Wednesday, March 11, 2009

From Lidia's table to yours

Among all our celebrity chefs' recipes the favorites are the ones from Lidia's Family Table. Lidia Bastianich is the author of best-seller cookbooks: La Cucina di Lidia, Lidia's Italy and the best-selling Lidia's Italian Table and Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen–also the names of her nationally syndicated public television series. She is the owner of the very successful New York City restaurant Felidia (and several others), and she gives lectures on Italian cuisine throughout the country. She lives on Long Island.

Today we share her famous pasta sauce, excerpted from "Lidia's Family Table: More Than 200 Fabulous Recipes to Enjoy Every Day-With Wonderful Ideas for Variations and Improvisations" available at Amazon.

Raw Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta
Makes 3 to 4 cups, enough to sauce 1 pound of dry pasta

This is the pasta “sauce” I make in August, when just-picked tomatoes in all shapes and colors are piled on our kitchen windowsills—and it is too hot to hang around the stove. It’s a fast no-cooking preparation, but it requires ripe and juicy tomatoes, preferably homegrown or heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Be sure to have them at room temperature. The sauce actually develops in the hour or two when it marinates: salt draws the juices from the tomatoes, and they become infused with the flavors of basil and garlic. Then all you do is toss piping-hot pasta with the tomatoes and enjoy one of the rare treats of the whole year.

2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties in a mix of colors and shapes
3 or 4 plump garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 large basil leaves (about 3 tablespoons shredded)
1/4 teaspoon dried peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes), or more or less to taste
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup or more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or cubed fresh mozzarella (optional)

Rinse the tomatoes, drain, and wipe dry. Cut out the core and any other hard parts. Working over a big mixing bowl to catch all the juices, cut the tomatoes—cherry tomatoes in half; regular tomatoes into 1-inch chunks—and drop them in the bowl.

Smash the garlic cloves with a chef’s knife and chop into a fine paste. This is easier if you add some of the salt as you chop; mash the garlic bits and salt with the flat side of the knife too. Scatter the garlic paste and the rest of the salt (1/2 teaspoon in all) over the tomatoes and stir gently.

Pile up the basil leaves and slice into thin strips (called a chiffonade). Strew these over the tomatoes, then the peperoncinoflakes. Pour in the oil, stir, and fold, to coat the tomatoes and distribute the seasonings.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Serve as is, or toss in 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. For additional complexity, you could add 1 cup or more cubed fresh mozzarella.
Copyright © Lidia Matticchio Bastianich


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We've addedd Lidia Bastianich to our Great Chefs page (link). Browse all the new recipes by Lidia, such as
- Scampi Appetizer
- Frittata with Asparagus and Scallions
- Pea Cake with Basil Ice Cream and Pistachio Brittle
- Skillet Chicken breast aglio e oglio
- Clams with Tomato and Basil
- Limoncello Tirami Su
- Chocolate Zabaglione Cake with Amarene Cherries
... and more!

Remember that you can always check the What's new? page link to stay tuned with our new recipes!

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