“Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian” by Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali: Barley risotto

Best cookbooks of 2017

“Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian” by Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali

Lidia Bastianich and her daughter, Tanya Manuali, set out to make every meal a reason to celebrate, and they succeed in this book. The choice of recipes stand out because they are actually doable in the home kitchen. While some are simple for a buffet-style party others are more involved for a sit-down dinner. A goat cheese dip has fava beans and artichokes; deviled eggs get a salsa verde touch; panzanella is tossed with shrimp and fennel; and guinea hen shines with balsamic vinegar. Each recipe title is translated in Italian and so it will make a perfect gift for those who like all things Italian.

Lidia Bastianich says: Make sure the stock is always hot because it will help to make the risotto creamy. Also, add it a little at a time. If the stock is cold, it will coagulate.

Thanksgiving plans: This year, my daughter, Tanya, is hosting it because I have torn my Achilles tendon. I have been delegated to make apple strudel and the charcuterie plate.

A favorite on the table: It’s a big pot of sauerkraut with sausage that is traditional in northeastern Italy. It’s a pot that fills the void and it goes well with turkey and ham.

The other constants: Turkey is a constant and it is glazed with a balsamic-vinegar reduction that is cooked with bay leaves, rosemary, honey, cloves and cinnamon sticks and has the consistency of molasses.

Not quite a favorite: I am still getting used to pumpkin pie.

Leftover sauerkraut: We use the leftovers for jota, a sauerkraut and bean soup. It’s just like pasta e fagioli but instead of pasta sauerkraut is used. Bay leaves, carrots and garlic are added and the soup is given one good boil.

Thankful for: Two of my friends, whom I have known since we came here as immigrants, have breast cancer and are going through treatment that seems to working. I’m thankful that they are OK.

Barley, Kale and Butternut Squash Risotto

PG tested

It can be served as a vegetarian main course by using water instead of chicken stock.

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for cooking

2 bay leaves

2 cups barley

6 cups chicken stock

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 cup dry white wine

1 medium bunch kale (about 1 pound), stemmed, leaves coarsely chopped

4 cups butternut squash, cut in ½-inch cubes

2 tablespoons butter, cut into bits

¾ cup grated Grana Padano

Bring large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add bay leaves and barley, and simmer until barley is halfway cooked (tender on the outside, hard in the center), about 30 minutes. Drain well.

Bring stock to a bare simmer in a medium saucepan over low heat; keep it hot. Add olive oil to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onion and about ⅓ cup of hot stock. Simmer until stock reduces, about 3 minutes.

Add carrots and celery, and cook until slightly softened, about 4 minutes.

Add barley and toss to combine. Let barley dry in pot for a minute, then add the wine. Simmer until wine is absorbed, then add enough stock just to cover barley.

Add kale and butternut squash and stir to combine. Cook on low heat until the first batch of stock is absorbed, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and keep adding stock to cover, until barley is creamy and vegetables are cooked, about 15 minutes more.

Turn off heat, add butter and grated cheese. Mix well to combine. Season with salt if necessary.

Serves 6 to 8.

— “Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian” by Lidia Bastianich and Tanya Bastianich Manuali (Knopf; October 2017; $35)


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