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November 2013 Cookbooks of the Month, Marcella Hazan Month: Vegetables; Salads

Please use this thread to report on the following chapters from the November Cookbooks of the Month (Marcella Cucina, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, and Marcella Says…):

Vegetables (Marcella Cucina), pages 336 – 385
Salads (Marcella Cucina), pages 386 - 409

Vegetables (Marcella’s Italian Kitchen), pages 245 – 282
Salads (Marcella’s Italian Kitchen), pages 283 – 296

Vegetables (Marcella Says…), pages 299 – 340
Salads (Marcella Says…), pages 341 - 350

To post a review of any recipe, please select the appropriate thread below. If you are the first to report on a recipe, please reply to the original post. If a report already exists (please check before posting), please hit the reply box within the original report. This way all of the reports on the same dish will be together.

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  1. Baked Savoy Cabbage [Napa Cabbage] with Parmesan Cheese, p. 302, Marcella Says.

    The title of this recipe does not hint at the secret weapon that makes this version of humble boiled and chopped cabbage so delicious! Only in the list of ingredients does one discover that a cup of freshly-made béchamel sauce, fortified with grated parmesan and fresh grated nutmeg and seasoned with salt, is also mixed with the boiled and chopped cabbage before it is turned into a shallow dish to be baked. Before this point, you have first scattered some fine dry breadcrumbs on the bottom of the buttered pan. After spreading the cabbage-sauce mixture in it, you sprinkle more breadcrumbs mixed with more grated Parmesan on top. Dot with butter, bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees F until a golden crust forms, and serve.

    Cabbage never tasted so good. Couldn't find Savoy so I used Napa Cabbage, which breaks down more than Savoy. If I made this again with Napa, I would use more of it than the 2 pounds of Savoy that Hazan recommends.

    On the previous p. 300 Marcella gives detailed instructions for the making of "My Basic Bechemel Sauce." Came out perfectly.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Goblin

      I am really hating the fact that my partner doesn't like cabbage as there seem to be a lot of great recipes that include cabbage. I think however, that the above might be a good recipe for a cabbage hater, given the lovely cheese sauce.

      1. re: delys77

        My husband hated cod, tofu, brussel sprouts and chickpeas/garbanzos. I have, through the very sweetness of my being and some darned good recipes managed to change most of this (the chickpeas he still really just does NOT want to eat). Keep trying, and make sure there is something else on the plate that he loves (or his favorite dessert waiting).

    2. Fagiolini con Pomodoro, Aglio e Basilico (Green Beans with Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil) - Marcella's Italian Kitchen, p. 259

      This is a simply executed, fresh-tasting dish. Garlic, "chopped not too fine," is stirred in olive oil (I used 1/4 cup, rather than the 1/2 cup called for) until golden, and tomatoes go in and cook down (I used the option of canned ones chopped, and their juice), then green beans, salt, and pepper. The pan is covered, the heat turned to medium, and it's stirred occasionally as it cooks, until the beans are tender but firm. At this point, she says that if the juices in the pan are watery, to remove the beans and cook them down, but I had no juices. My flame may have been a bit high, and they could've used another stir, because there was just a bit of scorching of tomato and garlic in one part of the pan - but this meant there were also blistered edges on some beans, which is a good thing! Finally, a cup of fresh basil leaves is stirred in.

      In sum, my beans (and the rest) got a bit more cooked than MH intended, but were delicious and not overcooked. The beans went in the pan when my fish went in the oven, and 10 minutes later, dinner.

      1. Cooked Finocchio Salad with Savory Dressing, MIK pg. 291

        This was a delightful little side salad, and easy too. First soak the fennel in cool water for a bit, then boil until tender, mine took about 12 minutes, set aside until cool. Meanwhile whip together the dressing; parsley, chopped anchovy fillets, s&p, wine vinegar (no white wine vinegar in the house--subbed rice vinegar), grated Parmesan, & olive oil. Squeeze out any excess water from the fennel, then cut it into wedges and then dress.

        Lots of umami and just generally yummy. Mr. QN's not always a fennel salad fan, but during clean-up he was caught using his finger to get the last little bits from the serving plate--I'd call that a hit. We had it as a side to broiled salmon served over lentils, a combination that worked very well.

        1 Reply
        1. re: qianning

          We're big fennel fans here (although usually prefer it raw), and I sort of had my eye on this salad but wondered about the cookedness of it. Happy to see that it was so delicious. On the list it goes.

        2. Smothered Cabbage in the Venetian Style, Pg. 16 Cooking and Preparation section, Marcella's Italian Kitchen

          I came upon this vague non-recipe while investigating all the possibilities in the book for a garden fresh green cabbage. Sounded pretty tasty to me so it became the side dish for her Split-Chicken on page 190. It did more than I expected. The non-recipe is nothing more than a paragraph and one is left to fill in the blanks which is very easy to do.

          A chopped onion (I used a large red one) is sauteed in EVOO till golden. Shredded cabbage is added and tossed over "lively heat" for a few minutes. Lower the heat, cover pan, and cook slowly till the cabbage is very tender. I seasoned with sea salt and FGBpepper.

          The long slow cooking resulted in sweet caramelized onions, soft and sweet cabbage. Absolutely delicious. I could have just eaten a bowl of that with fresh country bread and been satisfied, it was that rich without being heavy.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            Smothered Cabbage, Venetian Style is a non-vague, detailed recipe in Essentials of Classical Italian Cooking. I've made it more than any other MH recipe, and it's possibly my all-time favorite cabbage preparation and one of the best less-is-more recipes I know (another is her justly famous chicken with lemons). Who knew cabbage could be so tender? I agree I can just make a meal of it. The recipe is linked below, and adds to MIK's non-recipe garlic and a tablespoon of wine vinegar. I always make it with green or Savoy cabbage, white wine or champagne vinegar, and half the olive oil she indicates.

            http://www.farmerdaves.net/smothered-...

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              Many thanks for that information and link, Caitljn. Interesting to read about the other ingredients. In fact, I used only 3 Tablespoons of olive oil. and thought of using even less next time. Honestly, I think I would not even use the garlic or vinegar. The finished dish was perfect for me.

            2. re: Gio

              This too is the smothered cabbage from "Essentials.."

              After braising 1 1/2 hours I took the picture and then decided it should go even longer on the stove to become very soft, as the recipe states. Ooh, we liked this!

              A note that might interest anybody here -- while looking through Chowhound Hazan-related threads I found this blog mentioned
              http://www.slowtrav.com/blog/pomodori...
              looks to be of much value! Can't remember which poster found this, but thank you!

               
            3. Baked Eggplant wih Garflic and Parsley, Pg. 264
              Melanzane al Forno

              I have made this recipe several times over the last three years, the following report is edited from the first report on the Non-COTM thread:

              This is a departure from the cheesy saucy parmagiano that I absolutely Love, but equally as satisfying in a much different way. The only thing I didn't like was that the slices are much too thick at 1 1/2 inches., so in succeeding cooking sessions the slices were about 1/3 inch thick. Much better. I used 1 large Italian one but "small skinny" ones can be used too.

              After the eggplant is sliced crosshatch one side being careful not to slice through. I didn't bother salting the slices. I've never done it. Chop some garlic and parsley, and oil a baking pan. Place the eggplant slices on the pan crosshatched side up and smear the garlic & parsley all over each slice. Drizzle with EVOO. Bake in a preheated 450F oven for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, drizzle a bit more oil over top and return pan to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, till the eggplant is creamy.

              We loved the creaminess and savory flavor of the eggplant. For a simple Italian side dish or a component of an antipasto platter this is perfect. Sandwiches too? But of course!

              1. Fagiolini con Pomodoro, Aglio e Basilico. Pg. 259
                Green Beans with Tomato, Garlic, and Basil

                This is an excellent side dish for just about anything. The green beans we used were fresh Farmers' Market Romanos. Those long flat meaty beans that I absolutely love and this preparation for them was perfect. All the essential ingredients for this recipe came from the FM, in fact. Large perfect tomatoes, the garlic, and the basil.

                Very simple cooking process: saute garlic in hot EVOO, add chopped tomatoes, a few minutes later toss in the prepped beans, season with S & P - I included 1/2 t peperoncini. Cover and simmer till beans a lusciously soft. And they were. At the end add a cup of fresh basil - I sliced it in slivers. We served this with seasoned minced lamb from Nigel Slater's EAT.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  Is this from MIK? It sounds really good!

                  1. re: Westminstress

                    It is (I actually posted about it further up the thread during COTM).

                2. Grilled Eggplant. MIK pg. 265

                  Just after reading Gio's green bean recipe review, I was casting about for something to do with a few small eggplant for dinner that evening, and of course this book was in mind, took it off the shelf and voila, the perfect solution. Except that this was written for a broiler not the charcoal grill, nonetheless it adapted perfectly. For grilling I used far far less o. oil that she calls for in the broiling--2 or 3 tsp's for a light pound (4) small eggplant.

                  I rarely bother to split skinny eggplant, let alone salt it; but I did this time. Don't know if it was that, or the flavoring (why don't I use rosemary with eggplant more often?), or just catching the fire at the exact heat, but these were some of the best grilled eggplant in a long time. Wonderfully buttery inside, and very much enhanced by the rosemary and garlic. Dead simple, too.

                   
                  1 Reply
                  1. re: qianning

                    I made this on the grill last night after reading your post. It was quite delicious. (I find myself decreasing the oil/fat quite often in Marcella's recipes, except for the butter in the tomato sauce!) Thanks for posting this...perfect timing for the seasons produce.

                  2. Sauteed Zucchini with Sage and White Wine, MIK pg. 277

                    This book really does have some lovely simple summer vegetable recipes. We liked this very well. It also comes together in about 5 minutes flat (OK, I did NOT soak my squash for 20 minutes, what's up with that instruction?).

                    Cut the zucchini, mine was the romanesco type, into batons. Add sage leaf, garlic slices and olive oil to a pan and heat until very hot, add the squash saute until just coloring, splash in wine, add a little more as it evaporates, when that evaporates, done. Serve with a dash of s&p.

                    My only change was to greatly reduce the amount of olive oil. MH calls for 2lbs squash and 1/3 cup o. oil. I had about 1 lb squash and use a light TBS of oil--which was plenty. For some reason the sage didn't photograph well, but it tasted fine.

                     
                    3 Replies
                    1. re: qianning

                      Looks lovely. And yeah, what is up with soaking zucchini??

                      1. re: LulusMom

                        No idea on the soaking. A quick wash and brush is all it gets from me. But the wine finish with the sage was a step up from my usual o. oil and garlic saute.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          In the Hazan book "Essentials..." page 530 she says there is often soil in the delicate squash skin, and says to soak for 20 minutes to loosen it.
                          I just rinse, haven't had a problem. Or maybe I'm eating a little dirt.