If it is the Lord who should be praised, then praise the Lord for Lidia Bastianich, one of the great chefs in America. She is always in service to the food, not her own ego, yet there is a self-contained sureness in her as she teaches on television and in her books.
In paying tribute to Lidia at a Food Schmooze dinner with her last year in Connecticut, I told her that I felt torn referring to her as a “chef,” rather than a cook. While I bow to her exquisite knowledge of Italy’s regions, and her extraordinary technique, her ability to translate recipes for those of us who are home cooks, is wise and rare. You do not pick up one of her cookbooks, including the new one featured here, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, and think, I can’t possibly do this. In fact, you can’t wait to get at it, and the dish never disappoints.
Lidia’s latest cookbook Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master, does what it says, giving us uncomplicated recipes that use good quality ingredients, a formula that practically guarantees success. A focus on good and simple ingredients also reminds us that basic things can be savored as well as satisfy us at the deepest level.
It was hard to choose a recipe, but in the end I had to go with what I consider the temptress in Lidia’s stable, a gorgeous yet simple salmon with Prosecco wine that you and your guests are not likely to forget. Seriously, they don’t get easier than this, and with such a wondrous payoff.
Want more Lidia? Listen to Faith’s conversation with Lidia about her new memoir, My American Dream.
A gorgeous yet simple salmon with Prosecco wine that you and your guests are not likely to forget. Recipe from Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali, published by Knopf, 2013.
- 4 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
- 1.25 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive 0il
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 bunch scallions trimmed and chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup cornichons chopped
- 2 cups prosecco
- 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley chopped
- Season the salmon with .25 teaspoons of the salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the salmon, and sear it on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, but don't worry about cooking the fish all the way through at this point. Remove the salmon to a plate, pour out the oil, and wipe the skillet clean.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat, and add 4 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter is melted, add the scallions and cornichons, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add the Prosecco and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining teaspoon salt and slide the salmon back into the sauce. Simmer until salmon is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Whisk the remaining butter and the parsley into the sauce and serve.
Dr. Alfred J. Joyell says
I have all of Lidia’s cookbooks (I am embarrassed to say that currently I have four thousand cookbooks in my collection). I am Italian 100% . My last name was Gioiella (the Italian word for “jewel”) and grew up with a Mom, 9 Aunts, a Grandmother and Godmother all of whom were spectacular cooks and bakers. I am amazed at the simplicity of Lidia’s recipes and, at the same time, the full flavor of tastes that are always present. Brava Lidia and Brava to you Faith for having her on your show. Ciao! Al Joyell PS. Faith once we spoke on the phone and you asked me if I knew Louis Nichole and explained that my Dad and Louis’s Dad were best friends for 40 years. I am from Waterbury.
Faith Middleton says
Dear Al, what a treat to hear from you. And all that Italian blood coursing through your veins. Bene! You have said it perfectly — Lydia can take the simplest thing and transform it in a few strokes. But let’s get back to the fact that you have admitted to having 4,000 cookbooks…again, bene! How many bookcases do you have? I know a store in Sag Harbor that sells wallpaper for a fortune, because the paper is a photograph of books, as if they’re in a life-size bookcase. You, my friend, have the real thing, and inside those covers, worlds of happiness. Perhaps you should declare yourself The Alfred Joyell Cookbook Library, with a sign out front, and visiting hours. People would talk for years about Alfred’s salon of food-lovers, sipping wine and discussing meals of the past, present and future. (Or, this could be a novel…) Enjoy the holidays, and many thanks for writing us. Party with us anytime. Cheers, Faith
Red prosecco or white?
Faith Middleton says
That would be white Prosecco, John, and now that the holidays are rolling around, a great choice as a dish. By the way, I tried some phenomenal dry red sparkling wine when I led a tour of our listeners through the Piedmont region of Italy. The Aussies also make some dry red sparklers, but the Piedmont ones, devastatingly good. Cheers, Faith