Above: The Lidia’s Kansas City signature pastas, all classics of Italian cuisine.
Our blog master once had the opportunity to sit down with Lidia Bastianich, one of the greatest Italian chefs of our times, and ask her what inspired her to become one of the architects of the current renaissance of Italian gastronomy in the U.S. and across the world.
“When you look at the great beauty of Italy,” she said. “It’s easy to understand why the Italians are such creative people. From the [historic] Renaissance to this day, Italians have made so many contributions to the arts and culture. It was only natural that Italian cooking would do the same.”
“I don’t know if I’ve been an architect of the Italian culinary renaissance as you put it,” she added graciously. “But when I am surrounded by this beauty and the goodness of the ingredients I find here, I know that I am inspired by them.”
It’s hard to overestimate Lidia’s contribution to the world of Italian cuisine. Between her books, her television show, and her wonderful cooking, she’s become a model and a guiding light for a generation of home and professional chefs, cooks, and food lovers.
We couldn’t be more proud that Sansonina Evaluva is being poured by the glass at her namesake restaurant in Kansas City.
Lidia’s Kansas City
101 W 22nd St.
Kansas City MO 64108
Image via the Lidia’s Kansas City website.
The following recipe was created by legendary Italian chef Gianfranco Vissani and appeared originally (in Italian) on the Zenato website. Enjoy! Buon appetito!
Potato Gnocchi with Clams and Lugana
by Gianfranco Vissani
1 lb. littleneck or similar small clams*
2 lbs. russet potatoes (about 4 potatoes)
1-1½ cup 00 grade Italian flour
2 cloves garlic, peeled
extra virgin olive oil, as needed
5-6 celery stalks
½ cup crème fraîche
1 cup Lugana
Place the clams in a large pot of salted water and reserve overnight (this will cause them to purge themselves of any sand).
Scrub the potatoes well and then transfer to a pot filled with room-temperature water. Cook over medium heat until tender. Strain, peel and then pass through a potato ricer.
Once they have cooled, transfer the potatoes to a large cutting board and begin adding flour until you obtain a smooth mixture, easy to work with your hands. Roll the mixture into rope about ¾ of an inch in diameter. Use a knife to cut the gnocchi from the rope and then reserve on floured kitchen towel.
In a large pan, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until golden. Add the celery and clams and cover. Remove the clams from the pan one by one as they open. Reserve the clams and strain and reserve the cooking water from the pan.
Reduce the crème fraîche to one third of its initial volume in a sauce pan. Cook the gnocchi in well-salted water until tender, strain, and transfer to a broad pan with the cooking water from the pan.
Distribute the gnocchi on the serving plates and top with the clams. Using a pastry syringe, add two streaks of reduced crème fraîche to the plate. Use an eyedropper to add drops of Lugana around the crème fraîche streaks.
* Cross-carpet shell clams are the clams typically used for dishes like this in Italy where they are known as vongole veraci or true clams. Any type of small clam will work for this recipe.