Tasty Italian Recipes

Italian chef Nick Stellino started his culinary career washing dishes. He's now a popular cookbook author and has his own series on public television, "Nick Stellino's Family Kitchen," now in its 10th year.

Stellino's specialty is using affordable ingredients for delicious meals, and he brings that approach to The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring, preparing a three-course meal for four on our budget of $40.

On the menu, a Mediterranean salad with avocado, oranges, onion and fennel; pasta with prosciutto and parmesan cheese sauce; and chocolate zabaglione with blueberries.


Fennel: The bulbous base and the stems of fennel can be eaten raw or cooked. When buying fennel, look for clean, crisp bulbs with no sign of browning.

Prosciutto: There are many different kinds, at many different prices. In general, the word prosciutto is Italian for "ham" and is used to broadly describe a ham that's been seasoned, salt-cured and air-dried. The meat is then pressed, which produces a firm, dense texture.

Zabaglione: This dessert is basically an Italian custard. It's made by whisking together egg yolks, wine (such as sweet Marsala) and sugar. It's done over simmering water so the eggs cook as they thicken. Traditional zabaglione is made right before eating so it's served warm. It can be served alone or over cake or fruit. Chef Stellino is adding chocolate to his zabaglione.


Mediterranean Salad with Avocado Oranges, Onion and Fennel

Salad Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1) Make the dressing by whisking the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, orange juice and vinegar in a bowl. Continue whisking vigorously and slowly add, in a stream, the olive oil. Continue whisking until all the ingredients are incorporated and the olive oil is emulsified into the salad dressing.

2 large avocados, diced
2 oranges or nectarines
4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
1 large fennel bulb, (8-10 ounces), large outer leaves removed, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 package mixed salad
salad croutons (optional)

1) Peel the oranges or nectarines, cut in half, then cut across in half-moon shapes.
2) Toss the lettuce, onion, fennel, orange pieces, avocados and optional croutons.
3) Add the dressing, mixing well to coat all the ingredients. Place the salad on individual serving dishes and sprinkle with cheese.