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Fabio's 30-Minute Italian: Over 100 Fabulous, Quick and Easy Recipes

Fabio's 30-Minute Italian: Over 100 Fabulous, Quick and Easy Recipes

by Fabio Viviani

ISBN: 9781250109958

Publisher St. Martin's Press

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Sample Chapter

STARTERS

Toasted Bruschetta with Fresh Burrata Cheese and Honey-Pickled Shallots

Roasted Garlic, Ricotta and Herb-Marinated Shrimp Tarts

Mascarpone and Ricotta–Stuffed Peaches with Basil and Aged Balsamic

Peaches and Prosciutto di Parma Puff Pastry Tarts

Baked Gruyere, Grana Padano and Caramelized Onion Tart

Crispy Fried Summer Squash Blossoms

Frittata with Prosciutto di Parma, Sausage, Red Onions and Butter Shallots

Creamy Montasio and Prosciutto Frittata with Chives and Parsley


In Italy we don't really have appetizers, at least not in the way Americans think of them. Sure, we always eat a little something while we're waiting for the main meal, something to go with the wine we've already started drinking and to get us ready for what's to come. This might be cold cuts, cheese, raw vegetables or even pureed white beans (sort of Italian hummus). Or it might be some good bread to dip in softened, flavored butter. Any of these foods are quick to prepare and assemble and can be eaten standing up, which is how we often consume them.

In this chapter, I have recipes for starters that are more in line with American tastes but still very Italian. Some could be doubled or tripled and become a full meal. Others could be paired together to make a light lunch or dinner, or they can stand on their own as tasty preludes to dinner.


Toasted Bruschetta with Fresh Burrata Cheese and Honey-Pickled Shallots

Bruschetta — spoken as though the ch is a k — means "toasted" in Italy. And so, while it's nothing more exotic than toast, you can serve it with so many things it quickly becomes special. When I was a kid, we didn't have much money or food, and even bread on the table was cause for celebration. Ever since, I've always appreciated good bread. Toasted it's even better. Here I combine it with a tomato sauce and a wonderful cheese called burrata. Now common in the United States, burrata is the creamy, sweet curds of mozzarella with a high fat content. My grandfather made a similar cheese in Italy that was better, but a good store-bought burrata comes close. The pickled shallots shouldn't worry anyone — they're pickles for beginners. I like them because they add acidity to all sorts of dishes, although here the honey smooths them out a little. Make them and let them live in your refrigerator to serve here and also with steak, burgers, and other cheeses.

Serves 2 to 4

2 TO 3 HOURS

12 MINUTES ACTIVE TIME

4 small shallots
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 star anise
1 small loaf of ciabatta bread
1 cup seeded, diced Roma tomato
10 leaves basil, chopped
10 black olives, sliced
8 ounces burrata cheese
Fresh basil, torn
Grana Padano cheese, grated, for garnish
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper


1. Peel the shallots and cut them into thin slices using a mandoline or sharp knife. Combine them in a plastic bag with honey, vinegar, water and star anise. Let this sit for 2 to 3 hours to pickle.

2. Preheat the broiler to high. Cut the ciabatta bread in half horizontally, brush with olive oil, place on a sheet tray into the oven, and toast lightly.

3. In a bowl, mix together tomato, chopped basil, olives and pickled shallots. Set aside.

4. Arrange the burrata over the bread; season with salt and pepper to taste. Scoop the tomato mixture on top and garnish with fresh torn basil and Grana Padano cheese.


Roasted Garlic, Ricotta and Herb-Marinated Shrimp Tarts

This is a showstopper, the perfect appetizer to make when you want to impress your neighbor or the boss. Yet it's simple to assemble and incredibly tasty. I always have frozen puff pastry in the house, which makes this extra easy. I never make my own puff pastry — too much work, and the store-bought is just as good. There is no one brand I endorse; try a few and find your favorite.

Serves 6 to 8

15 MINUTES PREP TIME

20 MINUTES COOKING TIME

1 package puff pastry sheet, thawed
2 eggs, beaten and divided
½ cup grated Grana Padano cheese, divided
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound peeled and deveined, tail-on shrimp, 21–25 ct.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped tarragon
½ cup chopped parsley
1 pound ricotta cheese
Torn parsley leaves, for garnish
Olive oil, for frying
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Unfold the pastry sheet, pinching seams together if necessary, and place onto a sheet tray. Brush with half the egg wash. Prick the pastry sheet all over with a fork.

2. Sprinkle half of the Grana Padano cheese on puff pastry; place the sheet tray on the lower rack of the oven. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese forms a light crust. Let cool for 3 minutes.

3. While cooking and cooling puff pastry, grab a large skillet and heat to medium high. Drizzle in a touch of olive oil and add garlic, shrimp, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then pull off the heat and let cool.

4. Combine the olive oil, tarragon, parsley, remaining egg, and ricotta cheese in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and spread over puff pastry, then position cooled shrimp and garlic on top. Season to taste.

5. Toss back in the oven to finish cooking for 15–20 minutes, or until golden brown.

6. Garnish with remaining Grana Padano cheese and parsley leaves.


FABIO SAYS

If your hands smell after chopping or slicing garlic or onions, rub them with a stainless steel spoon or a dull knife and then wash them with warm water and soap. Or, roll a small handful of coffee beans around in your hands to remove the odor.


Mascarpone and Ricotta–Stuffed Peaches with Basil and Aged Balsamic

Everyone loves peaches in season, and when you remove the pits and fill the fruit with a rich cheese filling they become a plated first course (or even dessert). My wife walks around the house eating them out of her hand, but I like them on a plate. I also like to roast them at 375°F for about 5 minutes, already halved and filled with the cheese. This is especially beneficial when peaches are not quite as juicy as they are at the peak of their season.

Serves 4 to 6

10 MINUTES PREP TIME

5 MINUTES ASSEMBLY TIME

1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
½ cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup mascarpone cheese
4 ripe peaches, cut in half, pits removed
10 basil leaves, torn
Aged balsamic glaze, as desired
Extra virgin olive oil, as desired


Combine salt, pepper, honey, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and mascarpone cheese in a bowl and mix completely. Scoop mixture on top of peach halves, scatter torn basil on top and drizzle as you see fit with balsamic glaze and extra virgin olive oil.


Peaches and Prosciutto di Parma Puff Pastry Tarts

Looking for a nice appetizer or even a light meal? Here you go. If you have packaged puff pastry in the freezer, the rest of the ingredients just fall into place: juicy, ripe peaches, creamy mascarpone, a few slices of salty prosciutto and then a drizzle of honey for a touch of sweetness. This is somewhat similar to the Mascarpone and Ricotta Stuffed Peaches here — but why not? I love peaches!

Serves 4

10 MINUTES PREP TIME

20 MINUTES COOKING TIME

Flour for dusting
½ package puff pastry, thawed
¼ cup honey
¾ cup mascarpone cheese
¼ cup softened cream cheese
3 peaches, pitted and cut into thin wedges
10–12 slices prosciutto di Parma
½ cup grated Grana Padano cheese


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Sprinkle a surface with a little flour and roll out the puff pastry into a rectangle.

3. Use a fork to press the sides of the puff pastry down to create a crimped pattern. Then place on a sheet tray.

4. Combine the honey, mascarpone cheese and cream cheese in a bowl and spread over the pastry. Lay peaches all over pastry. Place in the oven to cook 12–14 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

5. Cut into pieces and top with prosciutto and Grana Padano. Serve right away.


Baked Gruyere, Grana Padano and Caramelized Onion Tart

I'm a big fan of baked cheese, and this tart is delicious: gooey, melting cheese with caramelized onions. I love all tarts, and whenever you bake one anything you put on top of it is special. This one will be a showstopper sitting in the middle of your table.

Serves 6 to 8

10 MINUTES PREP TIME

30 MINUTES COOKING TIME

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons butter
2 pounds red and white onions, sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
½ cup heavy cream
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3 eggs
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 15-cm store-bought pie shells, baked
1 ¼ cup grated Grana Padano cheese
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large sauté pan, add the oil and butter. Once it starts to bubble, add onions and garlic. Stir and cook until well caramelized.

2. Add the cream and balsamic vinegar. Reduce until onions are completely coated, about 6 to 8 minutes. Once it resembles syrup, remove and set aside.

3. Beat eggs, and mix in the Gruyere cheese and onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide evenly between the two pie shells.

4. Place on baking sheets, sprinkle with the Grana Padano, and toss in the oven. Cook for 15–20 minutes, or until filling is set and starting to brown.


FABIO SAYS

I chop, grind or "press" about five pounds of garlic every six months or so. I then freeze tablespoon amounts in tiny plastic bags. This means I have more than a hundred small bags of chopped garlic ready to go at any time. You might not need as much garlic, but even eight or ten tablespoons will make life easier. Next time you're chopping one clove, chop four or five more cloves to stash in the freezer. It might be easier to put them through a garlic press — just fine. Also, check out the Roasted Garlic recipe. Prepping garlic in the way that I suggest here may be easier than chopping all those cloves. Either way, you've got garlic-to-go.


Crispy Fried Summer Squash Blossoms

My wife loves these. For her, they are the ultimate starter, side dish or snack, and I think she would eat them three times a day if I made them. Wait, amend that: I know she would! Do squash blossoms fall in the category of vegetables? They're flowers that eventually turn into squash — unless Ashley picks them first and convinces me to fry them up. I am with her on this. These are delicious!

Serves 4 to 6

10 MINUTES PREP TIME

25 MINUTES COOKING TIME

20 squash blossoms
2 cups sparkling water
2 cups flour
2 cups light oil
Salt and pepper


1. Keep the flowers in sparkling water for about 30 minutes, then pull them out. Without patting them dry, toss them all over with the flour in a bowl. Let them sit in the flour for at least 15 minutes.

2. Place the flowers on a wire rack. Heat the oil to 385°F in a cast-iron pan, and cook them till crispy to the touch on all sides, about 2 minutes.

3. Season with salt and pepper.


FABIO SAYS

Americans might think frittatas are for breakfast, but in Italy they are most often eaten for lunch or dinner, or even as a snack. When I was growing up in Florence, Italy, and we lived with my grandparents and great-grandmother, we ate eggs for dinner nearly every night. My grandfather kept chickens in a coop near the garden where he grew vegetables for us. It was a distance from our apartment, so he got in the habit of collecting the eggs on the way home from work. As soon as he walked through the door, my grandmother started cooking, very often making a frittata with whatever else was in the house: tomatoes, spinach, cheese. We didn't have much, and those eggs sustained us.

Italians like frittatas on bread as a sandwich and tend to think of them as sort of a "kitchen sink" kind of dish — almost anything goes: meat, vegetables, cheese, herbs. I always include cheese because it creates a moist environment — with cheese, even a beginner won't end up with a dry frittata with overcooked eggs (or if they do, the frittata will still be tasty). You can eat the two frittatas on the following pages for breakfast or brunch, or serve them as an appetizer or snack. In Italy, we don't really eat breakfast. There are no hash browns, bagels or cream cheese and lox. Once we're up, we don't take time for more than cappuccino and a croissant. No one cooks in the morning!

Frittatas differ from omelets. Omelets are French and are more complicated than their Italian cousins. They need a special pan and are folded so they slide from the pan. Nothing like that for frittatas. If you can crack an egg, you can make a frittata.


Frittata with Prosciutto di Parma, Sausage, Red Onions and Butter Shallots

This frittata, made with spicy sausage, prosciutto and mozzarella, is pure Italian. Serve this for lunch, dinner, a snack, or after a midnight raid on the refrigerator. It's easy and quick once you gather the ingredients.

Serves 4

10 MINUTES PREP TIME

20 MINUTES COOKING TIME

1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons half-and-half
10 eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons butter
½ cup shaved red onions
2 shallots, sliced
½ cup crumbled spicy Italian sausage
3 ounces finely diced prosciutto
½ cup fresh mozzarella cheese, torn
¼ cup minced Italian parsley
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Beat the thyme, half-and-half and eggs together in a bowl, and season with salt and pepper.

3. Melt the olive oil and butter in a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium heat until foaming. Stir in the red onion and shallots. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, then add the sausage and prosciutto. Cook for 2 minutes and add eggs. Stir gently until 1/3 of the egg is set.

4. Place the cheese evenly in the eggs and transfer to oven. Cook until just set, about 8–10 minutes. Remove and scatter the parsley to garnish.


Creamy Montasio and Prosciutto Frittata with Chives and Parsley

Made simply with cheese, meat and herbs, this frittata is full-flavored and delicious. I think Montasio cheese — a creamy cow's milk cheese that's wildly popular in Italy and just establishing a foothold in the United States — is the perfect frittata cheese. It melts beautifully and provides not only great flavor but perfect texture as well.

Serves 2 to 3

10 MINUTES PREP TIME

8 TO 10 MINUTES COOKING TIME

2 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley
2 tablespoons whole milk
6 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup Montasio cheese, grated
6 thin slices prosciutto
¼ cup arugula, for garnish
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat the broiler to low.

2. Beat the chives, parsley, whole milk and eggs together. Season with salt and pepper, then heat the butter and oil in a large omelet pan on medium high heat.

3. When the fats have melted, pour in the egg mixture and allow to set for about 1 minute, then pull the edges from the outside to the inside of the pan. This allows the cooked egg to transfer to the middle, while the uncooked egg spreads to the outer edges.

4. When the egg is ¾ cooked, about 2 more minutes, add cheese in small piles around the egg and turn off the heat. Place under the broiler and let cook until cheese melts.

5. Remove and garnish with prosciutto and arugula.


FABIO SAYS

A pinch of salt in the milk carton keeps the milk fresh for a few extra days. If you tend to go through milk fairly quickly, there's no need for the salt, but if you don't it will help. Just a pinch! No one wants salty milk.

(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Fabio's 30-Minute Italian: Over 100 Fabulous, Quick and Easy Recipes" by Fabio Viviani. Copyright © 2013 by Fabio Viviani. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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