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.
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!)
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.
Cheers! ~ Cindy
Spaghetti Western Mac and Cheese
- 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)
|In a skillet, fry the ground beef over medium heat until browned, about 6 minutes. Drain off the fat.|
|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.|
|Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.)|
|Bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, 30-40 minutes.|