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Antipasti from Mario Batali's
"Simple Italian Food"



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La Belle Cuisine


Recipe Source:

Mario Batali Simple Italian Food:
Recipes from My Two Villages
by Mario Batali,1998, Clarkson N, Potter, Inc.
(Crown Publishing Group)


From the Introduction: Simplicity

“An unremarkable word, and one that is perhaps overused today. It is nonetheless
one of the most fundamental and at the same time most elusive keys to preparing
food well. Certainly it is the absolute cornerstone of the spectacular and glorious regional Italian fare that has so influenced my approach to cooking. It is also the object of my desire, whether I am re-creating a 100-year-old dish from the hill
country between Bologna and Firenze, or creating a new dish to demonstrate on television. It is certainly my design when cooking at home for friends and family
and what is expected at my restaurants, Pó and Babbo, in New York City.
Perfectly pristine ingredients, combined sensibly and cooked properly, are what
make Italian food taste so good, both in Italy and here in the United States."

From “Antipasti”

“Antipasto is Emilia-Ronagna has been based traditionally on the region’s outstanding pork products, namely Prosciutto di Parma and other salumeria,
or cured meats, such as salami, culatello, and capicola. Parmigiano-Reggiano
also is served in a variety of straightforward but delicious preparations as a
way to pique the appetite at the beginning of a meal.
Historically, the presence of an antipasto on a home menu was a sign of
prosperity, as the poor generally ate only pasta (an inexpensive way to fill
up), sometimes followed by secondo based on meat or fish…
Restaurants in Italy and America now offer vast assortments of antipasti,
and offering three or four of these dishes in succession or all at once can be
an enjoyable and more casual way of dining. Since may of these dishes can
be prepared in advance and served at room temperature or finished at the last
minute, the antipasto course makes a lot of sense for the home entertainer.
Of course a certain amount of Italian food sense is essential to creating a
harmonious meal of even small dishes.
One of the main points that distinguishes cooking in Italy from cooking
in America is the level of intensity that is maintained throughout a meal.
Italians tend to expect a series of plates of equal size, including at least
one, if not several, pasta courses on the road to a full repast that includes
a significant secondo, or entrée…
The most important thing to remember when making and serving antipasti…
is to enjoy the process from the shopping through the cleanup. It is like a
dance, joyful, sometimes repetitive, yet always satisfying, nourishing the
body as well as the soul. Assessing the tastes and needs of your guests and
meeting them with style is what great hospitality is all about, and it’s
ultimately what distinguishes your table from mine.”


Grilled Linguica Crostini with
Red Onion Marmalade

Serves 4

“Although historically these garlic sausages are a product of Portugal,
I buy linguica from Faicco’s Italian pork store on the corner of Cornelia
and Bleecker, where it is made fresh every day. The combination of sweet
marmalade and salty, garlicky sausage is a natural for this quick-to-finish
appetizer. The marmalade will hold up for two weeks, covered in the refri-
gerator, and is also good for tortellini in chicken broth or on sandwiches.”

[Ed. Note:  Any fine-quality garlic sausage may be substituted. Since I
reside in the Andouille Capitol of the World (LaPlace, LA) it will not be a
difficult choice for me. I’ll just run down to Jacob’s and see what’s cooking!]

2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cups fresh orange juice
1 cup Port wine
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces linguica sausages [or other garlic sausages]
Twelve 1-inch-thick slices Italian peasant bread
Grated zest of 1 orange

 Preheat the grill or broiler.
In a saucepan, combine the onions, orange juice, wine, water, salt,
and sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce this mixture to a thick marmalade
consistency, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Place the sausage on the grill or under the broiler and cook thoroughly,
5 to 7 minutes per side, turning frequently. Remove from the grill and
slice into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.
Grill the bread until lightly toasted on both sides. Smear each slice with
about 2 tablespoons of the onion mixture, then arrange 4 or 5 slices of
sausage on top. Garnish with the orange zest and serve.



“The terms ‘bruschetta’ and ‘crostini’ are often used interchangeably in
America, but there are differences in preparation. Derived from, ‘bruscare’,
the verb meaning to char over hot coals, bruschetta is a grilled bread that is
invariably served warm, often with nothing more than a drizzle of good oil
and the rub of a raw garlic clove. (If you do not have hot coals ready to grill
your bread, a broiler works as well.) This is also referred to as fett’unta, or
greased slice, and is served in the time of new oil to showcase the intense
flavor of the fall crop. Crostini, on the other hand, are often fried or toasted
and can be served cool or at room temperature, usually smeared with some
chicken liver paste (for Crostine Toscane) or with a pâté of livers. The varia-
tions are endless for either, but I return again and again to these bruschetta
toppings, as they are quick to make yet large on flavor:
White beans and rosemary
Sautéed summer squash with garlic and marjoram
Shrimp sautéed with garlic and lemon zest
Eggplant cooked al fungo
Sautéed turnips with Prosciutto and sage"


Bruschetta with Bresaola, Eggplant,
and Mozzarella

Serves 4

“Served with a salad and a couple of olives, this simple,
satisfying dish can easily make a light lunch.”

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 small Japanese eggplants
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
8 basil leaves, cut in narrow ribbons
Salt and pepper
4 slices Italian peasant bread
4 ounces Bresaola, sliced paper-thin
(12-15 slices)
Note: Prosciutto or capicola may be
substituted for the bresaola

In a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil until smoking over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, 9 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut
the eggplant into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. When the onion is softened, add
the eggplant to the pan and cook, stirring regularly, until the eggplant has darkened and is soft, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the vinegar and remove
from the heat to cool.
Cut the mozzarella into 1/4-inch cubes and add to the cooled eggplant
mixture. Add the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the grill or broiler.
Grill or toast the bread on both sides and spoon a generous amount of egg-plant over each slice of bread. Top each with 3 slices of bresaola and serve.


Shrimp Bruschetta from “da Zaccaria”

Serves 4

“I could wax poetic for days about the cooking of the Amalfi coast, and in
particular about my love of one perfect seafood trattoria in Atrani called da
Zaccaria. Try this recipe and you’ll see why. The success of this deceptively
simple appetizer depends entirely on the quality of the shrimp. Limoncello is a
sweet lemon-flavored liqueur made all over Amalfi, and it’s actually quite a
hangover producer. Though the alcohol cooks out, a deliciously pungent
fragrance remains.”

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 ounces Limoncello liqueur
1/2 cup dry white wine
Four 3/4-inch-thick slices Italian peasant bread
1 bunch chives, snipped into 1/4-inch lengths
Salt and pepper

 Preheat the grill or broiler.
In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until
just smoking. Add the garlic and cook until it turns light brown. Add the
shrimp and cook without turning for 2 to 3 minutes, until bright red. Turn
the shrimp over and cook for 1 minute. Transfer the shrimp to a plate
and add to the pan the lemon juice, Limoncello, and wine. Boil the sauce
for 3 minutes.
Grill or toast the bread and place 1 slice on each plate. With tongs, transfer
3 of the shrimp to each piece of bread. Stir the chives into the sauce in the
pan and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp,
sprinkle with the lemon zest, and serve immediately.


Warm Terrine of Sausage, Peppers, Polenta,
and Mozzarella

Serves 6

“After I demonstrated this recipe on television, it became on of my most
requested ever. It is definitely best made a day ahead and lends itself to
myriad variations. At Pó, we often use soft goat cheese in place of the
mozzarella and also add pitted Gaeta olives and chopped fresh thyme
leaves to different layers.”

8 ounces sweet sausage
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and
cut into 12-inch-wide strips
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and
cut into 12-inch-wide strips
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into strips
3 inches by 1/4 inch
6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups quick-cooking polenta or yellow corn meal
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees [F].
Arrange the sausage in a baking pan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes. Drain off the fat, then crumble the cooked sausage to resemble rough
bread crumbs. Set aside.
In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Gently
sauté the garlic until golden brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the
bell peppers and sauté until soft but not browned, 7 to 8 minutes longer. Remove from heat, transfer the garlic and peppers to a bowl, and let cool.
Bring the mozzarella to room temperature. Arrange the sausage, peppers,
garlic and mozzarella in separate bowls. Set out a terrine, 13x4x4 inches.
Bring the water to a boil, adding the salt and sugar. Slowly add the polenta
to the boiling water in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Lower the
heat and cook until the polenta resembles the texture of hot cereal, 2 to 3
minutes. Remove the pot from heat. The polenta will begin to thicken immediately, so time here is of the essence.
Moving quickly, pour a 3/4-inch layer of polenta into the prepared terrine. Sprinkle all the crumbled sausage over the polenta. Cover the sausage with about 1 1/2 cups more polenta, using a spatula to smooth the top. Next,
make a layer with the peppers and garlic cloves and top with another
1 1/2 cups warm polenta. Smooth and flatten the polenta to make a nice,
even layer all the way to the edges. Arrange the mozzarella over polenta
(but do not bring the mozzarella to the edges as it will stick to the sides
when it melts). Fill the terrine with a final layer of warm polenta; there
may be polenta left over. Smooth the top all the way to the edges.
Cover the terrine with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.
To serve, invert the terrine onto a cutting board. (It should come out quite easily.) Cut the terrine in 3/4-inch-thick slices. Place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with the grated cheese and
serve immediately.

More from Chef Mario Batali:
At-Home Comfort Food
Babbo's Bollito Misto
Balsamic Glazed Chicken with
Grilled Radicchio

Cool Chicken Braciole Messinese
T-Bone Steak Fiorentina with
Sautéed Spinach and DaVero Olive Oil

Featured Archive Recipes:
Bruschetta with Scallops Provençale
Bruschetta with White Beans, Tomatoes
and Olives

Crostini con Peperoni
Grilled Shrimp with White Beans,
Rosemary, Mâche, and Mint Oil


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