Remembering Marcella Hazan in Recipes
The 30th Anniversary Edition drops this week
One of our favorite chefs, Marcella Hazan, wrote one of our favorite cookbooks, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, of which the 30th Anniversary Edition is released this week. On Wednesday, we’re excited to share with you Mark’s interview with her husband, Victor Hazan — another one of our favorites — on Food with Mark Bittman.
Below you’ll find a few recipes Hazan mentions on the podcast, plus more to come later this week.
In the meantime, we hope you’ll join us to reread Mark’s “Remembering Marcella,” in the New York Times. Among our favorite passages:
What Alice Waters did for restaurants, Hazan did for home cooks, demonstrating that the simple treatment of decent ingredients leads to wonderful dishes.
In a way, Hazan was the anti-Julia Child, and Child had a sense of that. In a conversation shortly before her own death, Child said to me: “I don’t get the whole thing with Italian cooking. They put some herbs on things, they put them in the oven and they take them out again.” Exactly.
There’s also this beautiful video.
On to the recipes.
Mixed Baked Vegetable Platter
Makes: 6 servings
4 medium round waxy boiling potatoes
3 sweet bell peppers, preferably yellow
3 fresh firm, ripe round or 6 plum tomatoes
4 medium yellow onions
A shallow baking dish
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
1.Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
2. Peel the potatoes, cut them into 1-inch wedges, wash them in cold water, and pat dry with cloth towels.
3. Cut the peppers along their folds into lengthwise sections. Scrape away and discard the pulpy core with all the seeds. Skin the peppers, using a peeler with a swiveling blade.
4. If using round tomatoes, cut them into 6 to 8 wedge-shaped sections if using plum tomatoes, cut them lengthwise in two.
5. Peel the onion and cut each one into 4 wedge-shaped sections.
6. Wash all the vegetables, except for the onion and the already washed potatoes, in cold water, and drain well.
7. Put the potatoes and all the vegetables in the baking dish. They should not be too snugly packed or they will steep in their own vapors and become soggy. Add the oil, salt, and several grindings of pepper, and toss once or twice. Place the dish in the upper third of the preheated oven. Turn the vegetables over every 10 minutes or so. The dish is done when the potatoes become tender, in about 20 to 30 minutes. If after 20 minutes you find that the tomatoes have shed a lot of liquid, turn up the oven to 450°F or higher for the remaining cooking time. Do not be concerned if some of the vegetables become slightly charred at the edges. It is quite all right and even desirable.
8. When done, transfer the vegetables to a warm platter using a slotted spoon or spatula to drain them of oil. Scrape loose any bits stuck to the sides or bottom of the baking dish and add them to the platter, for they are the choice morsels. Serve at once.
Fried Zucchini in Vinegar and Garlic
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
1 pound fresh zucchini
2 garlic cloves
2 or 3 tablespoons good wine vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper
1. Soak and clean the zucchini, trimming away both ends, and cut it into sticks 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle these with salt and stand them inside a pasta colander, letting them steep for 30 minutes or more. Place the colander over a plate to collect the drippings. When the zucchini sticks have shed a substantial amount of liquid, take them out of the colander and pat them thoroughly dry with cloth and paper towels.
2. Mash the garlic cloves lightly with a knife handle, just enough to split the skin, which you will pull off and discard. Set the garlic aside for later.
3. Pour enough oil into a skillet to come 1/4 inch up the sides, and turn on the heat to high. When the oil is quite hot, put the zucchini sticks, a few at a time, into a strainer, pour some flour over them, shake off all excess flour, and slip them into the pan. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle on contact with the sticks. Do not put in any more of them at one time than will fit loosely.
4. Watch the zucchini sticks and turn them over when they become brown on one side. When they are brown all over, transfer them with a slotted spoon or spatula to a deep dish, and drizzle them with some vinegar. You will hear them crackle. Fry any remaining zucchini in the same manner and repeat the procedure with the vinegar.
5. When the zucchini sticks are done, buy the garlic in their midst, sprinkle with pepper, toss 2 or 3 times, and set aside to cool down to room temperature before serving.
Tomato Sauce With Onions and Butter
Makes: 6 servings
2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes — prepared as described after the recipe, or 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juice
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
1 to 11/2 pounds of fresh pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for the table
Recommended pasta: This is an unsurpassed sauce for potato gnocchi but it is also delicious with factory-made pasta in such shapes as spaghetti, penne, or rigatoni. Serve with grated parmesan.
Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook, uncovered, at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large pieces of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with the pasta.
May be frozen when done. Discard the onion before freezing.
Making Fresh Tomatoes Ready for Sauce
Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, fresh, ripe tomatoes must be prepared to use for sauce following one of the two methods given below. The blanching method can lead to a meatier more rustic consistency. The food mill method produces a silkier, smoother, sauce.
The blanching method: Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them, and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them up in coarse pieces.
The food mill method: Wash the tomatoes in cold water, cut them lengthwise in half, and put them in a covered saucepan. Turn on the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Set a food mil fitted with the disk with the largest holes over a bowl. Transfer the tomatoes with any of their juices to the mill and puree.
Grilled Shrimp Skewers
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
2 pounds medium shrimp, unshelled weight
31/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped very fine
2 teaspoons parsley, chopped very fine
Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
Optional: A charcoal grill
1.Shell the shrimp and remove their dark vein. Wash in cold water and pat thoroughly dry with cloth kitchen towels.
2. Put the shrimp in a roomy bowl. Add as much of the olive and vegetable oil, in equal parts, and of the bread crumbs as you need to coat the shrimp evenly, but lightly all over. You may not require all the oil indicated in the ingredients list, but if you have a large number of very small shrimp, you may need even more. When you increase the quanity, use olive and vegetable oil in equal parts.
3. Add the chopped garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper, and toss thoroughly to coat the shrimp well. Allow them to steep in their coating a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes or up to 2 hours at room temperature.
4. Preheat the broiler at least 15 minutes before you are ready to cook, or light the charcoal in time for it to form white ash before cooking.
5. Skewer the shrimp tightly, curling one end of each shrimp inward so that the skewer goes through at three points, preventing the shrimp from slipping as you turn the skewer on the grill.
6. Cook the shrimp briefly, close to the source of heat. Depending on their size and the intensity of the fire, about 2 minutes on one side and 1 1/2 on the other, just until they form a thin, golden crust. Serve piping hot.