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Then come on back and Let's Cook Italian!!

Listino alla Cucina
Antipasti
Clams Oreganato
Panzanella (Italian Bread Salad)
Italian White Bean and Tuna Salad
Pasta e Fagioli
Spagettini with Checca Sauce
3 Pines Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Lasagna al Forno
Baked Ziti with Meatballs and Italian Sausage
Chicken Cacciatore
Veal or Chicken Piccata with Garlic-Oil Capellini
Veal Chops with Rosemary-Garlic Wine Sauce
Asparagus alla Romana
Roasted Fennel With Parmesan
Baked Risotto with Pancetta and Peas
Risi e Bisi
Herb and Parmesan Italian Bread
Cinnamon Ricotta Pie

ANTIPASTI
Most of these items can be stored on your pantry and refrigerator shelves so you can prepare just as much as you need for a small or large crowd. From this list you can pick and choose what you like. The full compliment should keep 8-10 guests happy for about an hour.

2 bulbs fresh fennel (tops trimmed off)
1 bunch fresh broccoli
2 cloves garlic -- minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 - 10 whole lettuce leaves (more if needed)
2 jars roasted red peppers (7 oz.ea.) -- drained
1 container Italian or Kalamata black olives (16 oz.) -- drained
1 container spicy marinated Sicilian green olives (16 oz.) -- drained
1 container marinated mushrooms (16 oz.) -- drained
2 cans imported Italian tuna fillet packed in olive oil (6 oz.ea.) -- drained
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts (6 oz.)
4 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
4 ounces thinly sliced Italian hard salami
4 ounces sliced Provolone cheese
4 ounces sliced fresh Mozzarella cheese
4 ounces fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese -- thinly sliced
Fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

All the ingredients should be readily available at your local grocer or deli. If not, try ordering from the links on my Shopping Page at

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut fennel bulbs in half lengthwise, then cut into slices or wedges about1/2" thick. Cut broccoli into florets, reserving stems for another use if desired. Place fennel, broccoli and garlic on a shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add olive oil and toss it all to coat everything well. Roast 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally, or until softend and golden but not browned. Remove vegetables to a plate. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and grate fresh Parmesan cheese over all and cool to room temperature.

Line 1 or 2 large oval platters with the whole lettuce leaves (iceberg or leafy is fine). Begin arranging all the ingredients on the platter(s), one group at a time, trying to alternate colors and types of ingredients (i.e., fennel next to red peppers next to green olives next to a meat next to a cheese, etc.)

Garnish with sprigs of fresh parsley. Serve at room temperature with small bowls of extra virgin olive oil next to the platters for drizzling if desired.
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CLAMS OREGANATO
This is Mario Batale's recipe as presented on Food TV many times. When preparing this dish, just be sure everything is as fresh as can be!
Serves 4

24 cherrystone or littleneck clams, scrubbed
3 cups kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/8-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, crusts removed and set aside for another use
Salt and pepper
1 bunch fresh oregano, chopped

Carefully open the clams and loosen from bottom shell, carefully draining each of the clams' liquid into a small mixing bowl. Pour kosher salt onto a cookie sheet so that it is at least a half-inch deep, and arrange the clams in their half-shells around the cookie sheet.

In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat until smoking and add the onion, garlic, and peppers. Cook 6 to 7 minutes, until softened and light golden brown, then add the bread crumbs and continue cooking another 3 minutes, until they are light golden brown. Remove the mixture from heat, season with salt and pepper, and cool. Stir in the chopped oregano and the reserved clam liquid and pack about 2 teaspoons of the crumb mixture loosely into each clamshell.

Preheat the broiler. Place clams under heat and heat through, without really cooking the clam, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the crumb mixture has turned deep golden brown. Remove from heat, drizzle with a drop of olive oil, and serve.
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PANZANELLA
(Italian Bread Salad)
Five different people will give you five different ways to prepare this Italian favorite; this way is my way and the one I took from Giada DeLaurentis on Food TV, mostly because I love the freshness!
Serves 6

1/4 cup drained capers
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
12 ounces ciabatta or other country-style white bread, 2 to3 days old
9 ripe tomatoes (about 2 1/4 pounds total), cored and scored on the bottom
2 tablespoons plus 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 cup drained roasted red bell pepper strips
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Soak the capers in 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a small bowl for 10 minutes. Drain.

Cut the crust off of the bread. Cut into 2-inch slices and grill, drizzling about 2 tablespoons of olive oil on both sides of the bread. Once grilled, cut or tear bread into 1 inch cubes and set aside.

Submerge the tomatoes into a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water to cool slightly. Using a small sharp paring knife, peel off the tomato skins. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch cubes and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk 2/3 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the bread cubes, tomatoes, and basil; toss to combine.

Transfer half of the bread mixture to a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish.

Arrange half of the roasted peppers, drained capers, and olives over the bread mixture. Repeat layering with the remaining bread mixture, then the remaining roasted peppers, capers, and olives. Cover the salad and let stand at room temperature for flavors to blend, at least 1 hour.

Garnish with the basil sprigs and serve.
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ITALIAN WHITE BEAN AND TUNA SALAD
Try to get only the best ingredients for this salad. It's a simple salad made delicious only by the best tuna, and the best tuna for this salad is imported from Italy or Sicily (Spain or Portugal is fine, too) packed in oil. If you can't find it, some grocers or delis carry American brands packed in oil. (I guess what I'm saying is---"packed in water" gives you no flavor whatsoever!) A good substitute for the cannellini beans is great northern.
Serves: 6

2 cans Italian Cannellini beans (15 oz.) -- drained and rinsed
1 medium red onion -- chopped
1/4 cup choped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and fesh ground pepper
Lettuce leaves
1 can solid tuna fillet packed in oil (6-oz.) -- drained

Combine beans, onion and parsley in salad bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and pour over beans, using only enough to coat the ingredients (don't make it soupy!). Cover and chill completely.

Line individual serving plates or a medium serving bowl with lettuce leaves. Spoon bean mixture into center. Top with chunks of tuna and pass additional salad dressing on the side.
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PASTA e FAGIOLI
There must be dozens of versions of this lovely warm and comforting dish, but this seems to be the best one with the best flavors and consistency. This soup (closer to a stew) is eaten almost weekly in Italy because it's cheap, easy and delicious. It also has plenty of slang-y names, including "pasta fazoo"!
Serves: 6

8 ounces cannellini beans or great northern beans -- washed and sorted
4 ounces pancetta or bacon -- diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion -- chopped
1 medium carrot -- diced
2 cloves garlic -- minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (15 oz.)
2 cups chicken broth (+ water if needed)
1 cup uncooked small ebow maaroni or ditalini
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Place beans into a Dutch oven, covered with water by 1 inch; bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Cover; remove from heat and let stand 2 hours. Drain and set aside. (NOTE: As an alternative, 2 cans of cannellini beans or great northern beans, drained and rinsed, can be used.)

In a large skillet, saute pancetta or bacon in olive oil until lightly browned and crisp. Add onions, carrots and garlic; season with a little salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat until soft but not browned. Stir in oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the reserved beans, and the chicken stock, plus enough water to cover the mixture; bring just to a boil. Lower heat; partially cover and simmer 1-1/2 to 2 hours (10-15 minutes if using canned beans), or until beans are tender. Stir in pasta; return to a boil; partially cover and simmer 12-15 minutes or until pasta is done. (Additional water may be needed if a soupier consistency is desired.)

Ladle into soup bowls, garnish with parsley, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.
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SPAGHETTINI WITH CHECCA SAUCE
For all you lovers of fresh-fresh-fresh sauces on your pasta, this is it! Giada DeLaurentis did this on Food TV and it looked so luscious I had to try it. It's really yummy!
Serves: 4

8 ounces spaghettini or angel hair pasta
4 scallions (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (12-ounce container) cherry tomatoes, halved
1 (1-ounce) piece Parmesan, coarsely chopped
8 to 10 fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the next 7 ingredients in a food processor. Pulse just until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped (do not puree).

Drain the pasta, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta with the tomato mixture and fresh mozzarella in a large bowl. Add some of the reserved pasta water (about 1/4 cup) if the sauce looks dry. Serve immediately.
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3 PINES SPAGHETTI WITH MEAT SAUCE
This is mine! My best friends tell me this sauce "is awesome!" so I just have to believe that! *LOL* This is the closest I have ever come to duplicating the delicious meat sauce I used to get at Nino's Resturant in Washington, D.C. at 2:00 am (ahem!). It's truly Italian-American in the best sense, so I hope you enjoy it (and please don't tinker with it too much, huh?)
Serves: 4-6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves -- minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pound ground beef round
1/2 pound lean ground pork or additional beef round
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 can tomato paste (6-oz.)
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 can crushed tomatoes (28-oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (15 oz.)
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or to taste
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound Thin Spaghetti

Put olive oil into a cold Dutch oven or large heavy saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until just barely hot. Add onion and carrot, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to bring out the flavors, and saute until softened. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes more, but do not let garlic burn.

Add beef, and pork if used; cook and stir until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Add oregano, basil and red pepper flakes; mix well. a little more salt and pepper is good right here. Stir in the tomato paste. Stir in the wine until well-blended. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and mix well. Stir in sugar and cinnamon and bring slowly to a simmer.

Simmer uncovered over low heat from 1 to 1-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in Parmesan; simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions; drain and divide into 6 warm serving plates. Ladle sauce over the pasta and serve with additional Parmesan on the side.

NOTES: - Use only a non-stick or stainless pot for this; aluminum or cast iron yields a metallic taste.
- I added a heaping teaspoon of bacon fat to the olive oil and used all beef, no pork (but it's not necessary).
- Best brands of crushed and whole tomatoes are San Marzano, Muir Glen, Cento, or any others if the cans say tomatoes are "San Marzano".
- Any brand of tomato paste and tomato sauce is fine---I'll use the cheapest.
- A wooden or plastic spoon is best to stir so no metal-like flavors create an "off" taste to the sauce.
- This sauce freezes well in sealable 1-quart plastic containers.
- Also, if you really love meat, add some ready-to-cook frozen meatballs during the last hour of simmering.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Suggested Wine: Valpolicella or Chianti Classico
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LASAGNA AL FORNO
This recipe is a combination of ideas accumulated over the years with parts of it from Sara Moulton and John Libnati on Food TV. You will need a full pot of sauce to make a really large yummy lasagna. Hey, I've even cheated with the sauce to make up the difference by adding a little Prego! Just remember that the sauce for lasagna should not be as "soupy" as a normal pasta sauce might be; and if you're in the habit of adding oil to your pasta water, don't, and never never rinse your cooked pasta!---other wise your finished dish will be soupy and fall apart.

As for the cheese mixture, only the best and (yep!) more expensive cheeses should be used here. That canned stuff is just that---stuff!

This dish needs only a big salad, a loaf of crusty bread, and a bottle of good wine---oh, well, good company to enjoy it with, of course!
Serving Size : 8

CHEESE MIXTURE:
3/4 pound fresh Parmiagiana-Reggiano cheese
1/2 pound fresh Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 pound smoked Provolone cheese *
SAUCE:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion -- finely chopped
3 cloves garlic -- minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pound lean ground beef or Italian sausage
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried basil
1 bay leaf
1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
2 cans Italian tomatoes with juice (28 oz.ea.) -- crushed by hand
3 tablespoons grated Italian cheese mixture (above)
FILLING:
2 pounds whole milk ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 tbs. dried
1 cup grated Italian cheese mixture (above)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Lasagna noodles (oven-ready preferred) *
1 pound shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Italian cheese mixture (above)

CHEESE MIXTURE:
Cut cheeses into chunks and place into a food processor. Process until finely grated. Put into a sealable container and keep chilled untl ready to use.
* If smoked Provolone is not available, add more of either Parmiagiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.

SAUCE:
Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions, garlic; sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Do not let garlic brown. Add the beef or sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon. Drain off excess oil and fat. Season mixture with oregano, basil and bay leaf. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes with their juice. Mix well and bring just to a simmer. Let simmer until flavors blend and sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of the cheese misture and remove bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. ( Sauce is ready for lasagna to be made (sauce should not be too soupy--otherwise your lasagna will be runny and fall apart).

* If not using oven-ready lasagna noodles, cook noodles in boiling salted water 2-3 minutes less time than instructed on package. Do not add oil to pasta water. Drain thoroughly. Do not rinse pasta. Separate noodles so they don't stick together (one way is to drape them over the edge of a large mixing bowl).

FILLING:
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, eggs. parsley, cheese mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well blended and set aside. This should be made just before ready to assemble the dish.

ASSEMBLE:
Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 13x9x2 baking pan or dish with cooking spray.

Spoon and spread about 1/3 cup sauce evenly over the bottom of the prepared baking pan (sauce should very thinly cover bottom, not necessarily completely). Lay lasagna noodles over the sauce in a single layer, making sure they do not quite touch each other (oven-ready noodles will expand slightly during baking). Spread about 2/3 cups of sauce over noodles evenly. Drop about 6 heaping tablespoonfuls of ricotta filling onto sauce and gently spread with back of spoon or a spatula. Sprinkle about 1/3 of shredded Mozzarella cheese over the ricotta mixture.

Repeat the process to make 2 more layers in the same manner. You should end with a layer of noodles, and spread remaining sauce evenly over top of the noodles, making sure noodles are completely covered.

Sprinkle the top liberally with the 1 cup of the cheese mixture and the remaining mozzarella.

Cover the pan tightly with foil, tenting slightly to prevent it from touching top cheese layer. Bake in middle of the oven for 45 minutes (it's best to place a baking sheet on the oven rack below the lasagna to catch any bubbling over).

Remove foil and bake 12-15 minutes more, or until top is bubbling and golden. Let stand about 10-15 minutes before serving.
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BAKED ZITI WITH MEATBALLS AND ITALIAN SAUSAGE
Yash owned Pike Pizza in Arlington, Va. for 20 years, and retired around 1991. That restaurant was our neighborhood watering hole where a bunch of us went to meet and greet almost daily. We never knew Yash's last name. He was from Pakistan but he made the absolutely best Italian meatballs we ever tasted! After wheedling this recipe out of him, I gave up all other meatball recipes!

The casserole following the meatball recipe is just one of dozens of recipes you can use these in. Baked Ziti is one of our favorites.

YASH'S SPECIAL MEATBALLS:
3 pounds ground beef round *
1 medium onion -- finely chopped
3 cloves garlic -- minced
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, more or less as needed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parlsey
3 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3 eggs
1/4 - 1/3 cup cold water, as needed

* 1/2 pound of ground pork may be substituted for 1/2 pound of the beef if desired.

In a large bowl, put in all ingredients except the water. Using your hands, mix well. Drizzle in just enough of the water to form a smooth consistency. Spray a shallow baking pan with olive oil PAM. Shape mixture into meatballs about 1-1/2 inches in diameter and place on the prepared baking pan about 1/2-inch apart. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Remove the pan from the refrigerator to allow meatballs to come to room temperature, about 12-15 minuites, while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and place an oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Remove the cover from the meatballs, place pan into the oven, and bake 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Cool on the pan 2-3 minutes, then remove to a platter lined with paper towels to absorb any excess fat.

Reserve enough meatballs to prepare the recipe below; then store remaining meatballs in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 3 days, or frozen up to 3 months.

FOR THE BAKED ZITI WITH MEATBALLS AND ITALIAN SAUSAGE TO SERVE 4
ASSEMBLE:
4 cooked meatballs (Yash's preferred) -- halved
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 pound hot or mild Italian sausage (3 links) -- cut in 2" pieces
1 quart spaghetti sauce (homemade preferred)
1/2 pound ziti or other large tubular pasta (8-oz.)
8 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and spray a 3-quart casserole or 13x9x2 baking dish with olive oil PAM.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add sausage and cook until no longer pink. Drain excess fat.

Meanwhile, cook ziti in salted boiling water until barely tender (do not overcook); drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add meatball halves, the cooked sausage and enough of the sauce to completely coat the mixture. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish.

Nestle large tablespoonfuls of ricotta cheese into and around the pasta. Top with the Mozzarella and then the Parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil cover and bake 15 minutes more or until bubbling and the cheese i melted. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.
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CHICKEN CACCIATORE
I make this when I want my chicken and Trainman wants his Italian! Although this is for only 2 servings (well, 4 if you're really not hungry!), it's very easy to double or even triple for a crowd.
Serves: 2

4 pieces chicken (legs, thighs or breasts)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion -- cut 1 inch chunks
1 small green bell pepper -- cut in 1 inch chunks
2 large garlic cloves -- minced
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
Torn fresh basil leaves
Grated Parmesan cheese

Season chicken with salt and pepper; dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess. Place oil In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and heat until almost smoking. Add chicken pieces and brown about 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. Remove chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.

To the drippings in the pan, add onions, green pepper and garlic; season with a pinch of salt, pepper and crushed red pepper, and saute 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce and wine; bring to a boil. Stir in basil, oregano and sugar. Add chicken back to the pot; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer40- 45 minutes or until tender. Serve over hot cooked spaghetti, ladle sauce over all, garnish with basil and cheese.

TO BAKE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly oil a glass 13x9x2 baking dish. Brown chicken pieces as described above and place in prepared baking dish. Prepare sauce as described above and pour sauce over chicken. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 15-30 minutes more or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender. Serve over hot cooked pasta, ladle sauce over all, and pass additional Parmesan cheese.
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VEAL OR CHICKEN PICCATA
WITH GARLIC-OIL CAPELLINI
This recipe is from the California Culinary Academy. I couldn't tinker with it much---it's really yummy just as it is. This is quick and easy---perfect for a weeknight supper. Be sure to have all your ingredients ready to go---the veal cooks very quickly.
Serves 4

1 pound veal scallops -- trimmed and pounded thin *
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers -- drained
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Lemon slices for garnish

Warm a serving dish in low oven or microwave. Season both sides of veal scallops lightly with salt and pepper. Spread flour in a plate. In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the butter with the oil until very hot and fragrant. Dip both sides of the veal in the flour, shaking off excess. Add veal to the hot fat in a sisngle layer, 2-3 at a time, and brown lightly on both sides, about 1 minute per side (you may have to work in several batches. to keep them uncrowded). Remove immediately to warmed serving dish; tent with foil to keep warm.

After all the veal is cooked, pour fat out of skillet. Hold the pan away from the heat and add lemon juice, scraping up browned bits. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter plus capers and 1 tablespoon of parsley. Return veal to the sauce and warm briefly over medium heat, turning veal in sauce to coat. Return veal and sauce to serving platter or individual serv ing plates, garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and lemon slices. Serve immediately with Garlic-Oil Capellini or other pasta or side dish of choice.

* To prepare with chicken instead of veal, pound boneless skinless chicken breasts to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cook as for the veal, except 1 minutes longer per side.
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CAPELLINI WITH OLIVE OIL AND GARLIC
This is perfect with so many dishes, you'll want to keep it handy to fix in a rush. If preparing this to accompany the Veal Piccata (above), prepare this first and keep it warm, covered, in a 200-degree oven. To serve, just a few more drops of olive oil if needed and fluff a bit with a fork.
Serves 4

12 ounces capellini, angel hair or thin spaghetti
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Cook capellini or other pasta in salted boiling water according to package directions, until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, the oil over low heat; add garlic, stirring often until garlic turns golden (do not burn). Drain pasta. In a serving bowl or platter, toss spaghetti with oil and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste; sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.
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VEAL CHOPS WITH ROSEMARY-GARLIC WINE SAUCE
This is mine! And really yummy, too. As with veal scallops, the chops will cook almost as quickly, so line up your ingredients (mis en place) before you begin. Veal is very delicate meat, so do not overcook or you will have shoe leather! Side dishes can range from pasta to vegetables, so try them all.
Serves 4

4 veal chops, from 3/4" to 1" thick
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons butter -- divided
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Place veal chops in a shallow glass dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste on both sides. Heat oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet until very hot but not smoking. Sear chops over medium-high heat about 3-4 minutes each side. Remove to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Add wine to the skillet to deglaze; stir in garlic and rosemary and cook 2 minutes. Add lemon juice; cook 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons cold butter; when melted, return chops to skillet to coat with sauce. Serve immediately, hot with sauce drizzled over.
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ASPARAGUS alla ROMANA
Here's a yummy way to do asparagus that will have asparagus-haters gobbling it up (and I know---hubby does)! Remember to judge your amount of asparagus, your stem-trimming, and your roasting tim according to the thickness of the asparagus spears.
Serves: 4-6

2 pounds asparagus (1 to 1-1/2 if spears are thin) Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 pound prosciutto -- diced
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese -- to garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Remove and discard tough woody ends of the asparagus, and use a vegetable peeler to trim away the thin peel from the bottom 3 inches of the stalks. Place asparagus in a shallow baking pan and season with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet. Over medium heat, add garlic and cook until just softened (do not burn). Add the lemon juice, pine nuts and prosciutto, and cook until the nuts begin to brown slightly, about 2-3 minuites. Remove from heat and drizzle over asparagus. Toss with your hands to coat asparagus well. Roast in the oven until just cooked, about 13-15 minutes (depending on the size of the asparagus spears).

Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano may be substitute4d).
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ROASTED FENNEL WITH PARMESAN
Trainman and I have totally fallen in love with this wonderful vegetable! When it's cooking, your whole kitchen is just filled with the most glorious aroma---and the taste---to die for! If you've never tried it, please do. It's the perfect side dish, not only in an Italian meal but for pork, chicken, or fish
Serves 4

2 large bulbs fennel (3 if bulbs are small)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a shallow baking pan.

Remove the fronds and stems of the fennel and reserve some of the fronds. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise. With the cut side down, slice the bulb vertically into 1/2-inch-thick slices, cutting right through the core. Spread the fennel slices on a baking sheet, coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss with your hands.

Roast the fennel slices for about 45-60 minutes, turning them once after about 230 minutes, until the edges are crisp and brown (do not burn). Remove from the oven and cover with Parmesan shavings. Taste for salt and pepper. Chop enough fennel fronds to equal 2 teaspoons, then sprinkle over the roasted fennel and serve.
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BAKED RISSOTO WITH PANCETTA AND PEAS
Okay, I'm lazy! What else is new? I don't care for standing over a pot and stirring for over 20 minutes---so when I found this recipe, it solved the problem!
Recipe Published in the Washington Post (10/25/00)
Serves 6

4 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ounces pancetta or bacon -- finely diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup frozen peas -- thawed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat stock or broth just until it simmers. Reduce heat to low and continue to heat. Meanwhile, in a 3- to 4-quart ovenproof pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil and pancetta; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion; cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in rice, salt and pepper to taste; then add broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

Cover pot and transfer to the oven; bake 10 minutes. Uncover the pot and stir in the wine; cover the pot again and bake 10 minutes. Remove pot from oven; add the peas and stir to combine (Note---this can be made without the peas if desired.)

If there is any remaining liquid, place the pot over medium heat on top of the stove and cook, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
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RISI e BISI
Say what? Yep---just rice and peas, what little Italian children are fed very early in life, as soon as they're able to handle solid foods. It's a comforting but yummy side dish. This is Rachel Ray's version (oh yes, this you gotta stir!).
Serves 4

1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 rounded cup Arborio rice
Salt and pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano cheese, a couple of handfuls

Place chicken stock in a small pot and warm over low heat.

Heat a medium sized skillet over medium heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil 2 turns of the pan, and garlic. Saute garlic 1 minute, then add Arborio. Toast the Arborio rice 2 minutes, then ladle in 1/3 of the stock. Bring to a bubble. Stir rice occasionally, allowing the rice to get starchy and the stock to cook into the rice. Add more stock when rice starts to become dry. Continue stirring and ladling broth until rice is al dente, 22 minutes. Stir in peas and cheese and season with salt and pepper, to your taste. Serve immediately.
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HERB AND PARMESAN ITALIAN BREAD
I took a recipe I found a long time ago and begain tinkering with it---had some durum flour sitting around---finally came up with this delicious loaf, perfect for eating with your meal, for bruschetta, crostini, or just dipping into some luscious EVOO (Don't forget to have some good wine as well).
Makes One 1-1/2 pound loaf

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup durum flour
3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 teaspoon diastatic malt powder -- optional
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm bottled spring water (100-105 deg.F.)
OPTIONAL TOPPING:
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the bread flour, durum flour, cheese, dry milk powder, sugar, yeast, salt, diastiatic malt powder if used, oregano and basil. Add olive oil and warm water and mix well (using paddle attachment if using a stand mixer), adding a little flour or dribbling in a little water, until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Dough should be tacky but not sticky, and can stick a little to the bottom of the bowl, meaning a slightly wet dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10 minutes (5-6 minutes with dough hook in stand mixer). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape dough into one large boule (ball), one large oval loaf, or two smaller oval loaves, gently pulling and stretching across the top of the ball or loaves. Place on a peel or a parchment-lined sheet pan, sprinkled with semolina or cornmeal. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a proof box, and let sit at room temperature about 40-50 minutes or until almost coubled in bulk.

Meanwhile, place rack on the lowest level (with a baking stone if using), and preheat oven to 450 degrees F. for at least 30 minutes.

If toping is desired, whisk together the egg and water and lightly brush over tops of the boule or loaves. With a lame or sharp knife, slash the top of the boule or loaves 2-3 times across the top of the loaf about 1/4 inch deep. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

If using a baking stone, slide the boule or loaves off the peel directly onto the baking stone. If using a baking pan, place the pan into the oven on the lowest rack.

Spritz the oven walls with water, close the oven door, wait 30 seconds, spritz again, wait another 30 seconds and spritz one more time. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees F. and bake 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 minutes---if browning too fast, tent with foil and continue baking until golden brown and registers 195 degrees F. on a instant-read thermometer. Cool on a wire rack.
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CINNAMON RICOTTA PIE
What a heavenly way to end a wonderful Italian meal! This one will have you swooning out of your chair!
Recipe in the Bertolli Cookbook
Serves 12

PASTRY:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons milk (or more if needed)
FILLING:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 container ricotta cheese (15 oz.)
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh berries (strawberries, raspberries)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

PASTRY: In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir in olive oil and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of the milk and stir with a large fork until mixture begins to come together. If needed, drizzle added milk, to form a dough. Gather dough into a ball, flatten slightly, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill 15 minutes.

FILLING: Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Stir in ricotta, egg whites and vanilla until well-blended.

Roll pastry between 2 sheets of lightly floured wax paper to a 12-inch circle. Fit into a 9-inch pie pan or 10-inch tart pan. Trim excess pastry, and crimp edges with tines of a fork. Pour filling into pastry shell; bake 45-50 minutes or until filling is just set in the center. Cool on a wire rack. Serve chilled or at room temperature, topped with fresh berries if desired.
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