Lunchbreak: Chef Lidia Bastianich makes ziti with sausage, fennel and onions

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Lidia Bastianich

To purchase a copy of the book:

Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook

Eataly/La Scuola
43 E. Ohio Street

Ziti with Sausage, Fennel, and Onions


½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot

1 large fennel bulb, with fronds

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound sweet Italian sausage without fennel seeds, removed from casings

2 medium onions, sliced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

½ cup tomato paste

1 pound ziti

1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. Trim the fennel bulb: slice the bulb in half lengthwise, then slice each half into 1/4-inch-thick lengthwise slices. Separate the slivers of fennel if they are attached at the bottom; cut the long slivers in half, so you have about 3 cups of 2-inch-long matchsticks of fennel. Chop enough of the tender fronds to yield 1/3 cup. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat, and cook, stirring and breaking it up more with a wooden spoon, until it sizzles and begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Push the sausage a bit aside, and drop the onion slices into a clear part of the pan. Cook, stirring, until they sizzle and wilt, another 4-minutes or so, then stir them in with the meat. Clear a new space, and add the fennel. Cook until it begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon salt; drop the crushed red pepper in a hot spot and toast the flakes for 1/2 minute, then stir and combine. Clear a good-sized hot spot in the center of the pan, plop in the tomato paste, and cook, stirring it in the spot for a minute or more, until it is sizzling and caramelizing; then stir it in with everything else. Ladle about 3 cups boiling pasta water into the skillet, stir well, and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let cook until the flavors have developed, the sauce is thickened but not too thick, and the fennel is soft but not mushy, about 8 minutes. (Add more water if the sauce reduces too rapidly.) Season to taste. Meanwhile, cook the ziti in the boiling water. When the sauce is ready and the ziti is al dente, remove the ziti with a spider and transfer directly to the simmering sauce. Sprinkle in the chopped fronds, and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle the grated cheese over the ziti, toss, and serve.

Raw and Cooked Salad


1 pound sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

12 ounces red-bliss potatoes, medium in size

8 ounces green beans, trimmed

½ cup pitted black olives

3 tablespoons drained tiny capers in brine

1 or 2 fresh ripe tomatoes (about 8 ounces), cored and cut into wedges

1 or 2 heads of Bibb lettuce (about 12 ounces), leaves torn, washed, and dried

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

For the verdure cotta (cooked vegetables): preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and trim the onions and slice into rounds about 3/4 inch thick. Brush with some of the olive oil, and sprinkle salt lightly on both sides. Lay the onions on a baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes or longer, until slightly softened and nicely caramelized. Cool, then separate the rounds into rings. Meanwhile, drop the potatoes—whole, with skin on—into a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a gentle boil, and cook just until a sharp knife blade slides through the potatoes. Remove with a spider, and cut the potatoes into wedges about 1 ½ inches thick.  When the potatoes are out of the boiling water, drop the green beans in and cook until al dente, 4 minutes or so. Drain, and drop the beans into ice water, to set the color. Once they’re chilled, drain and dry the beans, and cut into 2-inch lengths. Combine the cooked vegetables in a large serving bowl with the olives, capers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and some freshly ground black pepper, drizzle the rest of the olive oil and the red wine vinegar over vegetables, and tumble them to coat with dressing. Scatter the lettuce on top, then toss to distribute the dressing evenly. Serve immediately.

Recipes compliments of Chef Lidia Bastianich


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