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Speed Up Your Italian Cooking

Everyone loves Italian food, but not everyone has the time for the hours the most popular dishes take for braising, baking and stewing.

In its latest cookbook,"Quick from Scratch Italian Cookbook", Food & Wine magazine has taken some of your favorite recipes and simplified them for the cook on the go.

And on "The Early Show" Tuesday, Gail Simmons, special projects manager at Food & Wine magazine, shared a complete Italian menu that can be prepared in about 30 minutes.

White Bean & Prosciutto Bruschetta
Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives & Fresh Mozzarella
Lamb Chops with Rosemary & Grapes
Zabaglione with Strawberries


White-Bean and Prosciutto Bruschetta
Strips of prosciutto top each toast and are topped in turn with a mound of creamy white beans and a sprinkling of crisp red onion.

2 cups drained and rinsed canned cannellini beans (one 19-ounce can)
1 1/4 teaspoons wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 ounces thin-sliced prosciutto, fat removed, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons minced red onion

Put the beans in a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl. Using a fork, mash the beans to a coarse puree. Stir in the vinegar, oil, thyme, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the parsley.

Put some of the prosciutto on each of the bruschetta and top with the bean mixture. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon parsley and the red onion over the beans.

Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Basil, Olives and Fresh Mozzarella

Since the tomatoes here are not cooked, you'll really notice their flavor-or lack of it. Make this sauce in the summer when fresh tomatoes are at their peak. The garlic is heated briefly in the oil, and then the garlicky oil is tossed with the spaghetti so the flavor is dispersed throughout the dish. The pasta is equally good warm and at room temperature.

2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 6), chopped
3/4 pound salted fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup halved and pitted black olives
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced

In a large glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the chopped tomatoes with the mozzarella, basil, olives, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until just done, about 12 minutes. Drain, add to the tomato mixture and toss.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over the moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour the oil over the pasta and toss again.

Lamb Chops with Rosemary and Grapes

You'd expect to find lamb chops grilled with rosemary, but the sauce-a fruity mixture of grapes, white wine and just a touch of honey-is a delightful surprise. You'll want to choose seedless grapes for this recipe.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
8 lamb loin chops, about 1 1/4 inches think (about 3 pounds in all)
Fresh-ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 clove garlic, cut into thin slices
2 cups red grapes (from about a 1-pound bunch)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon honey

In a large stainless-steel or nonstick frying pan, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Season the lamb chops with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Put the chops in the pan and sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rosemary in the spaces between the chops. Cook the chops for 5 minutes. Turn and sprinkle the garlic in between the chops. Cook the chops until done to your taste, 3 to 5 minutes longer for medium rare.

Remove the chops and garlic and keep in warm spot. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the grapes and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons rosemary to the pan. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the grapes soften, about 8 minutes.

Add the wine to the pan and simmer 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and any juices from the lamb, the honey, 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Serve the lamb topped with the grapes and sauce.

For a Zabaglione with Strawberries recipe, go to Page 2.

Zabaglione with Strawberries

Here we serve the zabaglione hot when it's just made, but if you want to prepare the dish ahead of time, mix the zabaglione with whipped cream and refrigerate it as described in the first variation below.

8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3/4 cup dry marsala
1/2 cup sugar
1 pint strawberries, sliced

Put the egg yolks, the marsala and then the sugar into a large stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl over a large saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Using a handheld electric mixer on low speed or a whisk, beat the egg-yolk mixture until it is hot and the mixture forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted, 5 to 8 minutes. Don't cook the zabaglione for too long, or it will curdle.

Put the strawberries in stemmed glasses or bowls. Top with the hot zabaglione and either serve the dessert immediately or refrigerate it for up to an hour.