On Day 2 of our Thanksgiving special, we celebrate one of the most successful women in and out of the kitchen, Lidia Bastianich. She is a true culinary industry giant who, for decades, has brought the rich history and delicious flavors of Italian cooking to America. While Lidia may be everyone’s favorite TV cooking “nonna”, she also holds the distinguished honor of being one of the first women chefs to receive a three star review from The New York Times. That was in 1995 and today, Lidia’s successful empire that includes restaurants, cookbooks, TV shows, product lines, and more continues to grow with no end in sight. It’s safe to say that Lidia Bastianich has decimated the glass ceiling of the professional kitchen.
This Thanksgiving we’re mixing things up Italian style with Lidia’s Spicchi di Patate Arroste or Roasted Potato Wedges, a side dish we think is a more sophisticated and flavor packed alternative to classic mashed potatoes.
In running down Lidia’s incredible accomplishments, let’s start at the heart of it all… in the kitchen. Lidia is chef/owner of four acclaimed New York City restaurants – Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto (recently awarded four stars by The New York Times) – as well as Lidia’s in Pittsburgh and Kansas City. When she’s not running one of her many kitchens, Lidia is writing best-selling cookbooks (eight, to date) or passionately presenting her recipes and Italian culinary knowledge to her adoring viewers, via public television series like Lidia’s Italy in America and the Emmy-nominated Lidia’s Italy. To round out her hands on approach to cooking and business, Lidia is also founder and president of Tavola Productions, an entertainment company that produces broadcast productions including Lidia’s Italy.
Lidia’s culinary prowess doesn’t stop there. As Dean of La Scuola at Eataly, the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in New York City, which she opened in August 2010 with her son, Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali, and Oscar Farinetti, Lidia is responsible for the culinary curriculum for the food and wine courses, demonstrations and lectures from renowned chefs as well as the best food and wine producers in the world. In this role, she has taken her passion for education and enrichment through food to make culinary classes a defining focus of Eataly.
We’re not quite done yet. Together with her son, Lidia also produces award-winning wines at Bastianich Vineyards in Friuli and La Mozza Vineyards in Maremma, Italy. In 2010, she launched Nonna Foods with her daughter and son-in-law, as a platform to distribute an array of both existing and new “Lidia’s” specialty food items.
“Everybody has a favorite potato preparation, and this one is my brother’s. He makes them taste so good and I love them, too, because they are his project when cooking dinner at my house.” – Lidia Bastianich
4 medium Idaho potatoes, scrubbed
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, freshly chopped
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
Pat the potatoes dry and cut them in quarters lengthwise. In a bowl, toss the potato wedges with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, the salt and rosemary. Arrange the wedges skin side down without touching in a heavy baking pan or two cast iron skillets. Bake until the potatoes are tender and well browned, about 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes once or twice so they brown and cook evenly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the garlic, parsley and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
When the potatoes are done, press each wedge gently so that it cracks in the middle, and then transfer them with tongs to a large bowl. Add the oil and garlic mixture and fresh pepper to taste. Toss gently but well until the potatoes are coated with the seasoned oil. Remove the garlic and serve hot.