Rosanna Scotto gets a cooking lesson that is "comomonsense" Italian. She celebrates Lidia Bastianich's new book and she gets a sneak peek of her new PBS special airing Saturday, "Lidia Celebrates America."
Here are some recipes from Lidia's new book, "Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking."
MAFALDE WITH RICOTTA AND MEAT RAGÙ
Mafalde al Ragù con la Ricotta
Ricotta is used a lot in Italian pasta dishes. My guess is that the herdsmen did not always have aged cheese to grate, whereas ricotta could be, and most likely was, made every morning. So, when it came to lunch or dinner, a dollop of fresh ricotta in the cooked pasta always did the trick. Ricotta that we have available in the stores is mostly made from cow’s milk, but ricotta is also made from sheep’s milk or -goat’s milk. If you have an opportunity, try to get the other varieties; they reflect the unique flavors of the different milks and will impart those flavors to your pasta. Ricotta is usually made from the whey after cheese has been made, so it is lower in fat than hard cheese. It keeps in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for 3 or 4 days.
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
3 tablespoons -extra--virgin olive oil
12 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 medium onion, sliced
½ teaspoon crushed -red--pepper flakes
One -28--ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 pound mafalde or fettuccine
1 cup drained fresh ricotta
½ cup grated Grana Padano or -Parmigiano--Reggiano
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sausage and garlic, and cook until the sausage is browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go, about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the sliced onion, and season with the salt and the -red--pepper flakes. Cook until onion is wilted, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, slosh the tomato can out with 1 cup water, and add that as well. Bring to a simmer, and cook until thick and flavorful, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in the boiling water. When the pasta is al dente, transfer it to the finished sauce, picking it out of the boiling water with tongs, letting the excess water drip back into the boiling pot. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the ricotta and grated cheese, and serve.
CARROT AND APPLE SALAD
Insalata di Carote e Mele
This salad is not only delicious by itself but also a great platform for smoked meats or fish; it works well with trout, salmon, duck breast, and ham. Serve the proteins alongside the salad and you have a great appetizer or meal. It is a sandwich stuffer as well; instead of using mayonnaise or other fatty dressings, use this juicy salad. It is especially good on a sandwich of sliced turkey, chicken, or ham.
3 large carrots, peeled and julienned (about 2 cups)
2 Granny Smith apples, skin on, julienned (about 3 cups)
Juice of 1 orange
3 tablespoons extra- virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Toss the carrots and apples in a salad bowl with the orange juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with the parsley, season with the salt and pepper, and toss again. Serve cold.
Anise is a favorite Italian flavoring, especially for cookies. Serve these with espresso coffee and some anisette liqueur, and you will take your guests to Italy.
Makes about 48 cookies
1¾ cups all- purpose flour
1 cup fine semolina
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sambuca
½ teaspoon anise extract
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon anise extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
In a bowl, stir together flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a spouted measuring cup, whisk together the egg, yolks, sambuca, and anise extract. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until the combination is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg- yolk mixture to the mixer, and beat on medium until smooth. Add the flour mixture, and beat on low just until combined. Remove dough from mixing bowl, wrap it with plastic, and chill it until firm, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roll the dough into four dozen balls, and bake in batches on parchment- lined sheet pans, rotating the pans from the top to bottom racks in your oven halfway through the baking time, until golden, about 16 to 18 minutes per batch. Cool completely on racks.
For the glaze: Whisk the milk and anise extract into the confectioners’ sugar to make a smooth glaze about the thickness of pancake batter. Add a little more milk or confectioners’ sugar to adjust the consistency. Dip or drizzle the cookies with glaze, and let set on a rack.
Excerpted from LIDIA'S COMMONSENSE ITALIAN COOKING by Lidia Bastianich. Copyright © 2013 by Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.