Peperonata (Stewed Savory Peppers), is the first recipe we're making from Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali's new cookbook "Lidia's Celebrate like an Italian". We'll host a week sharing some of their recipes, and if a week is not enough there will be others to follow, I assure you!
Song of the day: "Load me up" by Mathew Good Band
This cookbook "Lidia's Celebrate like an Italian" teaches us that food and good company are the simple ingredients to celebrating life the Italian way. Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, chef, TV Star, leads us on a journey to gaining knowledge on everything you need to know from planning a party, barbecue, picnic, or formal function, to how to construct a cheese platter, what deli meats to have, and pairing the right wines and cocktails with foods, adding, of course, the key element of Italian passion and pizzazz, making any meal festive and a celebration.
What's in the book?
Lidia and Tanya give us 220 incredibly mouthwatering recipes that are beautifully illustrated, easy to follow, worthy of any festive meal!
Table of contents:
- Planning a Party? Where to Start
- Vegetables and Sides
- Polenta, Risotto, and Pasta
- Fish and Seafood
- Poultry and Meat
You will find the recipes well organized, easy to read and understand, some with photos, and some without. I found myself excited to see the next photo. The ingredients clearly listed in a column format, and the preparation written in a step by step, easy to follow, process. Each recipe has a well-written introduction bringing understanding and knowledge of the ingredients and the dish, as well as some beautiful photos of the food, and family cooking and celebrating together. This really makes you feel like you are welcomed into Lidia's family.
Examples of delicious and mouthwatering recipes include:
- Prosecco Punch
- Baked Goat Cheese, Fava, and Artichoke Dip
- Poached Seafood Salad
- Wedding Soup
- Grilled Corn, Figs, and Portobellos
- Barley, Kale, and Butternut Squash Risotto
- Mussels with Fennel and Saffron
- Chicken Sausage Bites with Apple Cider Vinegar Sauce
- Heavenly Cake
Peperonata (Stewed Savory Peppers) (Page 46)
This Peperonata recipe is a favorite of ours and a go-to recipe for Nicoletta and her family in Rome. Very easy to prepare, this recipe utilizes the incredible flavor punch of colorful bell peppers, the amazing sweetness of caramelized onions, the plumpness and richness of San Marzano tomatoes and hitting some high balanced taste notes of capers, black olives and anchovy, and finally garnished with fresh basil, making this dish in my opinion delicious and full of varied textures giving nothing but joy to our taste buds. This Peperonata can be used as a side dish, or as an appetizer put on a nice bruschetta, or for the simplicist out there, just plainly on its own with a nice side of crusty bread.
Polenta Torta with Gorgonzola and Savoy Cabbage (Torta di Polenta, Gorgonzola, e Verze) (Page 194)
This was our second pick. I am not going to give you too much on this one as it is coming up this week on our blog. I will say this: it is incredibly delicious and says comfort through and through. This recipe is the epitome of Northern Italian food love, and I will leave you like that.
Pear and Chocolate Tart (Crostata di Pere e Cioccolata) (Page 344)
We had a bit of a misshap on this one in the final stages. It was not the fault of the recipe or preparation, just what we call kitchen accident. Either way, we still enjoyed it, not in the beautiful way that it appears in the book, but since the craze is deconstructed everything, let's call it just that!
Coffee Panna Cotta (Panna Cotta al Caffe') (Page 351)
To redeem ourselves we are going to try this recipe, as our motto here at SugarLoveSpices is: if you don't succeed, try and try again. So stay tuned for this one, it sounds amazing and it has coffee in it!
Today's Tested Recipe
Nicoletta and I are both Italian, well Nicoletta more Italian than me as she was born and lived in Rome up until a few years ago when we met, while I was born in Canada. Nicoletta goes back a few times each year and I once a year, thus far. I love Italy, I love the life. Italy has a way of capturing you in a good way, to slow you down, enjoy the moment, appreciate life, celebrate, and what better way than with food. I say, here in Canada we live to work and in Italy, they work to live. A great concept and I must warn you, if you go, you will have this passion to return!
My parents and I watch Lidia's show and I love the way it ignites memories for my mom and dad. I watch intently as their eyes light up and stories begin to flow, and I have to say my father wrote many a recipe from the show, followed by putting them through the test in his kitchen, yes in our home there are two kitchens, lol. I absolutely love the energy of the show, guest appearances with family especially nonna. It sparks a warmth and passion in my heart and soul remembering fond memories of my somewhat Ital-Canadian life. There were plenty of celebrations and parties happening in our house. Our weekends were full of celebrations, and parties, whether hosting or guests at, and I remember vividly the table colorful, full of beautiful, plentiful food, savory and sweet, wine, the smell of espresso being brewed, kids running and playing and surrounding the table, happy people, loud chatter, as passionate exchanges flew from here to there, hands waving in the air, and most of all the laughter. Those are the memories I most cherish and one that this book "Lidia's Celebrate like an Italian" has re-animated for me.
To start the week off, we have chosen an appetizer from the book, called Peperonata (Stewed Savory Peppers). Come on this journey with Lidia, Tanya, and us. A discovery of food, celebration and how to make every meal a celebration full of warmth and joy, not to mention delectable food Italian-style! As Lidia would say: "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!", this I know well, as my mother and nonna would call us to the table to eat, better not be late or else..............
Don't you just love the color of this Peperonata (Stewed Savory Peppers)? So vibrant and rich, brings nothing but smiles and joy to my face and heart. As you can see, we served it bruschetta-style on a nice toasted rustic bread slathered in extra virgin olive oil.
The process is easy, just slivered peppers and here we used the bell peppers as they have a bit more punch to them in flavor profile. To heighten the mix, we blended some anchovies in the saute pan with the olive oil creating a paste by stirring briskly with a wooden spoon. Some of you may ask about the aroma. Yes at first the aroma is strong but when you start adding the onions, peppers, tomatoes, olives, and capers, it becomes this aromatic infusion of mouthwatering aromas. The anchovy helps brighten the flavors of the dish, as well as the capers and olives adding a nice acidity to the mix.
This is a great appetizer to start things off visually. The colors entice you and the aroma luring you in to take one and try! That basil is so fresh and that green just adds enough vibrancy to give this Peperonata bruschetta a breath of freshness. I say basil is the cure for any sadness, its scent has a way to make you calm, and bring happiness to your soul, that is in my opinion. You may catch me at times with a handful of basil just taking a moment to refresh, and there isn't a place that has basil where I didn't touch the leaves and take a breath in.
You can see the richness in the texture of this Peperonata, the way those San Marzano tomatoes all nicely stewed and soft, lingering on the colorful pallet of the peppers, and those beautiful olives nestled in the sauce with capers dancing about, with some backup notes from the caramelized onions.
Going in for a bite, WOW! The flavors amazing, the hit of the show the peppers, coming through right away. That wonderful acidity meets sweetness, only to be elevated by the sweetness of the caramelized onions and stewed tomatoes. That hint of anchovy adds a richness in a most subtle way brightening the flavors of the olives and capers and while balancing the notes of sweetness. I have to tell you, on top of this toasted rustic bread it is a match made in heaven and after all, if you are Italian you know there is not a meal without bread on the table.
I love the texture variances from the softness of the veggies to the crunchiness of the bruschetta. This Peperonata (Stewed savory peppers) is a great appetizer full of color, texture, and taste, and will definitely be the hit to start the celebration off on a great note, as well as a side that will marry well with many a dish. Even on its own, it has enough to stand wholly if you so desire.
Celebration is a huge part of being Italian. Food prepared with passion, love, and patience, combined with beautiful people gathering to share is in my eyes a recipe for joy and happiness!
Should you have this book on your shelf?
In our humble opinion that would be a definite yes! This is a great book to have lingering on the kitchen counters. If you like traditional Italian cooking, infused with a bit of American flair, you will truly enjoy this book. From planning a small gathering to hosting a large formal party, "Lidia's Celebrate like an Italian" will give you the tools and recipes to wow your guests and bring joy to a festive occasion. The intimate and interactive style, combined with stories photos, and tid bits, give you a true look and feel of celebration Italian-style!
Song of the day: "Load me up" by Mathew Good BandPrint
Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian
Author: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali
Hardcover: 385 Pages
Publisher: Appetite by Random House
Excerpted from Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian. Copyright © 2017 Tutti a Tavola, LLC. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Disclosure: A review copy of Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian was provided by Appetite by Random House. All opinions, as usual, are our own.