Recipes from Molto Italiano by Mario Batali

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A good, Basic Tomato Sauce is a kitchen staple throughout Italy . My recipe appears below, and it's also available, ready-to-use, at some stores and online.

¼ cup extra virgin
1 Spanish ONION, chopped in ¼ inch dice
4 garlic CLOVES, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh THYME leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
½ medium CARROT, finely shredded
2 28-ounce cans PEELED WHOLE TOMATOES, crushed by hand and juices reserved
SALT to taste

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds one week in the refrigerator or up to six months in the freezer.

Makes 4 cups.


Antipasti / Appetizers

This is my take on the Sicilian eggplant classic, I like it pretty zippy, but you can tone down the chili to your taste.
1 large Spanish ONION, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
2 cloves GARLIC, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons PINE NUTS
3 tablespoons CURRANTS
1 tablespoon hot CHILI FLAKES
1/2 cup extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
2 medium EGGPLANT, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon SUGAR
1 teaspoon CINNAMON
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened COCOA POWDER
2 teaspoons fresh THYME leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
SALT and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER, to taste
1 BAGUETTE, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds and toasted

In a large 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, sauté the onions, garlic, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes in olive oil for 4 to 5 minutes over medium high heat until softened.
Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa and continue to cook 5 minutes.
Add the thyme, tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar and bring to boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and serve on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.

Serves 8

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano

Primi / First Courses

This simple classic is often interpreted to include anything from bacon to zucchini, all of which may be good but are not traditional. The hero in this game is the brief cooking time, which results in calamari with a silken, tender texture, complemented but not overpowered by the slightly spicy tomato sauce.

1/2 cup extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
4 cloves GARLIC, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon hot red PEPPER FLAKES
1/2 cup dry WHITE WINE
2 1/2 pounds CALAMARI, cleaned, bodies cut into 1/4-inch-wide rings,
tentacles left whole
1 tablespoon RED WINE VINEGAR
1/4 cup Italian PARSLEY, chopped

In a 6-quart pot, combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the garlic, and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat until the garlic is light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and wine and bring to a boil.

Add the calamari and stir to mix well, then reduce the heat and simmer until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, parsley, and the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve, or allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

Serves 6

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano


Monkfish, one of my favorite fish, is not yet hip enough to be on the endangered species list, or even cost too much. It barbeques beautifully and does well in the oven, “roasted” like meat. And it is nearly impossible to overcook, so it stays moist and juicy.

1/4 cup extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
1 medium RED ONION, finely chopped
1 medium ZUCCHINI, cut lengthwise in half and then into thin half-moons
2 teaspoons FRESH THYME leaves
8 ounces MONKFISH FILLET, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
SALT and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER
1 cup dry WHITE WINE
1 pound LINGUINE
¼ cup Italian PARSLEY, finely chopped

Bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Meanwhile, in a 12-inch sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until smoking. Add the onion zucchini and thyme and sauté until onion and zucchini are lightly browned and very soft, 10 – 12 minutes.

Season the monkfish with salt and pepper, add to the pan, and toss until the fish is starting to whiten, about 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce and white wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Drop the linguine into the boiling water and cook until al dente; drain. Toss the patsa into the pan with the monkfish, add parsley and toss over medium heat until well mixed. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano

Secondi / Main Courses

12 thin slices of VEAL, shoulder or leg, pounded to 1/4-inch thickness by your butcher
1/2 cup PINE NUTS, toasted in a 400 F oven 2 minutes
1/4 cup CURRANTS
1/2 cup freshly-grated PECORINO
3 ounces PROSCIUTTO, cut into 1/8-inch dice
1 cup Italian PARSLEY leaves, coarsely chopped
4 cloves GARLIC, crushed
1/4 cup extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
2 ounces PANCETTA, cut into 1/8 inch dice
1 large Spanish ONION, thinly sliced
2 cups RED WINE

Season the veal with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, combine the pine nuts, currants,

pecorino, prosciutto, parsley and garlic. Add the eggs and mix well to blend. Divide the pine nut mixture between each of the 12 veal pieces, leaving a 1/2 -inch perimeter uncovered on each. Roll each piece of veal tightly and bind with butcher's twine to ensure that filling stays intact.

In a large casserole or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil until almost smoking. Add the pancetta and saute for 2 minutes. Add the onion and sauté 2 minutes. Remove the pancetta and onion with a slotted spoon, reserving on a plate nearby. Add the veal pieces and brown each on all sides, then remove to a plate, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. When all of the veal has seen the pan, add the tomato sauce and wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits. Reduce to a simmer and add the veal, onions and pancetta. Cover tightly and allow to simmer for 1 hour. Allow to rest 10 minutes off the heat before serving.

Serves 6

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano


This Canzanese recipe is anything but a peasant dish, with the prosciutto and wine—it probably descended from Spanish royalty, long-time tenants in and around Napoli .

Two 3-pound CHICKENS, cut into 8 serving pieces each

1 tablespoon SALT
2 sprigs ROSEMARY
2 fresh SAGE leaves
3 cloves GARLIC, sliced
12 whole CLOVES
A small handful of BLACK PEPPERCORNS, crushed
1 small dried HOT CHILE
Two 1/4-inch-thick slices PROSCIUTTO di PARMA , finely chopped
3/4 cup dry RED WINE
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian PARSLEY

Place the chicken in a large bowl and season with the salt. Add cold water to cover, and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain the chicken, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a large Dutch oven and add the rosemary, sage, bay leaves, garlic, cloves, peppercorns, chile, prosciutto, and wine. Cover, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is almost tender, about 35 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer to reduce the sauce by half, about 15 minutes longer. Remove the chile, if desired.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed serving platter, garnish with the parsley, and serve.

Serves 4

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano



Thick, juicy, meaty osso buco like these are a celebratory tour de force that tastes and seems a lot more difficult to make than it is. For a truly spectacular presentation, you could have your butcher get a whole uncut shank and ask her to trim the bottom of the shin bone for access to the marrow. Serve with Risotto Milanese, the classic accompaniment.

Four 3-inch-thick OSSO BUCO (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
SALT and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER
6 tablespoons extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
1 medium CARROT, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 small Spanish ONION, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 rib CELERY, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh THYME
2 cups dry WHITE WINE

1/2 cup finely chopped Italian PARSLEY
1/4 cup PINE NUTS, toasted
Grated zest of 1 LEMON
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Season the osso buco all over with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Place the osso buco in the pot and brown on all sides, rolling them on their sides to get all the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Add the carrot, onion, celery, and thyme to the pot and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are golden brown and slightly softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, stock, and wine and bring to a boil. Place the osso buco back in the pot, making sure they are submerged at least halfway; if necessary, add additional stock. Tightly cover the pot, place in the oven, and cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.

Meanwhile, make the gremolata: In a small bowl, gently mix the parsley, pine nuts, and lemon zest.

Remove the osso buco from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the gremolata before serving.

Serves 4

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano



This is the daddy of all great braises from the Piemonte, and it is consistently a huge seller in the restaurants there because it offers big beef flavor, super-tender “fork-cutting” meat, and the opportunity to drop big ducats on the delicious Barolos and Barbarescos that match it perfectly. I like that.

6 tablespoons extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
2 pounds boneless BEEF SHORT RIBS, cut into 3-inch cubes
SALT and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER
2 large Spanish ONIONS, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium CARROT, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 ribs CELERY, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
4 ounces PANCETTA, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups Barolo or other HEARTY RED WINE
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce*

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat until smoking. Season the meat liberally with salt and pepper. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, brown the meat all over, turning frequently, until dark golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter and set aside.

Pour the excess oil out of the pot. Add the onions, carrot, celery, and pancetta and cook until the vegetables are light brown and starting to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.

Add the meat and bring back to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the meat is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Transfer the meat to a festive platter.

Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce to 2 1/2 cups. Season with salt and pepper, pour over the meat, and serve immediately.

Serves 4

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano


Contorni / Side Dishes

Roasting asparagus in the oven or on a hot grill adds another world of intensity to its sweetness and brings out its woodsy, meaty component. The dressing may be optional for some, but it is essential for me and the several hundred thousand citizens of the Veneto region of northern Italy.

1 1/2 pounds jumbo ASPARAGUS
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
1 tablespoon coarse SEA SALT
2 tablespoons RED WINE VINEGAR
2 tablespoons tiniest CAPERS
1 hard-cooked EGG, white and yolk separated and chopped separately
1 SCALLION, thinly sliced
SALT and freshly ground BLACK PEPPER

Preheat the oven to 500°F or preheat the grill.

Snap off the fibrous bottom part of each stalk of asparagus (it will break off naturally where it becomes tough, provided that you grasp the very bottom of the woody stalk with your fingertips). Place the asparagus in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, sprinkle with the sea salt, and toss to coat.

Spread on a baking sheet or arrange on the grill rack and cook, turning occasionally, until tender and golden brown in some spots, about 8 minutes in the oven or 6 to 7 minutes on the grill. Transfer to a platter.

In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, capers, chopped egg white, scallion, and the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the asparagus, sprinkle with the chopped egg yolk, and serve.

Serves 4 - 6

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano



This slowly simmered dish delivers incredible impact—it always seems as if I am tasting rabe for the first time. The olives are truly all the seasoning it needs.

1/4 cup extra-virgin OLIVE OIL
1 clove GARLIC, crushed and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon hot RED PEPPER FLAKES
3 bunches BROCCOLI RABE, trimmed and washed well
1/4 cup small BLACK OLIVES, pitted and coarsely chopped

In a deep pot large enough to hold all of the broccoli rabe, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

While the garlic is cooking, wash the broccoli rabe thoroughly. Add it to the pot with the water still clinging to its leaves, cover tightly, and cook until the rabe is very tender and just a few spoonfuls of liquid remain, 20 to 30 minutes.

When the broccoli rabe is tender, stir it well to mix with the sauce, then stir in the olives. Serve hot.

Serves 4

Recipes © 2005 Mario Batali, from Molto Italiano