Chef and TV host, Lidia Bastianich shares two delicious Italian sauces, plus her expert tips!
Mushroom Ragu with Polenta
"A ragu by definition employs a long-cooking technique. It could be made with meat or a sturdy vegetable like a mushroom or eggplant. In Italy, intensely flavored sauces like these are used when you want to stretch a small amount of an ingredient to serve a lot of people. The mix of dried and fresh mushrooms, rosemary, tomato paste and wine give this the complexity and intensity you need to dress all that polenta."
Lidia's Tip: "It's sometimes best to use water, not stock, when making a sauce. Because you've upped the flavor ante by using fresh, flavorful ingredients, water is fine -- and actually tastes purer."
Pan-Seared Steak Pizzaiola
"This is a very straightforward sauce -- a great one for new cooks. It's from around the southern, pizza-making area of Italy, and has all the ingredients normally used to make a pizza. I like to leave the peppers nice and crunchy. The cook time or the juiciness may vary with how ripe the peppers are, how large your pan is or other variables. So don't be afraid to improvise to get the consistency right. If you need to thicken this sauce up, remove the peppers with a strainer and blast the liquid on high heat, then return them to the pan. Feel empowered to cook to your liking; when people make my recipes their own, that makes me the happiest."
Lidia's Tip: "Try this sauce as a condiment for turkey sandwiches and hamburgers, as a dressing for pasta or shrimp, or, of course, as a topping for pizzas."