Irresistible Italian-Inspired Recipes from Nancy Silverton

Five-Herb Frittata Prosciutto and Parmesan
Photo: John Kernick

Pioneering Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton has been creating big, delicious waves since the 1980s, starting with her role as opening pastry chef at Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills. In 1989, after falling in love with Italian cuisine while vacationing in Tuscany, Silverton co-founded both the Cali-Italian restaurant Campanile and La Brea Bakery to virtually instant acclaim, the latter of which ushered the city squarely into the artisan bread movement. She became famous for her fabulous grilled cheese sandwiches in 1998 and is credited for igniting a worldwide trend. In 2014, Silverton received top honors with the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Chef Award. Today, she heads up several beloved L.A. dining establishments, most notably the Michelin-starred Osteria Mozza. Get a taste of Nancy Silverton's affinity for fresh, straightforward flavors with this collection of recipes she's contributed to Food & Wine over the years.

01 of 23

Pasta with Guanciale, Radicchio, and Ricotta

Pasta with Guanciale, Radicchio and Ricotta
© John Kernick

To make this rich pasta, 1990 F&W Best New Chef Nancy Silverton sautés guanciale (cured pork jowl) and then cooks the radicchio and red onions in the rendered fat. She likes to use a little-known pasta called calamarata — which looks like thick squid rings — to catch the sauce, but any wide, tubular pasta is great.

02 of 23

Spring Gem Salad with Soft Herbs and Labneh Toasts

Spring Gem Salad With Soft Herbs and Labneh Toasts
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Prop Styling by Julia Bayless / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn

Nancy Silverton says the first sign of spring is when she puts this salad on the menu at Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles. She dresses the asparagus, peas, radishes, and sugar snap peas with a lemon vinaigrette, then offers toasts topped with labneh alongside, turning this ode to spring produce into a light lunch or first course for dinner. 

03 of 23

Five-Herb Frittata with Prosciutto and Parmesan

Five-Herb Frittata Prosciutto and Parmesan
John Kernick

Nancy Silverton has strong opinions about frittatas. She likes them to be creamy like scrambled eggs, with various toppings like prosciutto, cheese, and a generous amount of herbs. At her dinner parties, she often serves this 15-minute frittata as a side dish, so guests can cut wedges at the table.

04 of 23

Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred Lemon Salsa Verde

Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde
© John Kernick

This crispy, delicious chicken is baked with lemon and garlic and served with a vibrant salsa verde made with pieces of oven-roasted lemon.

05 of 23

Beets with Chicories, Yogurt, and Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette

Beets with Chicories, Yogurt and Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Prop Styling by Julia Bayless / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn

Roasting beets with the skins intact is a trick chef Nancy Silverton picked up from the restaurant North Abraxas in Tel Aviv, and uses to great effect in this salad. Roasting the beets with the skins on means you get both the bright, colorful flesh and the crinkled papery skin. Don't skip eating the beet tails, which emerge from the roasting pan crispy and salty.

06 of 23

Herbed Chickpea Bruschetta

Herbed Chickpea Bruschetta
© John Kernick

The key to these delicious bruschetta from Nancy Silverton is lots of olive oil. After she bakes the chickpeas with a variety of flavorings — including onions, pancetta, and carrots — she purees them with a good amount of oil, spreads the puree on toasts, and drizzles with a little more oil.

07 of 23

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini and Green-Olive Tapenade

© Greg DuPree

This no-cook salad from Los Angeles chef Nancy Silverton, inspired by the antipasto in Italian-American restaurants, is a delicious toss of iceberg lettuce, mozzarella, salami, and olives in an oregano-laced dressing.

08 of 23

Baked Onions with Fennel Breadcrumbs

Baked Onions with Fennel Bread Crumbs
© John Kernick

These simple, incredibly flavorful onions are baked in the oven until they're falling-apart tender. Fennel seeds punch up the crispy breadcrumb topping.

09 of 23

Sautéed Spinach with Lemon and Garlic Olive Oil

Sautéed Spinach with Lemon-and-Garlic Olive Oil
© John Kernick

"In every little restaurant in Umbria, there are sautéed greens on the menu," says Nancy Silverton. Here, she blanches spinach, then sautés it in garlic-spiked oil until all the leaves are thoroughly coated.

10 of 23

Grilled Cheese with Corn and Calabrian Chile

Grilled Cheese with Corn and Calabrian Chile Recipe
Photo by Tara Donne / Food Styling by Chris Lanier / Prop Styling by Raina Kattelson

This upgraded grilled cheese is filled with a charred sweet corn-studded blend of nutty English cheddar, sharp caciocavallo, and just enough mayonnaise to bind it all together. Thick slices of sourdough get a beautifully buttery, golden crust in a cast-iron skillet, while Calabrian chile sneaks in with just the right amount of heat.

11 of 23

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops with Pimentón and Mint

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops with Pimenton and Mint
© John Kernick

Nancy Silverton adores the grilled, herb-flecked lamb chops scottadito ("burnt fingers"). Here, she adds a kick to the lamb by garnishing it with smoky pimentón de la Vera and little mint leaves.

12 of 23

Burrata with Speck, Peas, and Mint

Burrata with Speck, Peas and Mint
© David Malosh

Nancy Silverton is known for deliberate simplicity, and this dish is no exception. Though it's not strictly a spring dish, that's the feeling the meld of lavishly creamy cheese, pungent mint, tender peas, and smoky speck evokes. A no-fuss dressing of lemon juice and olive oil, along with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan, offers harmonious balance in every last bite.

13 of 23

Harvest Salad with Gorgonzola, Bacon, and Concord Grapes

Harvest Salad with Gorgonzola, Bacon and Concord Grapes
© Christina Holmes

This great salad combines tender Bibb lettuce with an array of tasty ingredients: smoky bacon, Gorgonzola cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and sweet Concord grapes.

14 of 23

Nancy Silverton's Tomato-Oregano Pizza

Nancy Silverton's Tomato-Oregano Pizza
© Lauren Volo

This outstanding cheese-less pizza recipe is modeled after the pies at cult favorite Pepe in Grani outside of Naples, Italy.

15 of 23

Raspberry Custard Tart

Raspberry Custard Tart
© Richard Gerhard Jung

"Eating this tart warm is a very sensual experience," claims Nancy Silverton, who found the inspiration for this simple, silky tart in a classic summer combination: "You can't go wrong with raspberries and cream," she says.

16 of 23

Lamb Meatballs with Red Pepper and Chickpea Sauce

Lamb Meatballs with Red Pepper and Chickpea Sauce
© John Kernick

Nancy Silverton got this hearty meatball recipe from Matt Molina, the former chef de cuisine at Campanile. When the meatballs are almost cooked through, she pushes them to one side of the skillet and adds the ceci (Italian for chickpeas). That way everything soaks up the flavor of the luscious roasted red pepper sauce.

17 of 23

Sautéed Cauliflower Frittata with Thyme

Sautéed Cauliflower Frittata with Thyme
© John Kernick

Nancy Silverton often prepared a tender frittata for her antipasti table at La Terza in Los Angeles. This version includes sautéed cauliflower topped with homemade breadcrumbs for a lovely bit of crunch. Silverton's trick for making small amounts of breadcrumbs is to toast a slice of sourdough bread, rub it with a garlic clove, and grind it in a mortar.

18 of 23

Fregola Tabbouleh

Fregola Tabbouleh
© John Kernick

Fregola sarda is a wonderfully chewy mini Italian pasta from Sardinia. Because its size is similar to bulgur wheat's, Nancy Silverton uses it in her fun riff on tabbouleh.

19 of 23

Spaghetti with Garlic, Onions, and Guanciale

Spaghetti with Garlic, Onions and Guanciale
© David Malosh

This dish is elegant in its simplicity. With so few ingredients, be sure to choose the best you can get your hands on, including a good-quality olive oil,

20 of 23

Ricotta Gnudi with Chanterelles

Ricotta Gnudi with Chanterelles. Photo © Sara Remington
© Sara Remington

These tender gnudi, adapted from Nancy Silverton's Mozza Cookbook, are delicious with buttery chanterelles.

21 of 23

Little Gem Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Little Gem Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
© Sara Remington

Nancy Silverton's lovely salad, also adapted from her Mozza Cookbook, features Little Gem lettuce, a smaller, sweeter variety of romaine. If you can't find it, use hearts of romaine instead.

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Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Pie

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Pie
© John Kernick

If you don't want to make a caramel or fudge sauce, Nancy Silverton suggests using high-quality jarred ones like King's Cupboard cream caramel sauce and Scharffen Berger chocolate sauce.

23 of 23

Stovetop Asparagus Frittata

Frittata with asparagus, prosciutto and crème fraîche.

For this single-serving frittata, Silverton cooks the eggs gently, then tops them with asparagus, prosciutto, and crème fraîche. Since the frittata is not warmed in the oven, it’s best to have the toppings at room temperature. Also, keep them near the pan so you can work quickly once the eggs are cooked.

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