Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

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Notes about this book

  • Eat Your Books

    See Susie's review of this cookbook in her summer cookbooks 2010 roundup at NPR plus two sample recipes.

  • Breadcrumbs on July 25, 2011

    A wonderful book. I've always been a fan of Mario and his recipes so it was great to take a deep-dive into this book when it was chosen along w MB's Italian Grill as a Cookbook of the Month on Chowhound. By mid-month I'd made over 20 dishes and almost all were a resounding success. The antipasti and bruschetta toppings have been outstanding and we have many new favourites from this book. Instructions are clear and execution is uncomplicated. Many dishes are quick and easy which gives this book special appeal in the summer months where outdoor activities compete for time and, meals are enjoyed al fresco. Great photography that accurately depict the recipes. Highly recommend this one!

Notes about Recipes in this book

  • Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

    • Breadcrumbs on July 25, 2011

      p. 145 – Delicious! I added some sliced garlic along w the onion and guanciale. Once the guanciale has browned, tomato is added. In this version of the dish Mario has you stir in some tomato paste, chili flakes and strained Pomi that have been reduced by half (a common technique in his dishes). This is removed from the heat until the pasta is cooked at which time the pasta is tossed w the sauce and some pasta water over medium heat. Instead of Italian Parsley, we topped ours w a chiffonade of basil in addition to the Parmesan. This is a surprisingly hearty dish. The guanciale and onions provide a rich foundation for the deeper flavours created w the addition of the tomatoes. The sauce is very balanced and although we expected it to taste like a tomato sauce, it did not. I’d highly recommend this one.

  • Spaghetti alla Gricia

    • Breadcrumbs on July 19, 2011

      p. 146 - Wonderful! I substituted basil for the Italian parsley. Otherwise, I made this as described with the guanciale. This is the very first time we’ve had this dish and we’re happily adding it to the list of our tried & true favourites. The guanciale was so rich and paired beautifully with the sweetness of the onion and the tang of the Parmesan. Simple and delicious, what more could you ask for!! The basil is a must, fresh & delicious!

    • L.Nightshade on August 02, 2011

      I did the recipe as written, using guanciale and parsley. I made this with homemade pasta, and I don't yet know how to convert the stated weight for dried pasta to the weight of fresh homemade pasta, so I ended up stirring too much pasta into the sauce. It was still great! The red onion was so sweet, and such a great contrast to the guanciale and the cheese. Many oohs and aahs, I'll make this again.

    • twoyolks on June 26, 2015

      I didn't really enjoy the slices of onion in the sauce. There flavor was too pronounced in comparison to the subtlety of the emulisified pork-cheese-water sauce.

  • Pizza dough

    • Breadcrumbs on August 02, 2011

      p. 183 This was a disappointment. Dough was too salty (2 tbsp salt for 3.5 c flour). We don’t have a griddle pan so we placed the dough directly on the grill (vs the oven). Our grill was likely too hot so pizza was charred before dough was fully cooked throughout. Even though they looked yummy, they tasted horrible. Wouldn’t make this again. Bleh!!

  • Misticanza

    • Breadcrumbs on July 09, 2011

      p. 115 - Prep for this dish is straightforward. A fennel bulb and radishes are thinly sliced on a mandoline then tossed w some arugula and, a Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe in this book). Flaky salt is added and the salad is served w additional vinaigrette on the side. We didn’t need any. We loved this salad. Somehow the combination of ingredients brought out the nuttiness in the arugula and the radishes and the subtle acidity of the lemon was a nice contrast to the sweet, nutty flavours. We found the anise flavour of the fennel to be somewhat muted and if there is anything I’d change next time around, I might add more fennel. Overall, a very nice, refreshing dish that paired nicely w our Pollo Avellino from MB’s Molto Italiano, a past COTM.

  • Mussels with peperonata

    • Breadcrumbs on June 26, 2011

      p. 74 - This dish appealed as it could be made ahead to serve at room temp. It's also one of those recipes where the sauce improves w some time to let the flavours mingle so I was keen to give it a try. I re-heated the sauce in the pan I used to cook the mussels since we'd already used 2 pans for this at that point and the dishwasher was near full! Reducing the Pomi by half really intensifies the tomato flavour and combined with briny capers the sweet mussel broth, makes for a delicious sauce. I skipped the green pepper and felt the chili and one red pepper was quite adequate for this dish. The quality of your mussels will make or break this dish as it has the potential to be too fishy tasting if mussels aren't extremely fresh.

  • Penne alla papalina

    • Breadcrumbs on July 13, 2011

      p. 179 - A surprisingly hearty, delicious dish that I’m happy to recommend, with caution. Once I’d stirred in the pasta over medium heat, I removed the pan from the heat to stir in the tempered egg mixture. I started slowly and, good thing I did as the first egg mixture to hit the pan started cooking despite my furious stirring. I let the pan cool down somewhat and carried on with no further issue. I used of fresh peas instead of frozen and, my prosciutto was a smoked variety. I imagined this dish to remind me of Carbonara and while it did, we particularly liked the use of prosciutto, especially in 1" squares as it brought nice flavour and texture. The penne rigate was also nice for a change as we tend to make Carbonara w spaghetti. Despite the mishap, I’d happily make it again. I think the penne retains more heat than spaghetti and may contribute to the scrambling issue. I’d use them again but just let the pan cool slightly before adding the egg mixture as I did above.

  • Penne alla puttanesca

    • Breadcrumbs on July 11, 2011

      p. 165 - Prep is straightforward and especially quick if you’re not using capers and anchovies packed in salt. In my case my capers were brined and my anchovies in oil so both just needed a quick rinse. Pomi strained tomatoes are simmered to reduce by half. Oil is heated (I halved) then onion, sliced garlic and anchovies are stirred until the onions brown lightly and the anchovies break down. I added some garlic scapes as well. Pomi and chili flakes are then added in and stirred until fragrant. Pan is removed from the heat until the pasta has cooked. Reserved pasta water is stirred into the sauce along w the cooked penne. Everything is tossed then the olives, capers and parsley are added. Parmesan is served alongside. This was really nice but it wasn’t my absolute favourite Puttanesca. I felt the anchovies overwhelmed somewhat and must take full responsibility for this since I didn’t use the salted kind MB called for. Nonetheless, this was a tasty dish that didn’t disappoint.

    • Bloominanglophile on July 09, 2016

      I haven't made pasta alla puttanesca in so long...good to be reminded what a simple but delicious dish it is. I used oil-packed anchovies and brined capers, as I can't usually find the salt-packed. I usually add less anchovies than recipes call for, as I'm not wild about heavy anchovy flavor.

  • Penne with pomodoro cotto

    • Breadcrumbs on July 17, 2011

      Delicious 5 minute marinara. A classic Italian recipe where the final result is much greater than the sum of it’s few good quality parts. Quick & easy to prepare, I’ll definitely use MB’s recipe again when I’m in need of a quick marinara as we both thought the sauce was delicious. Sliced garlic is cooked in olive oil until golden at which point the tomatoes are added, heat is reduced to med-low and the sauce simmers for 5 mins before being removed from the heat to await the pasta. Once pasta is added, the pan is placed over medium heat until the pasta is well-coated w the sauce. Mario suggests you add 1/4cup of pasta water along w the penne but our sauce tasted great at that point so I didn’t mess w it. Additional EVOO is stirred in and dish is plated w Parmesan served alongside. I added some garlic scapes along w the sliced garlic since we have an abundance and, love them so. I also tossed in a big handful of julienned basil.

    • TrishaCP on July 01, 2016

      This was pretty good for a quick sauce. I enjoyed the leftover sauce that was in the fridge a day or so much better than the freshly made sauce.

  • Pennette with summer squash & ricotta

    • Breadcrumbs on July 13, 2011

      p. 176 - Wonderful! We served this dish as a primi in a multi-course menu. This dish was a real stand-out surprising us with how well this application highlighted the texture and flavour of the Summer Squash. If I were to do anything differently next time it would be to use a higher heat initially to get a nice sear on most of the pieces of squash as I especially enjoyed the caramelization that occurred on some but not all slices. While I think the dollops of whipped ricotta make for a nice presentation, I think the dish benefits from incorporating it while the pasta is nice and hot so I’d recommend tossing the pasta asap. I added some garlic scapes which were a nice, in season treat.

  • Pennette with Swiss chard ragu

    • Breadcrumbs on July 05, 2011

      p. 177 - This pasta is differs from chard pasta dishes I’ve made in the past in that butter is a key component in the sauce. Sauce is made by combining EVOO, onion, garlic and chard in a large pan over med-high heat and stirring until chard begins to soften at which point chard is seasoned, water is added then the heat is lowered, pot is covered and supposed to simmer for 20 mins until the chard is very tender. Mine was quite tender in under 10 mins. Butter is stirred into the chard before the penne, some pasta water and Parmesan. Pasta is served, topped w breadcrumbs and, additional Parmesan. I didn’t really have a sauce so to speak as the noodles seemed to soak up all the liquids in the pan however the dish was flavourful so I decided not to add more pasta water and risk diluting the flavours. This is not a dish w big, bold flavours however it is a well seasoned dish that allows garden fresh chard to shine. The breadcrumbs add a wonderful textural element with their toasty crunch.

  • Fresh fava beans with ricotta salata

    • Breadcrumbs on July 09, 2011

      p. 24 I was excited to find this recipe that called for fresh favas. Unfortunately I didn’t have any Ricotta Salata in the fridge so we used Parmesan instead in this tasty dish that truly allows the freshness of the beans to shine. Prep couldn’t be easier. Beans a shucked and rinsed. In my case a par boil wasn’t necessary as the outer skin was super-tender . . . what a treat for these otherwise fussy beans! No peeling necessary, right into the bowl they went where they were dressed w a Lemon Vinaigrette made by whisking EVOO, lemon juice and lemon zest (unless you happen to have some of the lemon marmellata on hand that MB evidently carries in his store in NYC). Beans are tossed w the dressing, seasoned w S&P and topped w grated cheese. So simple but so delicious. The final dish far greater than the sum of its parts. I could easily have made a meal out of these alone. Happy to recommend this one

  • Chickpeas with leeks

    • Breadcrumbs on June 26, 2011

      p. 27 - Another hit from Mario. This dish calls for 1 cup of the Leek Ragu (p. 93) along w some olive oil, red pepper flakes and of course, the chickpeas. All are combined in a bowl and served at room temperature. If you like the leek ragu then it stands to reason you'll like this dish. Our chickpeas were especially tender which added to the appeal of this dish. K-9.5

  • Eggplant bruschetta

    • Breadcrumbs on July 13, 2011

      p. 93 - Simple, just a few ingredients and absolutely delicious. The final dish is much greater than the sum of its parts and this is one of those recipes that I just know I’ll be making again and again for my antipasti courses. Eggplant is cubed, salted and left to stand for 20 mins then rinsed, dried, tossed in olive oil and broiled until charred. MB says this will take 15 to 20 mins, mine took 10. While eggplant is cooking, Pomi strained tomatoes are put on the stove and boiled until they reach the consistency of ketchup at which point you add red pepper flakes and fresh mint. I used fresh basil in place of the mint. Once the eggplant is done its placed in a bowl and tossed w the Pomi along w some EVOO. We served this at room temp spooned atop MB’s tasty bruschetta. Fantastic, even my vegetable averse K loved this saying it was the best eggplant he’d ever had.

  • Cherry tomatoes with crème fraîche & chives

    • Breadcrumbs on July 09, 2011

      p. 35 I’m happy to report we also really enjoyed this. I’d be interested to learn whether it is common to mix EVOO w Crème Fraiche in Italy, certainly this isn’t a technique I’ve ever seen before however I loved how the fruity olive oil somehow cut through some of the richness of the crème fraiche. We also felt that the sherry vinegar really enhanced the fresh flavour of the tomatoes. Ours were first of the season grape tomatoes from the farmer’s market and I typically don’t mess with those, we usually enjoy them straight-up perhaps w a dash of salt. I supplemented MB’s suggested chive sticks with some chopped chives which I felt better matched the scale of the dish and, would be easier to eat. A truly lovely antipasti that also made a great salad alongside our Italian Prosciutto Cotto sandwiches.

    • bgood on March 24, 2012

      This would be great with steak

  • Leek ragu bruschetta

    • Breadcrumbs on September 26, 2010

      p. 93 - Sept 2010 - First use of this recipe and we LOVED it! Very simple ingredients elevated by the cooking process. Scrumptious, a definite favourite.

  • Lemon vinaigrette

    • Breadcrumbs on July 09, 2011

      p. 24 - A simple, serviceable recipe that comes together in no time. Lemon juice, marmaletta and EVOO are whisked together in a small bowl. Dressing keeps for several days in the fridge. MB offers a substitute for marmaletta if you don't have it on hand, which I didn't. He suggests using a generous pinch of grated lemon zest. I used a microplane to zest about 1 1/2 t0 2 tbsp of zest which I added to the EVOO and then placed over a med-low heat to release the lemon oil from the zest. I allowed this to sit for 1/2 a day before making the dressing. This made for a lovely, flavourful vinaigrette.

  • Ceci bruschetta

    • Breadcrumbs on September 26, 2010

      p. 92 - Sept 2010 - First use of this recipe. Very simple ingredients, simple to put together and tasty results. Delicious, easy and will make again.

    • twoyolks on April 05, 2016

      This is simple and pretty good. I had to add more olive oil to the chickpeas so they wouldn't be as dry. I think this would've been better with a softer, home cooked chickpea over canned chickpeas.

  • Bruschetta

    • Breadcrumbs on July 13, 2011

      p. 89 - Even though this is a pretty standard recipe for Bruschetta, there were a couple of subtle differences that made an impact and also made for a tasty toast! Mario recommends the use of filone, an Italian loaf similar in texture to a baguette but with a thicker crust. One of our guests commented that it reminded them of a British crusty cob. This bread grilled beautifully, retaining its soft interior and chew. Once the bread is grilled, MB has you rub a garlic clove just around the circumference of each toast, along the jagged outer crust. Normally I smear it across the centre and depending on the freshness of the garlic, this can sometimes be a bit strong on the tongue. I liked the effect of MB’s technique as the garlic aroma was prevalent but the flavour was subtle. I’d recommend giving this recipe a try, I’ll be making my bruschetta this way going forward.

  • Cauliflower with olives

    • Breadcrumbs on August 08, 2010

      p. 48 - Tried this for the first time Aug 2010, excellent antipasti - will definitely add to my faves. I didn't have the lemon agrumato oil so instead added some lemon zest to warm evoo and steeped for 30 mins. All flavours worked beautifully together and I loved the sweet, caramelized flavour the broiling process brought out. Fabulous!

    • L.Nightshade on July 25, 2011

      I went the lemon zest in olive oil route for the time being. I warmed them together a bit earlier in the day, then let the flavors mingle. I did not soak my salted capers overnight, as I hadn't planned this dish that far in advance. I normally just rinse the salt off under running water. This time I did let them soak for a bit, but apparently not long enough to taste a difference from the rinsing method. Anyway, we loved this dish! I liked the char that broiling brings to the cauliflower, and all the ingredients work well together. This dish would also work well as a tapa in a Spanish themed menu.

  • Basil pesto

    • Breadcrumbs on July 05, 2011

      p. 172 - This pesto is a standard recipe where basil, pine nuts and garlic are chopped in a food processor before drizzling in EVOO. Mario has you stir in the Parmesan cheese just prior to serving. I usually add mine along w the pine nuts but can’t say I noticed any difference w this slight variation in prep. As expected, this pesto was fresh and flavourful and perfectly paired w the tomatoes. I halved the recipe and felt that this amount would have been adequate for a pasta dish if that had been its intended purpose. Today I served as a drizzle for fresh, sliced garden tomatoes. Lovely.

  • Apricot mostarda

    • Breadcrumbs on July 24, 2011

      NB: Marcella has a quick & easy version of this in Marcella Says . . . Also, there's a really nice mixed fruit version from Cremona Italy in Carne! (not indexed) p. 24

  • Arugula with tomato raisins

    • Breadcrumbs on July 19, 2011

      p. 125 -Such simple ingredients with wonderful flavours that blended in perfect harmony. Though I’ve roasted tomatoes on a number of occasions, I’d never thought of semi-drying them before and boy were they scrumptious. We had to stop ourselves from gobbling up the whole lot right off the baking tray! I ended up doing a smaller batch in the toaster oven as I decided to use these lovely little nuggets instead of sun-dried tomatoes in another dish I served over the Grilled Scamorza from Italian Grill. We loved this recipe!

    • L.Nightshade on July 25, 2011

      I went out of my way to find cherry tomatoes of the red and the yellow variety. Once they were cooked, however, there was no readily apparent difference in color. So that was a bit disappointing, but the taste? No disappointments there. Love those roasted tomatoes, and they work very well in this simple salad. Multiply the recipe because these tomatoes are good in many dishes, or even just for snacking.

  • Beet salad with Robiola

    • Breadcrumbs on July 21, 2011

      p. 120 - Let me start by saying I didn’t make this dish exactly as Mario envisioned it in that he calls for the use of the beet greens in the salad. Sadly, my beet greens didn’t survive the weekend’s heat so I had to move to plan B, and I used baby arugula in place. If the dish suffered because of the substitution, we didn’t realize it because we really enjoyed this yummy salad. The sweetness of the beets and beet-infused dressing of course worked beautifully with the somewhat bitter, nutty greens, but what differentiated this dish from other roast beet salads we’ve had in the past is the impact the rich creaminess of the Robiola. The cheese made this dish decadent and almost sensual with the contrasting textures

    • Riccardo on May 04, 2013

      I really like this salad and usually make it with goat cheese. I've also substituted other greens depending on what I have. It's a beautiful presentation and would be a nice crowd pleaser for company.

  • Broccoli rabe with mozzarella crema

    • Breadcrumbs on July 13, 2011

      p. 49 - Essentially this is an antipasti dish of blanched broccoli rabe with a creamy sauce made of fresh mozzarella mixed with some of its brine, along with some EVOO. I made the crema while the rapini cooled in a bowl of ice water. The recipe notes that the addition of the EVOO is to emulsify the crema. I found my whisk to be inadequate to achieve a smooth texture and ended up pulling out the Bamix. I’ll be interested to hear how others make out. After drying the rapini w a kitchen towel I plated it then sprinkled it w some sea salt before drizzling the crema over top. The sea salt was my own addition as, after tasting the rapini and the crema I felt the salt would balance the flavours of the dish. This was simple, perfect for a weeknight antipasti and, delicious. The creaminess of the sauce neutralized some of the broccoli rabe’s bitterness and brought its own fresh flavour. I used Italian Buffala Mozzarella that Costco is now carrying. Happy to recommend this one.

  • Tomato raisins

    • Breadcrumbs on August 21, 2011

      p. 125 - Excellent. Made this as part of the Arugula w Tomato Raisins salad on the same pg. of this book. The raisins stole the show. Review under that rec. So simple though. Cherry/grape tomatoes tossed w evoo s&p then baked 3.5 - 4 hrs at 250 degrees. Great way to use tomatoes when they're abundant. Terrific in weekday lunches.

  • White bean bruschetta

    • PrincessK on July 28, 2011

      White Bean Bruschetta with Grilled Radicchio Salad, Pg. 62, Italian Grill Because I'm saving my radicchio to grill in another application, I made this recipe as a salad with hearts of escarole ribbons. The rest of the recipe was made as written and the final dish was delicious. A tin of cannellini beans are drained, rinsed and place into a medium sized bowl. Add slivered basil, red pepper flakes, 2 T EVOO, 2 T balsamico, sliced garlic (I pressed it) , S & P. Mix all together and set aside. At this point I rinsed, cored and slivered the heart of a very large escarole. The heart is a lovely light yellow-ish green and much sweeter than the outer leaves. It's terrific as a salad. As it would have been done with a grilled radicchio these escarole ribbons were tossed with 2 T EVOO, 2 T balsamico , S & P. Mix to combine. I mixed the beans and escarole together and served it piled on top of a very thin, slightly warm multi grain, low carb pita.

  • Three-bean salad

    • L.Nightshade on July 30, 2011

      Before I even had a chance to taste it, Mr. Nightshade said 'this dressing is too mild." I agreed. I didn't sense the sparkles from the water, it just tasted diluted. I did like the mint with the beans, with a bolder dressing this would be fine.

  • Linguine with clams

    • L.Nightshade on July 25, 2011

      This recipe does not have enough clams for the servings it states, unless it is for a first course. When I make this again (and I will) I will not add quite as much pepper flakes. I will also probably saute a small mix of chiles in with the garlic. As written, it had a bit too much bite, and a bit too much of a one-note pepper taste. I had very fresh and spicy pepper flakes, so maybe one tablespoon was not the right amount, considering. This is a pretty classic dish. Our clams were wonderful, as was the homemade pasta. It was easy to prepare, and definitely goes into the favorites list.

  • Shaved asparagus with Parmigiano-Reggiano

    • bwehner on May 12, 2012

      This is so easy. The simple flavors meld beautifully.

  • Lentils with pancetta

    • Bloominanglophile on July 28, 2014

      I served this with Mario Batali's Pork Scalloppina Perugina from his Simple Italian Food cookbook. I did sub Le Puy lentils for the Castellucio and bacon for the pancetta. Since I really don't like flabby bacon, I precooked it and sautéed the vegetables in the bacon fat before adding to the lentils. I added the cooked bacon back into the lentils about halfway through the cooktime.

  • Spaghetti with garlic & oil

    • Bloominanglophile on July 09, 2016

      With the simple pasta recipes in this book, salting the water for the pasta is mandatory (a step I must admit that I usually skip, as I feel like I am wasting salt). Really makes a big difference. Delicious!

  • Penne alla primavera

    • Bloominanglophile on May 18, 2015

      This was a lovely dish, very fresh and "green"--the taste of Spring! Leftovers heat up nicely, too.

    • Bloominanglophile on May 18, 2015

      Forgot to add that the online recipe didn't say when to add the morels. In the cookbook it says to add them after the carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. It also says to cut the carrot and asparagus into 1/2" lengths, whereas in the book it says 1/4" lengths. Just be sure to add a bit more cooking time if needed, depending on how you prep your veges. I did blanch and peel my fresh favas, which does add to the cooking time, so not the quickest of recipes.

  • Linguine with cacio e pepe

    • Totallywired on December 09, 2018

      Decent rendition. Found it a bit heavy on the pepper but not painfully so. Mixed the cheese in off the heat and sauce bonded well. Served with fresh tagliatelle rolled to notch 4.

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Reviews about this book

Reviews about Recipes in this Book

  • ISBN 10 0061924326
  • ISBN 13 9780061924323
  • Linked ISBNs
  • Published Apr 15 2009
  • Format Hardcover
  • Page Count 288
  • Language English
  • Countries United States
  • Publisher HarperCollins Publishers Inc
  • Imprint ECCO Press,U.S.

Publishers Text

Chef Mario Batali's zest for life infuses the casual Italian fare that has made his restaurant Otto Enoteca Pizzeria in New York City a perennially popular destination. Take the taste of Otto home with "Molto Gusto", a collection of recipes for everyone's favorites: pizza, pasta, antipasti, and gelati. Mario writes the definitive book on great pizza making for the amateur, the novice, the foodie, and the gourmet cook, teaching them how to make really great pizza at home without any fancy equipment. Here too are recipes for 'stuffed pizza', including calzone, Stromboli, and pizza rustica from Puglia. Looking for something a little lighter? Try the antipasti. Based on simple seasonal vegetables with a few showcasing seafood and meat, these dishes can make up an entire, healthy meal. Also included are some of Mario's favorite simple pasta dishes, and to finish it all off, five base recipes for gelato, plus dessert variations from Sicily, Naples, and Emilia Romagna. Filled with Mario's infectious personality and robust flavor, "Molto Gusto" makes it easy to spend a night on the town without leaving home.

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