Primi / First Courses


Fettuccine with Shrimp, Zucchini and Basil

Serves 6

Seafood, seasonal vegetables and pasta are a common combination in Tuscany. This is a summery version that Benedetta Vitali serves at Zibibbo, using firm, dark green zucchini.

  • 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 1 pound fresh fettuccine or 1 1/4 pounds dried fettuccine
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound small zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 large basil leaves, roughly torn into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon very finely chopped oregano
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 12 small zucchini blossoms, stems and pistils removed, petals roughly torn
  • Freshly ground pepper

In a small saucepan, cover the shrimp shells with the water. Add the sliced celery and carrot and boil the shrimp shells over high heat until the liquid has reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Strain the shrimp stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl, pressing hard on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract the liquid. Season the shrimp stock with salt.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fettuccine until just barely al dente. Drain the fettuccine, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water.

In a large, deep skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil until shimmering. Add the sliced zucchini and garlic and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is just softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp stock, fettuccine, shrimp, tomato sauce, basil, oregano and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a pinch of crushed pepper and simmer over moderate heat, tossing constantly, until the shrimp are pink and the sauce is nearly absorbed, about 4 minutes. Add the torn zucchini blossoms and toss just until they are wilted. Stir in the reserved pasta cooking water and season the fettuccine generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the fettuccine to a large serving bowl and serve immediately.

Ravioli filled with Radicchio


  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup semolina (pasta flour)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 small heads radicchio, quartered, cored, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted, hot
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For pasta dough: Whisk flour and semolina in medium bowl to blend. Add eggs and stir with wooden spoon until mixture clumps together; turn out onto floured surface and knead until dough is smooth, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky, about 8 minutes. Form dough into ball; cover and let rest 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in plastic; chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before rolling out.) For filling: Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in radicchio and wine; sprinkle with salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until radicchio is very soft, stirring frequently and adding water by tablespoonfuls if dry, about 40 minutes. Uncover and sauté until all liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Mix in mascarpone cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut pasta dough into 6 equal pieces. Cover pieces with plastic wrap to keep from drying out. Set pasta machine to widest setting. Flatten 1 dough piece into rectangle. Run dough piece through machine. Fold in half crosswise (end to end) and run through again. Continue to run through machine, turning machine to narrower settings after 2 passes and dusting with flour as needed to keep from sticking, until pasta sheet is scant 1/16 inch thick (about last setting). Place pasta sheet on lightly floured work surface; cover with plastic to keep from drying. Repeat with remaining pasta pieces.

Using sharp 3 1/2-inch-diameter cookie cutter, cut out 36 rounds from pasta sheets. Place 1 rounded teaspoon filling in center of 1 dough round. Brush edges of dough lightly with water. Fold dough over filling, forming half-moon and pressing to adhere. Press edges with tines of fork to seal tightly. Place ravioli in single layer on lightly floured baking sheet and let dry 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover; chill.)

Working in 2 batches, cook ravioli in very large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring gently to prevent sticking, about 3 minutes. Drain. Transfer ravioli to bowl. Pour hot melted butter over; sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Parmesan. Toss gently and serve.

Cauliflower and Broccoli Flan with Spinach Bechamel


  • 2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 6-ounce bags baby spinach leaves
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup whole
  • milk
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook cauliflower and broccoli in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 2/3 cup cooking liquid. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Cool. Rinse spinach, then toss in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just wilted. Drain and cool. Squeeze spinach dry; finely chop.

Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and reserved 2/3 cup vegetable cooking liquid. Whisk constantly over medium heat until sauce thickens and boils, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach and cheese. Using fingers, coarsely crumble cauliflower and broccoli in bowl. Add spinach béchamel sauce; stir to blend.

Season with salt and pepper. Butter 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Spread vegetable mixture in prepared dish. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake flan until puffed and heated through, about 25 minutes if at room temperature and 35 minutes if chilled. Serve hot.


Herbed Ricotta with Roasted Peppers


  • 3 medium red bell peppers
  • 3 medium yellow bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound fresh ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeño
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425°. Set the peppers in a roasting pan and roast, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and softened, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes.

Peel, core and seed the peppers, then cut them into 1/2-inch wide strips. In a bowl, toss the peppers with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 3 tablespoons of the parsley and half of the garlic; season with salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta until creamy. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of parsley and half of the garlic along with the mint, jalapeño and thyme; season with salt and pepper.

Mound the ricotta in the center of a plate. Arrange the pepper strips around the ricotta, spoon the pepper juices on top and serve with crusty bread.