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Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes Hardcover – October 20, 2009

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Editorial Reviews Review

From Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: Soup with Bread & Fontina Pasticciata (Seuppa ou Piat)

This might seem like an unusual dish, a pasticciata (a layered casserole) of bread and cheese that's baked, cut into portions, and served in a bowl of hot broth. Yet the tastes and eating pleasure of seuppa ou piat will be completely familiar and welcome to anyone who loves the gratineed crouton of French onion soup or enjoys a crispy grilled-cheese sandwich with a bowl of rich chicken broth alongside. This is a good dish for company, because you can have both the broth and the pasticciata hot and ready to be put together when your guests come. (Chicken stock is my preference, but a savory vegetable stock or a meaty beef broth is just as good.) --Lidia Bastianich


  • 8 cups tasty chicken broth (or clear beef or vegetable stock)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon soft butter for the baking dish
  • 1/2 pound fontina from Valle d'Aosta (or Italian Fontal)
  • 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano- Reggiano, plus more for passing
  • 18 slices Italian bread, cut 1/2 inch thick from a long oval loaf, left out to dry overnight*

Recommended Equipment: A baking dish or oval gratin dish, 3 quarts or larger; heavy aluminum foil


Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400 degrees. Heat the broth almost to a simmer--season with salt to taste--and keep it hot. Butter the sides and bottom of the baking dish. Shred the fontina through the larger holes of a hand grater and toss the shreds with the grana (grated hard cheese).

Arrange half of the bread slices in one layer in the baking dish. Ladle out 1 cup of broth, and drizzle it on the bread slices, slightly moistening them all. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the bread in an even layer. Cover the cheese with the remaining bread slices, filling the entire surface of the dish. Moisten these slices with another cup or so of stock; top the bread with all the remaining cheese, scattered evenly.

Tent the pasticciata with a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, arching it so it doesn’t touch the cheese topping, and pressing it against the sides of the baking dish. Set the dish in the oven, and bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking for 10 minutes or more, until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Take the dish from the oven, and let it cool and set for 5 minutes or so.

To serve: Cut out large squares of pasticciata and, with a spatula, transfer them to warm shallow soup or pasta bowls. Ladle a cup of hot broth over each portion and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.

*Country Italian bread is best for this pasticciata. The width of the bread can vary since it is layered snugly in the baking dish, then cut in squares when served.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Bastianich, acclaimed restaurateur, star of a PBS cooking show and author (Lidia's Italy, etc.), and her daughter Manuali offer a stellar array of regional Italian recipes in this tantalizing and lavishly photographed collection. They serve up authentic, hearty fare including such favorites as wedding soup from Basilicata, braised veal shanks from Lombardy and spaghetti with clam sauce from Le Marche. They celebrate and honor the cuisine of lesser-known parts of the country including Emilia-Romagna's sweet and sour little onions, Molise's braised octopus with spaghetti, Calabria's spicy calamari and Liguria's stuffed vegetables. In her trademark style, Bastianich places each recipe in the context of its Italian heritage, sharing insight into the people and highlights of the region. Offerings run the gamut from fish and beef to pasta and vegetables and provide insight into the traditional Italian kitchen and lifestyle. Readers will enjoy this volume not only as a cookbook but as a vicarious travel guide, flipping the pages to take in the culture as well as the cuisine. Bastianich's fans will delight in this superb volume, which no kitchen should be without. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (October 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307267512
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267511
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #305,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lidia Bastianich is an Emmy award-winning public television host, a best‐selling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business. Lidia has married her two passions in life - her family and food, to create multiple culinary endeavors alongside her two children, Joseph and Tanya. Lidia's cookbooks include Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking, Lidia's Favorite Recipes, Lidia's Italy in America, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, and Lidia's Italy--all companion books to the three‐time Emmy‐nominated television series Lidia's Kitchen, Lidia's Italy in America and Lidia's Italy. Lidia has also published Lidia's Family Table, Lidia's Italian‐American Kitchen, Lidia's Italian Table and La Cucina di Lidia. Lidia is the chef/owner of four acclaimed New York City restaurants ‐ Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto, as well as Lidia's Pittsburgh and Lidia's Kansas City. She is also founder and president of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces high‐quality broadcast productions. Along with her son, Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali, and Oscar Farinetti, the team opened Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in New York City. Lidia also has a line of pastas and all natural sauces called LIDIA'S, and has just recently launched an exclusive line of ready-made home-style meals with Whole Foods Market in the Northeast. Lidia's first children's book, Nonna Tell Me a Story: Lidia's Christmas Kitchen, was inspired by her five grandchildren. The second installation in the series, Lidia's Family Kitchen: Nonna's Birthday Surprise, was released in the Spring of 2013. Lidia gives freely of her time and knowledge, and is active member of society who participates in community service activities and special events on behalf of several foundations and Public Television.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Toni VINE VOICE on November 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Once again, without any hesitation, this is a most fabulous cookbook/tour guide/education of the Italian experience through the most capable palate of Lidia and her daughter, Tanya. They are becoming synonomous with each other as this is another collaboration of love from this most lovely mother-daughter team of experts.

For anyone who knows of Lidia, she does not just give you recipes and photos; you can get those from any Italian cookbook, and there nothing wrong in that. But I truly feel that her purpose in all her books and endeavors is to appreciate the Italian history and culture hence her books are three-fold: you are given a geographical and culinary education along with the historical education so that you will be able to appreciate how, why, and where the recipes have been given.

So in essence, you are educated on the past history and influence that brought certain dishes to that region and how the geographical region lent itself to encourage certain meals and traditions due to the hard work and joy of the people who lived there. It is through the collaboration of Lidia and her lovely daughter Tanya, that we are given not just the standard information and recipes but instead, the food history, the rich culture, and the appreciation for what you are preparing so that you are not just cooking; you are creating the generations of family joy and culinary history that was passed on from parents to children and to which we need to cling to especially today.

In this particular book, her dedication is to her father, Vittorio. Her childhood and coming of age in this country leaves you with the sincere appreoiation of Lidia's need for acknowledging all who helped to shape and influence her ideology and vocation to this culinary artform.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Duvernois VINE VOICE on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We'll see if this becomes an Italian home cooking standard, but it's a beautiful mix of recipes (with a real eye towards fairly simple preparations, though delicious), excellent food photography (better than any other Italian cookbook that I have), and some text and photos of Italy to inspire the connections between the food and the land.

The writing is casual and friendly, and the photos genuinely enhance the cookbook. But mostly we're here for the recipes. And they do not fail us. We have a roasted lobster dish from Sardinia, heading north to polenta with white beans and black kale from Valle d'Aosta, and finally beer-basted roast chicken from Trento. The regional cuisines of Italy, local ingredients and preparations, are on display here, and with the wonders of the American grocery store, are quite accessible.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Vladimir Vladimir on October 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The food pictures in this book make me salivate and the pictures of Italy show the true Italy. I have tried the recipes and they are easy and extremely flavorful. I love Lidia's cookbooks because they allow for some personal interpretation and they really bring the flavor of Italy to my kitchen and family.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Organized by region, north to south, and written with her daughter, PBS cooking star and restaurateur Bastianich's sixth book features a must-try dish on practically every well-designed page. Photos highlight the countryside the dishes come from - as well as the food itself. Chapter introductions offer food-themed tours and recipes focus on local specialties, from starters, through first and second courses and dessert; some classic, some unfamiliar.

Like Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce (Trentino-Alto Adige), Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow & Saffron (Lombardy), Beef Filet with Wine Sauce (Valle D'Aosta), Tagliatelle with ricotta-based Walnut Pesto (Emilia-Romagna), Fish with Pepper Sauce (bell pepper based, with orange zest, tomatoes, and a dash of peperoncino flakes) (Le Marche), Crostini with Black Truffle Butter (Umbria), Meatless Pecorino Meatballs (cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs) (Abruzzo), Fresh Cavatelli with Cauliflower (Molise), Rigatoni with Lentils (Basilicata), Spicy Calamari (Calabria), Flatbread Lasagna (Sardinia).

Familiar and peasant dishes include: Braised Veal Shanks (Lombardy), Roasted-Pepper & Olive Salad with Fontina (Valle D'Aosta), Bread Salad with Summer Vegetables (Liguria), Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (Le Marche), Wedding Soup (Basilicata), Baked Eggplant in Tomato Sauce (Sardinia).

There are numerous recipes for making fresh pasta and dumplings and many family-friendly comfort foods. A particular favorite of mine is Meat Sauce Genova Style which features a beef pot roast braised slowly in a wine-tomato sauce flavored with sage and rosemary, thickened with toasted pine nuts. There's plenty of sauce for a second meal (or a first course, as Bastianich suggests) of pasta and the whole thing can be made a day ahead. Scrumptious!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Sallavanti on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lidia Bastianich's latest cookbook "Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy" is a masterpiece of collected recipes from many less well known regions of Italy. Those which I have tried are truly from the earth, from the land of Italy. You can just feel it, you can taste it with the unique combinations of sometimes unexpected ingredients. Some are familiar from our own family links and still-cooked handed-down recipes from our immigrant ancestors, and thus their authenticity at least per these cases is right on. Others which I have tried are equally fantastic. But then we have grown to expect this from Lidia and are not disappointed once again. This book is a must have for the Italian Cooking admirer and enthusiast alike. Brava, Bravissima, Lidia!
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