I'm Lidia Bastianich.
And teaching you about Italian food has always been my passion.
It has always been about cooking together and building your confidence in the kitchen.
I'm showing off.
Does this look like a good meal?
So make it.
For me, food is about gathering around the table to enjoy loved ones, share a meal, and make memories.
Tutti a tavola a mangiare!
♪ -Funding provided by... -At Cento Fine Foods, we're dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of authentic Italian foods by offering over 100 specialty Italian products for the American kitchen.
Cento, trust your family with our family.
Authentic, Italian, rich in tradition, yet contemporary.
♪ ♪ -Authentic Italian cured meats.
Paolo Rovagnati, the true Italian tradition.
-Locatelli Pecorino Romano cheese from Italy.
Handcrafted from 100% sheep's milk.
-Olitalia: from chef to chef.
-Every season brings its own delicious treasures.
And when zucchini are in season, I just can't help myself.
I cook with them as much as I can.
Risotto makes a great canvas for a variety of flavors.
Here I combine peas, pancetta, and, of course, zucchini.
This new take on lasagna is loaded with the flavors of prosciutto cotto and, of course, more zucchini.
It's zucchini for me, but let the season inspire you.
♪ Zucchini is an easy vegetable to grow.
It's proliferous, it spreads all over and it gives you many flowers and it gives you much fruit.
And also the tendrils, the tendrils are the new shoots of the zucchini.
And when it's sprawling all over, you can just nip them off and you can make a great sauce or you can make a pasta dressing with them.
Zucchinis are so versatile, from soup to frittatas to pasta, to risottos, to side dish, to cakes!
So, I like using zucchini a lot.
Zucchini, peas, and pancetta risotto.
Oh, sunny Italy!
It looks like Italy, doesn't it?
But this is my back yard.
This is where I cook.
It was a beautiful day.
And I decided that I'm going to cook -- that we are going to cook -- outside.
And today we're going to make risotto.
And risotto -- all you need is a wide pan because you want the rice to cook.
You're going to add some liquid, but you want the liquid to evaporate to make the creaminess.
So this risotto is going to have bacon or pancetta.
Could you use regular bacon?
Even, you know, sometimes you like a prosciutto -- the end part of the prosciutto, when you're shopping, and you see them slicing the prosciutto, and then they have like the last part on a bone with the skin.
Ask them to sell you that, and it's not expensive.
And out of that, you can cut and cook many things.
So let's render the pancetta.
What's important also in a risotto is you need a liquid to let the creaminess, the starches, come out.
So you need some hot stock.
This is chicken stock, but you can use vegetable stock.
Even if you don't have stock, simple water is okay.
It's not going to be as flavorful, but it's okay.
But it needs to be hot.
So let's get the onions ready.
So I'm going to use regular onion here.
But you could use leeks.
You could use scallions.
You can use shallots.
Any of the onion family will do, and you can even mix it.
Just be careful because the shallots cook much sooner than the onions.
So you add the onions first and so on down the line.
So let's talk a little bit about the basics of risotto.
For a good risotto, you need a short grain rice.
This is Arborio.
It could be Carnaroli.
The starches in the short grain rice, when you add the hot stock to it, it comes out, it seeps out of the kernel, hence making the risotto nice and creamy.
But there's a whole technique that once you have learned it, it's easy.
So we have rendered the pancetta halfway.
I'm going to add on the onions.
And when the onion wilt, we'll add the dry rice.
Do not wash your rice, because if you do wash it, you begin the releases of the starches and you will get that mush where the rice is soft and falling apart and the heart of the rice is not cooked yet.
So that's why we are going to toast this rice as it is in the oil and with the onions to form like the little capsule.
So now let's toast the rice.
I always get the question, do I have to stand by the pot and mix?
Well, you do have to stand by and mix.
And now we're going to add at this point, when it's nice and toasted, you hear it clicking: I'm going to add some white wine.
Now, the rice is absorbing in the acidity, the flavor of the wine, and we are going to let this completely dry out.
The wine is going to be absorbed by the rice and the alcohol is going to evaporate.
Just enough to cover the rice, because one cup of rice will yield two cups of risotto and will take three cups of liquid to get there.
And I'm going to lower it a little bit, continue to... to mix.
And I'm going to get my vegetables ready now.
So, here I have an email from Lisa.
She is wondering, when my recipes calls for bacon, am I really using pancetta?
So they're two different things.
Bacon is this sort of part of the pig that lines underneath the ribs and all of that.
And it's taken as a slab, and it has a lot of fat.
And in between it has some of the meat.
And it's cured, and ultimately it is sliced or cut in piece.
Pancetta is pancia -- is the stomach -- is this piece of meat.
But the Italians roll it.
So they take that piece of meat with the skin, with the layers of fat and meat, season it -- salt, pepper.
And they roll it like into a jelly roll and they let it age.
And when it's aged, they cut it like a jelly roll.
And that is pancetta.
Sometimes I recommend pancetta, sometimes they say bacon, but they're interchangeable.
You can use one or the other.
So, the rice is cooking, and let's put it in the zucchini.
Let's mix that.
I see it's a little sticky.
Make sure you go in all the corner -- I have a nice round pot, which is good.
Let's add a little bit of hot stock again.
Just enough to cover the rice.
Next, frozen peas, defrosted; and corn.
Everybody loves corn.
I love corn.
I'm looking at this, and I know that I need some salt for the vegetables.
I'm going to add some chives.
Chives are delicious, especially in risotto like this.
There's the last step in making the risotto, which is mantecare -- mantecare is to sort of whip up, if you will.
And you do that with some room-temperature butter and some grated cheese.
So I'm looking at this, is it -- You see, the sauce is becoming creamier, but the rice is not cooked -- in the center, it is more intense white, if you will, if it's not cooked.
It will become all uniform in color, almost translucent when it begins to be fully cooked.
But of course, you don't want to overcook your rice.
You want it al dente.
Flavor is good.
Salt is good.
Let me add the chives.
♪ And what I'll do now is that I will close the heat because the rice is cooked.
Turn it off.
And I will do the last step, which is adding the butter, little pieces of butter.
When you put butter -- for that matter, whatever you cook with butter, you put it towards the end and you really get maximum flavor out of the butter.
And then, of course, the cheese, the grated cheese, the same thing -- and the same principle holds as far as flavors, you retain the maximum of flavor of the cheese adding at the last minute.
I think we are ready to serve it.
So, let me clean up a little bit here and then I will serve it and show you how beautiful it will look and was simple.
Barbara writes and asks the story of my bracelets.
You know, a lot of you want to know what my bracelets are.
In Italy when I was a youngster, these were very much in vogue.
Everybody that could had some.
So, when I was 16, my mother bought me five of these, one for each letter of my name, and she bought a charm.
And that was my gift for my 16th birthday.
And I loved it, and I wore them so much, ultimately, really, I used them all up, and for a few years I was without these bracelets and I felt kind of naked.
And when I went back to Italy, I went to a jeweler and I asked them to make 20 of them.
So here I have them.
I haven't used them up yet.
I always have them on.
Barbara, I love them.
Make yourself a collection just like that.
Risotto is finished.
So let's plate them.
Whenever you plate you take in consideration what you're plating.
And, you know, like, like a frame of a picture -- plate should be like a frame of a picture, just like that.
I am just generous here.
Maybe I put a little more.
Now... That looks like a good plate of risotto.
Let me serve the next plate.
I'm looking at this, I think that's two beautiful portions.
And I know your guests would like a little grated cheese.
Now, I want to taste.
The creaminess of the rice, the sweetness of the onions, the zucchini has that really verde -- green flavor.
And then the corn kind of pops under your teeth.
And the peas!
Simple and delicious.
Some of my favorite times in the kitchen has been teaching my grandchildren to grow into confident cooks.
And these days, even though they are living on their own, that doesn't mean they stop asking for advice.
Love hearing from my grandkids.
So, I tell them, let's talk.
Ethan, how you doing?
-I'm good, Nonni, how are you doing?
How are you feeling?
-I'm feeling good.
I miss you, though.
I miss your meals.
-I bet you do.
I can sense that.
What is in particular that you miss?
-If I had to pick one thing, it would probably be, you know, in the springtime, when the zucchinis are ripe and you make the fried zucchini flowers as a little appetizer.
-Well, that's nice.
You know, I have two memories of being young.
My grandma, Grandma Rosa, she would make the slices of zucchini fried and rolled.
I love them like that.
She made the zucchini the long way, put a little salt, flour, and egg batter, and fry it.
And they were delicious as a meal.
They make great sandwiches.
-I remember specifically in Cividale we would have the small garden behind the house and every summer it would just be overflowing with zucchinis and we would always make something special and something fun out of them.
-Tonight I might cook myself up some zucchini roll-ups because I remember how good they are.
And I -- I've been missing them.
I've been needing to scratch that itch for those.
-That sounds good.
So, you know, when you come down, before you do, send me a list of the foods that you want, and Grandma will have it waiting for you.
-That sounds amazing, Nonni.
These phone calls with you definitely make me a little hungry.
-[Laughs] All right, well, I'll fill you up when you come.
I love you.
-I love you, too.
♪ Today, I'm going to show you an easy and delicious lasagna and you're going to tell yourself, why didn't I think of it?
So what do you need?
You need some marinara sauce.
A nice zucchini, all at the same size you want.
You wash it, of course, and you make slices.
A mandoline is the right thing to do.
I know, a mandoline gets everybody nervous.
But use your guard.
Go slowly and carefully.
Can you slice it by hand with the knife?
You can -- the chances of you getting all the pieces so even are not all that great, but you could do it.
So you're telling me, okay, Lidia, zucchini, you like zucchini -- could I use anything else?
You know what Lidia always tells you: of course you can use something else!
I would say even savoy cabbage leaves.
But I would blanch them first because they're tough.
So this is pieces of the Italian grating cheese.
First of all, you want to cut off the rind, and you want to leave this -- you want to save this rind.
This is delicious stuff for soup.
The rest, you cut into pieces, just like that.
And let's put it all in the food processor.
Now, don't over-stuff it!
This is about one-third full of chunks of cheese and just let it run.
It takes a while, a little patience, but it happens.
Look all the grated cheese you have here.
And it smells so, so delicious, so milky.
You buy the chunks of cheese as needed, and you grate them.
Don't waste the one single crumb of it.
Okay, we got the cheese, we got our zucchini, we got our marinara sauce.
Now, let me get the rest of the ingredients and let's get making one of my favorite lasagnas.
So here I have an email from Carol.
"What is your favorite recipe to make for a group that can be made in advance?"
Soups are certainly one of the options, especially if it's winter.
You put in some proteins in the soups.
Sausages will do.
Pork ribs are delicious, beef ribs, and so on.
You can also make a salad with the beef or chicken if you have in the stock, with onions and cucumbers, and you have first and second, and voila, you're ready.
But, you know, the big winner when you have a group is lasagna, because you prepare it first, can even make a day before bake it the day of, finish baking with it, put it on top of the stove -- actually, lasagna benefits from resting 10, 15, 20 minutes.
And it doesn't cool that fast, it stays warm inside.
Those two things would be my options.
Thank you for your question.
I'm all prepped.
We're making lasagna.
And have you noticed there's no pasta here.
Some bread that's been a day or two old.
You have some zucchini, some prosciutto cotto in between, and then the marinara -- so, the first thing that we do is, let me butter the lasagna dish.
And now let's coat the buttered pan with grated cheese -- when it bakes, it's going to make a nice, crunchy, tasty crust on the bread.
The first thing that goes down is the bread and you can work at it and fit it.
Don't fuss too much, don't worry about -- you can fill in the holes.
This is using everything, not wasting anything.
Going to put some of the cheese.
And now I'm going to layer the zucchini, just like that, evenly all over the base, cover everything.
And we'll make two layers of zucchini, just like that.
We'll put some marinara sauce.
♪ The prosciutto cotto.
If you want it all vegetarian, you can omit the prosciutto cotto.
But, you know, this is a little flavor, a little protein.
Just like that.
And so more cheese!
A little bit of cheese.
Some more of the zucchini.
A little bit more marinara sauce.
This you can make in advance and bake it when your guests come, in a sense, or a little bit before -- it needs to rest anyway, a little bit, before you get into it and you cut it.
And then if you like to -- you serve it at room temperature in the summertime, absolutely.
Next, the marinara sauce.
And I like to spread it evenly in every corner so it seeps into all the corners.
♪ [ Vehicles passing nearby ] A lot of activity in my neighborhood.
The gardeners are working.
The trucks are passing by.
I don't know -- somebody told them I was cooking.
And we top it with the rest of the mozzarella and grated cheese, which will make a nice crust on the top.
Bread and tomato in Italy is such a common combination.
Whether you do a bruschetta, that pappa al pomodoro -- is bread and tomato sauce.
So, you know, bread cooked, dunked, soaked, baked in tomato sauce, a marinara sauce, very common.
Here we are, ready for the oven.
Let me tent it.
I always make sure that I make a little tent, because otherwise the cheese sticks to it and you lose a lot of cheese.
And God knows, we don't want to lose all that nice, crusty cheese.
And you put it in the oven, in a hot oven, for 45 minutes, you uncover it, and for another 15 minutes the cheese gets nice and brown and you bring it bubbly to the table.
So here I have an email from Carol.
She wants to know, "What is your favorite way to make lasagna?"
Oh, there's 1,001 way to make lasagna, Carol.
I personally like the bolognese style.
It's a mellow, rich lasagna, and that is fresh spinach pasta, some good bolognese sauce, and maybe some besciamella.
And baked in the oven with lots of grated cheese, Grana cheese, lots of cheese.
That's my favorite.
It's light and it's really reminiscent of the lasagna that I recall from childhood.
Thank you for your question, Carol.
There's nothing more satisfying than having a lasagna nice and hot out of the oven.
It has rested and it's ready to be served.
So let's do it!
Let me cut a piece -- Now, you know, this corner here, the chef gets always the corner -- that's mine.
And let me cut a nice portion here.
So this is the lasagna.
Nice and moist.
Look at this.
Look, how delicious -- the zucchini is nice and mellow, the bread is soaked with the tomato sauce.
The cheese is the crust on top.
Doesn't get any better.
But I don't know who to expect.
You know, maybe the gardener that's coming over, maybe the plumber might be the UPS man.
Let's taste this.
It is so good, it's the freshness of the vegetables, the cheesiness of the crunchy cheese, the prosciutto cotto, I forgot, is in there, but now I really taste it, it's nice.
It is delicious.
So I want to invite you before all my neighbors come here and eat it all up.
So, as we say: Tutti a tavola a mangiare e bere!
Zucchini are endless in what they give you -- nice frittata of zucchini, you open up for breakfast; for lunch, you can fry the zucchini with a little egg batter, and a soup too, if you want to go with your sandwich, a nice zucchini soup with some rice in it.
And then, of course, as the vegetable at the end with the meal, you can saute it with a little tomato sauce, garlic and oil.
You can make it an escabeche, where you saute it with a little bit of vinegar, you can put it in a tray, cheese, butter or oil in the oven, and you've got baked zucchini.
So it's endless.
It's up to you how you use your zucchini.
[ Singing in Italian ] -The food from this series makes Italian cooking easy for everyone and showcases simple-to-prepare recipes that require fewer steps, fewer ingredients, and less cleanup without sacrificing flavor.
The recipes can be found in Lidia's latest cookbook, "Lidia's: A Pot, a Pan, and a Bowl," available for $29.95.
To purchase this cookbook and any of her additional products, call 1-800-PLAY-PBS, or visit shop PBS.org/lidia.
♪ To learn more about Lidia, access to videos and to get recipes, tips, techniques and much more, visit us online at LidiasItaly.com Follow Lidia on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @LidiaBastianich.
♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ Funding provided by... -At Cento Fine Foods, we're dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of authentic Italian foods by offering over 100 specialty Italian products for the American kitchen.
Cento, trust your family with our family.
-Grana Padano: Authentic, Italian, rich in tradition yet contemporary.
And by... Lidia's kitchen studio provided by Clarke, New England's official Sub-zero and Wolf showroom and Test Kitchen.