Mario Batali’s New Cookbook All About Veggies
Yes, the man known for his love of pork and offal, has come out with a new cookbook that puts the spotlight on fresh, seasonal veggies.
“Molto Gusto” (Ecco) by Mario Batali is not a vegetarian cookbook per se. But the casual, easy dishes are all about using meat as an accent, while nudging vegetables to the forefront instead.
It’s a refreshing, modern sensibility from a celeb chef, who has lost a ton of weight recently, and has even embraced the new “Meatless Mondays” movement, geared toward getting people to eat more vegetables at least once a week.
See that delicious “Pennette with Summer Squash & Ricotta” above, which I made from the book? Even my husband, aka Meat Boy, loved this absolutely-positively meatless dish. What a shock, huh?
It couldn’t be easier to make, either.
Pennette rigate pasta gets boiled in a big pot of water. When it reaches the al dente stage, it’s drained, then tossed with zucchini and summer squash slices that have been sautéed in olive oil, as well as a big handful of fresh mint.
Divide the pasta among serving dishes. Top with big spoonfuls of creamy ricotta that’s been mixed with olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. That’s it.
It’s a dish that tastes of summer. The mint adds lightness to the rich ricotta. The addition of olive oil to the ricotta is genius, lending far more complexity to the fresh, milky taste. Be sure to use a high-quality extra virgin olive oil. When you have a dish like this that has only a few ingredients, you really want to make sure each is top-notch so that they really shine.
From antipasti to salads to pizza and pastas, this book will show you that you don’t have to rely on meat to make a dish distinctive and delicious.
Pennette with Summer Squash and Ricotta
1 cup fresh ricotta
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
2 to 3 tablespoons warm water
1 pound summer squash or zucchini, or a combination, cut lengthwise in half and sliced into 1/3-inch-thick half-moons
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1 pound pennette rigate
6 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint
Coarsely ground black pepper1 cup fresh ricotta
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 3 tablespoons kosher salt.
Meanwhile, whisk the ricotta and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil together in a small bowl. Add the Parmigiano, whisking until it is evenly incorporated. Whisk in 2 table- spoons warm water, then whisk in another tablespoon of water if necessary to loosen the consistency.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the squash and cook, stirring, until just tender and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Season well with Maldon salt and remove from the heat.
Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water.
Add the pasta and the reserved pasta water to the squash, stirring and tossing over medium heat to mix well. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to steam together for 2 minutes.
Stir in the mint, season with Maldon salt if necessary and with pepper, and transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Garnish with dollops of the whipped ricotta and serve immediately, with additional grated Parmigiano on the side.
From “Molto Gusto” by Mario Batali
More: My Dinner at Babbo
I love such dishes! A wonderful book.
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I read about this book coming a few months ago in Food & Wine and could not believe my eyes! I am infinitely amused!
I’ve been trying to find ways to sneak more veggies so the SO can eat it. He’s not a veggie lover like me; I inhale them like a rabbit. 😉
It’s so great to hear Mario sing the praises of vegetables. I’m guessing I need to get this book already!
I believe I read that he has lost a few bajillion pounds, too. That would require looking past the pork, into the produce bins.
Here’s a picture from 2009:
So true it’s hard to get men to eat dishes that don’t contain any meat. The only meatless dish my man will eat is spinach and riccotta cannelloni, so I’ll have to give this recipe a go to.
I like this kind of effortless dish. Simple yet delicious !
Cookbook all about veggies! Just the one for me 🙂
Your pasta looks delicious. I’m curious about this book, I’ll have to look for it.
It seems to be the “in” thing these days among celeb chefs to drop weight. This, I think, is a good thing. The food media was swinging too far in the fatty direction lately.
By the way, House of Annie has moved to its own domain, http://www.houseofannie.com. I’d appreciate it if you changed the link in your blogroll to point to the new site instead of http://chezannies.blogspot.com. Thanks!
Nate: Your wish is my command. Consider it done. And congrats on the splashy new version of your blog.
You have beautiful photography and the book sounds intriguing – I need to eat more veggies ;)!
Hehe I think when carnivores (as opposed to omnivores) love a vegetarian meal, then you’re definitely onto a winner! 😉
Hmmm… if Mario Batali’s recipe can convert the Meat Boy – then this book much be a great find. Going over to the other site to check your review.
Sounds like a great book to check out and this pasta dish looks delicious!
wow this is an awesome recommendation! I will be also reviewing some books as they are on my desk! lol!
When my mom first told me about this cookbook, I was so shocked that I was sure that she had the wrong chef! As a vegetarian, I never thought that I would buy a Mario Batali cookbook, but now I just might!
I think that is great and looks like it will be a fantastic cookbook…will go check out your review.