Fast Southern Italian: The 45-Minute Nonna
Photo © John Kernick
F&W’s Grace Parisi reinvents her Calabrian grandmother’s favorite recipes so they’re lighter and speedier.
Creating recipes that hit all the high points of southern Italian cooking is a no-brainer for me—one set of my grandparents came to this country from Palermo, the other from Messina and a town in Calabria. My maternal grandfather was a baker, pizzaiolo and restaurateur, and my paternal grandmother (my namesake) was an amazing home cook who taught me that not every southern Italian dish comes with a red sauce. My recipes here are a tribute to her. Southern Italians love their raisins, pine nuts and capers, all of which I mix into meatballs simmered in a sweet-and-sour braising sauce: agrodolce. Our beloved raisins and capers appear again with stewed peppers in a luscious side dish, peperonata, that I serve with grilled baby lamb chops. Aside from the chops, which may have been a bit fancy for my grandma, I think everything here would have been quite at home on her table.
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan This grilled-vegetable version of eggplant Parmesan, like the one Grace Parisi's Calabrian grandmother used to make, is much lighter than the fried kind.
Grilled Lamb Chops with Peperonata A hearty mix of stewed peppers, onions, raisins and anchovies makes this peperonata more of a side dish than a condiment.
Agrodolce Meatballs Even in southern Italy, not every meatball is drenched in tomato sauce. These are cooked in a sweet-and-tart mixture of balsamic vinegar and chicken broth.
Oil-Poached Tuna with Fennel and Orange In this clever one-pot dish, Grace Parisi poaches fennel, shallots and orange zest in extra-virgin olive oil. She then cooks a tuna steak in that oil, making the fish incredibly moist and flavorful.