Italian Food Fit For Obama, On Shoestring

It's no secret that the president-elect loves his Italian food.

On The Early Show Saturday Edition, this week's "Chef on a Shoestring," Michael White, brought a little taste of Italy worthy of Italian food fan Barack Obama.

White is the executive chef at two of New York's most popular Italian eateries, Alto and Convivo, and every day he's charged with keeping both of their New York Times three-star ratings.

He had a different challenge on the show: making a three-course Italian meal for four, on our new recession-busting budget of just $35 - and a meal easy enough for you to make at home.

White also tossed his chef's hat into our "How Low Can You Go" ring: The shoestring chef who comes in with the lowest-priced meal this year will come back to cook our big, blowout holiday dinner!


  • Rustic Bruschetta with Bacon, White Beans and Anchovy
  • Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  • Sicilian Citrus Gelato


    Broccoli Rabe (pronounced Broccoli Rob) is also referred to as rabe or rapini. This is a leafy green vegetable frequently eaten in southern Italy and has become popular in the United States. The vegetable has a slightly bitter taste and is frequently steamed or lightly sauteed in olive oil.

    Gnocchi is the Italian name for a variety of thick, soft noodle or dumpling. They may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, potato, bread crumbs, or other ingredients of a generic disposition.


    Rustic Bruschetta with Bacon, White Beans and Anchovy

    8 pieces thickly cut crusty bread
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    6 ounces thickly sliced bacon, cut into ¼ inch cubes
    1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    2 pounds broccoli rabe, thick stems removed and discarded, cut into 3 inch pieces
    1/4 cup water
    Freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup white beans
    8 filleted anchovies in oil, drained and diced
    1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

    Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

    Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and drizzle the pieces with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Toast for six minutes, remove and let cool.

    While bread is toasting, heat remaining olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat to hot but not smoking. Stir in the bacon and cook until golden, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

    Add the onion, garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onion softens, 5-6 minutes. Add the broccoli rabe and 1/4 cup water, season to taste with salt and pepper and toss gently. Cover and cook until the broccoli rabe is softened, about 5 minutes.

    Uncover and add white beans and anchovies, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the broccoli rabe is completely tender and beans are warmed through, 2 minutes longer.

    To serve, spoon the broccoli rabe mixture on top of the toasts, top with grated cheese and serve.

    For more recipes, go to Page 2.