There is much more to the Veneto than the romance and mystery of its capital city, Venice. This northern Italian region combines stately mountains, dulcet hills, and a perch on the Adriatic Sea, making it a fantastic place to enjoy a variety of cuisines. From the Venetian lagoon come soups and risottos studded with seafood; the wind-swept hills offer a mouthwatering selection of cured meats and aged cheeses; and the mountain villages specialize in hearty foods like braised beef, best savored with a bracing glass of the region's famous Amarone wine.
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Published in The Best Pasta Sauces by Micol Negrin (Ballantine Books, October 2014):
**Bonus recipe available in exclusive companion eBook when you order The Best Pasta Sauces directly from RUSTICO COOKING.
A splash of cream softens the flavor of this rustic pasta.
Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a deep, wide skillet. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, until caramelized and soft, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the radicchio and bacon and raise the heat to medium-high. Season with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and the pepper; sauté, stirring often, until the radicchio is wilted and the bacon is fully cooked, about 10 minutes.
Add the cream and bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, then stir in the Parmigiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Meanwhile, bring 6 quarts of water to a boil. Add the penne and the remaining 2 tablespoons of salt, and cook, stirring often, until al dente.
Drain the penne, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Fold in the radicchio sauce, dilute with the reserved cooking water if needed, and serve hot. Serves 4
The endive's natural bitterness is tamed by slow cooking in this delicate risotto.
Heat the stock in a stockpot and keep it hot. Dissolve the saffron in 1/4 cup of the stock and set aside.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a wide, shallow pan. Cook the onion until soft, stirring often with a wooden spoon, about 3 minutes. Add the endives and season with salt and pepper; cook until the endives are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Deglaze with the wine and let it evaporate, stirring, about 3 minutes.
Begin adding the heated stock by the cup, stirring constantly; add more stock only when the rice has almost fully absorbed the previous batch.
Cook the rice in this manner, adding stock as needed, for 15 to 18 minutes, or until it is almost al dente; you may not need to add all of the stock.
Fold in the shrimp and saffron stock; cook until the rice is al dente and the shrimp is cooked. Stir in the basil and the cream, adjust the seasoning, and serve hot. Serves 6
A few strips of orange zest lend a subtle sweetness to this robust lamb stew. Serve with polenta or mashed potatoes and a bottle of Amarone.
For the marinade:
Marinate the lamb: Toss the lamb with all the marinade ingredients and refrigerate for 24 hours.
To cook: Pat the lamb cubes dry with paper towels, reserving the marinade. Separate the solid ingredients from the liquid in the marinade.
Heat the olive oil in a 14-inch saucepan over a medium-high flame. Brown the lamb on all sides in 2 or 3 batches, as necessary to avoid crowding the pan. When all the lamb is browned, remove it to a plate.
Add the the solid ingredients from the marinade to the pan. Stir in the bacon and cook 10 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked all the way through. Return the lamb to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and pour in the liquid from the marinade. Add the brown chicken stock. Cover and cook over very low heat for 1 hour.
Cover and cook 1 and 1/2 hours, or until lamb is supremely tender and flavorful. Adjust the seasoning if needed and serve hot. Serves 6
Select a crisp-crusted French bread such as baguette or an Italian filoncino for this easy finger food.
Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a deep, wide skillet. Add the onions and sauté, stirring often, until caramelized and soft, about 15 minutes. Stir in the radicchio and Pancetta and raise the heat to medium-high. Season with salt and pepper and sauté, stirring often, until the radicchio is wilted and the Pancetta is fully cooked, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Place the slices of baguette on an 11-inch x 17-inch baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Top evenly with the radicchio mixture and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until the bread is crispy. Serve hot, topped with a dollop of Mascarpone. Makes 18 pieces