(Above: Watch the video to see how these are made. This is an easy recipe and the kids like them too.) (more…)
There are many recipes on RootsLiving but this one takes the cake. The giant rice cake, stuffed with sausages and meatballs covered in a velvety tomato sauce, has become a RootsLiving favorite.
I first ate it when my sister-in-law, Kathy, made it. It sounds like a heavy dish, but it’s surprisingly light: a giant arancini that has been baked, not fried. It’s an elegant, Italian dish, much like the chef herself, Giada De Laurentis — and of course, my sister-in-law, Kathy (who is Italian by marriage).
I’m glad I read the comments below Giada’s recipe. Several people recommended making twice the amount of tomato sauce and they were correct. This dish needs that much tomato sauce. I also doubled the amount of sausage and ground beef and ended up with too many meatballs (but can one really have too many meatballs?) So here’s the recipe, updated to reflect the double amounts needed to make the sauce and extra batch of meatballs.
(Note: The recipe says it takes about 2 hours, 30 minutes to make, but it took me about 3 hours. There are many steps, but it’s worth it!)
Sartu di Riso, An Elegant Dish
This truly is one of our favorite dishes. There are many steps but it's worth it. There is nothing like this.
By: Mark Micheli
- 1 pound Arborio rice (2 1/3 cups)
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 5 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 16 ounces sweet Italian sausage or sweet Italian turkey sausage
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 2 sprigs basil
- One 2-inch piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind
- Two 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
- 9 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs (use more if needed, especially to line the Bundt pan)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 16 ounces ground sirloin or ground dark turkey meat
- Olive oil, for frying
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- One 8-ounce ball fresh mozzarella, diced
- Step 1 In a large saucepan combine the rice, chicken broth, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt and the bay leaf. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring once, until the rice is still slightly undercooked but the liquid is absorbed, 8 minutes. Pour the rice into a large bowl and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 1/2 cups of the cheese and 3 of the eggs until well combined, and set aside.
- Step 2 Meanwhile, heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove the sausage from the casing and break into small, bite-size pieces. Add the sausage to the hot oil and cook until browned, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a medium bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, shallots and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant and the shallots are soft, 1 minute. Add the basil, cheese rind and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Step 3 Remove the basil and cheese rind. Add 2 cups of the sauce to the reserved sausage and set aside.
- Step 4 Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs, the milk and the remaining 2 eggs with a fork and let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to thicken. Stir in the oregano, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the remaining cup of cheese. Using your hands, mix in the beef, until just combined. Heat 1/2-inch of olive oil in a medium straight-sided pan. Scoop 1-tablespoon mounds of the mixture into damp hands and roll into uniform balls. When the oil is hot, fry the balls in 2 batches, turning them as needed with a slotted spoon to brown the balls evenly, about 4 minutes. When golden brown and crispy all around, remove the balls using a slotted spoon to the bowl with the sausage and sauce. Continue with the remaining balls, and then toss to coat evenly in the sauce.
- Step 5 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Using 1 tablespoon of the butter, grease the inside of a Bundt pan or a 3 1/2-quart Dutch oven, making sure to coat it very well. Dust the inside of the pan with 3 tablespoons (or more) of the breadcrumbs. Make sure it is evenly coated and there are no bald spots. This is very important to prevent sticking.
- Step 6 Add the peas and diced mozzarella to the meat and sauce, and toss gently to incorporate. Spoon two-thirds of the rice mixture into the prepared bundt pan. Using damp hands, press the rice evenly over the bottom of the pan and 2 1/2-inches up the sides and middle of the pan. Spoon the meat filling into the well of rice and press gently to make sure it is evenly packed. Spoon the remaining rice over the filling and, using damp hands, press the rice evenly over the filling, being sure to press the rice on top into the rice along the edges to seal. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs and dot with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter. Bake until lightly browned on top, 45 minutes.
- Step 7 Cool for 15 minutes.
- Step 8 Place a plate large enough to cover the top of the pan over the pan. Using heat-resistant pads or a towel, invert the sartu onto the plate. Carefully lift the pan off of the rice, shaking gently if needed. Warm the remaining sauce and fill the opening in the middle of the molded rice with the sauce to serve.
This is one of my favorite dishes: stuffed zucchini flowers.
My mother used to make these maybe once a year, or once every two years. They are a true delicacy.
It requires that you get up early in the morning and pick the flowers from your zucchini plants while they’re open. If you don’t grow zucchini, you can usually find them at farmers markets. Avoid Italian specialty shops as they’ll charge you a king’s ransom for them.
What you do is pick the flowers, early in the morning, and stuff them right away. If you have to wait to stuff them, place them face down between two paper towels. This will prevent the flowers from closing. Then follow these instructions:
Stuffed Zucchini Flowers
By: Mark Micheli
- Zucchini flowers
- Egg wash (beat an egg with a splash of milk)
- Olive oil
- For the filling: This is the same stuffing my mother used for stuffed peppers.
- Hamburger, 1 pound
- Sweet Italian sausages, 2
- A piece of bread ( a stale piece or an end piece to a loaf of American bread is fine. )
- Splash of milk
- Frozen chopped spinach, 1 package (defrosted and cooked.)
- Grated Parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup
- Large eggs, 2
- olive oil to coat frying pan
- Garlic clove, 1
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- Step 1 Make the stuffing by first putting a bread slice in bottom of bowl and soak it good with a splash of milk.
- Step 2 Fry hamburg and sausage in oil and garlic. Break up hamburger and sausage into little pebble-size pieces while cooking. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Step 3 Add cooked hamburg and sausage mixture to bowl with bread and milk.
- Step 4 Add spinach, cheese, and eggs. And mix well with either clean hands or a fork and knife.
- Step 5 To make the stuffed flowers: Use a demitasse spoon to carefully stuff each flower. Be very careful as the petals tear easily.
- Step 6 Dip the flowers in a beaten egg wash and then in bread crumbs.
- Step 7 Fry in a little olive oil until brown on both sides. Then let the oil drain off them on a paper towel.
This is one of the first dishes I made when I started getting serious about cooking. It’s a traditional and authentic recipe from Italy and it’s easy to make: all of which makes this a good dish to make for novice home cooks.
This is Italian comfort food. It’s as warm and fuzzy and comfortable as a glass of brandy on a cold day.
I call it “breakfast pasta,” because you use bacon and eggs to make it. The traditional recipe calls for pancetta, which is often referred to as Italian bacon, but to be honest, I always made it with good old American bacon and it’s wonderful (some might say even better). I now often make it with whatever pork product I have on hand.
This time I had some leftover pancetta (from the Ribollita soup I made last week) and some Italian sausage (left over from the tomato sauce I also made last week). So I decided to use both and the combination gave it more flavors to savor.
If you make it using pancetta, you get wonderful, juicy pieces of pork and fat; crumbled Italian sausage adds depth and a smoky flavor; while American bacon gives it a crispy, salty, sweetness that is like heaven on your tongue.
Yes, this dish is fatty and oily because you use the bacon/pancetta/sausage drippings to flavor the pasta, but you’re not eating it every day. Save it for a special weeknight meal when it’s cold and rainy, or snowing. And pair it with a good bottle of red table wine or even a bold, heavy white.
As the Italians say, “cin cin” (pronounced, “chin, chin”), which is a toast meaning “to your health!”
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This comes together quickly and would make a good, easy, weeknight supper.
By: Mark Micheli
- Butter (1 tbl.)
- Linguini (1 lb.)
- Bacon or Pancetta and/or Italian sausage (minced, 1 lb.)
- Onion (1 small)
- Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese (grated, 2 tbl.)
- Eggs (2, large)
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- Parsley (a small bunch, minced)
- Step 1 Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook linguini until “al dente.” While water heats up, do the following:
- Step 2 Saute the onion in butter until soft, just turning color.
- Step 3 Add minced bacon or pancetta and/or sausage and saute until soft, just a little crispy.
- Step 4 Beat 2 eggs, add grated cheese and mix well.
- Step 5 Add pepper and 1 tbl. of minced parsley to bacon and onion in the pan. Stir to cook.
- Step 6 The rendered oils from the bacon or pancetta are a major flavor ingredient of this recipe so do not remove the oil from the pan.
- Step 7 Quickly drain the linguini and place in a large bowl.
- Step 8 Add egg-cheese mixture to saute pan (removed now from heat) and stir well.
- Step 9 The heat of the ingredients and the pan will cook the egg somewhat, so keep the mixture moving.
- Step 10 Taste, add salt or pepper if needed.
- Step 11 Add mixture to linguini and serve immediately.
Here’s my standard tomato sauce recipe. I got this from my mother who was an excellent cook. I’ve changed a few things over the years, adding touches of my own and some embellishments from my cousins in Italy.
This sauce can be used on most anything that requires Italian tomato sauce. It’s great to use when making chicken, beef or veal parmesan (which I’ll write about later in another post). For pasta, I often choose to make a much lighter sauce without the meat. I’ll write about that another time. However, this works well on pasta too.
Inside Tips: Something to Think About While Making a Good Tomato Sauce
Making a good tomato sauce is an art, not a science. You have to continuously taste it while it cooks and then decide if it needs a little more of this or little more of that. Sometimes it may need only a tsp. of basil, other times, it may need more than twice that. So what follows is a good guide, but follow your taste buds and have fun.
When I cook, I like to think about music. I often have music playing (and a glass of wine poured) but I’m not talking now about the music I’m listening to. Instead I like to think about bass notes and treble notes or low notes and high notes.
Different flavors elicit different types of notes. Example: salt would be a high note and black pepper would be a low note or bass note. When cooking a red sauce, I often strive to have the flavors balanced between high and low. And adding dried oregano pushes the sauce into the high-note territory and adding dried basil takes it down into the bass category.
You also have to be careful about making it too bitter or too sweet. The red wine, depending on what type you use, can make the sauce a little bitter. And if you choose to use carrots, you won’t need to add the optional sugar, as the carrots usually make the sauce sweet enough.
So stir and taste and ask yourself, is it on the high-note side or the low-note side? And then adjust the seasonings as needed. Everyone has their own opinion on what the perfect red sauce is, so use your judgement, make it to your liking, and you can’t go wrong.
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Tomato Sauce (Basic Recipe)
It's not difficult to make this sauce, but you do need to think about it and pay attention to the flavors by continuously tasting it.
By: Mark Micheli
- Large onion (1, chopped fine)
- Carrots (2, chopped fine) (optional)
- Celery (2 stalks, chopped fine) (optional)
- Italian sausages (2, sweet, not hot)
- Kitchen Ready Tomatoes (1 28 oz. can)
- Tomato Paste (1/2 – 1 small can, plus 1 small can of cold water)
- Olive oil (2-3 tbsp.)
- Salt, pepper, basil, oregano to taste. A shot of tabasco (optional)
- Splash of red wine (optional, about 1/4 cup)
- Sugar (optional, about 1/2 tsp.)
- Butter (1-2 tbsp)
- Nutmeg (just a speck, about 1/8th of a teaspoon.)
- Step 1 In a medium to large pot, cook the onions over medium-high heat in olive oil until translucent (not brown).
- Step 2 If desired, add the carrots and celery and cook until tender.
- Step 3 Crumble and add the sausages. Cook until brown.
- Step 4 Add the can of tomatoes. Stir, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides.
- Step 5 Add tomato paste and one can of water. Stir, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides.
- Step 6 Add spices and tabasco (if desired). Stir, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides.
- Step 7 Cook for about 20 minutes to 1/2 hour on low heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally.
- Step 8 Taste periodically and add more spices if necessary, but remember, the longer you cook it, the stronger the flavor of the spices will be.
- Step 9 Add the splash of red wine (optional) and stir. Cook for another 20 minutes to 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and if you like, you can add a 1/2 tsp. of sugar.
- Step 10 Turn the heat off and add the butter. Add the nutmeg and gently stir until the butter melts. Cover the pot and let it sit until you’re ready to use it.