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120 Simple, Delicious Recipes You Can Prepare in 45 Minutes or Less

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Fast Italian food from Giuliano Hazan

Good Italian food -- fast enough to cook any night of the week.

That's the promise of Every Night Italian , a new cookbook by former Rhode Islander Giuliano Hazan of Sarasota, Fla.

His book offers "120 simple, delicious recipes you can prepare in 45 minutes or less." If that's not fast enough, some take no more than 20 minutes. Others take longer to simmer or bake, but require little attention.

There are menus for family meals and stress-free dinner parties, each listing the time required.

Hazan, in Barrington this spring to teach a cooking class, demonstrated how authentic Italian cooking can fit into a busy life.

He often travels around the country to teach cooking, and says the inspiration for the book came from his students. Many told him they're so busy they cook only on weekends.

Is it really possible to produce three-course Italian meals on a work night without reverting to a jar of marinara?

Hazan says it is.

It comes naturally to him. His mother is the legendary Marcella Hazan, whose Italian cookbooks are mainstays in countless kitchens, including mine. After cooking at her side since childhood, he could probably cook in his sleep. His book, however, is geared to ordinary mortals.

Hazan, who graduated from Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence and operated a gourmet Italian take-out shop on Hope Street, became a popular cooking instructor at Barrington Community Schools. He left Rhode Island in 1989, but occasionally returns to teach a class.

His cooking started early. At age 7, he was sent to a summer camp where each child was told to select an activity to help with. On the second day, Giuliano told the supervisor, "You have to let me cook. I can't eat this food!" So he started cooking for his fellow campers.

At the home of Gloria Hall in Barrington, Hazan stirred risotto as he shared tips with class members. He was pleased to find the kitchen stocked with All-Clad cookware, the kind he uses at home.

He used Italian carnaroli rice, which he bought at Tony's Colonial on Atwells Avenue. He calls carnaroli "the prince of rice for risotto," even better than arborio.

Although Hazan prefers homemade stock, he used Wyler's bouillon cubes -- equal parts chicken and beef bouillon -- to make a dilute broth for cooking the risotto. Since the broth cooks down, it would become too salty if used full strength. He doesn't care for canned broth.

The rice should be cooked until done but not mushy. "That doesn't mean crunchy," Hazan says. "A lot of places today have taken al dente to the extreme."

Many of his recipes don't use garlic. "It's a misconception that all Italian cooking uses garlic. Roman dishes use a little more garlic than to the north."

As he cooked, his wife, Lael, cuddled their 4-month-old daughter, Gabriella. He speaks Italian to the baby so she'll be bilingual.

Although born in New York, Hazan grew up in Italy, his parents' homeland. When he was a child, his parents returned to Italy and lived in Milan, then Rome. He returned to the U.S. before his parents moved to Venice.

His parents now live in Florida, within easy visiting distance of their only grandchild. Marcella Hazan occasionally travels to teach cooking; Giuliano's father, Victor, is writing a book on Italian wines.

Giuliano is a consultant for Italian restaurants, and also wrote The Classic Pasta Cookbook , nominated for a James Beard award in 1994.

His recipes in Every Night Italian look delicious, but I wanted to see if they could be completed in the stated time.

So on a busy week night, I set the timer and set to work on a meal of tomato salad, pasta with sausage and leeks, and brandy-marinated fresh fruit for dessert.

Hazan proved on target with his timing: 35 minutes for the richly flavorful fusilli with sausage. I finished the salad and dessert in a bit less than the allotted time. Dinner was on the table in 45 minutes, and it was delicious. The long fusilli pasta looks like a coiled telephone cord, easier to keep on the fork than spaghetti.

Another night, I finished his shrimp with linguine in the specified 30 minutes, but only because I started with peeled shrimp instead of shrimp in the shell. The recipe also instructs you to peel and seed two pounds of fresh plum tomatoes. That takes time.

If rushed, I'd skip peeling the tomatoes, or substitute top quality canned tomatoes. Hazan peels tomatoes with a vegetable peeler. To save time, I dunked the tomatoes into the pot of water I was boiling for pasta. After a minute, the skin loosened and could be slipped off easily.

Hazan doesn't load pasta dishes with sauce as Americans often do. His is a refined, straight-forward style of cooking, not overcrowded with too many flavors.

He makes the cooking accessible by focusing on simple dishes that in most cases have only five to seven ingredients but are true to the cooking styles of Italy.

The book is a rewarding choice for anyone who loves good Italian food but can't spend hours to produce it.

Here are dishes that I tested and enjoyed from Every Night Italian ($25, Scribner). One caveat: Don't dally about starting the water for pasta. It takes a long time to bring a big pot of water to a boil.

The sweetness of leeks and the savory pork sausage make a wonderful combination in this pasta dish. The sauce is equally good with long telephone-cord-shaped fusilli or the short spiral fusilli.

(35 minutes from start to finish)

FUSILLI WITH SAUSAGE AND LEEKS

(Fusilli al porri e Salsiccia)

3 medium leeks

8 ounces mild Italian sausage, casings removed

2 tablespoons butter

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fusilli

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cut off the root ends of the leeks and trim the tough green tops of the leaves. Cut the leeks crosswise in half and then lengthwise in half again. Cut each quarter in long, very thin strips and place in a large bowl of cold water to soak.

Put sausage and 1/4 cup water in a 10- to 12-inch saute pan and place it over medium-high heat. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and cook until all the water is evaporated and the sausage begins to brown lightly.

Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 4 quarts water and place it over high heat.

Lift the leeks out of the water, so that any dirt remains in the bottom of the bowl. Discard any fat the sausage may have released, add the butter and leeks to the saute pan and season with salt and pepper (bear in mind that the sausage is already seasoned). Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are wilted and very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

After the leeks have been cooking for about 12 minutes and the water for the pasta has come to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water, put in the pasta and stir well.

While the pasta and leeks are cooking, grate the cheese.

When the leeks are tender, uncover the pan and raise the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring, until all the water the leeks release evaporates. Remove from the heat.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it with the sauce and grated cheese. Serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.

(10 minutes from start to finish)

TOMATO, MOZZARELLA AND BASIL SALAD

(Insalata Caprese)

1 to 2 choice vine-ripened tomatoes, about 12 ounces

8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, preferably buffalo milk

16 fresh basil leaves

About 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the salad on individual serving plates, placing 4 tomato slices, 4 mozzarella slices and 4 basil leaves on each plate in loosely overlapping rows.

Just before serving, pour a thin stream of olive oil over each plate and sason with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Serves 4.

Kiwi and mango are hardly Italian fruits, but macerating fruit in liqueur is very Italian. If I were in Italy, I would use the wonderful sweet and aromatic peaches available there in the summer, but in the States, I have found that ripe mangoes most closely approximate that flavor. Kiwis, although not native to Italy, are becoming quite popular there.

(15 minutes to prepare, plus time for chilling)

MIXED FRUIT MARINATED WITH KIRSCH

(Frutta Mista al Kirsch)

2 ripe mangoes

1 pound fresh strawberries

2 ripe kiwis

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons kirsch or other fruit brandy

1 medium lemon

Peel mangoes, cut them into bite-size slices and place in a shallow serving bowl.

Rinse strawberries and cut off the green tops. Cut them lengthwise in halves or quarters, depending on the size, and add them to the mangoes.

Peel the kiwis, cut them lengthwise in halve, and then slice crosswise into half moons. Add to the other fruit.

Add sugar, orange juice and kirsch. Grate the zest of the lemon over the fruit, taking care not to dig into the white pith. Stir gently so that all the ingredients are well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight, before servings.

Serves 4 to 6.

(45 minutes from start to finish)

RED AND YELLOW PEPPER RISOTTO

1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion

3 tablespoons butter

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 pound fresh, ripe plum tomatoes

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

5 cups homemade meat broth or 1 large beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 5 cups water

11/2 cups rice for risotto, such as arborio or carnaroli

10 to 12 fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Put the onion and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy pot and place it over medium-low heat. Saute onion until it turns a rich golden color. While onion is sauteing, peel the peppers and remove the core and seeds. Cut peppers into 1/2-inch squares.

When onion is done, add the peppers and turn up the heat to medium-high. Saute until peppers begin to brown lightly, 8 to 10 minutes.

Peel tomatoes, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch dice. When peppers have begun to brown, add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook until all the water the tomatoes release evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat the broth in a pot and keep it at a very low simmer.

When tomatoes are done, add the rice and stir until it is well coated. Add a couple of ladlesful of the heated broth and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring and adding the broth gradually as the rice absorbs it.

Add just enough broth to produce the consistency of a rather thick soup. It is important to wait until all the liquid is absorbed each time before adding more broth. The rice will be done in about 20 minutes, when it is firm to the bite but not still crunchy or chalky in the center. At the end, the risotto should have a creamy, almost "wavy" consistency.

Remove from heat. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and stir them into the risotto along with the remaining tablespoon of butter and the Parmigiano. Serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.

In Margherita di Savoia, a small town in Apulia just south of the spur of the boot, I feasted on a luscious dish of linguine with fresh scampi, a crustacean similar to crayfish. As of this writing, I have not yet found scampi in markets here, so in this recipe I have substituted shrimp.

(30 minutes from start to finish)

LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP

2 pounds fresh, ripe plum tomatoes

2 teaspons finely chopped garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound medium shrimp (31 to 40 per pound)

Salt

1 pound linguine

1/2 cup heavy cream

Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 4 quarts water and place it over high heat. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Chop the garlic and put it in a 10 to 12-inch skillet with the olive oil. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and saute until the garlic begins to sizzle; do not let it color. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook until most of the water the tomatoes release evaporates. Remove from the heat.

While tomatoes are cooking, peel the shrimp, devein them if necessary and cut them into pieces about 1/2-inch long.

When the tomatoes are done and the water for the pasta has come to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt to the water and put in the pasta, stirring until all the strands are submerged.

Meanwhile, return the skillet with the tomatoes to medium-high heat, add the cream and cook until it is reduced by about half. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook until they turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is al dente, drain it well, toss it with the sauce and serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.

'120 SIMPLE, DELICIOUS RECIPES YOU CAN PREPARE IN 45 MINUTES OR LESS'


Fast Italian food from Giuliano Hazan

By DONNA LEE
Journal Food Editor


Good Italian food -- fast enough to cook any night of the week.


That's the promise of Every Night Italian , a new cookbook by former Rhode Islander Giuliano Hazan of Sarasota, Fla.

His book offers "120 simple, delicious recipes you can prepare in 45 minutes or less." If that's not fast enough, some take no more than 20 minutes. Others take longer to simmer or bake, but require little attention.

There are menus for family meals and stress-free dinner parties, each listing the time required.

Hazan, in Barrington this spring to teach a cooking class, demonstrated how authentic Italian cooking can fit into a busy life.

He often travels around the country to teach cooking, and says the inspiration for the book came from his students. Many told him they're so busy they cook only on weekends.

Is it really possible to produce three-course Italian meals on a work night without reverting to a jar of marinara?

Hazan says it is.

It comes naturally to him. His mother is the legendary Marcella Hazan, whose Italian cookbooks are mainstays in countless kitchens, including mine. After cooking at her side since childhood, he could probably cook in his sleep. His book, however, is geared to ordinary mortals.

Hazan, who graduated from Trinity Rep Conservatory in Providence and operated a gourmet Italian take-out shop on Hope Street, became a popular cooking instructor at Barrington Community Schools. He left Rhode Island in 1989, but occasionally returns to teach a class.

His cooking started early. At age 7, he was sent to a summer camp where each child was told to select an activity to help with. On the second day, Giuliano told the supervisor, "You have to let me cook. I can't eat this food!" So he started cooking for his fellow campers.

At the home of Gloria Hall in Barrington, Hazan stirred risotto as he shared tips with class members. He was pleased to find the kitchen stocked with All-Clad cookware, the kind he uses at home.

He used Italian carnaroli rice, which he bought at Tony's Colonial on Atwells Avenue. He calls carnaroli "the prince of rice for risotto," even better than arborio.

Although Hazan prefers homemade stock, he used Wyler's bouillon cubes -- equal parts chicken and beef bouillon -- to make a dilute broth for cooking the risotto. Since the broth cooks down, it would become too salty if used full strength. He doesn't care for canned broth.

The rice should be cooked until done but not mushy. "That doesn't mean crunchy," Hazan says. "A lot of places today have taken al dente to the extreme."

Many of his recipes don't use garlic. "It's a misconception that all Italian cooking uses garlic. Roman dishes use a little more garlic than to the north."

As he cooked, his wife, Lael, cuddled their 4-month-old daughter, Gabriella. He speaks Italian to the baby so she'll be bilingual.

Although born in New York, Hazan grew up in Italy, his parents' homeland. When he was a child, his parents returned to Italy and lived in Milan, then Rome. He returned to the U.S. before his parents moved to Venice.

His parents now live in Florida, within easy visiting distance of their only grandchild. Marcella Hazan occasionally travels to teach cooking; Giuliano's father, Victor, is writing a book on Italian wines.

Giuliano is a consultant for Italian restaurants, and also wrote The Classic Pasta Cookbook , nominated for a James Beard award in 1994.

His recipes in Every Night Italian look delicious, but I wanted to see if they could be completed in the stated time.

So on a busy week night, I set the timer and set to work on a meal of tomato salad, pasta with sausage and leeks, and brandy-marinated fresh fruit for dessert.

Hazan proved on target with his timing: 35 minutes for the richly flavorful fusilli with sausage. I finished the salad and dessert in a bit less than the allotted time. Dinner was on the table in 45 minutes, and it was delicious. The long fusilli pasta looks like a coiled telephone cord, easier to keep on the fork than spaghetti.

Another night, I finished his shrimp with linguine in the specified 30 minutes, but only because I started with peeled shrimp instead of shrimp in the shell. The recipe also instructs you to peel and seed two pounds of fresh plum tomatoes. That takes time.

If rushed, I'd skip peeling the tomatoes, or substitute top quality canned tomatoes. Hazan peels tomatoes with a vegetable peeler. To save time, I dunked the tomatoes into the pot of water I was boiling for pasta. After a minute, the skin loosened and could be slipped off easily.

Hazan doesn't load pasta dishes with sauce as Americans often do. His is a refined, straight-forward style of cooking, not overcrowded with too many flavors.

He makes the cooking accessible by focusing on simple dishes that in most cases have only five to seven ingredients but are true to the cooking styles of Italy.

The book is a rewarding choice for anyone who loves good Italian food but can't spend hours to produce it.

Here are dishes that I tested and enjoyed from Every Night Italian ($25, Scribner). One caveat: Don't dally about starting the water for pasta. It takes a long time to bring a big pot of water to a boil.

The sweetness of leeks and the savory pork sausage make a wonderful combination in this pasta dish. The sauce is equally good with long telephone-cord-shaped fusilli or the short spiral fusilli.

(35 minutes from start to finish)

FUSILLI WITH SAUSAGE AND LEEKS

(Fusilli al porri e Salsiccia)

3 medium leeks

8 ounces mild Italian sausage, casings removed

2 tablespoons butter

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

1 pound fusilli

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cut off the root ends of the leeks and trim the tough green tops of the leaves. Cut the leeks crosswise in half and then lengthwise in half again. Cut each quarter in long, very thin strips and place in a large bowl of cold water to soak.

Put sausage and 1/4 cup water in a 10- to 12-inch saute pan and place it over medium-high heat. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and cook until all the water is evaporated and the sausage begins to brown lightly.

Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 4 quarts water and place it over high heat.

Lift the leeks out of the water, so that any dirt remains in the bottom of the bowl. Discard any fat the sausage may have released, add the butter and leeks to the saute pan and season with salt and pepper (bear in mind that the sausage is already seasoned). Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are wilted and very tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

After the leeks have been cooking for about 12 minutes and the water for the pasta has come to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt to the boiling water, put in the pasta and stir well.

While the pasta and leeks are cooking, grate the cheese.

When the leeks are tender, uncover the pan and raise the heat to medium high. Cook, stirring, until all the water the leeks release evaporates. Remove from the heat.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it with the sauce and grated cheese. Serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.

(10 minutes from start to finish)

TOMATO, MOZZARELLA AND BASIL SALAD

(Insalata Caprese)

1 to 2 choice vine-ripened tomatoes, about 12 ounces

8 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, preferably buffalo milk

16 fresh basil leaves

About 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the salad on individual serving plates, placing 4 tomato slices, 4 mozzarella slices and 4 basil leaves on each plate in loosely overlapping rows.

Just before serving, pour a thin stream of olive oil over each plate and sason with salt and plenty of black pepper.

Serves 4.

Kiwi and mango are hardly Italian fruits, but macerating fruit in liqueur is very Italian. If I were in Italy, I would use the wonderful sweet and aromatic peaches available there in the summer, but in the States, I have found that ripe mangoes most closely approximate that flavor. Kiwis, although not native to Italy, are becoming quite popular there.

(15 minutes to prepare, plus time for chilling)

MIXED FRUIT MARINATED WITH KIRSCH

(Frutta Mista al Kirsch)

2 ripe mangoes

1 pound fresh strawberries

2 ripe kiwis

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons kirsch or other fruit brandy

1 medium lemon

Peel mangoes, cut them into bite-size slices and place in a shallow serving bowl.

Rinse strawberries and cut off the green tops. Cut them lengthwise in halves or quarters, depending on the size, and add them to the mangoes.

Peel the kiwis, cut them lengthwise in halve, and then slice crosswise into half moons. Add to the other fruit.

Add sugar, orange juice and kirsch. Grate the zest of the lemon over the fruit, taking care not to dig into the white pith. Stir gently so that all the ingredients are well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or even overnight, before servings.

Serves 4 to 6.

(45 minutes from start to finish)

RED AND YELLOW PEPPER RISOTTO

1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion

3 tablespoons butter

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 pound fresh, ripe plum tomatoes

Salt, freshly ground black pepper

5 cups homemade meat broth or 1 large beef bouillon cubes dissolved in 5 cups water

11/2 cups rice for risotto, such as arborio or carnaroli

10 to 12 fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Put the onion and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large heavy pot and place it over medium-low heat. Saute onion until it turns a rich golden color. While onion is sauteing, peel the peppers and remove the core and seeds. Cut peppers into 1/2-inch squares.

When onion is done, add the peppers and turn up the heat to medium-high. Saute until peppers begin to brown lightly, 8 to 10 minutes.

Peel tomatoes, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch dice. When peppers have begun to brown, add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and cook until all the water the tomatoes release evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat the broth in a pot and keep it at a very low simmer.

When tomatoes are done, add the rice and stir until it is well coated. Add a couple of ladlesful of the heated broth and stir with a wooden spoon. Continue stirring and adding the broth gradually as the rice absorbs it.

Add just enough broth to produce the consistency of a rather thick soup. It is important to wait until all the liquid is absorbed each time before adding more broth. The rice will be done in about 20 minutes, when it is firm to the bite but not still crunchy or chalky in the center. At the end, the risotto should have a creamy, almost "wavy" consistency.

Remove from heat. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and stir them into the risotto along with the remaining tablespoon of butter and the Parmigiano. Serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.

In Margherita di Savoia, a small town in Apulia just south of the spur of the boot, I feasted on a luscious dish of linguine with fresh scampi, a crustacean similar to crayfish. As of this writing, I have not yet found scampi in markets here, so in this recipe I have substituted shrimp.

(30 minutes from start to finish)

LINGUINE WITH SHRIMP

2 pounds fresh, ripe plum tomatoes

2 teaspons finely chopped garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

1 pound medium shrimp (31 to 40 per pound)

Salt

1 pound linguine

1/2 cup heavy cream

Fill a pot for the pasta with at least 4 quarts water and place it over high heat. Peel the tomatoes, remove the seeds and cut into 1/2-inch dice.

Chop the garlic and put it in a 10 to 12-inch skillet with the olive oil. Place the skillet over medium-high heat and saute until the garlic begins to sizzle; do not let it color. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook until most of the water the tomatoes release evaporates. Remove from the heat.

While tomatoes are cooking, peel the shrimp, devein them if necessary and cut them into pieces about 1/2-inch long.

When the tomatoes are done and the water for the pasta has come to a boil, add 1 tablespoon salt to the water and put in the pasta, stirring until all the strands are submerged.

Meanwhile, return the skillet with the tomatoes to medium-high heat, add the cream and cook until it is reduced by about half. Add the shrimp, season with salt and cook until they turn pink, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

When pasta is al dente, drain it well, toss it with the sauce and serve at once.

Serves 4 to 6.
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