The Dish: Stacy Adimando shares Italian "platters for sharing" from new cookbook

The Dish: Stacy Adimando

Award-winning writer and cookbook author Stacy Adimando was born in Connecticut to an Italian-American family. She went to culinary school and worked in restaurants, but found her passion in food writing.

She rose to the top, serving as editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine and authoring best-selling cookbooks. A few years ago, she rediscovered her family's roots and their recipes on a life-changing trip to the old country.

That led to her latest release: "Piatti: Plates and Platters for Sharing, Inspired by Italy." Here are some of the recipes from that book:

Breaded chicken cutlets with garlic roasted cranberries (serves 6 to 8)

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"Piatti: Plates and Platters for Sharing, Inspired by Italy," Chronicle Books, 2019

Ingredients:

Cranberries

  • 3 cups (about 11 ounces) fresh cranberries or frozen, thawed
  • 6 garlic cloves, in their skins
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, coarsely torn
  • 2 fresh sage leaves

Chicken

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1¼ pounds, total)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ¾ cup dried bread crumbs
  • ¾ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¾ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed for frying

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

For the cranberries:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and place the cranberries and garlic cloves on it. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and honey until runny. Stir well and pour over the cranberries and garlic. Sprinkle with the salt and some pepper and stir well. Add the herb sprigs and leaves and roast until the cranberries are slightly charred and well shriveled, about 30 minutes.

For the chicken:

Using a long sharp knife, butterfly the chicken breasts crosswise, then cut each in half. One at a time, place each resulting piece between two large sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet or something sturdy like the bottom of a glass liquid measuring cup, pound the chicken an eighth of an inch thick. Remove the pounded pieces from the plastic wrap and slice in half lengthwise again. (It's no big deal if the chicken shapes are different or uneven.)

In a medium shallow bowl, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. In a second medium shallow bowl or rimmed plate, mix the bread crumbs, dried herbs, and a generous pinch of salt. Season the chicken pieces all over with one and half teaspoons of salt.

One by one, dip the chicken pieces in the egg mixture to coat. Let the excess drip back into the bowl, then dip the chicken into the bread crumb mixture, tossing and patting the cutlets so the bread crumbs adhere all over. Set on a large plate or baking sheet next to the stove. Line a plate with a few pieces of paper towel and place that nearby as well.

When all the chicken pieces are breaded, in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add a few cutlets in a single layer (the oil should sizzle significantly), allowing at least a half inch between pieces. Cook, turning once, until deeply golden brown and crispy on both sides, about eight minutes total.

Transfer the cutlets to the paper towel–lined plate as they are done. Continue to add more breaded chicken to the pan where there's room. At the very last batch, you may need to add one to two tablespoons more olive oil. If you stack chicken pieces atop one another after frying, place a layer or two of paper towels in between the stacks.

Retrieve the cranberries. On a large serving platter, spread out the chicken pieces, overlapping slightly. Spoon some of the roasted cranberries, herb sprigs, and garlic on top and between the layers. Serve warm.

Roasted vegetable platter with fennel tzatziki (serves 8 to 10)

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"Piatti: Plates and Platters for Sharing, Inspired by Italy," Chronicle Books, 2019

Ingredients:

Vegetable platter

  • 1 pound baby beets, about 8 small, a mix of golden, red, or Chioggia, peeled, green stems trimmed to about 1 inch
  • 5 medium slender carrots (about 12 ounces, total), any color, scrubbed well, thicker ones halved lengthwise, green stems trimmed to about 1 inch
  • 1 medium (about 12-ounce) celery root, peeled, halved, and sliced into ½-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 medium (12-ounce) fennel bulb with fronds, stalks trimmed, bulb sliced into ½-inch-thick wedges, fronds reserved for the dip (see following)
  • 6 small parsnips (about 9 ounces, total), scrubbed well, thicker ones halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium (about 8-ounce) red onion, peeled and sliced through the root into ¾-inch-thick wedges
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Few fresh sprigs winter herbs, such as thyme and rosemary, coarsely torn, for garnishing

Fennel tzatziki

  • 1 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium (about 5-ounce) seedless cucumber or one 5-ounce piece English cucumber, grated on the fine side of a box grater (5 tablespoons total of flesh and juice), or more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, from about 1 large lemon, or more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely torn or chopped fennel fronds
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated fresh garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the vegetable platter:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Set one rack nearest the oven's heat source and the other in the next closest position. 

On two large rimmed baking sheets, place the vegetables in individual piles, keeping like ones grouped together. Drizzle the vegetables on each baking sheet with two tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle each evenly with a quarter teaspoon plus an eighth teaspoon salt and a generous amount of pepper. Toss each pile to coat the vegetables fully, keeping the piles separate. Spread the vegetables into a single layer on each baking sheet, leaving as much room as possible between the pieces.

Roast until the vegetables are lightly browned on one side, about 25 minutes. Flip or toss most of the vegetables, and rotate the pans on the racks. Continue roasting until the vegetables are well browned and mostly tender with a slight bite, about 10 minutes more. Remove and let cool slightly.

For the fennel tzatziki:

In a medium serving bowl, combine the yogurt, cucumber and its juices, lemon juice, fennel fronds, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency, as desired, adding more lemon juice or cucum­ber juice to thin the yogurt if needed.

On an extra-large platter, arrange the vegetables in piles around the edges. Sprinkle them decoratively with the coarsely torn herb sprigs, or more salt and pepper, if desired. Serve the vegetables either warm or at room temperature, with the prepared dip.

Grilled or broiled hot and sweet peppers with mozzarella (serves 6 to 8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, coarsely torn or sliced into large pieces (about 1¼ cups)
  • 1 or 2 colorful cherry peppers or other medium-hot chiles, such as jalapeño, seeded and very thinly sliced
  • 2 large pickled peperoncini, drained and thinly sliced, plus some juice from the jar

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat or prepare a broiler and place a rack in the top third of the oven.

If grilling, place the bell peppers on the grate and cook, turning with tongs as needed, until blackened slightly on all sides and just tender, about 10 minutes total. If broiling, place the peppers on a small aluminum foil–lined baking sheet and transfer to the top third of the oven. Broil the peppers, turning with tongs as needed, until blackened slightly on all sides and just tender, about 20 minutes total. Transfer the bell peppers to a bowl and tent tightly with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle.

Peel about three-fourths of the blackened skin off the peppers, rubbing with your fingers or a clean paper towel to remove it. Remove and discard the stems and seeds as well. Slice the pepper flesh into thick strips.

Drizzle a large serving platter with one tablespoon of olive oil. Season the oil lightly with salt. Add the cooked peppers (either warm or at room temperature), and season lightly with salt and black pepper.

Nestle the mozzarella pieces among the peppers, then distribute the fresh chile slices on top. Add the peperoncini. Drizzle the whole dish with the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and two to three teaspoons of the brine from the peperoncini jar. Sprinkle with more black pepper and serve.

Charred radicchio salad with fennel and yogurt dressing (serves 6)

Ingredients:

  • 2 round heads radicchio (about 1 pound, total), cut through the roots into 12 wedges
  • 4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 ears fresh yellow corn, shucked
  • 2 tablespoons full-fat plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon grated garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ packed cup very thinly sliced fennel, from about ½ medium bulb, plus fennel fronds, for garnishing
  • Finely chopped chives, for garnishing
  • Flaky sea salt

In a large bowl, combine the radicchio wedges and one tablespoon plus one teaspoon olive oil. Season with about an eighth teaspoon of kosher salt and toss to coat the radicchio.

Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.

Place the radicchio wedges and corn on the grill. Cook, rotating occasionally as needed, until the radicchio is well charred and the corn is lightly charred, six to eight minutes for the radicchio and about eight minutes for the corn. Remove.

Once slightly cooled, cut the corn from the cob using a sharp knife.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, lime juice, remaining three tablespoons of olive oil, the garlic, honey, a pinch of kosher salt, and a generous amount of pepper to form a dressing. Add half the corn and fennel to the bowl with the dressing and toss briefly to coat. Nestle the radicchio wedges into the dressing, turning them to coat.

In a large, wide, shallow bowl or on a rimmed platter, place the radicchio wedges and the dressed vegetables. Top with the remaining corn and fennel and spoon the remaining dressing on top. Garnish with some fennel fronds, chives, flaky sea salt, and more pepper, and serve.

Olive oil cornmeal cake (serves 8 to 10)

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 tablespoons (2½ ounces) unsalted butter
  • 5 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup buttermilk

Garnish

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh rosemary (about 2 tablespoons), or crumbled chive flowers or fresh thyme
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the corn­meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk briefly to combine.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt four tablespoons of butter. Pour the butter into a large heat-proof bowl and let cool slightly. Add four tablespoons of olive oil, the sugar, and honey. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated. Whisk in the milk and buttermilk until incorporated. Gradually add the cornmeal mixture, stirring the batter with a spatula until mostly smooth.

Set a nine-inch cake pan in the oven with the remaining one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in it. Once the butter melts, remove the pan and tilt it until the bottom and a little of the sides are coated with the fats.

Stir the cornmeal batter well and pour it into the hot pan. Spread to fill evenly. Bake until golden brown in places and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes.

To garnish the cake:

Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with the rosemary, lots of flaky sea salt, and a little pepper. Let cool slightly. Cut into wedges or squares and serve hot or warm for best results. (It's also perfectly good at room temperature.) Once cooled, store in an airtight container or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap for up to four days.

Negroni Sbagliato

This is like a Negroni's bubbly, spritzier cousin. It's equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth, and sparkling white wine such as Prosecco, garnished with either an orange peel twist or a thin slice of orange. Can be served in a rocks glass with ice, or straight up in champagne flutes.