. Cleaned the beet greens.
                                                                                                                                      10 minutes before serving, I added some dressing to the beets and allowed them to marry. I assembled the salad at the last minute, drizzling the pistachio butter over the salad as a garnish.

                                                                                                                                      I served this salad alongside a crispy lentil dish. The two tasted wonderful together. This crispy lentil dish is my interpretation of a dish served at Cobras and Matadors. I used 1 cup black lentils, which I soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, then drained. In a heavy bottomed pot, I crisped up some bacon. I added 1/8 cup olive oil and then the lentils, which I cooked over medium high heat for about 7 minutes. The goal is to get the lentils to a crunchy texture. At the last minute, I added a good amount of kosher salt. After I turned the heat off, I added a tablespoon or two of the salad dressing to the dish.

                                                                                                                                      My kids were not fans of tonight's meal but my husband and I both loved it. The beet greens make a very satisfying salad, especially when coupled with the beets and the pistachio butter. I am sure the salad would have been equally yummy with the Ribiola.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                        Sounds great - beetroot and lentils go together really well I think.

                                                                                                                          1. Portobellos with Arugula and Parmigiano – p. 28 – Italian Grill

                                                                                                                            A meaty grilled Portobella plated atop of a lightly dressed handful of arugula made for a delicious, satisfying lunch on a hot summer’s day.

                                                                                                                            Prep is very quick and easy. Mushrooms are grilled until softened then arranged gill side up on a plate. While the mushrooms are grilling a vinaigrette of EVOO, anchovy paste, balsamic vinegar and dried thyme is made. I also added a smidge of crushed garlic and, substituted dried oregano for the thyme.

                                                                                                                            Once the portobellos are cooked, they are dressed w the vinaigrette and left to stand for 30 mins.

                                                                                                                            Right before serving, arugula is tossed w some EVOO and lemon juice and seasoned w S&P (I skipped the salt since there were anchovies in the vinaigrette). Arugula is divided amongst the plates and topped w a mushroom and, a shaving of Parmeasan.

                                                                                                                            The anchovies and mushrooms are such a wonderful pairing and of course, the grilling process gives the portobellos a “steak-like” texture and taste. No meat was missed in the consumption of this dish!

                                                                                                                            This is a winner and I can imagine delicious adaptations by switching up the cheese or adding some tomatoes, or even different greens. Happy to recommend this one.

                                                                                                                            1. Basil Pesto - p. 50 - Italian Grill

                                                                                                                              This tasty pesto recipe is identical to the Pesto recipe in Molto Gusto. Here's a link to my review of that recipe:


                                                                                                                              1. Olio Piccante – p. 33 – Italian Grill

                                                                                                                                This spicy oil is intended to be served atop the Grilled Scamorza (a dish I’ll be making this evening).

                                                                                                                                The recipe yields such a delicious, versatile oil, I thought I’d review this recipe separately so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and overlooked by folks w no interest in the grilled cheese dish. As MB indicates this oil would be great drizzled over grilled veggies, seafood pastas, pizza and grilled bread. This morning we served a little atop our cheesy scrambled eggs w basil and it really elevated and brightened the dish.

                                                                                                                                Ideally you want to make this a day ahead of needing it as the flavours need to develop overnight.

                                                                                                                                Prep is super quick and easy. Coarsely chopped jalapenos are combined w red pepper flakes and paprika then simmered over medium heat before transferring to a heatproof bowl to cool. The next day the oil is strained and, ready to use. MB notes that it will keep in the fridge for up to 10 days (if it lasts that long!!).

                                                                                                                                I halved the recipe since this was a “first use” for us and, I can see the benefit of making a larger batch as it truly is versatile and handy to have during grilling season. The finished oil has a brighter flavour than jarred chili oils and, the paprika seems to add a unique depth that we found very appealing.

                                                                                                                                Happy to recommend this one.

                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                  He also suggests you drizzle this over Chicken Thighs with Snap Peas and Agliata - p. 141 – Italian Grill. I did this last night, but didn't let it sit the 8 hours required. I just used it as is. I'm sure yours has more depth of flavor!


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                    Your oil looks so pretty Breadcrumbs! What did you use to strain it? I strained mine through an extremely fine mesh sieve, but it is still a bit cloudy and there is a lot of sediment at the bottom. I'm thinking I should buy some coffee filters or something like that. I knew my oil would be more brownish because I had both green and red peppers on hand, and used them both. But it sure tastes great!

                                                                                                                                    1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                      Thanks LN, yours looks like a magazine photo! Yes, I strained through a coffee filter. I guess mine took on most of its colour from the paprika.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                        High praise coming from you, thanks!

                                                                                                                                        I think I will get some filters and re-strain my oil. They will come in handy anyway, as I've become enamored of the flavored oils idea, and saving small glass bottles to hold different infusions.

                                                                                                                                  2. Grilled Scamorza with Olio Piccante – p. 33 – Italian Grill

                                                                                                                                    This dish takes “grilled cheese” to a whole new level! This ain’t your school-day sandwich!!

                                                                                                                                    Once you’ve made the Olio Piccante (recipe & prep covered up-thread…I’ll add a link), the rest of this is a no-brainer! A scamorza is cut in half lengthwise and brushed w EVOO. Sun-dried tomatoes are slivered. Instead I decided to use the truly scrumptious oven-dried “Tomato Raisins” from Molto Gusto.

                                                                                                                                    The hottest part of the grill is oiled before putting the cheese on cut-side down where its cooked until it begins to soften and colour lightly. The cheese is turned and cooked for a minute or two longer. Now, Mario’s cheese in the book’s photo definitely appears to have a skin or outer coating whereas ours did not so in almost no time, it started to melt and drip down into the coals slightly. As a result, our total cooking time was likely 2 minutes. While the cheese didn’t have the colour I’d hoped it would, it sure was soft.

                                                                                                                                    The cheese is then plated, sprinkled with the tomatoes and drizzled w the spicy oil. Marjoram leaves are scattered around the plate w additional served on the side. The idea is that you pinch of a bit of cheese and enjoy w the marjoram and tomato toppings. I also served some crusty bread on the side so folks could smear w the cheese and toppings at will.

                                                                                                                                    I was surprised just how much we all enjoyed this dish. The best bites were the ones w a bit of bread was dunked in the spicy oil then smeared w the cheese and tomatoes and topped w a couple of marjoram leaves. Simply delicious! Marjoram is rarely available in our supermarket here and I have to say, we were so glad to have it w this dish, it’s fresh anise flavour was a perfect accent.

                                                                                                                                    Here's the link to they Olio Piccante:


                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                      Well, I guess I'm going to have to purchase this book! Also I'm going to have to look in the garden to see if I have some fresh majoram.

                                                                                                                                      Thanks for the link - I read the previous posting re the oils and that got me to put the book on my list, but your posting convinced me to get-going.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                        Thanks Rella, looking forward to reading your reviews. We're really getting a lot of use out of this book.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                          Yes, I can see that people like this book. We have a grill, but for various reason don't use it as much.;and have multiple grilling books, and so I said, "Another Mario book on the shelves." However, I did grab up the Steven Raichlen 2 season DVD's at Costco a week or so ago, even though I must half of them recorded, and a couple of his books. Even that though, Mario is a totally different style.

                                                                                                                                          The same with Lidia books, "Another Lidia book on the shelves." :-))

                                                                                                                                          But, your presentation photos are fabulous and put me over the edge.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Rella

                                                                                                                                            Thanks so much Rella, I hope you enjoy the book!

                                                                                                                                    2. Fennel with Sambuca and Grapefruit – p. 46 – Italian Grill

                                                                                                                                      This was so outrageously good, an absolute flavour explosion. Everyone raved about this dish, perhaps the best Mario dish I’ve made and definitely one of the best salads we’ve ever had. Seriously.

                                                                                                                                      There are a few steps to pull this together but, nothing difficult. First, fennel bulbs are cooked in boiling salted water until just tender then they’re dropped into and ice bath. Once cooled, fennel is placed on a kitchen towel to drain. I cut mine in half at this point to expedite the process and, since this needed to be done later in any event. One of my bulbs was quite big so I quartered it.

                                                                                                                                      A scrumptious dressing is made by combining olive oil, sliced garlic, anchovies, sambuca and balsamic vinegar. The dressing is then spooned over the cut sides of the fennel, taking care to get the dressing deep in the crevices of the bulbs. This marinates for 30 mins or, up to overnight in the fridge. Ours marinated for about an hour at room temp. Prior to grilling, the dressing is drained from the fennel and reserved for plating. I tried to leave as much of the sliced garlic on the bulbs so it would cook. MB suggests you add 2 tbsp to the dressing at this point, along w the fresh tarragon. Since the dressing already had a nice balance of flavours, I skipped this step and simply added the two to the finished dish. I likely used about 2 tsp of oil to drizzle over top.

                                                                                                                                      A grapefruit is zested then supremed and once the fennel has been grilled it is plated w the remaining ingredients over top.

                                                                                                                                      This was truly sensational. In the past I’ve always enjoyed the combination of anise and orange together however I can’t ever recall using grapefruit w the fennel. Our ruby grapefruit was especially sweet and the subtle anise flavour of the tarragon just added another layer of freshness to the dish. Don’t miss this one if you’re a fan of these ingredients.

                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                        i have this earmarked but I was wondering, do you think I could substitute Jagermeister for Sambuca? I really didn't want to splurge on a whole bottle of Sambuca (not to mention the pantry space issue) and I was able to find a mini bottle of Jager. What do you think?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                          dk I think the sambuca just adds another layer of "anise" flavour to the dish so while I think Pernod or, Ouzo would likely be ok, I don't think the Jagermeister would work as well since I understand it has a mixed herbal flavour. I'm wondering if some diluted anise extract might be a better substitute? I picked up a bottle at The Spice House in Chicago so Penzey's would likely carry it as well (since TSH is run by a Penzey daughter). Too bad you can't get a mini bottle of sambuca as it really did add a lovely flavour to the dish.

                                                                                                                                          Sambuca is one of mr bc's favourite digestivos so we always have some in the pantry it seems.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                            This was my fear, that the flavor wouldn't work. Too bad. I may try to pick up anise at Penzey's. Thanks for the suggestion.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                              BTW, there's no anise extract in Penzey's catalog or website, so I don't think they carry it. I do think you could add a bit of finely ground anise seed to the dressing for that extra layer of anise flavor Breadcrumbs mentions, if you don't have any of the anise-flavored liqueurs.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                          I just searched EYB for fennel, came up with this recipe and Breadcrumb's glowing review there. So glad you posted photos here, BC, those images pushed me over to trying this recipe. Got a big fennel bulb in the CSA box today, so I'll do this in the next few days. I'm going to sub Pernod for the Sambuca.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                            Oh do enjoy this LN, it's outstanding!! Can't wait to hear your thoughts.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                            Fennel with Sambuca and Grapefruit – p. 46 – Italian Grill

                                                                                                                                            This dish is thoroughly described above by Breadcrumbs. I made some (hopefully minor) changes. I substituted Pernod for the Sambuca. I have never had Sambuca, so I don't know how different it is from a pastis. Also, I didn't have much tarragon on my sad little plant, so I added more chopped fennel over the top, just for the green. Ended up with a bit too much green.

                                                                                                                                            We will have to try this again some time. I thought the flavors were great; the anise and grapefruit combination was a lovely surprise. But our fennel was a bit undercooked, even for us al dente fans. I did parboil the bulb for the full 20 minutes, so perhaps the grilling period was not long enough. I notice MB's and Breadcrumbs bulbs look a bit more charred than ours.

                                                                                                                                            This is one of the things I love about COTM. I discover flavor combinations that are outside of my normal repertoire. My taste buds are having so much fun!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                              This recipe has been on my list for so long but I haven't made it to the liquor store to get Sambuca. This month whizzed by for me, will have to keep cooking out of Mario next month, I feel like I have scarcely scratched the surface of this book.

                                                                                                                                          3. Three-Bean Salad, Molto Gusto, p. 114

                                                                                                                                            Very simple prep: 1 pound of green beans are blanched until crisp-tender and then combined with a 15-oz. can each of canned chickpeas and cannelini (white kidney beans)--rinsed and drained first. All the beans are tossed with 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint and and then combined with 1/4 cup of Mario's Red Wine Vinaigrette (p. 23). Season with s & p, let stand and at serving time, serve the salad with another 1/4 cup vinaigrette "on the side."

                                                                                                                                            I really wanted to like this salad--a Mario-take on the traditional and often overly-sweet three-bean salads that we are so familiar with from supermarket deli-cases. I liked that the fresh mint here supplied only a hint of sweetness without being at all over-powering. But overall I was disappointed in the salad's rather bland flavor. Guess I like my three-bean salads to have more punch. To me the red wine vinaigrette recipe that Mario suggested just didn't have enough flavor to work with the heartier canned beans. The next day I served the leftover salad with a bottled vinaigrette I happened to have on hand (Newman's Own Light Italian) and it was better: piquant and more satisfying!

                                                                                                                                            Red Wine Vinaigrette, Molto Gusto , p. 23

                                                                                                                                            This is a very simple recipe: Mario asks you to combine 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, "preferably Chanti, " 1/4 cup sparkling water, and 1/2 cup oil, "preferably Ligurian." Mario is very specific about the type of oil and vinegar; I just used "regular" supermarket red wine vinegar and a mild buttery EVOO, similar to what Ligurian olive oil is like. I think that the vinaigrette, diluted as it is with sparkling water, was just too mild for this recipe, at least for my taste. Has anyone else used it?

                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: Goblin

                                                                                                                                              Was thinking about making this three bean salad tomorrow or Saturday. Perhaps I will just leave out the sparkling water. Not really sure I understand the purpose of it anyway. What do you think?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                I don't really understand the purpose either. Maybe to soften the "Chianti Red Wine Vinegar"?--which I have never tasted, so I don't know if its really strong or something. I'd just leave the sparkling water out and boost the flavor of the vinaigrette with more seasonings to taste.
                                                                                                                                                Let us know how it goes for you!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Goblin

                                                                                                                                                  I made another dressing out of the book which also included sparkling water. It really added another dimension to the dish. Why are you planning on leaving it out? FWIW, I am sure the dressing would have been nice without the sparkling, just not in the same way.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                    Hi dkennedy,

                                                                                                                                                    I see that Batali also specifies using this particular vinaigrette (red wine vinegar, sparkling water & olive oil in a 1-1-2 ratio) in "Spring Peas with Mint (p. 23 in Molto Gusto), which features the aforementioned fresh peas, a chopped red onion, and 1/2 bunch fresh mint torn into pieces. Haven't tried this yet, but I'm wondering if he prefers this slightly diluted lighter vinaigrette in his recipes featuring fresh mint, so as not to overwhelm its flavor. I can see the logic of this.

                                                                                                                                                    In the case of the 3-bean salad, which is relatively hearty with green beans, canned chickpeas and cannelli plus chopped mint : For my taste, I felt that the "diluted vinaigrette" didn't quite stand up to the taste/texture of the chickpeas and canelli bans. Think I just wanted more flavor. Maybe the addition of a chopped red onion would have also supplied this for me.

                                                                                                                                                    See, this is why I love Chowhound! I'd so much rather be debating the merits of an Italian vinaigrette this morning than obsessing about Congress and the debt ceiling! ;-)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                      Still curious about the sparkling water. Was it actually still bubbly? Just curious about the extra dimension.


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                        It's been a few weeks since I made it. I think it went on the shrimp and green bean salad, I'll have to check. The sparkling soda, what it added, it wasn't a definable quality. Maybe it made the dressing a little more refreshing? I can't really say more than that except it worked. I had a little left over and used it a few nights later and it had gone flat.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Goblin

                                                                                                                                                  Three-Bean Salad, Molto Gusto, p. 114.

                                                                                                                                                  I was torn on how to prepare this dish as Goblin thought the sparkling water made the dressing too dilute and mild, and dkennedy thought it added another dimension. I finally decided to just go with the book and use the sparkling water.

                                                                                                                                                  The verdict? A nay vote here. Before I even had a chance to taste it, Mr. Nightshade said 'this dressing is too mild." I agreed. I didn't sense the sparkles from the water, it just tasted diluted. I did like the mint with the beans, with a bolder dressing this would be fine.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                    Beautiful photo, LNightshade, and so appetizing. Love the green and yellow string beans together.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Goblin

                                                                                                                                                      Thank you Goblin, I was happy to see those bi-colored beans in the CSA box. Too bad the flavors didn't have the same punch the colors did!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                      Update on this dish...
                                                                                                                                                      I had quite a bit left over, so I drained off the dressing, added a rinsed, salt-packed anchovy, a crushed garlic clove, and some more ground pepper, then returned it to the beans. MUCH better. Anchovy worked surprisingly well with the mint.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: L.Nightshade

                                                                                                                                                        What a clever way to repair the dish. Would you make it again, as amended? I am trying to eat more legumes, and I have some CSA green beans...


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                          Yes I would. I'm not a huge bean salad fan, but Mr. NS liked it. It's not too unusual except that the mint gives it a light, refreshing note.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Fregola with corn, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                    This was the surprise hit of last night's barbecue party and it's very easy to prepare. Cook half a pound of fregola in salted, boiling water - Mario says 10-12 minutes but mine said 15-17 on the packet and it took the full 17 minutes to become tender. Meanwhile, fry a cup of fresh corn in some EVOO until it chars a little and then goes tender - mine never charred, took maybe five minutes to cook. Allow the corn to cool, then add to the drained fregola and stir in some sliced spring onion and the lemon vinaigrette which has been reported on elsewhere. Serve at room temperature.

                                                                                                                                                    This was a tasty and satisfying side dish which my guests loved. They'd never had fregola before and really liked the texture. And fresh sweetcorn is so lovely at this time of year. I served it with the spatchcocked chicken with mustard from Patricia Wells' Cuisine Actuelle, and the rocket with tomato raisins and grilled vegetable salad Capri-style. Not much was left and I made a lot (never knowingly undercatered).

                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                      Black Kale with Ricotta - p. 60 Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                      Black kale is one of my all time favorite veggies so I have been eyeing this dish. The addition of the creamy ricotta really adds another level to an already delicious dish. We served this alongside grilled steak and a simple salad topped with grape tomatoes and creamy, white beans.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                        I made this, but with a significant modification - no ricotta!

                                                                                                                                                        To cook the kale, you chop it up, then cook it on medium high heat with sliced garlic and a sliced red chili (I used two red Fresno chili peppers). After 5 minutes, you add water and salt, then cover and cook for another 15-20 minutes. The instructions didn't say that the heat should be turned down after covering the pan, so I left it at medium high, and that worked out just fine.

                                                                                                                                                        I really enjoyed the kale; it had sort of a lush taste and texture. I might use a bit less oil next time, but I'll definitely make this again soon.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: dkennedy

                                                                                                                                                          Black Kale with Ricotta, Pg. 60, Molto Gusto

                                                                                                                                                          We absolutely Loved the black kale cooked this way. Fresh ricotta from the farm where where we have our CSA and wonderful just picked kale. It's such a simple preparation... everything into the pan together and cooked till kale is wilted then heat turned down a tad, add a bit of liquid - I used chicken broth - covered, cooked till tender. The whipped ricotta with EVOO was smooth and milky. Spread the ricotta on a plate and top with the kale. Quite a luxurious dish.

                                                                                                                                                          Served w grilled pork chops, and freshly baked raisin bread, grilled, buttered, topped with an additional dollop of the ricotta.

                                                                                                                                                          Funny thing about the kale. It was the holiest bunch of greens I've ever seen. The farm uses the IPM system of farming and occasionally we see a few holes now and then and we love it when we do. But this bunch was really organic...

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                            This sounds outstanding Gio. Somehow I missed the 2 prior posts on this so I'm glad you brought it to my attention. I haven't seen kale at our farm market yet but I'm expecting it any day now. This sounds like a dish I could entice my kale-averse mr bc with. Nothing like a little creamy cheese to tempt his palate!!

                                                                                                                                                            ...btw, I thought we did an adjunct thread for Batali but I can't find anything now. Do you recall whether we did Gio? I made a dish from Molto Batali and went to post it but couldn't find anything.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                              Thanks BC. If you mean "Molto Italiano" here's the master COTM thread link:
                                                                                                                                                              October 2008 COTM: "Batali": Babbo, Molto Italiano & Simple Italian Cooking

                                                                                                                                                              This is in the archived COTM master list:

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Gio

                                                                                                                                                                Hi Gio, thanks for getting back to me. I was actually thinking we did an adjunct thread for "Other MB cookbooks" in 2011. I've made a few dishes from Molto Batali (different book from Molto Italiano) that I was going to add to that thread but I can't seem to find it. I must have just imagined it!!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Breadcrumbs

                                                                                                                                                                  Oh, sorry BC. I didn't know of Molto Batali. Three Moltos are enough for me... chuckle chuckle.