Mapped out meals: Pasta, gratinate and more

Lidia Bastianich makes an Italian feast that takes you through four meals, including baked rigatoni, skillet gratinate with chicken, shrimp marinara and meatballs.

Grocery list:

Extra virgin olive oil

Unsalted butter


2 large eggs

8 oz Muenster or Taleggio cheese

2 c grated Grana Padano cheese

2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 pound ground veal



Bread crumbs

1 c vegetable broth or stock

1 c white wine


12 Shiitaki mushrooms

Bunch scallions

3 zucchini

Red, yellow bell pepper



2 onions

Frozen peas or fava beans

Fresh basil leaves

Dried oregano

Fresh parsley

Fresh sage leaves

Crushed red pepper

2 35-oz cans of Italian plum tomatoes

1 lb rigatoni

Sandwich rolls

Baked rigatoni and zucchini
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Makes 6 to 8 servings


    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium onion, sliced
    • 1 pound medium zucchini, sliced
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cups of marinara sauce (recipe below)
    • 1 pound rigatoni
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
    • 8 ounces shredded Muenster cheese or Taleggio
    • 1 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
  • For marinara sauce

    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 2- 35 oz cans of Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
    • Crushed red pepper to taste
    • 10 fresh basil leaves
    • 1 teaspoon salt


Baking Directions:

For marinara sauce:Heat the oil in a 2 to 3-quart non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Whack the garlic with the flat side of a knife, add it to the oil and cook until lightly browned. Crush the tomatoes by hand or pass through a vegetable mill, slide the crushed tomatoes and their liquid into the oil, bring to a boil and season lightly with salt and crushed red pepper. Lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer and cook, breaking up the tomatoes with a whisk or spoon, until the sauce is chunky and thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil about 5 minutes before the sauce is finished. Taste the sauce and season with salt and red pepper if necessary.Remove garlic cloves, let cool and store in pint and quart containers, mark the containers with date and name of sauce before freezing. It will keep well in the freezer for 1 to 2 months. For baked rigatoni:Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini, and cook until zucchini begins to soften, another 5 minutes.  Add the Marinara sauce to the skillet.  Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer just until the sauce thickens, about 8 to 10 minutes, but don't let the zucchini begin to fall apart.Meanwhile, cook the rigatoni until al dente, a few minutes shy of the package directions.  Drain the pasta and toss in the skillet with the tomato sauce and basil.  Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.  In a medium bowl toss together the 2 grated cheeses.  Spread half the pasta and sauce in the baking dish and top with half the cheese.  Layer the remaining pasta and sauce, then the remaining cheese.  Bake uncovered until browned and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

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Makes 6 servings


    • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts or chicken tenders
    • 12 large Shiitake mushrooms
    • 1 cup flour, or more, for dredging
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more if needed
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • For sauce

    • 3 tablespoons soft butter
    • 1 cup Marinara Sauce
    • 1 cup white wine
    • 6 fresh sage leaves
    • 3/4 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
    • 1 cup hot simple vegetable broth or stock, if needed


Baking Directions:

For chicken and mushrooms:Place a rack in the center or upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. If the chicken breasts are whole, cut them in half. Trim off any bits of fat, skin or tendon. Flatten each breast half with a mallet (or the flat bottom of a heavy pan) to an even thickness, about 3/4-inch. Trim the stem and wash the mushrooms caps and pat them dry. Put 3 tablespoons of the olive oil into the skillet, tilt to coat the bottom and set it over medium heat. Toss the mushroom caps in flour to coat well, pat off any excess, and lay them into the pan. Keep the heat moderate and let the pieces caramelize slowly for about 4 minutes. Turn when the edges are nicely browned on the underside; fry for about 2 minutes on the second side. With a slotted spatula, lift the mushrooms to a plate or tray with paper towels and salt lightly. Fry the remaining mushroom caps in the same way and salt them. When the mushrooms are done, turn off the heat but leave all the oil in the skillet. On the stovetop:Have all of your gratinate and sauce ingredients handy to the stove. You should have at least 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet (add a bit if needed). Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and set the pan over low-medium heat.Salt the chicken pieces lightly, flop them in the dredging flour to coat on both sides, and pat off excess. When the butter is just beginning to sizzle, arrange all six cutlets in the pan. Cook them gently for a minute and a half, and then turn them over: they should be very lightly colored, with no browning. Maintain the gentle cooking while you assemble the gratinate. Sprinkle the chicken again with salt (using 1/2 teaspoon total for the dish). Spread a heaping tablespoon of Marinara sauce on top of each cutlet. Arrange the mushroom caps on top of the sauced chicken, use 2 mushroom caps per piece of chicken.Now raise the heat a bit and begin to develop the sauce:Drop the remaining butter, in small pieces, in between the layered cutlets. After a few seconds, pour in 2/3 cup of the wine around the cutlets and let it heat briefly, 10 to 20 seconds.Spoon the rest of the cup of Marinara sauce into the pan (not on the chicken).Bring to a simmer, and then drop the sage into the sauce all around the pan.Give the pan a gentle shake, or two, to mix and emulsify the sauce ingredients.Finally, sprinkle two tablespoons of grated cheese evenly over each mushroom-topped mound.At this point, the sauce should be about 1/3-inch deep in your pan or even higher, coming well up the sides of the chicken cutlets. If not, pour in the rest of the wine and as much hot water or stock as necessary. Raise the heat again to bring the pan sauce to an active simmer.

Shrimp and vegetables marinara
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    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
    • 2 cups of Marinara sauce
    • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped
    • 1 medium zucchini, cut in 2-by-1/2-inch strips
    • 1 red, 1 yellow bell pepper, cut in 2-by-1/2-inch strips
    • 1 cup of defrosted peas or fava beans
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, shredded


Baking Directions:

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, add olive oil. When oil is hot, add garlic. Let the garlic sizzle a minute, then add the peppers. Cook and stir until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the Marinara bring to a rapid simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.Add the scallions, peas or fava bean and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook another 5 minutes, then stir in the shrimp. Simmer until shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the basil and serve over steamed rice.

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Makes about 4 dozen meatballs


    • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
    • 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
    • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 1 pound ground pork
    • 1 pound ground veal
    • 2 large eggs, beaten
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • 2 cups bread crumbs
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 4 qts marinara sauce


Baking Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the carrot, celery, and onion in a food processor, pulsing to make a fine-textured paste or pestata. Scrape the pestata into a large bowl, and add the three meats, eggs, oregano, parsley, bread crumbs, and salt, mixing with your hands to combine well. Roll the meat into golf- ball- sized balls, and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. (You should get about forty- eight meatballs.) Bake the meatballs until browned all over, about 18 to 20 minutes. (They do not need to be entirely cooked through, because they will cook more in the Marinara sauce.) Bring the four quarts of Marinara sauce to a boil, add I qt of water. When the meatballs have finished baking, gently add them to the sauce and return to a simmer. Simmer, shaking the pan periodically to move (but not break) the meatballs for 20-30 minutes Serve nice and hot with spaghetti, or garlic mashed potatoes, or make a meatball hero sandwich atop some crusty bread.

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