As Justin Timberlake is to pop stars, Mario Batali is to chefs, yet that’s not how he sees it. To Batali, farmers are the rock stars of the food world, and in his newest cookbook America Farm to Table: Simple Delicious Recipes Celebrating Local Farmers (Grand Central, Oct.) Batali pays homage to farmers from coast to coast. Before he became a star on the Food Network and before he opened the first of his empire of restaurants around the world, he grew up in a community that supported and was supported by small rural farms in his native Washington State. As he writes in his introduction, “in the last decade, the concept of ‘farm-to-table’ has become an obsession.” But when Batali was growing up, “it was not considered a luxury to drive an hour or two to get six cases of tomatoes... in our family, it was simply what we did.” With America Farm to Table, the master chef and restaurateur celebrates this heritage.
Today, at 10:30 a.m., Batali appears on the Downtown Stage with Peter Meehan, the editor of the quarterly journal of food and writing, Lucky Peach.
Batali generously shares a recipe from America: Farm to Table for fans and readers of Show Daily@BookCon.
Zucchini Fries with Tomato Aioli
Makes 24 fries
For the Aioli
2 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for fries)
1 clove garlic, peeled
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt
For the Zucchini Fries
Olive oil cooking spray
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1½ cups panko bread crumbs
¾ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 large egg whites, whipped to very soft peaks
4 medium zucchini, trimmed
1. To make the Aioli: Place the egg yolks, garlic, lemon zest and juice, tomato paste, and water in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil until a creamy sauce is formed. Season with salt and set aside.
2. To make the Zucchini Fries: Preheat the oven to 475°F. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
3. In a pie pan or shallow bowl, mix together the thyme, oregano, flour, and salt. Place the panko and Parmigiano Reggiano in a separate pie pan or shallow bowl and place the whipped egg whites in a third pie pan or shallow bowl.
4. Slice each zucchini in half lengthwise and then each half into 3 pieces lengthwise to create steak fry–shaped pieces.
5. Dredge the zucchini fries in the flour mixture and then dip them into the egg whites. Finally, dredge them in the panko. Place the coated zucchini on the prepared baking sheet and roast, turning once, until crispy, about 12 minutes. Serve hot, with the aioli on the side.