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L'Apicio Wins Best Meatball in New York

L'Apicio Wins Best Meatball in New York

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While popular contenders for the best meatballs in New York may be Meatball Shop’s Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, Gramercy Tavern, and Marco Canora, last night’s Meatball Madness at the New York City Wine & Food Festival crowned a new and unsuspecting winner: Gabe Thompson of L’Apicio.

That’s not to say the rest of the crew didn’t try; Donatella Arpaia won the People's Choice award; Chernow gave out kisses (on the cheek, Mrs. Chernow, no worries) for guest votes, Michael Anthony pulled off an amazing unsauced meatball, and even Joanne Trattoria (owned by Lady Gaga’s parents) showed up with classic Italian balls, named "Germanotta’s Own Meatball." (Chef David Pegoli would not comment on the latest health grade news).

Arpaia (of restaurant Donatella) whipped out her mother’s recipe to win people’s choice. "When it comes to meatballs I stick to the classic," she told The Daily Meal. "This is my mother’s and grandmother’s recipe. [When I was younger] I’d wake up to the smell of garlic and onions in the kitchen and I would always steal meatballs before [my mom] put on the sauce." Even sweeter — her mother was in attendance.

As for the winning meatball among the judges (Giada De Laurentiis, who spend most of the night taking photos with fans, Anne Burrell, Geoffrey Zakarian, and Alex Guarnaschelli), Gabe Thompson served up a classic pork meatball with Amatriciana sauce over polenta. Thompson, wearing what may now be his lucky Budweiser hat, gave the shortest speech ever after winning a competition, ending with "All right I’m gonna go now."

"I didn’t know that there was a contest," he told us afterward. "I knew there was a voting thing and all that but I was just like, oh People’s Choice, whatever, you know. But then they walked around and you send one up, and they’re like, 'Oh we need three more for the judges,' and someone told me that meant there was a chance for us to win."

No worries for Chernow and Holzman fans, though. Next year, Holzman promises, "I’m gonna bring the heat."

It's all about the meatballs in new cookbook from Carmine's chef

Maybe you don't have a little old Italian grandmother in your kitchen simmering up Southern Italian specialties in enough tomato sauce to drown your recession-induced anxiety.

You can still feast on that quintessential comfort food - spaghetti and meatballs - with just a little effort and time. There's a new book out from Michael Ronis, the founding chef at Carmine's, the family-style Italian restaurant chain, and it's loaded with trademark dishes to try at home.

The savory, larger-than-life meatballs are the creation of Ronis, who perfected them and still makes them every day. He rhapsodizes about them in "Carmine's Family-Style Cookbook" (St. Martin's Press, $29.95), and shares how to make them and how to serve them. No, they're not just for topping a plate of marinara-soused spaghetti. Ronis chops them up and scrambles them with eggs, fries them with sausage and peppers, and sticks toothpicks in them and calls them appetizers.

"And I make them the old-fashioned way," says Ronis. "I recommend mixing them with your hands so that you literally fold the ingredients into the meat. It is important to have a light hand, and not to be rough while handling the meat."

(Ronis will sign copies of his book this Thursday, Oct. 30, at 7 p.m. at Borders in the Time Warner Center.)

Meatballs certainly aren't the only standout in this book, a treasure of dishes that trumpets the praises of homestyle Sicilian cooking. The restaurant itself is a popular dining destination in these lean times, when no one wants to spend a fortune on meager portions no matter how good the food. Carmine's may charge $26 for the chicken scarpariello, but the portion is so huge it could easily serve two or three hungry diners. Oh, and there's no plate-sharing charge. (The Carmine's formula for success is what helped it expand. There are two here in the city, one in Times Square and one on the Upper West Side. There's also a Carmine's in Atlantic City and one in the Bahamas.)

The cookbook features the dishes on the menu: shrimp fra diavolo, pasta pomodoro, veal marsala and lasagne. Pasta, in fact, is a big chapter in this book. One of the most popular dishes, unsurprisingly, is the spaghetti and meatballs. As Ronis notes, at Carmine's, when a family orders it for the kids, the parents usually end up sneaking it for themselves. Unless, of course, Grandma's in the kitchen cooking it for them at home.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup crushed seasoned croutons
  • ¼ cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter

In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, croutons, sweet onion, egg, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, red pepper flakes, and Cajun seasoning. Form the mixture by hand into meatballs.

Heat the olive oil and melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the skillet, and cook, turning constantly, 20 minutes, or to desired doneness.


Bastianich was born Lidia Giuliana Matticchio on February 21, 1947, in Pula, Pola, Italy, just before the city was assigned to Yugoslavia in September 1947 (which is now part of Istria County, Croatia). She is the daughter of Erminia (1921–2021) [5] and Vittorio Matticchio. [6] Until 1956, she lived with her family in Yugoslavia, during which time the family were forced to Slavicize their surname from Matticchio to Motika. [7] Bastianich fled to Trieste, Italy, with her brother Franco and her mother on the pretense of visiting their sick aunt Nina, who was a personal chef. [7] [8] Soon after, her father joined them in Trieste after he crossed the border into Italy at night. [7] [8] [9] After Nina could only provide temporary shelter, Bastianich and her family became refugees at Risiera di San Sabba. [7] According to Bastianich in a Public Television documentary, although a wealthy Triestine family hired her mother as a cook–housekeeper and her father as a limousine driver, they remained residents of the refugee camp. Two years later, their displaced persons application was granted to emigrate from Italy to the United States. [9] In 1958, Bastianich and her family reached the United States, settling in North Bergen, New Jersey, and later Queens, a borough of New York City. [9] [10] [11]

Bastianich gives credit for the family's new roots in the United States to their sponsor, Catholic Relief Services: [9] [10] [12]

The Catholic Relief Services brought us here to New York we had no one. They found a home for us. They found a job for my father. And ultimately, we settled. And I am the perfect example that if you give somebody a chance, especially here in the United States, one can find the way.

Bastianich started working part-time at the age of 14, during which she briefly worked at the Astoria bakery owned by Christopher Walken's father. After graduating from high school, she began to work full-time at a pizzeria on the upper west side of Manhattan. [13]

Although she and her family are nationally Italian, public DNA tests conducted by Lidia have shown that her family is largely of Eastern European descent, due to the multiethnicity of Istria. [14] Concerning her identity, Lidia has stated: "I feel very Italian, but I do have some Slavic in me, and I relate to that as well so that forms the mixture that is Lidia." [15]

From Queens to Manhattan (1971–1981) Edit

In 1971, the Bastianiches opened their first restaurant, the tiny Buonavia, meaning "good road", in the Forest Hills section of Queens, with Bastianich as its hostess. They created their restaurant's menu by copying recipes from the most popular and successful Italian restaurants of the day, and they hired the best Italian-American chef that they could find.

After a brief break to deliver her second child Tanya, in 1972 Bastianich began training as the assistant chef at Buonavia, gradually learning enough to cook popular Italian dishes on her own, after which the couple began adding traditional Istrian dishes to their menu.

The success of Buonavia led to the opening of the second restaurant in Queens, Villa Secondo. It was here that Bastianich gained the attention of local food critics and started to give live cooking demonstrations, a prelude to her future career as a television cooking show hostess.

In 1981, Bastianich's father died, and the family sold their two Queens restaurants and purchased a small Manhattan brownstone containing a pre-existing restaurant on the East Side of Manhattan near the 59th Street Bridge to Queens. They converted it into what would eventually become their flagship restaurant, Felidia (a contraction of "Felice" and "Lidia"). After liquidating nearly every asset they had to cover $750,000 worth of renovations, Felidia finally opened to near-universal acclaim from their loyal following of food critics, including The New York Times, which gave Felidia three stars. One of Felidia's chefs was not Italian. He was Puerto-Rico-born David Torres, known at the restaurant as Davide'. He died of throat cancer in 1996.

Expansion Edit

Although Lidia and Felice sent their two children to college without expectations that either would go into the restaurant business, Joseph, who had frequently done odd jobs for his parents at Felidia, gave up his newly launched career as a Wall Street bond trader [16] and in 1993 convinced his parents to partner with him to open Becco (Italian for "peck, nibble, savor") in the Theater District in Manhattan. Like Felidia, Becco was an immediate success and led to the opening of additional restaurants outside New York City, including Lidia's Kansas City in 1998, [17] and Lidia's Pittsburgh in 2001. [18]

In 1993, Julia Child invited Bastianich to tape an episode of her Public Television series Julia Child: Cooking With Master Chefs, which featured acclaimed chefs from around the U.S., preparing dishes in their own home kitchens. The guest appearance gave Bastianich confidence and determination to expand the Bastianich family's own commercial interests.

By the late 1990s, Bastianich's restaurants had evolved into a truly family-owned and operated enterprise. Bastianich's mother, Erminia Motika, maintained the large garden behind the family home, from which Bastianich chose ingredients to use in recipe development. Joe was the chief sommelier of the restaurant group, in addition to branching out into his own restaurant line. Bastianich's daughter Tanya Bastianich Manuali used her PhD in Italian art history as the foundation for a travel agency partnership with her mother called Esperienze Italiane, through which Tanya and friend Shelly Burgess Nicotra (Executive Producer of Bastianich's television series and head of PR at Lidia's Italy) offered tours throughout Italy. Tanya's husband, attorney Corrado Manuali, became the restaurant group's chief legal counsel. [19]

In 2010, Bastianich and her son partnered with Oscar Farinetti to open Eataly, a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m 2 ) food emporium in Manhattan that is devoted to the food and culinary traditions of Italy. Bastianich offers culinary and gastronomy classes to the public at Eataly's school, La Scuola. Eataly's motto is "We sell what we cook, and we cook what we sell". [20] Eataly is now in Chicago and São Paulo, Brazil. They opened a second store in New York at the World Trade Center in Manhattan in 2016 [21] and another one in Boston the same year. [22] Recent openings include Eataly in Los Angeles in 2017, [23] in Las Vegas in 2018, [24] and in Toronto in 2019. [25]

The fall of 2010 also marked the debut of Lidia's Kitchen, an exclusive line of commercial cookware, and serving ware for QVC. Along with her daughter Tanya, and son-in-law Corrado Manuali, Bastianich launched Nonna Foods as a platform to distribute an array of both existing and new LIDIA'S food products. Nonna Foods has 9 cuts of pasta and 9 varieties of sauces (including two USDA Certified Organic sauces) available nationwide. Together with her son Joseph, Bastianich produces award-winning wines at Bastianich Vineyard in Friuli Venezia Giulia and La Mozza Vineyard in Maremma, Italy. [26] [27]

Television (1998–present) Edit

In 1998, Public Television offered Bastianich her own television series which became Lidia's Italian Table. It established her as a fixture in the network's line-up of cooking shows. Since then she has hosted additional public television series, including Lidia's Family Table, [28] Lidia's Italy, Lidia's Italy in America, and Lidia's Kitchen.

She also hosted a series of hour-long Public Television specials called Lidia Celebrates America, which premiered in 2011 with Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday Tables & Traditions. In the series, Bastianich celebrates the diversity of cultures across the United States and explores the American immigrant experience. The following special, Lidia Celebrates America: Weddings – Something Borrowed, Something New, aired in 2012 Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom & Independence in 2013 Lidia Celebrates America: Life's Milestones in 2013 Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday Tables and Traditions in 2015 Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes in 2016 [29] Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes in 2017, and Lidia Celebrates America: A Heartland Holiday Feast in 2018, and Lidia Celebrates America: The Return of the Artisans in 2019. Bastianich ends each episode of her show with an invitation to join her and her family for a meal, Tutti a tavola a mangiare! (Italian for "Everyone to the table to eat").

For the 2010 holiday season, her new television production company, Tavola Productions, created an animated holiday children's special for Public Television "Lidia's Christmas Kitchen: Nonna Tell Me a Story" to go along with the book by the same title that was written by Bastianich. [26]

In 2013, Bastianich returned to Public Television with Lidia's Kitchen, [30] a 26-part series produced by Tavola Productions. The sixth season ran from October 2018 through March 2019. The seventh season premiered in October 2019.

Among Bastianich's television show appearances, she participated as a celebrity judge on MasterChef USA, an adaptation of the BBC MasterChef (UK TV series) in 2000. Her son, Joseph Bastianich, would later go on to star as a celebrity judge on the Gordon Ramsay version of MasterChef. Bastianich has also appeared on the Italian television show Junior MasterChef Italia in 2014 and 2015 for Season 1 and Season 2. In 2016 and 2017, she was a judge for the Italian television show, La Prova del Cuoco. [31] In 2020, alongside son Joe Bastianich and Antonino Cannavacciuolo, she was a judge on the cooking competition show on Sky, Family Food Fight. [32]

Books (1990–present) Edit

Bastianich has authored several cookbooks to accompany her television series:

  • La Cucina di Lidia
  • Lidia's Family Table
  • Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
  • Lidia's Italian Table
  • Lidia's Italy
  • Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
  • Lidia's Italy in America
  • Lidia's Favorite Recipes
  • Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking
  • Nonna Tell Me A Story
  • Nonna's Birthday Surprise
  • Lidia's Egg-Citing Farm Adventure
  • Lidia's Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine
  • Lidia's Celebrate Like an Italian
  • My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food
  • Felidia, Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant
  • (1987) Recipient of Woman of the Year/Innovation Award, Restaurant Category, Women's Institute of the Center for Food and Hotel Management
  • (1993) Nominated for "Best Chef in New York" by the James Beard Foundation Felidia
  • (1994) Nominated for "Best Chef in New York" by the James Beard Foundation Felidia
  • (1996) Nominated for "Best Chef in New York" by the James Beard Foundation Felidia
  • (1996) Recipient of "Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America" James Beard Award [33]
  • (1997) Nominated for "Best Chef in New York" by the James Beard Foundation Felidia
  • (1998) Nominated for "Best Chef in New York" by the James Beard Foundation Felidia
  • (1999) Named "Best Chef in New York" by the James Beard Foundation [34]
  • (2001) Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen wins International Association Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook Award in "Chefs and restaurants" category [35]
  • (2002) Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen nominated for James Beard Award in "Best National Television Cooking Show or Special" category
  • (2002) Named "Best Outstanding Chef" by the James Beard Foundation [36]
  • (2002) Named "The First Lady of Italian Cuisine and Restaurants in the United States" by Senator George Onorato
  • (2007) Lidia's Family Table nominated for James Beard Award in "National Television Food Show" category
  • (2008) Lidia's Italy: 140 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Ten Places in Italy Lidia Loves Most nominated for James Beard Award in "International Book" category
  • (2008) Lidia's Italy nominated for Emmy Award [37]
  • (2009) Lidia's Italy named "Best Cooking Show" by the James Beard Foundation [38]
  • (2010) Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy nominated for James Beard Award in "International Book" category
  • (2011) Lidia Celebrates America receives highest honor of Silver Award for in Film/Video Silver Winners category for the 32nd Annual Telly Awards
  • (2012) Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday Tables & Traditions nominated for "Outstanding Documentary" by the James Beard Foundation [39]
  • (2013) Wins Emmy for "Outstanding Culinary Host" [40]
  • (2013) Inducted into Culinary Hall of Fame [41]
  • (2013) Lidia Celebrates America: Something Borrowed Something New receives New York Festivals Award [42]
  • (2014) Three Tavola productions- Lidia's Kitchen, Lidia Celebrates America, and Amy Thielen's Heartland Table on the Food Network nominated for a James Beard Award
  • (2014) Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom and Independence receives Telly Award
  • (2014) Lidia Celebrates America nominated for a Rockie Award at Banff World Media Festival in "Lifestyle" category [43]
  • (2016) Lidia Celebrates America: Home for the Holidays wins "Best Special" by the James Beard Foundation [44]
  • (2016) Lidia Celebrates America: Home for the Holidays named "Best Food Program" at Taste Awards
  • (2017) Nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in "Outstanding Culinary Host" category [45]
  • (2017) Lidia Celebrates America: Holiday for Heroes wins James Beard Award for "Best Special" [46]
  • (2017) Recipient of the StellaRe Prize by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation [47]
  • (2018) Wins Daytime Emmy Award in "Outstanding Culinary Host" category [48]
  • (2018) Lidia's Kitchen nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in "Best Culinary Program" category
  • (2018) Lidia Celebrates America: Homegrown Heroes wins James Beard Award for "Best Special" [49]
  • (2018) Lidia Celebrates America: Home Grown Heroes recipient of Gold Telly Award in "General Documentary: Individual" category [50]
  • (2019) Lidia's Kitchen nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in "Outstanding Culinary Program" category [51]
  • (2019) Recipient of Master of the Aesthetics of Gastronomy Award from Culinary Institute of America [52]
  • (2019) Awarded the Premio Artusi by the Scientific Committee of Casa Artusi [53]

Other awards and honors Edit

  • (1996) Recipient of Distinguished Service Award and recognized for "Outstanding contribution and dedicated service to the Italian-American Community" by the Italian Government
  • (1999) Honored as "Commendatore" of the Republic of Italy
  • (2000) Golden Whisk Award by Women Chefs and Restaurateurs [54]
  • (2002) "La Bellisima America" Award from Italian American Museum [55]
  • (2007) Honors Award from Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP)
  • (2007) Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade in New York City
  • (2008) Chef for Papal Celebration Pope Benedict XVI during visit to New York City [56]
  • (2008) Recipient of Bpeace's first-ever Economic Impact Award [57]
  • (2008) Honored as Commander ("Commendatore") by the then President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano
  • (2008) Guest at Dinner honoring Italian Prime Minister at the White House Washington
  • (2009) Honoree at Great Chefs event to benefit Greenwich Health at Greenwich Hospital
  • (2009) National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) Special Achievement Award for humanitarian service [58]
  • (2010) Bastianich family honored by the National Organization of Italian American Women (NOIAW) for their outstanding contributions to Italian culture in America. [59]
  • (2012) Recipient of Lifetime Achievement Award at Healthcare Chaplaincy Wholeness of Life Awards Dinner [60]
  • (2013) Honored at The Philips Collection Annual Gala [61]
  • (2015) Chef for Papal Celebration Pope Francis during visit to New York City [62]
  • (2015) Italian Talent Award by The Italian Talent Association [63]
  • (2015) Augie Award at the Annual Culinary Institute of America Leadership Awards [64]
  • (2016) Lifetime Achievement Award from Women with Wings and Wisdom [65]
  • (2016) Spirit Award from Kansas City Women in Film and Television [66]
  • (2016) Honored at Les Dames d'Escoffier Fundraiser Gala Vancouver [67]
  • (2017) Queens Ambassador Awards from Community News Group [68]
  • (2017) Recipient of Grand Dame Award by the Les Dames D' Escoffier International [69]
  • (2017) Recipient of StellaRe Prize by the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation [70]
  • (2018) Celebrity Champion for "Adopt-A-Future" campaign by UNA-USA/The UN Refugee Agency [71]
  • (2018) Bastianich Family recipient of Award from Italian Heritage & Culture Committee of New York, Inc. (IHCC-NY, Inc.)
  • (2018) Honored at annual Cardinal's Christmas Luncheon and recipient of the Christmas Angel Award [72]
  • (2018) Recipient of The One America Award for Entrepreneurship by NIAF [73]
  • (2019) Honored at Histria Association of Women 30th Anniversary Dinner
  • (2019) Honored at the 15th Annual Hamptons Happening Event by the Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation [74]
  • (2019) Keynote Speaker at Fifth Annual Food Lab Conference at Stony Brook Southampton [75]
  • (2019) Recipient of Spirit of Arrupe Award from Loyola University Chicago
  • (2019) Honored at JRS/USA 39th Anniversary Dinner [76]
  • (2019) Guest of honor at Luncheon honoring women in culinary world hosted by Les Dames d' Escoffier, Austin Chapter & Austin Food & Wine Alliance [77]
  • (2020) Hosted fundraising event at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Academy [78]
  • (2020) Honored by The Stamford Museum & Nature Center at Annual charity Event 'An Evening with Lidia Bastianich' [79]
  • (2020) Special guest at Long Island 'Taste the Greats' event [80]

At her sweet sixteen birthday party, she was introduced to her future husband, Felice "Felix" Bastianich, a fellow Istrian immigrant [6] [81] [82] and restaurant worker from Labin (Albona), on the eastern coast of Istria, Croatia. The couple married in 1966 and Lidia gave birth to their son, Joe, in 1968. Their second child, Tanya, was born in 1972. [83]

After many disagreements about the direction their entrepreneurial and personal lives had taken — most notably the pace of the expansion and character of their business — Lidia and Felice divorced in 1998. Bastianich continued expanding her business while Felice transferred his shares in the business to their two children. He died on December 12, 2010. [ citation needed ]

Bastianich lives in Douglaston, Queens, [84] she lived with her mother, Erminia Motika, until her death in February 2021. Bastianich's own kitchen has served as the stage set for four of her television series, and the garden that Erminia maintained provided many of the ingredients featured in the shows. Erminia, who answered to "grandma," frequently served as a sous-chef in various episodes of the television series.

Joe Bastianich occasionally appears in his mother's series to offer wine expertise. He, his wife Deanna, and their three children live in New York City.

Tanya Bastianich Manuali, with her husband Corrado Manuali and their two children, lives just a few blocks away from her mother. Tanya is integrally involved in the production of Lidia's public television series as an owner and Executive Producer of Tavola Productions and is active daily in the family restaurant business.

In an interview by American Public Television, Bastianich spoke of how important it is for her to pass on family traditions: [85]

Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from.

Controversy Edit

In 2011, Bastianich was accused of keeping an indentured servant. [86] [87] [88] The subsequent lawsuit was tossed out in 2012 by a lower court that held that the plaintiff was not a slave because she received health insurance, room and board and other perks in lieu of getting paid. The claimant later recanted the principal accusations of the lawsuit. [89] [90]

Lidia Bastianich is an active member of society who participates in community service activities and special events on behalf of several foundations. She is a member of Les Dames d'Escoffier and a founding member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, two non-profit organizations of women leaders in the food and hospitality industries. She is also a champion for the United Nations Association of the United States of America's Adopt-A-Future program, in support of refugee education.

Bastianich is on the Board of the Arrupe College, [91] a higher education program founded by the Loyola University of Chicago for underprivileged students, and regularly hosts Fundraisers for the program at Eataly in Chicago. [92] [93] BoysGrow, a local non-profit vocational training program, is another organization that she works with by hosting annual Benefit Dinners since 2013 at her restaurant Lidia's in Kansas City. [94] In addition, she has helped raise funds for United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)- now known as UN Women- as co-chair of charity events and Benefit Dinners throughout her career. She is also involved with Jesuit Refugee Service, The Child Center of NY and hosts at classes at August Martin High School in Queens, New York.

Bastianich is also actively involved with various non-profit organizations that are focused on promoting and celebrating Italian and Italian-American culture and heritage. She is part of the National Organization of Italian American Women's Distinguished Board, [95] a national organization for women of Italian ancestry that focuses on preserving Italian heritage, language and culture. In 2010, the Bastianich family was honored by NOIAW for their outstanding contributions to Italian culture in America. [96]

She supports the Columbus Citizens Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on promoting and celebrating Italian-American heritage. She was the Grand Marshal of the Columbus Day Parade in New York City in 2007, [97] and an honorary guest at the 2016 Columbus Celebration Kickoff Event at Eataly Downtown in New York City. [98]

Moreover, Bastianich has worked with the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE), a New York-based non-profit organization that promotes the study of Italian language and culture, by visiting elementary schools and speaking to students as a guest speaker, such as in 2011 in Harlem [99] and in 2014 in the Bronx. [100] In 2014, Bastianich led the committee that determined the winners of a contest initiative launched by Eataly and IACE for students. [101]

Ginger-Sesame Meatballs (Low FODMAP, Gluten-Free)

Last week, I posted about my patented gluten-free meatball hack, which I actually stole from a friend.

I’ve always found that gluten-free breadcrumbs makes the balls a little soggy. Plus, I prefer to go for whole grains when I can: enter pulsed oats for the WIN. If you want to read more about how it works, click here for the gluten-free meatball recipe that started it all.

All that meatball talk made me start craving having a batch ready to go in the fridge for easy lunches and snacking. Since Charlie no longer eats meat, I find myself eating more of it during the day when I’m fending for myself. I’ll opt for dishes that keep really well as I work my way through them over a longer period of time, and are easy to create sub-portions from…which is why I’ve been eating a lot of meatballs this year!

These Japanese-inspired meatballs are flavored with ginger, sesame oil and tamari. I always add a giant helping of chopped greens to my balls, in this case, cilantro. Any herb will work, but I love how cilantro melts away into the background.

These low FODMAP meatballs are delicious on their own, but they work great as a meal prep component in these rice bowls. Simply julienne some carrots and/or cucumbers. You could also make a quick little cabbage slaw. Have some premade rice on hand and then top with the ginger-sesame sauce.

This sauce is more of a dressing than what you’re used to slathering on sticky meatballs, but it really works to keep things light and quick for a weeknight (or day!) meal. It’s an adaptation of this sesame dressing that I love tossing with carrots and uses tahini to give it extra sesame flavor and creaminess.

You could easily make this recipe paleo by subbing arrowroot starch for the oats and coconut aminos for the tamari. Serve it over cauliflower rice or simply a bed of greens. If you’re not low FODMAP feel free to add the white parts of the scallions and any other alliums to the meatballs mixture. Lastly, these ginger meatballs work just as well with chicken or ground turkey if you’re not a red meat eater.

Read on for the recipe for these gluten-free ginger meatballs. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but they are mostly repeated between the balls and the sauce – I promise it is quick and easy.

Perfect meatballs and spaghetti

A little background: Smitten Kitchen is approaching its 13th anniversary on the internet, and I’m hoping for all of our sakes that its 13th year is nothing like mine (some very bad bangs decisions and a whole lotta awkwardness). When I began this site, I knew how to cook very few things. What I did know was what I wanted from the things I was cooking and where the dishes I was auditioning either exceeded my expectations or fell very short. I logged it all here like a dutiful aughts-era blogger with no larger agenda for what it would become, because how could I have known? I never knew I’d still be at it 1200 recipes, two cookbooks, and two children of unparalleled cuteness (no bias here whatsoever) later, although still in a small kitchen because I’d missed the Buy Tech Stocks or Possibly Have Become A Banker memo, but this is not a complaint — not about this lot, not in this lifetime.

I’ve learned how to cook hundreds of things over the years, and I’ve learned hundreds of things from the things I’ve cooked. An editorial conundrum I had never considered but that comes up pretty frequently is what I should do with a recipe way back in the archives that I no longer cook the way I once did. I could leave it. I mean, this website is an Important Historical Artifact. It’s essential that every stupid thing I’ve said in 13 years remain preserved intact on the web for all time. For, like, science. Needless to say, I am not devoted to this point of view.

I could change the recipes, and at times, I have. In general, I make changes to recipes when they’re not working the way they should, when the original way of making them is unnecessarily complicated, or when a small piece of new information will drastically change it for the better. However, this often leads to confusion. Imagine being in the middle of making a recipe and you reload it and it’s totally different. It’s happened I’ve gotten the panicked DMs. Plus, just because I wasn’t happy with it doesn’t mean nobody else was. I try to make the changes clear but I blame nobody who doesn’t want to read small type while making a recipe you’ve made for 8 or 12 years now.

Sharing a new, better version of an older an old recipe seems the most straightforward (see: even more perfect apple pie, foolproof cacio e pepe, luxe butterscotch pudding, and tall, fluffy buttermilk pancakes, but I don’t do this very often. More often, I’ll make a recipe the newer way I prefer, write it up, take photos, and then… table it, until I figure out what to do with it. (v.5 of a roast chicken saga is not, to me, an engaging premise.) Earlier this year, I realized that my “let’s figure out what to do with this recipe later” list had grown quite large and it was a shame to keep you from what I consider newer, better versions of classic SK recipes. So, this month, let’s try something new.

Newer, Better Month, which begins right now on Smitten Kitchen, is a chance to revisit recipes I’ve been making forever with new knowledge, new techniques, and new real-life time constraints. March seems like the perfect time to do it. It’s such a slog of a month, if you ask me too wintry, too few holidays, and this year, a bit of bleh in the middle too. I’m eager for a little distraction.

And I want to begin with spaghetti and meatballs. One of my earliest cooking influences happened the day I watched an early-2000s Barefoot Contessa episode in which Ina Garten tells us her husband invited friends or colleagues over for dinner and they were probably expecting something fancy but she (surprise) was making spaghetti and meatballs. She knew then what so many more of us know now: entertaining doesn’t need showy, and as most of us aren’t getting treated to impeccable meatballs and spaghetti at home on a regular basis, this would be a welcome treat.

In 2008, I made them Ina’s way. They’re, of course, fantastic. But it makes an epic amount, frying meatballs is messy, there’s never enough sauce, and I prefer a simpler one that lets the meatballs shine. Although it didn’t physically pain me to look at it at the time, I know this isn’t everyone’s thing, but rewatching the episode now and seeing sauce poured over undressed pasta (vs. finishing the pasta in the sauce so they harmonize as the gods or at least the nonnas intended) is like fingernails on a chalkboard. The recipe below is the way I make it these days, and (surprise) now that I can make them beginning to end in under an hour, I do it fairly often, much to the delight of kids, friends, and I hope soon you too.


Perfect Meatballs and Spaghetti

  • Servings: 4 and up to 6 with sides
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen

This recipe makes a moderately saucy pot of spaghetti and meatballs. If you like or want extra sauce, add a second full-sized (28-ounce) or half-sized (15-ounce) can of tomatoes and amp up the seasonings accordingly. I really prefer what is usually sold as crushed tomatoes here it’s a not-totally-smooth puree that clings nicely to the spaghetti and meatballs in a way that chunkier blends do not. If you can only get whole or diced tomatoes, mash or blend them up a bit, and add 1 tablespoon tomato paste so it’s a little less watery. When I have basil around, I usually cook the meatballs with a sprig of it to infuse the sauce, then fish it out before serving.

  • 1 pound ground meat (see note up top for suggestions)
  • 1/2 cup panko-style breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk, any kind
  • 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, plus more to serve
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese, plus more to serve
  • 2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, divided
  • Red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti

Place meat, crumbs, milk, parsley, cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, onion powder, eggs, and one-third of your minced garlic in a large bowl, and mash everything together with a fork or potato masher until evenly mixed. Using wet hands if needed, form mixture into 2-inch meatballs (I used a 3 tablespoon scoop) and arrange on prepared tray. Roast for 12 minutes, until cooked through (you can cut one in half).

Once water is boiling, cook spaghetti until one minute shy of tender. Set aside 1 cup of cooking water before draining pasta.

In a deep saute pan or wide saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add remaining two-thirds of garlic and a pinch or two of pepper flakes and let sizzle until garlic is golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add tomatoes (beware the spatter!) and season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Let mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, although longer will do it no harm if your meatballs aren’t ready yet.

When meatballs come out of the oven, add them to the sauce and stir so they are coated. Reduce heat to a low simmer, put a lid on the pot, and simmer meatballs in the sauce for 10 minutes. At this point, should you not be eating them right away, you can remove them from the heat and set them aside.

When you’re ready to serve: Return your spaghetti to its empty cooking pot. Push meatballs aside and grab a few ladles of their cooking sauce and pour over spaghetti. Add half of reserved pasta water and cook spaghetti and sauce over high heat for one minute, tossing the whole time. Use additional pasta water as needed to loosen. Use tongs to transfer spaghetti into a large, wide serving bowl. (If you give the bowl a little spin as you lower the spaghetti into it, you can make cute little piles.) Add the meatballs and their sauce on top. Garnish with parsley and additional grated cheese. Eat right now do not wait.

Vegan “Feetballs” … Great Faux Meatballs Adapted From NYC’s Meatball Shop

Feetballs? Recently, on the Today Show, the owners of the Meatball Shop in New York City demonstrated how to make three types of their most popular meatballs. To my surprise and excitement, one of them was a veggie ball recipe and, even more amazingly, it’s their personal favorite!

Veggie Balls can be comprised of so many different ingredients, similar to their big mama, the veggie burger, that each recipe has it’s own personality and flavor. I couldn’t wait to try these but I had to adapt the recipe to replace the eggs and the Parmesan cheese, as this recipe was originally billed as vegetarian. I also took some shortcuts using dried thyme and parsley, instead of fresh. You want more shortcuts? Ok, go to Trader Joe’s and buy their refrigerated vacuum packed cooked lentils and their container of mirepoix (mixture of chopped onions, celery and carrots). Now that’s a recipe that’s convenient enough but super delicious for a vegan american princess and her family! Of course you can always do it the old fashioned way too!

Speaking of family, mine gave their resounding stamp of approval on this recipe. I will gladly give credit to my husband for proudly coming up with the name “feetballs,” which is a mash-up of the words fake and meatballs, (and which, thankfully, have nothing to do with feet at all and just a little to do with balls!)

Faux Meatballs “Feetballs” Recipe adapted from the Meatball Shop, NYC


  • 2 cups lentils (cooked and cooled, or if canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs. dried thyme
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbs. tomato paste
  • 8 oz . white mushrooms, chopped
  • 3 Ener-G egg replacers
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbs. dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1) In a large frying pan, pour in the olive oil and saute onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until tender and just beginning to brown.

Onions, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Thyme & Salt

2) Add tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.

3) Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Add Tomato Paste and Mushrooms

4) Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the lentils.

5) Add the Ener-G egg replacers, nutritional yeast, bread crumbs, parsley and walnuts to the bowl. Mix by hand until completely blended. Refrigerate for 25 minutes.

Add Ener-G Egg Replacers, Nutritional Yeast, Bread Crumbs, Parsley, Walnuts

6) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Evenly coat a large baking dish with olive oil.

7) Roll mixture into round gold-ball sized meatballs. Pack firmly! Line up the balls in grid formation in the baking dish allowing 1/4 inch of space between balls.

8) Roast for 30 minutes or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. Check after 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

Meatball Sandwiches

Originally posted December 12, 2007 – With the big football game coming up just one week from now, I thought I’d re-share a sandwich that I think would be perfect for eating while watching football. It’s hearty and filling, and would be a crowd pleaser, too!!

I have a fear that I am becoming a bit of a food snob. Let me change that – I think I am becoming more picky about my food. (I don’t ever want to be a real food snob!!) And I think blogging has changed me. It has definitely changed the way I look at food and what I choose to cook and what ingredients I use. I still think I am a down home cook – I prefer comfort to fancy schmancy. But earlier this week, my husband and I took a trip to Las Vegas. We didn’t have any definite plans of where we wanted to eat.

The first night, we had a show to go to (Celine Dion!!) at 8:30, and we had just driven down that day, so we stuck with a restaurant in our hotel. We stayed at Planet Hollywood (formerly the Alladin) and decided to try their steak house – called Strip House. It just opened in September, but we were able to get in without reservations. We each ordered a rib eye steak, and I ordered a baked potato and he ordered black truffle creamed spinach. The steaks were amazing. My husband said that it was the best steak he has ever had, and that is saying a lot because we eat steaks quite often. The potato was just a potato, but his spinach was amazingly good. We had good service, good food – a great experience.

The next morning, we went over the the Paris casino. I have never tried a macaron before, and had heard that there was a bakery there that sometimes has them. Well, they didn’t have them, but we shared a few pastries for breakfast and they were all very good.

For lunch, one of the employees in the hall at the hotel said that the hotel’s cafe was very good, so we ate there. We shared some Kobe beef sliders to start and then each ordered a salad. Again – great service and great food. That night we ordered room service, and although the man who delivered the food was really nice and friendly, the food was just so-so.

We saved up our appetite for lunch the next day because everyone says that you have to go to a buffet while you are in Vegas. I have always heard good things about the buffet at the Bellagio, so we walked over. It was – by far – the worst food that we ate the whole trip. In fact, each of us have sworn off buffets for the rest of our lives, unless it is a breakfast buffet. It was that bad. The desserts were decent, but everything else was either overcooked or just tasted badly.

So this is why I wonder if I am becoming a food snob – am I “too good” to enjoy what so many people call a great buffet?? Maybe we were just there on an off day, maybe it’s because we’d enjoyed such great food up to that point – but I’d like to say that I am just a smart eater now.

So what does the meatball sandwich have to do with food snobbery?? Not a whole lot, except this is a recipe that is sure to please the pickiest of eaters. The meatball recipe is modified slightly from one of the meatball recipes in The Joy of Cooking. We turned the wonderful meatballs into a filling, delicious dinner by adding cheese and your favorite marinara sauce, and putting it all on hoagie roll. Now that’s good, down home food…

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Dumpling Meatballs

I love all meatballs. For some reason, anything that can be made into a ball just tastes good to me. I remember when my kids were young, I would get them to eat foods by making them bitesize and sticking a toothpick into each one so they could easily grab whatever it was. And, that’s my favorite way to eat these meatball… I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. So, when I saw a great recipe from Nom Nom Paleo for a meatball I hadn’t yet experimented with, I just had to try it. So, thank you Michelle… these dumpling meatballs are awesome!

For those of you who know me, you know that for the month of October, I changed up my diet and I ate plant-based. I learned so much, and I enjoyed so much of that experience. Staying away from animal proteins forced me to be so much more creative with my plant-based meals, and now I love those meals even more.

But, now it’s November. And, while I do intend top stay probably about 80% plant-based, I was looking to cook up a very different type of meal. These dumpling meatballs are made with a combination of shrimp and pork. So, haha, my first non plant-based meal had both seafood and meat in it. You’d think it might be a shock to my system, but you’d be wrong… these were awesome.

Oh, and the reason they are called dumpling meatballs, is because they taste like the inside of the steamed dumplings you get at Chinese restaurants. Yum.

And, they are grain free and dairy free. And have so many healing ingredients. Win-win for me.

For another great healthy meatball recipe, try my Paleo Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs.

Here are some of the great healing ingredients in these dumpling meatballs:

I love mushrooms. In Chinese medicine, mushrooms ARE medicine. They are herbs. They are one of the most healing foods around. In China, mushrooms have been used for many years as part of a natural cancer treatment. They are one of the best immune-boosting foods around. I used dried shiitakes in this recipe. Shiitakes are probably the variety of mushroom that I use most. I love the way they taste and they help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. These shrooms also promote healing and have been found to fight tumors. In Asia, shiitake mushrooms are often fed to a patient who has just had surgery to help the healing process.

Pork strengthens the digestive system, helps with constipation, and can moisten a dry cough and other dryness in the body. It’s also good to strengthen your qi and give you energy.

Many of my friends used to stay away from shrimp because they were afraid that eating them raised cholesterol levels. Now, research shows that shrimp actually can lower triglycerides because they are rich in Omega-3s. And, they are high in protein and low in calories, so really, they are a pretty good thing. In Chinese medicine, shrimp are actually recommended as a food to promote longevity because they nourish the kidneys, and in Chinese medicine, the kidneys are the key to life. Shrimp are great to boost libido, lessen some lower back pain and weakness, and they can help new moms with lactation.

Scallions, as I tell you often, are one of my favorites. In Chinese medicine, the root of the scallion is a healing herb (Cong Bai). I always keep scallions on hand in my refrigerator so that I can whip up a batch of cold and flu fighting tea (scallion roots and ginger) the second anyone feels that scratchy throat coming on. It helps the body sweat out toxins. Scallions are antiviral and antibacterial they are good for the common cold and general nasal congestion — just don’t eat too many if you have a fever.

Cilantro is also known as Chinese Parsley. It is good for the common cold, indigestion, and energy flow in the body. An old Chinese remedy for the common cold and even for measles was to drink cilantro and mint tea. Cilantro is one of those herbs you either love or hate I’m a lover…

Watch the video: MARCO GAVIO APICIO (June 2022).