So many readers asked for my husband Joe Cleffie's meatball recipe that we had to oblige. With a few small tweaks made for foolproofing and streamlining, we're proud to present it here. This isn't the most complicated meatball recipe around—quite the opposite in fact. Our goal here is a recipe that anyone can make, no practice required, and get great results out of. I hope it inspires a thousand dinners in communities worldwide.
'Italian' on Serious Eats
A base of roasted red pepper cream sauce swaths pre-cooked, medium-sized pasta shells. I like the sauce smooth and silky, so I purée the roasted pepper mixture before adding a combination of heavy cream and half-and-half, along with three cheeses: ricotta, Fontina, and Asiago. Italian sausage, garlic, and onions, boost the sauce with extra flavor.
The key to this amazingly rich-yet-fresh sauce made from perfect summertime tomatoes is that it's a blend of three different sauces: homemade oven-baked tomato paste is deeply sweet and rich; a classic tomato sauce provides bulk and flavor; and finally a splash of barely-cooked tomato purée guarantees the bright, fresh, fruity taste of vine-ripened tomatoes. Served on pasta, it's so flavorful you won't even need cheese on top.
This take on eggplant Parmesan uses zucchini in place of the eggplant. Rather than bake the breaded, pan-fried disks as one big layered mass in a baking dish, this version features little individual stacks of alternating layers of pepperoni, a tomato sauce, fresh basil, and a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. The result is something both homey and company-worthy at once.
Inspired by the famous Roman amatriciana sauce, a 6-ounce juicy patty of beef is topped with a spicy tomato-onion jam, crisped bacon, and a Pecorino Romano cheese crisp.
Prosciutto and Taleggio Sandwich With Fig Preserves From 'Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen'
Debi Mazar calls this this sandwich from her new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen, co-written with husband Gabriele Corcos, "sexy." And there is something a little sultry about how the salty, fat-licked prosciutto, the funky cheese, the bracing radicchio, and the sweet fig jam come together.
Making double use of the grill, dish of rollatini starts with eggplant slices that are until tender and browned, then sees them returned to the grill as rollatini in a covered baking dish, just long enough for the cheese to melt and the marinara sauce to heat through.
Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos make a fine pork chop, but in this recipe from their new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen, it's the sauce that's the star.
Grilled Squid With Arugula and Grapefruit Vinaigrette From 'Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love From Our Tuscan Kitchen'
I love the idea of this salad from Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos' new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen. Charred calamari, grapefruit, fennel, and arugula—how can you go wrong?
This pasta recipe from Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos's new cookbook, Extra Virgin: Recipes and Love from our Tuscan Kitchen, is a great example of the kind of food they promote: rustic, accessible, affordable and delicious.
What's better than pizza? Not much, but pizzaiola, a Neapolitan dish of meat cooked pizza-style, is a strong contender. Often made with steak, this indulgent version features thinly pounded pork-tenderloin medallions tied around a scamorza-cheese filling. The bundles are seared, then simmered in a rich red-wine tomato sauce. A final topping of cheese on each piece of pork and a trip under the broiler to get it browned and bubbling is the killer last step. It's delicious served on pasta.
Radicchio, a hearty bitter lettuce, becomes remarkably sweet and succulent when charred over a live fire. Served with a drizzle of good olive oil and saba—a sweet wine-based condiment—along with a sprinkle of gorgonzola cheese, it's the best vegetable you've never grilled.
Polenta is the kind of stuff that's just begging for a flavorful sauce to be spooned into it. But pan-seared steak doesn't really provide much sauce of its own. The solution: Toss some juicy cherry tomatoes and chilies into the skillet as the steak finishes cooking. Their natural juices pick up the flavorful pan drippings and—with just a touch of olive oil—emulsify into a rich, flavor-packed pan sauce.
Inspired by the classic New Orleans muffuletta sandwich, we roll a butterflied flank steak with prosciutto, capicola, mortadella, provolone, and a punchy olive salad, then slice it into colorful pinwheels that get grilled over a hot fire.
Spaghetti squash is fun, but It's never quite hearty enough to satisfy. Here, we toss it with a rich parsley pesto, pair it with meaty prosciutto and serve it on top of toasted bread for a dish that's light enough to serve as an hors d'oeuvres, but hearty enough to eat as a light lunch.
Italian Sausage and Fontina Shooter's-Style Sandwich With Onions, Peppers, Fennel, and Sun-Dried Tomato-Caper Relish
Juicy Italian sausage bound with melted Fontina cheese is all packed into a pressed sandwich with sautéed onions, fennel, and red peppers and stopped with a rich and tangy sun-dried tomato and caper relish to balance out the fat. This is one hell of a sandwich.
A homey Chinese and American mashup made with steamed soft silken tofu in a sauce flavored with hot Italian sausage and sliced shiitake mushrooms.
I had all kinds of ideas of how to make this recipe my own, but all the embellishments felt forced, so I stripped almost all of them away. I only had one true insight, and that was to add slivered almonds.
A flavor-packed pasta dish made with oven-dried tomatoes, garlic, olives, and crispy seasoned bread crumbs.
A rich and hearty mushroom, tomato, and red wine ragù perfect for a cold winter day.