Lidia Bastianich’s Easter Favorites
Plan your feast now
Here are some of my favorite recipes, perfect for Easter.
Seared Lamb Chops with Rosemary and Mint Sauce
From: Lidia’s Italian Table (Morrow 1998)
For this dish, ask your butcher for rib chops cut from a rack of lamb. They are best because of the length of the bones.
Makes 6 servings
For the Chops:
12 “frenched” rib lamb chops, about 3 pounds,
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
1 pound meaty lamb bones
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2cup sliced celery
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup dry white wine
Rub the chops with the rosemary, oil, salt, and pepper and let them stand at room temperature for up to 2 hours or refrigerate, covered, for up to one day.
Make the sauce. Preheat the over to 425 degrees F. Remove the zest – the orange part of the peel without the underlying whit pith – from the orange with a vegetable peeler. Squeeze the juice from the orange. Reserve the zest and juice separately. Trim the lamb scraps of all fat and combine them with the lamb bones in a roasting pan. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the trimmings and bones and toss to coat. Roast for 30 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the bones and roast until the bones are well browned, about another 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large non-reactive saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, sage, rosemary, mint, and orange zest. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. If the vegetables begin to stick, add a small amount of the stock and stir well.
Transfer the browned bones and meat scraps to the saucepan. Pour off and discard all the fat from the roasting pan. While the roasting pan is still hot, add the water, wine, orange juice, and the remaining chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to release all the browned drippings. Pour the liquid into the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, skimming the foam and fat frequently from the surface, until the liquid is reduced to about 1 1/2 cups, about 1 1/2 hours.
Discard the bones and strain the sauce through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids to squeeze as much liquid as possible from them. Return the sauce to the saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced to the consistency of gravy. Cover and keep warm in a warm place.
Heat a heavy griddle or large cast-iron pan over high heat. Add as many chops as will fit without touching. Cook the chops, turning them once, until well browned outside and rosy pink in the center, about 3 minutes. (For more well-done chops, add 1 to 2 minutes to the cooking time.) Repeat with the remaining chops, if necessary.
Spoon the sauce onto plates and arrange the chops over the sauce, with the bones crossing. Arrange the scaffata and potatoes next to the lamb and decorate with mint sprigs.
Note: Ask the butcher to French the chops, or do it yourself: Cut the meat and fat away from each rib bone, starting at the point where the “eye” of meat meets the bone. Scrape the bone clean with the back side of a knife. There should be from 1 1/2 to 3 inches of bone protruding. Save all trimmings from the chops to use in the sauce.
Rice and Spring Pea Soup (Risi e Bisi)
Risi e bisi is a spring soup best and sweetest when the peas are young and fresh. It is a typical soup the Veneto Region of which Venice is the capital. The Venetians ruled that area including Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Istria (where I was born) and the Dalmatian coast for over seven hundred years. That empire was called La Serenissima, and its vibrant economy was driven by the spice trade. The cuisine of this area still reflects the Venetian Empire’s involvement in the spice trade, with an extensive use of black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and even ginger
This soup shows the simpler side of Venetian cuisine. It is a quick and simple preparation, most likely cooked by the everyday citizens of the empire, since spices were a luxury reserved for the rich. Risi e bisi probably became part of the Italian-American table after World War I, when a large influx of immigrants came from the Fruili-Venezia-Giulia area.
Makes 6 servings
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound fresh peas, shelled (about 1 1/2 cups shelled peas), or 1 10-ounce box frozen peas, defrosted and drained
1/2cup finely chopped celery, including leaves
Freshly ground pepper
8 cups Chicken Stock (see recipe, page 000) or canned reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup Arborio or other Italian short grain rice
1/2cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Heat the olive oil and butter in a 4 to 5-quart pot over medium heat until the butter is foaming. Stir in the onions and cook, stirring, until light golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the peas and celery, season the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.
Adjust the heat to simmering and cook until the peas and vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir in the rice and cook until tender, 12 to14 minutes, stirring occasionally. (For a firmer texture, cook the rice a few minutes less.)
Remove the soup from the heat and check the seasonings, remembering the cheese will add a little saltiness. Stir in the grated cheese and serve immediately.
Oven Roasted Potatoes and Artichokes (PATATE E CARCIOFI ALL’OREGANO IN FORNO)
From: Lidia’s Italy (Knopf, 2007)
Everyone loves roast potatoes and here they are tossed with slivered artichokes (already skillet cooked with onions and garlic), lots of fresh oregano, and extra-virgin olive oil. It is a completely vegetarian dish full of flavor that will transport your table to the seven hills.
Serve with a piece of grilled fish or meat, especially grilled lamb chops. Or simply turn this dish into a crispy baked treat by adding some shredded young Pecorino Romano, spreading it over the potatoes and artichokes in the last 5 minutes of baking.
2 pounds Yukon gold or other good roasting potato
1-1/2 pounds small artichokes (or more if using large ones, see page 000)
1 lemon (for acidulated water)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 plump garlic cloves, sliced
1-1/2 cups sliced onions
1-1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/4 teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
• A heavy-bottomed skillet or sauté pan, 12-inches diameter or larger, with a tight-fitting cover
• A large baking dish or shallow casserole, about 10- by 15-inches
Trim the artichokes slice lengthwise ¼-inch thick and soak the slices in acidulated water.
Pour 4 tablespoons of the olive oil into the skillet, stir in the garlic and onion, and set it over medium heat. Cook for 4 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilting.
Drain the artichokes and drop them into the skillet. Stir and season with ½ teaspoon salt and the peperoncino. Cover the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are slightly wilted and can almost be pierced with a fork tip. (If the artichokes are still hard after 5 minutes or so, and the pan seems dry, add a couple tablespoons of acidulated water to steam the slices.) Scrape the softened artichokes, onion, garlic and all the oil from the skillet into a large bowl.
Toss potatoes with the artichokes and bake
Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 375° F.
While the artichokes are cooling in the bowl, peel the potatoes and slice them into rounds, about 1/3-inch thick.
Toss the sliced potatoes with the artichokes in the bowl. Drizzle over 3 more tablespoons olive oil; scatter the oregano and another teaspoon salt on top and toss again.
Brush the baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of oil and fill it with the seasoned potatoes and artichokes, spread evenly. Cover the dish with a sheet of aluminum foil: tent the foil so it does not lay on the vegetables and crimp it against the sides of the dish.
Bake the potatoes, covered, for about 25 minutes then remove the dish from the oven and take off the foil. With a wide spatula, gently turn the potatoes over in the dish, without breaking them. Return the pan to the oven, and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked, crisped and colored nicely-the way you like them.
Taste the potatoes and adjust the seasoning; serve them hot right from the baking dish.