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Lidia Bastianich talks weddings, food and cultural traditions

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

Interview with Lidia Bastianich

Lidia Bastianich has a way of making everyone feel like part of the family. It’s amazing how food can bring people together, particularly during a joyful celebration like a wedding. Lidia gets it and shares her insight with us during a recent interview.

Stuffed tomato

Stuffed tomatoes

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 firm-ripe medium tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup fresh mozzarella, cut in small cubes
  • 2 ounce pieces ham, cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small pot, bring to boil two cups water with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the bay leaves.
  2. Stir in the rice and one tablespoon of the olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until rice is al dente and liquid is almost all gone, about 10 minutes. Scrape into a bowl to cool.
  3. Slice the tops off the tomatoes, reserving the tops. Scoop out the inner flesh of the tomatoes with a spoon, leaving a thick shell. As you work, put the flesh in a strainer set over a bowl to collect the juices.
  4. Once all of the tomatoes are scooped out, season the insides of the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Chop the tomato flesh and put in the bowl with the rice.
  5. To the bowl, add the mozzarella, ham, 1/2 cup of the grated cheese, the basil, the oregano and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  6. Toss to combine. Pour reserved tomato juices in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Evenly divide stuffing in tomatoes. Arrange cut-off tomato tops in the baking dish and place a stuffed tomato on each top.

Bucatini pasta with chanterelles, spring peas and prosciutto

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shelled fresh peas or frozen, defrosted and drained
  • 1 pound fresh chanterelle mushrooms
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 ounces Prosciutto di Parma, thinly sliced and chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt
  • 1-1/2 pounds ripe fresh plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and crushed
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 pound bucatini pasta
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated

Directions:

  1. If using fresh peas, parboil them in a small saucepan of boiling salted water until softened, three to five minutes. Drain them and set aside.
  2. Trim the tough ends and wilted spots from the mushrooms. Wipe them clean with a damp paper towel or wash them quickly and dry them well. Slice them thin and set aside. Bring six quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of a knife and add them along with the prosciutto to the oil. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about four minutes.
  3. Stir in the mushrooms, season them lightly with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until they are lightly browned and wilted, about seven minutes.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes, season them lightly with salt and pepper and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook five minutes. Stir the peas and chopped parsley into the sauce and cook until the peas are tender, about three minutes.
  5. While the sauce is simmering, stir the bucatini into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and pour in about three-quarters of the sauce.
  6. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, tossing to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  7. Transfer the pasta to a warm platter, top with the remaining sauce and serve immediately.

Cappuccino cake

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 12 chocolate graham cracker sheets
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

For the filling

  • 1 quart coffee ice cream
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a food processor, grind together the graham crackers, sugar, espresso powder and salt to make fine crumbs. With the processor running, add the melted butter and process just to combine.
  3. Press crumbs in the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch pie plate, making sure the crumbs are evenly distributed. Bake until crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes, then cool completely before filling.
  4. Remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften a bit while you make the whipped cream.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip cream and sugar to soft peaks. Add sour cream and whisk until just combined.
  6. Spread the ice cream in an even layer over the crust. Dollop whipped cream mixture on top and spread to a dome shape.
  7. Freeze overnight or until cream is frozen. To serve, cut with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.

More wedding ideas to try

DIY wedding favors
3 Benefits of making meals together
5 Sweet wedding desserts that aren’t wedding cake

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