Who doesn’t love Italian food? I don’t know anyone who could turn away from a plate of savory chicken parmigiana with homemade marinara sauce, tender osso bucco, or sweet tiramisu. Certainly, not me! Now, Goodfellas star Paul Sorvino  and his wife Dee Dee, an Emmy-award winning television host, have compiled Pinot, Pasta, and Parties ($30), a cookbook for lovers of all dishes Italian. Once you read the delightful tales of their life together, mouthwatering recipes, and gaze upon the gorgeous (you-want-to-lick-the-page) photography, you’ll be making a list of your favorites to create for fortunate friends and family.

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Dee Dee and Paul met by chance, a real-life example of kismet. In December 2013, Paul appeared on a television show in New York and Dee Dee was waiting to take her chair after he was finished. As Paul left the set and saw Dee Dee, he “was smitten” and asked the producer to arrange for a post-show drink for the three of them – the rest is history. This entertaining tale, among others, is part of their fascinating book, sent to me as a review copy, that doubles as your go-to reference for Italian fare.

And culinary aficionados will be thrilled. Over 80 authentic Italian recipes are arranged among enticing theme-based chapters. Well written narratives and host of traditional recipes offer a glimpse into Dee Dee and Paul’s penchant for patriotism, entertaining, travel, and film.

Discover a recipe for Italian Cheesecake with Lemon Curd Topping as Dee Dee shares tidbits about Paul’s Italian heritage in the chapter, “Italian Through and Through: From Meatballs to Marinara”. Chef Paul’s Peppers and Olives and Zuppa di Pesce recipes are included in the chapter, “A Goodfella’s Feast” and those for Salumeria Pizza and Northern Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms is part of “Patriotism at Play”. Honestly, I could go on and on…

“We like nothing more than a cozy night watching TV and enjoying the comfort food we prepare for at-home evenings. Sometimes friends join us to see a season finale, re-watch an old movie, or binge on a show we missed. On those casual nights, we set up a buffet and let our guests serve themselves.” Dee Dee Sorvino, Pinot, Pasta, and Parties

Inspired by the tasty recipes, it was difficult to choose just one to create for family members. I finally selected Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese (see recipe at the end of the article), since it would be a snap to make ahead – I love having time to relax with my guests. Paired with two wines from Italy, a Pinot Grigio and red blend from Umbria, I couldn’t think of a more delectable weeknight dinner.

I used regular spaghetti instead of the wagon-wheel pasta suggested (I’ll try that next time!) and everyone loved the cheesy deliciousness that I served piping hot with a crisp garden salad and garlic bread. The touch of cumin in the sauce was a surprise addition, one that offered a flavorful kick; all ingredients combined to be one of the best weeknight dishes I’ve made in a while. Not only can the Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese be made ahead, you may want to double the recipe, so you’ll have more to enjoy another night. (Trust me, your friends and family will be asking for seconds!)

 

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Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese

And the wines for pairing?

For the white wine lovers in the group, I chose a bottle of Fernando Pighin & Figli Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave 2016 ($17.99), an exquisite choice as an aperitif and to complement the pasta. On the nose, I found refreshing aromas of stone fruit, pear, and lemon. Lip smacking acidity and notes of more lemon, pear, banana, juicy citrus, and hint of minerality, this medium bodied wine was a true palate pleaser. I’ll remember this Pinot Grigio with Dee Dee and Paul’s recipe for shrimp scampi, too.

pasta and pinot grigio
Ahhhh, everyone loved the aromas and flavors of Tenuta di Salviano Lago di Corbara 2013 ($17.99). From the region of Umbria, the Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes in this “Super Umbrian” blend were aged in cement vats, with about 15% aged in French oak barriques prior to blending and bottling.  With each swirl and sniff, I loved the intense aromas of rich fruit including blueberries and ripe cherries. Full bodied and balanced with bright acidity and velvet-like tannins, complex notes of earth, spice, and more luscious red fruit prevailed. Its finish was long and satisfying with each bite of the Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese.

pasta and wine
There are many elements that I love about this cookbook. The fascinating insight into the Sorvinos’ lives, the delectable recipes that are easy to make (thank goodness!) and perfect for a crowd or intimate dinner, and the stunning photography make Pinot, Pasta, and Parties a must-have for your collection. Just remember to pair each recipe with a fabulous wine!

Cheers! ~ Cindy

Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 8oz ground beef
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 28oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1lb spaghetti or wagon wheel pasta
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded cheese ((Fontina, smoked Gouda, or Jarlsberg))
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella cheese (cut in 1/4 inch-thick slices)

Directions

Step 1
In a skillet, fry the ground beef over medium heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Drain off the fat.
Step 2
Add the garlic, cumin, sea salt, and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has reduced, 30-35 minutes.
Step 3
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 4
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes. The pasta should not be cooked completely, because it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and set aside.
Step 5
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in the flour gradually. Raise the heat to medium. Add the milk and whisk continuously for 4 minutes. Lower the heat if the liquid is about to boil. It should thicken and be smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan.
Step 6
In an 8 inch square nonstick baking pan, layer half of the pasta, meat mixture, cheese sauce, and shredded cheese. Repeat to make another layer of each. Top with the mozzarella slices. (Note: I used a 9 inch x 13 inch baking pan since I used spaghetti instead of the wagon wheel pasta.)
Step 7
Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, 30-40 minutes.

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2 comments

    • Cindy Rynning

      Reply

      Thanks, Penny! Cheers to delicious Italian food (and wines to match)!

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