Inspired Eating

Hosted by
To enroll in the -From Farm to Table- cooking class at Sur La Table in Santa Monica on Saturday, February 1, from 10am to 1pm, call 866-328-5412 for reservations. The cost is $55. Cook Amelia Saltsman pairs with farmer Maryann Carpenter to cook farm fresh produce.

You can find Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, at

Diane Forley is the author of The Anatomy of a Dish, published by Artisan.

Sunchoke Ravioli w/ Kale Pesto
Serves 4 to 6

  • 48 wonton skins
  • 2 cups Sunchoke and Potato Puree (to follow)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Kale Pesto (to follow)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for serving (optional)
Making the ravioli:
Lay 16 of the wonton skins out on a work surface. Place a heaping spoonful of the puree in the center of 8 skins. Brush the remaining 8 skins with water and place them on top of the filled skins. Run your finger around the edges of each to force out air and seal the ravioli. Place the ravioli on a dry baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wonton skins and filing.

Cooking the ravioli: :
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the ravioli until they float to the surface and are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Place the ravioli in a serving bowl. Add the pesto and enough of the reserved cooking water to moisten it, and mix gently. Serve topped with cheese if desired.

Sunchoke and Potato Puree
Serves 4

  • 2 Idaho or other Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • 16 medium sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes), peeled and cut into pieces the same size as the potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
Place the potatoes and sunchokes in a saucepan. Add about 1 teaspoon salt, 2 Tablespoons of the butter, and water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Drain the vegetables, and return them to the pan. Add the remaining 4 Tablespoons butter and mash until smooth. Season to taste with salt, and serve.

Kale Pesto
Makes about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound kale, tough ribs removed and leaves chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock, warmed (optional)
Heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped kale and salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat the kale with oil. Add about 1/3 cup water and cook until the kale is tender and the pan dry, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the kale to a blender. Add the pine nuts, cheese, and the remaining 1/2 cup oil. Blend until pureed. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

If the pesto is to be used as a sauce over pasta, add the warm stock or 1/2 cup warm water and blend well.


SUZANNE DUNAWAY, author of No Need To Knead, published by Hyperion.

Dinners do not have to be elaborate for guests. You'd be surprised how many people would rather have a little Prosciutto and Mozzarella, some fresh vegetables dipped in a great bagna cauda (hot anchovy sauce) and then finish with a pasta and salad. That program, too, allows you, the hostess, to be a the table chatting with guests instead of cooking in the kitchen all evening long. I cook every lunch and dinner for two, but often invite a neighbor to join us, or suddenly have two more strays, and these dishes take less than 30 minutes to prepare. For four people, too, you may splurge a bit on fish as a main course or shellfish for the risotto. My motto: Simple is ALWAYS better.

Bagna Cauda ( Hot Bath for dipping vegetables)
I am drawn to the utter decadence of this recipe! Nothing like a menage a trios of butter, anchovies, and olive oil to add a little sex appeal to raw vegetables. This intense sauce is a Piemontese contribution to Roman menus, sometimes enriched with milk or cream. It may not be Roman, but as a dinner party ice-breaker, it is as successful as the fondue pot years ago or the cooking of polenta. The traditional vegetables served with this sauce are the cardoon (cousin to the artichoke with an edible stem), bell pepper (not green!), cauliflower, and sometimes, boiled potato which is my choice to dip in anything. Each person gives his vegetable a little hot bath, then catches drips with an edible towel of Pane Casereccio. This sauce would be good on the libro telefonica!

Note: Pinzimonio, the less indulgent Roman version of this sauce, is often served as an appetizer. Using the very best olive oil money can buy, put it in a bowl with a sliver of garlic (optional), and serve with the same vegetables and fresh pepper. It is traditionally eaten with fennel bulb.

  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 8 anchovies
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, crushed with the flat side of a knife, and saut- until the garlic is translucent but not brown. Add the anchovies, mashing them into the mixture with the back of a spoon, then add the olive oil and cream, and whisk continually over low heat until simmering. If the sauce separates, it will come back together with a few turns of the whisk. Strain, and serve in a chafing dish or heatproof bowl over a low flame, with accompanying vegetables.

Penne con Peperoni e Yogurt (Quills with Red Bell Peppers and Yogurt)
I made up this dish as it evokes memories of pimiento cheese sandwiches in my childhood! Romans do make a Peperone sauce with cream, but I love using yogurt instead because of its nice little sharp flavor. The whole-milk yogurt I use is as rich as cream anyway! You may use commercial roasted peppers from the jar, though fire-roasted fresh peppers are best if you have them on hand. I always roast and peel my peppers as the skins are indigestible for some, and I prefer the taste of grilled to steamed. Rome's peppers are as sweet as sugar, but almost all of our supermarkets have similar beautiful red, yellow, or orange varieties from which to choose in addition to fire-roasted prepared peppers.

  • 1 pound penne, smooth or rigate
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups roasted, peeled, red bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 small dried red pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup yogurt or heavy cream
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmigiano Reggiano
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet, add the onion and garlic, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peppers and cook until slightly browned on the outsides. Add the hot pepper and stock and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid, add the lemon juice and yogurt (and basil, if using), and cook for a minute. Add the Parmesan and pur-e the sauce in a food processor. Cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente, drain well, and toss with the sauce. Serve with more parmesan.

Coda di Rospo al Vino Bianco (Monkfish Tail in White Wine)
Such an overlooked fish, poor thing, slow to breed and slow to grow, according to the Monterey, California aquarium. And such a wonderful countenance with its wide, toothy grin and surprisingly delicious tail! This homely creature with the texture and taste (well, not exactly, but very close) of lobster is perfect for fish soups, grilled or cooked in this smooth wine sauce with a touch of citrus.

  • 1 1/2 pounds monkfish, sliced horizontally if very thick, into 3.4-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup flour, seasoned with a little salt, pepper, and paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2/3 cup white wine or Vermouth
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Juice of an orange
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • A few basil leaves or parsley sprigs, chopped fine
Toss the slices of fish in a paper bag with the seasoned flour. Heat the olive oil, add the fish slices, and cook on each side for a few minutes until golden brown. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, and cook for few more minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the wine, lemon and orange juice, cover and cook for about 5 minutes until fish is cooked through. Remove the lid, swirl in the butter, and serve with a little sauce spooned over each plate. Sprinkle with basil or parsley.

Pollo alla Parmigiana (Chicken with Parmesan Sauce)
Ever since I acquired two Italian stepchildren 28 years ago, I have been making this chicken. Perhaps it is not a classic Roman dish, but it is my contribution to Italian cooking, and I wanted so badly to woo my new little friends, not an easy task in the beginning (one of them bit me on the shoulder on the first day of our first summer together, but he has repented). Still, two buone forchette who had grown up with their mothers wonderful cooking were going to be in my life for a long time, and I think I may have persuaded them that they were not going to starve at our house.

  • 6 medium chicken breasts, flattened
  • 2 eggs, beaten and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a spoon of the Parmesan
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Juice of a large lemon
Dip each chicken breast in beaten egg, then coat with cracker crumbs. Heat the oil in a wide skillet, and brown the chicken breasts on one side. Cover, lower the heat and cook about 5 minutes. Remove the cover, turn the breasts and cook on the other side for 4 to 5 minutes until done but still moist. In a saucepan, heat the butter, add the garlic, and cook until golden. Add the cream and egg yolks and whisk over low heat until thickened. Stir in the rest of the Parmesan and lemon juice and serve the sauce over each breast.

Fegato alla Griglia (Grilled Calf Liver)
Liver is underestimated and men love it! I used to make my mother's Liver a la Minute which was liver cubes dusted with flour, salt, paprika, and pepper, then saut-ed in olive oil or butter for one minute on all sides. Then you slosh in a cup of red wine and cook only until the sauce is reduced, about 30 seconds. Serve with chopped parsley. Liver goes well with a few saut-ed onions and a slice of crisp bacon for each guest. It-s an old recipe, but one that need revival. This recipe is for grilled liver which takes about 3 minutes. Add a salad and corn on the cob, or saut-ed squash or onions, and dinner is complete.

    1 1/2 pounds calves liver, sliced very thin
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little chopped parsley
Heat a grill (or a skillet, very hot). Brush the liver on both sides with oil and season well. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes only on each side, and serve sprinkled with parsley.

Risotto alla Pescatora (Rice with Shellfish, Crustacea and Squid)
For this recipe, go to the fish market and buy cleaned squid, even shelled shrimp if you wish. Everything is prepared ahead of time and then just put into the risotto which is elegant and impressive. If you wish to clean your own, here are the instructions:

Preparation of squid:
Using scissors, cut each squid down the middle between the flippers on each side. Open and snip out the tiny silver sack of ink and reserve. Pull out all of the guts including the transparent 'bone' and discard. Peel off the outer speckled skin (pulls off easily) and discard. Cut off the tentacles close to the eyes in one piece, take out the little hard round beak which appears where you cut, and discard. Cut the body across into 1/2 inch pieces. Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a pan, add the squid and their ink sacks, and cook for 5 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 1/2 cup white wine, cover, and simmer, covered, on very low heat for 20 minutes. Reserve juice for risotto or soups.

Preparation of shrimp:
Put 1 cup water, 1 cup white wine, a few slices of onion, a few leaves of celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a pot. Bring to a simmer, add the shrimp in their shells, cover, lower the heat, and cook until pink, about 4 minutes. Peel shrimp and discard shells. Reserve the stock for risotto or soups.

Preparation of shellfish:
Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large, shallow skillet with a lid. Add 2 garlic cloves, chopped, then add the shellfish and cover, lowering heat to medium. The moisture in the shellfish will steam them open in about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the meat from the shells, and discard the shells. Reserve the stock for risotto or soups.

  • 1 1/2 pounds clams or cockles
  • 1 1/2 pounds mussels
  • 1/2 pound shrimp in their shells
  • 1 pound squid
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops
  • 1/4 pound rock shrimp
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tablespoon
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • All of the shellfish, shrimp, and squid juices, plus about 3 to 4 cups fish stock (use fish bouillon cubes to save time)
  • Juice of a large lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons minced parsley
Heat the olive oil in a heavy casserole, add the onion, and cook until translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring to coat and seal the grains, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and pinch of cayenne, cook until golden, then add the wine, and stir until it is absorbed. Add the stock, a cup or two at a time, stirring after each addition and adding the shellfish, scallops, and rock shrimp about halfway though. Continue cooking until rock shrimp are pink and most of the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be creamy and still al dente. Serve with parsley sprinkled over each bowl.

Suzanne's Two Minute Ice Cream
You may buy frozen fruits of all kinds, or freeze a pound of berries in the summer, mixed with a pinch of Vitamin C crystals (to keep the color pretty) and 1/2 cup sugar so that the berries are ready for this simple dessert.

  • 1 pound fresh frozen fruit (commercial or your own, frozen in the summer)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pint cream
In the bowl of a food processor, whiz the cream and sugar just until beginning to thicken. Add the frozen fruit chopped in pieces and whiz until the cream is set and the fruit incorporated, about 1 minute. Serve immediately in bowls before the ice cream softens.