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In Italian, the verb we use to describe the final dressing of the pasta with the sauce is condire, or “to season, to flavor.” And the phrase condire la pasta reminds us that the sauce should be considered a condiment, an enhancement to the pasta.
I like to think of pasta, especially fresh egg pasta, as playing the leading role in the pasta dish. So why drown the protagonist before the drama has started?
Keep these ideas in mind when you bring your pasta and sauce together in the skillet. If you see that the quantity of sauce is disproportionate to the pasta, spoon some out (and save it, of course) before tossing and finishing the dish. And if you see that the sauce is soupy and collects in the bottom of the skillet, raise the head while tossing the pasta actively, evaporating the excess water and thickening the sauce so it adheres to the pasta.
The way I roast, aromatic vegetables fill the pan to lend flavor to the meat during their hours together in the oven. Later, the vegetables are usually mashed and sieved to extract their juices, flavor, and rich pulp for the sauce. I sometimes hate to lose these sweet vegetables—if you’ve tasted a carrot or onion wedge that’s roasted with turkey or pork shoulder, you know what I mean. So I suggest you split the goods and use some to make sauce and save the rest as contorno, or a side dish.
You can do the same with most roasting recipes, just follow these guidelines:
• Increase the amount of sturdy root vegetables (or add them) such as carrots, parsnips, whole shallots, and rutabagas, as well as celery. Cut 3- or 4-inch long wedges, evenly thick, at least 1/2-wide, or thicker if they must roast a long time. Short wedges cook through, look good, won’t break and caramelize on the edges, too.
• Cut onions in wedges but trim them so the layers remain attached at the root end and they don’t fall apart.
• Cook leeks whole, using leeks of medium thickness (1-1/2 inches). Trim off tough leaves, wash thoroughly, trim the hair-like roots, but leave the root base that holds the leaves together. Do not cut the leek crosswise; split the leaves—but not the root end—lengthwise. When serving, slice off the root and cut into short lengths.
• Use big, thick celery stalks. Peel to remove tough skin. Cut celery sticks about 1-inch wide so they don’t fall apart.
• Caramelize the vegetables in the roasting pan after pouring out the pan juices for sauce. Roast them with the meat or by themselves. Vegetables usually need more dry roasting than the meat because they have been covered in liquid. Speed caramelization by raising the heat or the level of the roasting pan in the oven.
Beet salad with radicchio and goat cheese,
Prosciutto, Salumi, Broccoli Rabe, Squash and
burrata cheese, Smoked Salmon, Shrimp Salad
Pumpkin Ravioli with Sage Butter sauce and
Paccheri with Ragu Festivo
Slow roasted turkey legs and milk braised turkey
breast, Lamb Chops, Salt – Baked Salmon Served
with Crisp Fingerling Potatoes, Butternut squash,
Cranberry and Orange Sauce, Brussel Sprouts,
Ricotta Cheesecake, Apple Crostata “Pie”
and Pecan Pie with maple syrup ice cream
$98 per person
(All served family style)
Here’s a photo of me with my crazy cucuzzi. They’re much better when smaller, but this is what happens when you go on vacation! The straight one was growing from a trellis on the garage, and I found the curvy one growing under the rhubarb.
My favorite part of this aggressively growing plant is the tendrils of the vine; just saute them with a little garlic, peperoncino, olive oil and a pinch of salt! And of course you could make quite a few zucca ravioli out of these two.
On a recent rainy evening, this blogger was looking for familiar comfort food with a twist, and Lidia’s Steak Pizzaiola fit the bill. This recipe comes from the forthcoming Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, on shelves October 16th.
Visit An Italian Canadian Life for the recipe and beautiful step-by-step photos!
Preorder Lidia’s Favorite Recipes here!
All this talk about Lidia’s Favorite Recipes has me asking myself what my other favorites are: What’s my favorite color? Who is my favorite opera singer? I’m grateful that this book has encouraged me to look inward, and I find it especially appropriate that it’s being released in my favorite season: fall.
I need only look out my kitchen window at my mother’s garden to know that autumn is on its way. What used to be a veritable forest of fruits, vegetables, and herbs seems to have been reduced to a patchy, wintry landscape overnight. If you were to take a close look, though, you would notice that all that lonely looking soil has already been seeded with an array of hearty fall and winter vegetables; I’m particularly excited for the garlic, which we will harvest, braid, and hang to dry in the spring.
Fortunately, what can appear to be the start of a descent into the depths of winter is actually the beginning of a whole new cycle, and I’ve always found that to be true of fall. I know that when Tanya and Joe were kids the “back to school” season certainly never felt like a time to hibernate! For me, the fall is the time to get in gear; this year I’ll certainly have my hands full with my newest cookbook, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. I feel particularly attached to this latest book; I truly love all 100 recipes I included, and I feel that in many ways this book is quintessentially Lidia–a neatly bundled and accessible guide to Italian cooking that features my family’s tried and true recipes.
The Kitchen Boudoir treated a table of friends to a Lidia-inspired dinner–complete, of course, with a recipe from Lidia’s Favorite Recipes: Ziti alla Norma! Take a look at the beautiful photos and get the recipe here.
Lidia’s forthcoming book, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, will be on shelves October 16th!
Read the review and get the recipe here!
With only a few days and so much to see in Puglia, I picked the highlights.
The conical trulli in Alberobello (take a virtual tour here!) where adorable and we were fortunate to be invited inside someone’s home to have a look around. There is much more living space than one would think. We admired the white cathedral in Trani as it glimmered in the sea and had a fabulous lunch of local specialities at Osteria Corte in Fiore. The kids I particularly enjoyed climbing up to Castel del Monte and learning about the mystery associated with this octagonal castle.
After our action packed morning, it was wonderful to return to the calming beach where we would let the rest of the day unfold. It was difficult to leave Borgo Egnazia. Julia and I both decided this was the best place we had ever stayed, no exceptions. After our amazing experience in Puglia, Lorenzo and Julia have decided it is their favorite Italian region (until next year when we go some place new!).
Julia and I were good friends and she is one of my greatest inspirations. Her show Cooking with Master Chefs had a particularly big influence on my career; the series visited sixteen nationally acclaimed chefs in their home kitchens, and each chef would share techniques and tips as they walked you through their favorite regional recipes.
I was lucky enough to be chosen to host one of these episodes, and I had a truly wonderful time sharing my recipes for pasta and risotto. We sang, danced, and ate the risotto. Filming this episode is one of my most treasured moments with Julia.
Watch the episode here!
Julia wrote me a beautiful note after we filmed that episode together, and I thought I’d share it with all of you here in honor of her 100th birthday today.