Friends and Family Gather Around the Table with The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook

Italian life revolves around the family.  And, these families unite daily at the table (a tavola) to share great food and wine.  In Italy, they say, “A tavola non si innvecchia mai” (you never age at the table). They cherish the time spent together around the table and believe that it strengthens values and healthy families. Now, The Culinary Institute of America helps home cooks everywhere bring celebrations to their table with a new collection of Italian recipes:  A TAVOLA! Recipes and Reflections on Traditional Italian Home Cooking, by Gianni Scappin and Vincenzo Lauria (Lebhar-Friedman; August 2009; Hardcover/$29.95; ISBN: 978-0-86730-928-7).


The heart of Italian dining can be expressed with just a few words:  simple, fresh, flavorful, and traditional.  All Italians agree on using locally harvested fruits and vegetables, seafood fresh from the ocean, finely crafted cheeses and cured meats, lively wines that taste of the sun and the earth, and oil pressed from the fruit of ancient olive groves using time-honored techniques.  According to the authors, “not everyone is as blessed when it comes to fresh food as the Italians because not everyone has access to mountain fields or garden plots,” but that should not stop the people who love to cook from creating healthy and delicious meals, Italian-style.


A TAVOLA! is a compilation of the authors’ favorite recipes from several regions of Italy and they also draw on their restaurant experience in the United States and share their fond memories of their Italian homeland.  Throughout the book, home cooks will find both treasured family recipes and “new” dishes inspired by the great food the authors have enjoyed on their travels.


Chapters cover everything from small dishes and soups, to pizzas and breads, polenta and rice, various types of pasta and main dishes, desserts and aperitifs. Recipes include:  


§  Cabbage Salad with Green Apple, Walnuts, Vin Cotto, and Myrtle Vinegar (Insalata di Capuccio, Mela Verde, Noci Al Vin Cotto E Aceto Di Mirto)

§  Parmigiano-Reggiano, Spinach, and Lemon Dumplings in Broth (Passtelli Verdi in Brodo)

§  Luganica Ragù with Fresh Fennel (Ragu de Luganica con Finocchio)

§  “Naughty” Polenta (Polenta Sporcacciona)

§  Large Rigatoni with Fish and Artichokes (Paccheri Con Pesce e Carciofi)

§  Eggs in Purgatory (Uova in Purgatorio)

§  Mixed Fry (Fritto Misto)

§  Monkfish with Fresh Tomatoes (Coda di Rospo ai Pomodorini Pendolini Misti)

§  Lamb Fricassee Scented with Mint (Agnello in Umido Profumato alla Menta)

§  Venetian Cream Fritters (Cremetta Fritta alla Veneziana)

§  Rice Pudding with Wild Strawberries (Budino Di Riso Con Fragoline Di Bosco)


“As Italians, we prefer marketing every day and gathering our large families together on Sundays and holidays,” say Scappin and Lauria.  “Traditions created, of course, are personal, and each family is unique.  Our hope is that with A TAVOLA! you can sample some of our favorite traditions, and perhaps make a few of your own.”


About the Authors


Originally from Marostica, in Italy’s Veneto region, Gianni Scappin holds a diploma from the Recoaro Terme Culinary Institute in Italy, and is a member of the Federation of Italian Chefs. Chef Scappin is a Certified Hospitality Educator (C.H.E.), and a lecturing instructor in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America, teaching in the kitchen of the Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici, part of the college’s Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine. He is co-author of the cookbook Cucina & Famiglia (Morrow, 1999), and was consulting chef for the film Big Night. Chef Scappin was the owner and executive chef of Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck, New York, and executive chef at Le Madri, Moreno, and Castellano restaurants in New York City, as well as chef at restaurants in the Italian cities of Milan, Piedmonte, Montegrotto Terme, and Venice, and executive and corporate chef for the New York City-based Bice Group.


An assistant professor in Table Service at The Culinary Institute of America, Vincenzo Lauria is maître d’ instructor in the Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici. Mr. Lauria studied at the Instituto Professionale di Stato per Il Commerico Vittorio Veneto in Naples, Italy.


For More Information, electronic materials, and to Request a review copy of the book, Contact:

Trina Kaye – The Lisa Ekus Group / 310-915-09709 /





Sample Recipes from the Book



Pizza di Spaghetti


Serves 6


6 ounces dry spaghetti

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

8 ounces mozzarella, fior di latte, if possible

18 black olives, any good quality

6 oil-packed anchovies

8 ounces peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand to break into pieces

2 teaspoons Sicilian dry oregano

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed


Preheat the oven to 350°F.


Cook the spaghetti in plenty of salted water until very al dente. Drain well, sprinkle with half of the olive oil, and toss slightly. Place the spaghetti into small casserole dishes for individual servings or in two 8-inch casseroles that have been lightly oiled. Make sure the spaghetti is flat by lightly pressing it into an even layer.


Cut the mozzarella into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Pit the olives and then slice them thin.


Cover the top of the spaghetti with the mozzarella slices. Divide the anchovies between the casseroles, and then spread the crushed tomatoes on top followed by, the olives, oregano, salt, and pepper. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil.


Bake for about 20 minutes until the mozzarella has completely melted. Serve very hot.



Pesca Infornata al Mosto Cotto e Amaretti

Baked Peaches with Cooked Must and Amaretti Cookies


A big part of the flavor in this summertime dessert comes from the cooked mosto (in the form of

Italian vin cotto or saba) that is used as an ingredient, as well as to finish the dish. Look for it in Italian grocery stores. For more about vin cotto, see page 38. Look for the largest fresh peaches in season for this recipe. If you can’t find large-sized peaches, substitute smaller peaches, adjusting the recipe slightly if needed, and using two halves per serving instead of one.


Serves 6


3 large peaches, white or yellow

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon powdered sugar

1 tablespoon sambuca

1 tablespoon cooked must (vin cotto or saba), plus as needed for garnish

2 large egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup crumbled amaretto cookies

3 cups ice cream, optional


Preheat the oven to 325°F.


Wash the peaches and cut them in half, removing the pit. Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the flesh from the center of each peach half, and set aside in a medium bowl to puree with the cocoa powder in the next step. Reserve the remaining peach halves separately.


Puree the peach flesh by hand or in a food processor with the cocoa powder, sugar, sambuca and the cooked must. Whisk in the egg yolks, lemon zest, and heavy cream; combine well. Slowly add the crumbled cookies. You should have a soft, but pliable, filling. Spoon the filling into the reserved peach halves. Place them in an ovenproof dish and bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature accompanied by a scoop of ice cream, if desired, and garnished with a bit of cooked must.



Melanzane in Agrodolce (Caponata)

Sweet and Sour Eggplant Antipasto


You can find many variations of this recipe popular throughout southern Italy. It is frequently served on toasted bread, with grilled fish dishes, or to top fresh ricotta. In Puglia, this dish is served with panelle, a chickpea-flour-based “polenta” that can be fried or cooked in a pan like pancakes. I like it served with Farinata Ligure, a chickpea flatbread (see page 65).


Serves 6


5 cups large-dice Italian eggplant, seeded before dicing

1 cup mild olive oil

2 cups small-dice red onion

1 cup celery, peeled and sliced

1-1/2 teaspoons salt-cured capers, rinsed, and roughly chopped

2 teaspoons chopped black olives, pitted, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste

3 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste

1-1/2 cups canned peeled tomatoes, lightly crushed

2 teaspoons chopped basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

1-1/2 teaspoons pine nuts


To draw out the moisture from the eggplant, place it in a colander, salt well, and allow it to drain for at least 2 to 4 hours. Rinse the salt from the eggplant, and pat dry with paper toweling.


Heat ?? cup of the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, reserving the other ?? cup for later use. When oil is hot, add the eggplant and cook until lightly browned on all sides. This is best done in batches so the eggplant takes on a good color; if you add too much to the pan at once, they won’t brown. (Note: You may also fry them in a fryer; make sure to dust them with flour before deep-frying and work in small batches.) Transfer them to a pan lined with paper towels to blot briefly before you put them in a mixing bowl.


Wipe out the pan used for the eggplant, add the remaining oil, and return it to medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until translucent. Add the celery and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure the celery stays crunchy. Stir in the capers and olives. Add this mixture to the eggplant and toss well to combine. Set aside.


Once again, wipe out the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar and vinegar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.


Pour the eggplant mixture into the skillet, add the basil, and stir to combine well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Top with the pine nuts. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold.



These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from A TAVOLA! Recipes and Reflections on Traditional Italian Home Cooking by Gianni Scappin and Vincenzo Lauria (Lebhar-Friedman, August 2009, Hardcover/$29.95)