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Video: Molto Mario simplifies Italian cooking

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    >>> up next, no fuss italian cooking with mario batali . but first, this is "today" on nbc . kitchen" is brought to you by kraft miracle whip .

    >>> this morning on "today's kitchen," back to basics. a easy-to-make light spring meal. fresh vegetables, pasta , a little salt and pepper and a hilt lep fr little help from mario batali . good morning to you. easy but nutritious cooking.

    >> simple, inexpensive and nutritious. which is really a great thing. two dishes today -- one is a pasta , penne with little morrels, asparagus . we cook the vegetables in a little extra-virgin olive oil , carrots and garlic and morrells. but use whatever can you find.

    >> can you use frozen peas ?

    >> exactly.

    >> not peas in a can?

    >> canned vegetables came and went right before the astronauts walked on the moon. and we stopped with those days. then we're going to take asparagus . does anyone want to get their hands a little dirty ?

    >> sure, go ahead.

    >> hold the southern end and slowly shave it across that like that effectively create something completely raw. we'll make a raw asparagus salad.

    >> watch and learn.

    >> to make dressing, ill he ta indressin g, i'll take hot pasta water, lemon juice and parmesan kn parmesano-reggiano, the undisputed king of cheeses. this is going to break down. the cheese will melt just a tiny bit but not so much.

    >> how many of these do i need to do?

    >> you're good because i did a whole mess earlier. see how they're shaved like ribbons? it was almost counterintuitive you would make a salad like that.

    >> you have your own pepper mills?

    >> what i always recommend is if when you're using things around the house, if you use something with your name on it, try to find it. if you can't, use something with matt lauer 's name on it. then just toss it like that. raw vegetables become the bounty of spring. this is not necessarily a great dish for the wine geek in us. asparagus often turns wine to a bitter flavor. but a cold varietial from northeastern italy is one that works. if you try to do red wine with asparagus , it is usually a big problem. now i've got my vegetables sauteed here. you can literally make this meal in 15 minutes , provided somebody already shucked your peas for you.

    >> if you add up the ingredients here, we're still well under --

    >> $20 for four. that's because the morrells were expensive. get those vegetables cooking. take our pasta out. now this time generally i say take your pasta out about a minute before the package instruction. in this case, we're going to take it out about two minutes because what's going to create the sauce is the -- give it a stir. we'll add about three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil there.

    >> again with the extra virgin . huh?

    >> that's basically all we got left at my age, extra virgin in the olive oil bottle. let it sit for a couple seconds.

    >> you didn't totally cover it. was that on purpose?

    >> no. then we come around here. to serve the salad, you just go like so. just toss it like that. how simple and how beautiful.

    >> i love asparagus but i've never had shaved asparagus .

    >> raw, it is really interesting. there's a fork.

    >> thank you.

    >> i think it just captures the total springness of it. it is that lemon juice and parm combo.

    >> the lemon really sets it up. as you hoe this pasta dish, one of the great unused ingredients is the pasta water. people forget that, they dump it right down the sink.

    >> what do you use it for?

    >> it's got a little starch and salt in it, so what it does, it helps the sauce come together and coats everything beautifully with that starch in it. bas basil, mint and parsley, a little extra parmigiano-reggiano. there you have a perfect spring pasta dish.

    >> we'll be the judge of that.

    >> i think you should be. i'd like to add a little more cheese over the top .

    >> i'm not just kidding, this is really, really good.

    >> the trick with this kind of cooking, go to the market and decide what looks the freshest.

    >> it's delicious.

    >> one of my favorite afternoon snacks, by the way --

    >> what?

    >> cut pieces of parmesan. i go right to the lipitor after that.

    >> this is a lower-fat cheese than you would imagine because it is so dry.

    >> it's very good.

    >> mario batali .

    >> the book is "easy italian

TODAY recipes
updated 4/6/2010 9:40:26 AM ET 2010-04-06T13:40:26

Recipe: Shaved asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • 2 pounds medium asparagus, tough bottom ends snapped off
  • 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, coarsely grated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Using a Benriner (Japanese mandoline) or other vegetable slicer, or a vegetable peeler, thinly shave the asparagus, making long diagonal shavings.

Put the Parmigiano in a large bowl and whisk in the lemon juice and warm water. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the oil to make a loose emulsion. Add the asparagus and toss gently to coat. Season with salt if necessary and with pepper and serve.

Serving Size

Serves 6

Recipe: Penne alla primavera

  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 4 ounces morels, halved if large, or cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces asparagus, stalks sliced 1/2-inch thick on a bias, tips reserved separately
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed if frozen
  • 1 cup fava beans
  • 4 scallions, white part only, thinly sliced
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound penne rigate
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving

Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until barely golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the carrots, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the sliced asparagus and cook for 2 minutes, then add the asparagus tips, peas, fava beans, and scallions, season well with Maldon salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until all the vegetables are just tender, about 2 minutes longer. Remove from the heat.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in another large pot and add 4 tablespoons kosher salt. Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook until just al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the water.

Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the vegetables, 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 remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and a splash or two more of the reserved pasta water if necessary to loosen the sauce, then stir in the herbs and serve immediately, with grated Parmigiano on the side.

Serving Size

Serves 6


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