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Nick Stellino's Passione: Pizza, Pasta and Panini

Nick Stellino's Passione: Pizza, Pasta and Panini

by Nick Stellino, E. J. Armstrong (Photographer)
Nick Stellino's love of good food and of life itself bursts from the pages of his cookbooks and has become the hallmark of his television shows and personal appearances. That passion for living is echoed in the very title, and throughout the glorious dishes in his newest cookbook, Nick Stllino's Passione: Pasta, Pizza, and Panini. Having gathered together more


Nick Stellino's love of good food and of life itself bursts from the pages of his cookbooks and has become the hallmark of his television shows and personal appearances. That passion for living is echoed in the very title, and throughout the glorious dishes in his newest cookbook, Nick Stllino's Passione: Pasta, Pizza, and Panini. Having gathered together more than 100 of his most irresistible recipes, Stellino celebrates the quintessential Italian comfort foods that have generated an enduring and universal appeal.

Inspired by the best Italian home cooks, Nick Stellino shares his rediscovery of timeless Italian comfort foods with a masterful collection of inventive recipes. Yet this is more than just a sampling of Italian classics. Stellino's recipes for pizza, pasta, and panini are imaginative and contemporary interpretations. He enlivens traditional pizzas baked, fried, or stuffed with unusual ingredients, and in his own exuberant style, he demonstrates how to make pasta and pizza from scratch. And in Stellino's hands, the sandwiches and breads, for which Italy is famous, become works of art.

In Passione, he draws on the secrets of Italian home cooks and features touches that could only come from this charismatic personality. But if Stellino speaks from the heart about the rich culinary history of his native Italy, the recipes speak for themselves. Pappardelle with Rustic Lamb Sauce, Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Prosciutto, and Gorgonzola, and Sausages with Peppers and Onions Sandwich are exuberant samplings of the passion you can share with your loved ones.

About the Author:
Nick Stellino is the author of Cucina Amore, Nick Stellino's Glorious Italian Cooking, Nick Stellino's Mediterranean Flavors, and Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen. He has appeared on many local and national television and radio shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Today and CBS Saturday Morning. The host of more than 150 shows on public television's Cucina Amore, his Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen will launch on PBS in September.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Joining such luminaries as Wolfgang Puck, Alice Waters and Evan Kleiman, Stellino (Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen, etc.) adds to the robust subcategory of Italian cookbooks featuring pizza and pasta with this thoroughly engaging collection of traditional and new recipes. An updated Pasta with Mortadella Sauce is all the more appealing because Italian mortadella is at last available in this country. He offers two dozen dishes utilizing fresh pasta dough, including Shrimp-Filled Half-Moons and a richly ravishing Tortellini with Smoked Salmon and Creamed Tomato-Caper Sauce. For the fresh pasta itself, he presents a trio of recipes for small, medium and large batches. A charming boyhood story of his father's improvisational bread gnocchi precedes his own adaptation of Bread Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce. Among the rice dishes is the sublime blending of tastes in Risotto with Fennel, Pancetta and Parmesan. Stellino's pizzas are enticements with flair: Baked Pizza Rolls with Sausage and Ricotta are cigar-shaped temptations and Stuffed Pizza with Radicchio, Prosciutto and Camembert is perfect for a special occasion. Panini are as varied as Lamb Meatball Sandwiches with Minted Tomato Sauce and Hamburgers Italiano made with pepperoni, hot Italian sausage, ground lamb and ground veal. Long a favorite TV chef, Stellino will widen his audience with this book and with his latest PBS series, which began in September. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Stellino is the personable host of several PBS series and author of previous books on Italian and Mediterranean cooking. Although there are dozens of other titles featuring pasta and pizza, Stellino writes with disarming enthusiasm and includes some unusual regional dishes and variations (particularly among the fresh pastas), as well as his own more contemporary innovations. The recipes are well written and clear, with thoughtful explanations and suggestions, and there are useful tips scattered throughout. For most collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.75(w) x 9.50(h) x 0.98(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


I love pasta. If I could, I would eat it every day. As a matter of fact, growing up in Sicily, I did. It's no surprise, then, that this is my favorite section of the book.

    Pasta is the number-one Italian dish, popular in Italy and around the world, because it is inexpensive, easy to prepare, and most important, versatile. There's almost nothing you can't do with pasta as a starting point. Whether dry or fresh; whether stuffed, boiled, or baked; whether accompanied by a classic tomato sauce or an innovative combination of vegetables, meat, or fish, pasta can be prepared in an infinity of ways—all of them enticing.

    There are many questions and old cooks' tales about preparing pasta, and this seems the time and place for me to offer some thoughts on a few of them.

     To salt or not to salt: It's really a matter of personal taste. I prefer a dash of salt added to the boiling water before I put the pasta in to cook. Without salt, the flavor of the pasta will differ slightly, but with a full-flavored sauce you will hardly notice the lack of salt.

    Oil in the cooking water: Many people believe that adding oil will prevent the pasta from sticking together. All it will do, I think, is add a bit of flavor. If the pasta is cooked properly, that is, for the right amount of time in enough water to let it move about easily, it shouldn't stick together in the cooking pot. Once you drain the pasta, however, you must cover it with the sauce immediately, or toss it witholive oil if you are not going to sauce it at once. If you leave drained pasta standing, even for only a few minutes, it will clump together, forming what we Italians lovingly call a mattone di pasta, or "pasta brick."

    Cooking times: Most packages of dry pasta recommend cooking times, varying according to the pasta size, thickness, and so on. I like my pasta cooked just barely tender to the bite, or al dente. To cook dry or fresh pasta, always start out with fresh, cold water, and bring it to a rolling boil. I recommend cooking the pasta for about 8 to 10 minutes, more or less, depending on the type of pasta. Angel-hair pasta, for example, cooks in just a few minutes.

    Saucing the pasta: In all my recipes, I instruct you to make the sauce first and keep it at a simmer while you prepare the pasta. Then, in many recipes, I tell you to toss the pasta into the sauce instead of ladling the pasta into a big dish or individual serving dishes and pouring the sauce on top. When you toss the pasta into the sauce, you allow the sauce to penetrate the inner core of the pasta itself, so that sauce and pasta become one. If you prefer lots of sauce (and individual distribution), you can always serve extra on the side.

    Tossing the pasta: On my TV show and in cooking demonstrations, I often toss the pasta with the sauce in a large sauté pan, flipping it up in the air, almost like a juggler. But this little trick occasionally backfires, leaving bits of noodle and sauce on the counter and the floor. On television, of course, the incriminating film ends up on the floor of the editing room. To avoid a mess, put the drained pasta back into the cooking pot and return the pot to the stovetop. Add the sauce and, over medium-low heat, toss the pasta and sauce safely in the pot for 2 to 3 minutes. Then you're ready to serve.

All the sauces in this book are simple to make, and suitable for almost any type of pasta, fresh or dry. You can experiment with a wide range of shapes and sizes. Try a different brand of pasta from your usual choice. Try various shapes with your favorite sauce. Kids love the crinkled radiatore pasta and bite-size ziti, which are easier and less messy to eat than long strands of spaghetti or linguine. (Some adults who are not too adept at twirling pasta around a fork might agree.) Or try a new sauce, from one of the many possibilities in this book, on your family's favorite pasta.

    Most important, have fun and eat well.

Dry Pasta

Dry pasta comes in many shapes and forms: linguine, penne, penne rigate, rigatoni, spaghetti, tortiglioni, and so on. To the uninitiated, matters could become confusing. Which pasta is the right one to use? In the recipes I give recommendations about which cut of pasta I believe will work best. Yet you should not be limited by my suggestions; use whatever pasta you like and are confident with. I do, however, encourage you to experiment.

    Since "fresh" pasta has become so much more readily available in America, some people have, misguidedly, relegated dry pasta to second place. But frequently, for certain recipes, a good dry pasta is the right choice. More often than not, dry pasta will hold up better with a robust sauce. For many people, dry pasta is simply more convenient. And you don't have to sacrifice taste for convenience; there are many good dry pastas, domestic and imported. I have to confess a prejudice for dry pasta made in Italy. Italian-made pastas seem to hold together better during cooking, while pastas produced elsewhere tend to soften too quickly and miss that perfect al dente texture.

Baked Pasta with Eggplant Sauce


Sicilian eggplant is a delicacy, and combined with sausage, it reaches celestial heights of flavor. This baked dish, one of my childhood favorites, surely will become a favorite of yours.


* * *

6 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for
1/2 cup Italian-Style Bread Crumbs (page 220)
6 large cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 medium eggplant (1 pound), cut into
1/2-inch cubes
1 pound Italian-style sausage, casing removed,
cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup red wine
1 1/2 cups Tomato Sauce (page 229)
1 cup Beef Stock (page 221)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ziti, penne, or small shells
8 ounces fresh or smoked mozzarella or
scamorza, cut into 1/4-inch dice (see
Chef's Tips)
1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 [degrees]. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Brush or spray a 9x13-inch lasagna pan or baking dish with olive oil, and coat with half the bread crumbs.

Heat the 6 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan or skillet, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook until the garlic is lightly browned, about 1 minute. In two batches, fry the eggplant in the oil until it is brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove the eggplant and garlic to a plate or bowl, and keep warm. In the same pan or skillet, brown the sausage. Pour in the wine, stirring to dislodge any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and then simmer to reduce the liquid by half, about 2 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan and add the Tomato Sauce, stock, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until you have a nice, rich sauce, about 15 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to package directions (see Chef's Tips). Drain, and return the pasta to the empty pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta, and toss the two together, along with the mozzarella or scamorza and half the Romano. Spoon mixture into the prepared lasagna pan, and sprinkle with the remaining Romano and bread crumbs. Bake until a brown crust forms on top, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Chef's Tips: If using fresh mozzarella that was packed in water, drain well on paper towels before dicing.

It's better to undercook the pasta on the stovetop, as it will continue to cook in the oven.

Baked Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini


Zucchini are an underappreciated vegetable, and few people know how to extract their real flavor. Try this recipe and you will never feel the same about zucchini again.


* * *

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup Italian-Style Bread Crumbs (page 220)
1 pound small zucchini, quartered lengthwise
and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 medium sweet onion
1/2 large stalk celery, or I small stalk from the
1/2 large or 1 small carrot
3 ounces pancetta, cut into chunks, or bacon,
cut into pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
3/4 pound spicy Italian-style sausage, casing
removed, broken up
3/4 cup red wine
1 3/4 cups Tomato Sauce (page 229)
1 3/4 cups Beef Stock (page 221) 1 pound rigatoni or ziti
4 ounces smoked mozzarella, grated
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 [degrees]. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Generously butter a 9x12-inch casserole pan, and coat with half the bread crumbs.

Place the zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Cover with a plate (press down on the zucchini), weighted down with a heavy object. The salt will draw the liquid from the zucchini; the plate will help squeeze it out. Allow the zucchini to sit for about 20 minutes.

Put the onion, celery, carrot, and pancetta or bacon in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the mixture is chopped into tiny pieces.

In a large, deep sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable-pancetta mixture and the garlic, and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the sausage, stirring to break it up further, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, until the sausage is cooked through. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the Tomato Sauce and stock.

Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You should have a thin rather than thick pasta sauce; you want it liquid, as the mixture will eventually bake. Set the sauce aside, and cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions. Do not overcook; the pasta should hold its shape.

While the pasta is cooking, rinse the zucchini. Wrap in a clean, dry kitchen towel and squeeze out all the moisture. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining oil. Add the zucchini and, over high heat, brown on all sides for 3 to 4 minutes; cook in two batches, adding more oil if necessary, if the zucchini pieces are too many for one pan. They should be softened but not mushy. Remove and set aside.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the cooking water. Remove 1 cup of the pasta sauce from its pan and warm the remainder. Add the pasta and reserved pasta water to the sauce in the pan and toss well. Add the zucchini and mozzarella and stir well.

Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared casserole pan. Pour the reserved sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining bread crumbs and the Romano. Cover the casserole tightly with aluminum foil, and bake in the center of the oven for about 10 minutes, until warmed through. Remove the foil, check that the mozzarella is melted, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp the top before serving.

Linguine with Red Clam Sauce


There is clam sauce and there is clam sauce—and then there is this sauce. You'll be surprised and seduced by the simple charms of this dish.


* * *

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup diced onion
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes,
chopped and drained, juices reserved
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup white wine
2 dozen littleneck or manila clams, well
1 cup clam juice or Chicken Stock (page 223)
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus
additional for garnish
1 pound linguine

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a wide, deep sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion, and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is well softened. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture begins to look dry. Add the wine and clams. Increase the heat, cover the pan, and cook for 6 to 9 minutes, until the clams open. Peek after 5 to 6 minutes.

Uncover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-high, and remove the clams to a bowl. Discard any clams that have not opened. Cook the liquid in the pan for 2 to 3 minutes, uncovered. Add the clam juice or stock and 1 cup of the reserved tomato juice. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cook for 20 to 25 minutes. Stir in the parsley and turn the heat to very low.

Cook the linguine in the boiling water according to the package directions. Drain, and return the pasta to the cooking pot. Add half the sauce and toss well.

Add the cooked clams to the remaining sauce in the sauté pan. Stir and warm well. Divide the coated pasta into 4 or 6 equal portions. Top each with an equal amount of the sauce and clams. Sprinkle parsley over each portion and serve.

Pasta with Mortadella Sauce


In the olden days, most mortadella was made by monks, or frati, in the hills of Emilia-Romagna. While mortadella is perhaps the least appreciated of Italian deli meats, it shines in this traditional sauce that I have updated.


* * *

1 28-ounce can Italian-style whole peeled
tomatoes (preferably San Marzano),
drained, juice reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, thickly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup diced onion
8 ounces mortadella or bologna, cut into
1/2-inch dice (see Chef's Tip)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese,
plus additional for the table
1 pound penne
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Break the tomatoes open to release more juice to be reserved. Chop the tomatoes and set aside; you should have about 1 heaping cup.

In a large deep sauté pan, combine the oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and onion. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the mortadella and sauté, stirring, 5 to 7 minutes, until the mortadella browns. Add the chopped tomato and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the reserved tomato juices, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the mixture reaches a sauce consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes.

When the sauce is ready, taste, and add the salt and sugar if necessary. Stir well and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, and stir in the 4 tablespoons Parmesan.

Cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions. Drain, and return to the cooking pot. Pour the sauce over the pasta and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly so the pasta is well coated, for 2 to 3 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with the parsley. Pass Parmesan at the table.

Chef's Tip: It might be easier to find domestic bologna at your local store, but I urge you to look for Italian mortadella, which has only recently been approved for importation into this country. The search will be well worth your while.

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