F&W Free Preview All You Coastal Living Cooking Light Food and Wine tab Health myRecipes Southern Living Sunset
My F&W
quick save (...)
Dana Cowin and Mario Batali
Photo © Michael Turek

At F&W, we’re endlessly fascinated by all things Italian—the food, the wine, the chefs. And one Italian chef we’re always fascinated by is Mario Batali. So for our Italian wine issue this month, we invited him to be our first-ever guest editor. Mario contributed his gargantuan talent throughout the issue: He interviewed writer Jim Harrison for “Hungry Crowd,” divulged his favorite restaurants in Italy for “Where to Go Next” and gave his buddy Jimmy Fallon a private cooking class. He even showed me how to make our cover dish, pasta with blistered tomatoes, so I could share his best tips with you.

What I Learned from Mario

1. Buy cherry tomatoes on the vine, place them in a 425-degree oven and blast them for 25 minutes. “You grab the stem end, and pfut!, the skins come right off,” says Mario, though we leave them on for this pasta recipe. This method redeems any out-of-season tomatoes.

2. Mario sometimes uses a single ingredient both during the cooking process and at the very end. For example, in our pasta recipe, he tosses in a little chopped parsley with the vegetables as they cook because, he says, “I like the cooked, muted flavor of parsley.” Then, “I add more at the end, for brightness.”

3. It’s always better to have the sauce too tight (or reduced) than too wet. When Mario’s sauce is ready to take off the heat, it looks like a limp and lovely vegetable stir-fry.

4. The make-or-break moment is when you’re coating the pasta with sauce. You want to do it the way you’d coat lettuce with salad dressing: Lightly! For maximum control, add the pasta in batches to the pan containing the sauce, instead of vice versa.

5. For a wine pairing, Mario rejects all reds—too tricky with the blanched asparagus in the sauce. “I’d open a bottle of white that has some acidity to drink with this vegetable pasta, like a Friulano from northern Italy,” he says.

Mario on His Favorite Color

One last question I had to ask Mario: Do you think you’ll ever get tired of the color orange? Mario answered swiftly, “Do you ever get tired of being happy? Orange makes me happy.”

Mario’s Cover Recipe Cook-Off

For the cover, we considered two recipes Mario developed exclusively for us: a spring pasta and a piadina—thin flatbread—with cured meat and cheese. I chose the pasta because of its immediacy, but we loved the piadina, too. So we’re sharing both recipes. If you had my job, which would you have chosen? Tweet me @fwscout.

Cover Recipe: Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

Star chef Mario Batali’s outstanding vegetable pasta boasts juicy roasted tomatoes with asparagus, Broccolini and shavings of ricotta salata cheese.

Coppa-and-Gorgonzola Piadine

Star chef Mario Batali’s terrific flatbread sandwiches are topped with slices of creamy Gorgonzola dolce and coppa as soon as they’re taken off the griddle.

The Batali Brothers Cookbook
Photo courtesy of Harper Collins

A Cookbook from Mario’s Best Students

Batali’s sons, Leo, 14, and Benno, 16, created this adorable, kid-friendly cookbook that includes 34 recipes; Mario’s favorite is the Blue Cheese Pocket Burger.

Contact Me

Twitter: Follow me @fwscout

Facebook: Become a fan at facebook.com/foodandwine

Published April 2013
You Might Also Like

Comments

Add A Comment

    Add a Comment

    See our terms
    You must be logged in to comment. or
    advertisement
    The Dish
    Receive delicious recipes and smart wine advice 4x per week in this e-newsletter.
    The Wine List Weekly pairing plus best bottles to buy.
    F&W Daily One sensational dish served fresh every day.
    American Express Publishing ("AEP") may use your email address to send you account updates and offers that may interest you. To learn more about the ways we may use your email address and about your privacy choices, read the AEP Privacy Statement.
    How we use your email address
    advertisement
    Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

    Already looking forward to next year (June 19-21, 2015)? Relive your favorite moments from the culinary world's most sensational weekend in the Rocky Mountains.