Posts Tagged ‘Mario Batali’

Broccoli Rabe Pesto Pasta with Heirloom Grape Tomatoes

July 8, 2014

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Pesto made with broccoli rabe is pretty popular and it is also super nutritious. You can serve the pesto as a dip or spread for bread instead of as a sauce for pasta. I followed a recipe from Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto. If you follow the link, you will not only find the recipe, but a clip of Mario demonstrating its preparation along with that of two other pasta recipes (pasta with pureed red peppers and goat cheese and pasta with Swiss chard).

The original recipe called for orecchiette pasta, but I substituted farfalle and added in some heirloom grape tomatoes. Later, I served leftovers as a salad, with the addition of more blanched broccoli rabe and some cannellini beans.

The pesto is exceptionally good. I made twice as much pesto as I needed for the pasta, and I have been enjoying leftovers spread onto challah along with lemon chummus.

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Mario Batali’s Chilled Tomato and Bread Soup

July 4, 2014

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This recipe is ideal for when it is brutally hot and you just don’t feel like cooking. It is so easy: just puree canned (or fresh) tomatoes with day-old bread, salt, pepper and fresh basil. Swirl in a little olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and scallions and you are done. The complex taste belies the simplicity of the preparation–no one will know you didn’t slave over this.

Don’t expect this to be like gazpacho, which I find to be too spicy and raw onion-ey. This is subtle and mild. The fresh basil absolutely makes this dish, so don’t leave it out.

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Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto Griddle Pizza

July 24, 2011

I saw a recipe for Mario Batali’s pizza in the April/May issue of Vegetarian Times and I was intrigued: the recipe calls for par-baking very thin crusts on a griddle. This seemed like a really good idea, especially in brutally hot weather, as an alternative to using a 500 degree oven with a pizza stone. Batali says that you can make the par-baked crusts ahead of time, which sounded like another good idea. I was hoping that Batali’s technique would yield pizza crusts that were chewy and crispy instead of soggy.

(Epicurious has the recipe also, along with a few reviews, which warn that the salt listed is excessive; here is the recipe with reader comments at Serious Eats; here is the recipe along with an interview at the Houston Chronicle; and here is some more at Delaware Online, including reassurance that the large amount of salt is correct and the tip that you can parbake the crust using a pizza stone in the oven, too.)

My results? First, I found it somewhat easier to stretch the dough to the 10″ size suggested from a 4 ounce ball of dough when the dough had been refrigerated overnight, but this is not critical.

Second, the pizza crust created is chewy, but not so crisp unless you crisp it well in the oven afterward OR (and this took me a while to figure out), you actually put the crust back on the griddle with topping added, and heat it to melt the topping on the griddle (cover the pan to speed the melting process). By the time that the topping have melted, the bottom of the crust will be crisp:

Even so, the pizza tastes and looks like you made it with chappati or aish tanoor. There are little black flecks that add flavor, but turned off my kids.

Here is what my first batch of pizza crusts looked like:

Here is the second batch, made with dough that had sat in the fridge for a day or so:

My kids liked the first, paler batch better, even though the second batch was crisper and more flavorful.

Bottom line: this is an interesting technique for pizza, and useful for when you have access to a cooktop, but not an oven. I used a non-stick pan, a black steel pan, and an enameled cast-iron pot, and all worked well (although the cast-iron worked especially well because it got really hot and stayed really hot). The downside is that crust is just not the same as an oven-baked crust, and it is hard to get away with using lots of topping. My kids wanted more tomato sauce than the thin floppy crust could hold.

As for the salt, I used 2 tbl. of KOSHER salt, which is probably equal to 3 tsp. of table salt. The dough was salty, but not overpoweringly so.

(Here are the measurements, converted to weight: 10 ounces water, .25 ounces yeast, 18.5 ounces all-purpose flour, 2 scant Tbl. kosher salt, 1 1/2 tsp. sugar)

Note to self: it seems that there is more excitement about Otto’s olive oil ice cream than its pizza, strange as that sounds. (see here, here, and here)