Lidia Bastianich’s 3 wedding rehearsal recipes

Don’t save the great food just for the reception! Chef Lidia Bastianich shares delicious Italian-American dishes that are perfect for a wedding rehearsal dinner menu — shrimp alla buzara, spaghetti and pesto trapanese and a fresh vegetable salad:

Anna’s spaghetti and pesto trapanese
Servings:

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

    • 3/4 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) cherry tomatoes, very ripe and sweet
    • 12 large fresh basil leaves
    • 1/3 cup of whole almonds, lightly toasted
    • 1 plump garlic clove, crushed and peeled
    • 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino or to taste
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste, plus more for the pasta
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 pound spaghetti
    • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Rinse the cherry tomatoes and pat them dry. Rinse the basil leaves and pat dry. Drop the tomatoes into the blender jar or food processor bowl followed by the garlic clove, the almonds, basil leaves, peperoncino and ½ tsp salt. Blend for a minute or more to a fine purée; scrape down the bowl and blend again if any large bits or pieces have survived. With the machine still running, pour in the olive oil in a steady stream, emulsifying the purée into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning. (If you’re going dress the pasta within a couple of hours, leave the pesto at room temperature. Refrigerate if for longer storage, up to 2 days, but let it return to room temperature before cooking the pasta.) To cook the spaghetti, heat 6 quarts of water, with 1 tablespoon salt, to the boil in the large pot. Scrape all the pesto into a big warm bowl. Cook the spaghetti al dente, lift it from the cooking pot, drain briefly, and drop onto the pesto. Toss quickly to coat the spaghetti, sprinkle the cheese all over, and toss again. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

Insalata cotta e cruda (cooked and raw vegetable salad)
Servings:

Serves 6 or more

Ingredients

    • 1 pound sweet onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla
    • 3/4 pound red bliss potatoes (3 to 6 potatoes, depending on size)
    • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
    • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil or as needed
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt or to taste
    • 1/ 2 cup black olives, pitted

Preparation

Baking Directions:

For the verdura cotta (cooked vegetables): Peel and trim the onions and slice into rounds, about ¾-inch thick. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle salt lightly on both sides. Lay the onions on a baking sheet and roast in a preheated 375° oven for 20 minutes or longer, turning once, until slightly softened and nicely caramelized on the flat sides and edges. Cool, then separate the rounds into thick onion rings.Meanwhile, drop the potatoes, whole with skin on, into a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook just until a sharp knife blade slides through the potatoes — don’t let them get mushy. Extract the potatoes and cut them into wedges, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Trim the ends of the green beans and, when the potatoes are out of the boiling water, drop the beans in and cook until al dente, 4 minutes or so. Scoop them from the pot with a spider and drop the beans into very icy water, to set the color. Once chilled, drain and dry the beans and cut them in 2-inch lengths. For the verdura cruda (raw vegetables): Rinse, dry, and core the tomatoes. Slice them in wedges about the same size as the potatoes.  Separate, rinse, and spin-dry the lettuce leaves. Put everything in the bowl except the lettuce: onions, potatoes, beans, olives, capers and tomatoes. Sprinkle over the remaining salt and freshly ground pepper, drizzle over the rest of the olive oil and the red wine vinegar, and tumble the vegetables to coat them with dressing.Scatter the lettuce on top, tearing the larger leaves in two, then toss the greens with the vegetables gently but continuously for about a minute, to distribute the dressing evenly. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if you like, and toss again.Serve immediately — always including some of the heavier goodies that drop to the bottom of the bowl and hide under the lettuce.

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