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Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's newest cookbook, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, is all about Italian regional cooking. Each chapter in the book covers a different area of the country and is introduced with a description, beautiful photographs, and information about ingredients and wines. The chapters close with a short section of must-see places for the traveler.
In between are recipes for wonderful dishes and plenty of tips and hints and advice about ingredients.
My only complaint is that I prefer my cookbooks to be arranged by dish rather than by region. The good news is that there is not only a thorough index but a separate recipe finder, which divides the dishes into familiar categories (for example, appetizer, pasta, meat, desserts).
I made a great vegetable tart from the Emilia-Romagna region (northern Italy) last weekend for the Super Bowl. Oh my, this was wonderful and I can see it becoming a staple, especially in the summer. In my mind, the variations are endless and it was so easy to put together. The measurements are U.S. standard.
Dough for Erbazzone
Makes 1 pound of dough for 1 tart
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ cup cold water
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute, until it's smooth and soft. Pat into a rectangle, and wrap in plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for ½ hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to a day, or frozen for a month or more. Defrost in the refrigerator, and return to room temperature before rolling.)
Erbazzone with Swiss Chard Filling
12 servings (or fewer if cut smaller for appetizer)
- 2 pounds Swiss chard
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ½ cup fine dry bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 batch erbazzone dough
Cut off the stems and any tough ribs of the chard. Pile up the trimmed leaves, and slice them crosswise into ribbons, about 1 inch thick. Heap all the chard into the boiling water, and stir, gradually submerging the strips. When the water boils again, adjust the heat to keep it gently bubbling, and simmer the chard until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and cool the chard. The squeeze the leaves by handfuls, pressing out as much vegetable water as possible.
Pour the olive oil in a large skillet, and set it over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook until sizzling and fragrant. Then scatter the chard in the pan, loosening the compressed ribbons. Add 1¼ teaspoons salt, and stir and toss for a couple of minutes , until the chard strips are coated with olive oil and starting to cook. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl to cool.
Beat the eggs with the remaining salt, and stir them into the warm chard; then thoroughly blend in the cheese, bread crumbs, and rosemary.
Set a rack in the bottom half of the oven (with a baking stone, if you have one) and heat the oven to 375°F.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface, gradually stretching it into a rectangle that's 5 inches longer and wider than a 10- by 15-inch jelly roll pan. Drape the sheet of dough over the pan, then gently press it flat against the bottom and rims, leaving even flaps of over hanging dough on all sides.
Spread the filling into the dough-lined pan in an even layer over the entire bottom. Fold the dough flaps over the filling, making pleats at the corners, to form a top crust that looks alike a picture frame, with the filling exposed in the middle.
Bake in the oven (on the stone) about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is crisp on top.
Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes to set the filling before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature: cut into small squares for an appetizer or larger portions for a main dish.
Beth Fish's notes: (1) I am somewhat lazy, so I rolled the dough out to only about 3 inches bigger (not 5 inches) than the pan. Because the crust was a bit thicker, the erbazzone took a few minutes longer to cook. (2) I cooked the chard for about only 3 minutes, until it was wilted and bright green. (3) We loved this warm on the first day and cold on the second. (4) You could fill the tart with just about anything (think quiche or omelet), as long as it's not too watery. (5) This will become a summer standard in my house.
Published by Knopf, 2009
Source: Giveaway win (see review policy)