Grace Parisi's Fast Italian Recipes
Wild Mushroom-and-Red Wine Risotto
Pairing Suggestion: Intense, blackberry-scented red from Rosso Conero in Italy's Marches region.
Olive-Mint Pesto Meatballs with Fettuccine
Some cooks are surprised when Grace Parisi tells them she mixes pesto into meatballs to add flavor quickly. If you're pressed for time, good store-bought pesto works too.
Grilled Prosciutto and Fontina Rolls with Mostarda
Pairing Suggestion: Voluptuous, cherry-rich red.
Giardiniera with Ham and White Beans
This recipe is a nod to the pickled vegetables (giardiniera) in the Gramercy Tavern salad. Grace Parisi quickly soaks baby cauliflower in vinegar and sugar, then combines it with snap peas, white beans, ham and sunflower seeds to create a unique main-course dish.
Orecchiette with Veal, Capers and White Wine
"The sauce fits the pasta," said judge Marc Vetri in praise of this tender veal ragù flavored with white wine, capers, thyme and rosemary, then tossed with the little ear-shaped orecchiette. "The meat, the capers—they hang on to the pasta when you lift up your fork."
Ham and Chile-Cheddar Calzones
A fast, easy homemade pimiento spread adds a little kick to the gooey cheddar filling in this clever version of grilled ham-and-cheese sandwiches.
Italian Wedding Soup
Grace Parisi's kids love a particular brand of canned soup filled with chicken meatballs and soggy pasta, but she prefers real minestra maritata (Italian wedding soup). She makes tiny pork meatballs and simmers them with orzo, chickpeas, spinach and parmesan. She occasionally substitutes green beans for the spinach, depending on who is at the table.
Big Italian Salad
Part green salad, part antipasto salad, this recipe combines lettuce, celery, onion, peperoncini, olives and cherry tomatoes—all tossed in a dressing made with olive oil, vinegar and a little mayonnaise. "The salad reminds me of one my mother made," says Fran Parisi. "Her dressing had no mayo, of course—it was strictly oil and vinegar."
Italian-Sausage Burgers with Garlicky Spinach
Using sausage in burgers is a smart shortcut, because the meat is already seasoned.
To make her Sunday-supper scarpariello—chicken sautéed in a tangy lemon glaze with bell pepper—Fran Parisi always uses a whole chicken cut into pieces, then cooks it on the stove for hours. Grace Parisi opts for faster-cooking boneless thighs and skips the bell pepper in favor of jarred Peppadews, sweet-spicy pickled peppers from South Africa, sold in many US supermarkets.
Wild Mushroom Soup with Parmesan Toasts
Grace Parisi created this recipe almost by accident. When she was cooking dinner for her kids, one of them knocked into her while she was adding a few tablespoons of chicken broth to a pan of sautéed mushrooms. She poured in a lot more broth than she intended to and ended up with a terrific mushroom soup.
Pasta with Spicy Almond Pesto
Using almond butter is a great shortcut for making this delicious spicy dish. Or try hazelnut butter for an earthier pesto.
Roasted Chicken and Leek Pizza
Store-bought rotisserie chicken, with its juicy meat, makes a great topping for a fast pizza.
Minestra is a light, brothy Italian soup with vegetables. "In this version, I sauté Tuscan kale and butternut squash with onion, garlic and rosemary, then simmer them in chicken stock with pasta and white beans," Grace Parisi says.
Double-Grilled Antipasto Sandwiches
These gooey sandwiches get double-grilled: the prosciutto-wrapped provolone is grilled first before being sandwiched on grilled baguette. "In a pinch, I'll use Polly-O string cheese instead of provolone," says Grace Parisi.
Zucchini Linguine with Herbs
Grace Parisi treats shredded zucchini and scallions just like the linguine in this lush dish: She tosses them all in a buttery sauce with lemon thyme and tarragon and finishes the dish with pecorino cheese.