Mario Batali Goes Farm To Table

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Mario Batali has been known for years for his mastery of Italian cuisine.

But for his new cookbook "America - Farm to Table," written with Jim Webster of the Washington Post, his focus is on chefs from around the United States and the farmers those chefs rely on for their food. The farms' fare inspires Batali to create recipes for the book.

As Batali told Here & Now's  Jeremy Hobson, without farmers from around the country "we lose the indie bands in the form of you know, odd shaped parsnips and interesting varieties of things that may be grown by a particular family that isn't necessarily commercially available for the nationwide market but should be consumed wherever they're grown."

Fava Bean Guacamole

Pictured is Mario Batali's Fava Bean Guacamole. (Quentin Bacon)
Pictured is Mario Batali's Fava Bean Guacamole. (Quentin Bacon)

Serves 6 to 8

2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 pounds fava beans, shelled
6 scallions, minced
½ small red onion, cut into ¹⁄8-inch dice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeño, cut into ¹⁄8-inch dice
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt, such as Maldon
Tortilla chips or crudités, for serving

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add the kosher salt.

Set up an ice bath with 4 quarts of cold water and 2 cups of ice.

Boil the favas until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and shock them in the ice bath. Drain again and gently pinch the ends with a finger and thumb to break the skin and push out the bean.

Place the skinned favas and all the remaining ingredients into a molcajete or a mortar and pestle (or just a nice bowl) and mash just until a little chunky.

Season with coarse sea salt and serve immediately with tortilla chips and/or crudités.

Tempura Green Beans with Spicy Tomato Seed Aioli

Pictured is Mario Batali's Tempura Green Beans with Spicy Tomato Seed Aioli. (Quentin Bacon)
Pictured is Mario Batali's Tempura Green Beans with Spicy Tomato Seed Aioli. (Quentin Bacon)

Serves 4.

For the Spicy Tomato Seed Aioli:
2 egg yolks
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 heirloom tomato
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Green Beans:
4 cups peanut oil, for frying
Zest of 1 lemon
1½ cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (12-ounce) bottle or can of lager beer, cold
2 egg yolks
1 pound thin green beans or haricots verts, trimmed
Fine salt


Make the Aioli:
In a blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and garlic and blend until smooth.

Cut the tomato in half crosswise and squeeze the juices and seeds into the blender, squeezing hard to get them all.

With the blender running on low, drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream until a thick emulsion is formed.

Pour into a dipping bowl, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Make the Green Beans:
Heat 3 inches of oil in a deep saucepan until it registers 365°F on a deep fry

Line a plate with paper towels.

Place the lemon zest in a medium bowl and set it over a larger bowl of ice.

Add the cake flour, baking soda, and kosher salt to the bowl with the zest.

Stir together the beer and egg yolks in a small cup.

Whisk the egg mixture into the flour mixture until barely combined—there will still be a few lumps, but do not worry.

Dredge the beans in the tempura batter and drop them, one by one, into the hot oil. Fry until light golden brown and crisp.

Do not overcrowd the pan. There should never be more than half the surface of the oil covered with beans.

Using a spider, transfer the fried beans to the paper towel–lined plate and season immediately with fine salt, then serve with a dipping bowl of the aioli on the side.

Mexican Oyster Cocktail

Pictured is Mario Batali's Oyster Cocktail. (Quentin Bacon)
Pictured is Mario Batali's Oyster Cocktail. (Quentin Bacon)

Serves 4-6.

4 ripe plum tomatoes
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 ribs celery, sliced paper thin
2 shallots, finely minced
Zest and juice of 3 limes
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
24 fresh oysters, scrubbed
Kosher salt

Halve the tomatoes and squeeze the seeds into a bowl (reserve them for Tomato Seed Vinaigrette), then chop the tomatoes into 1/4-inch dice and toss them into a bowl.

Add the scallions, cilantro, olive oil, cumin, celery, shallots, lime zest, lime juice, and chiles and mix well, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Shuck the oysters over a strainer set over a small bowl to collect their liquor.

Toss the oysters with their liquor into the mixture and stir gently.

Check for seasoning—it may or may not need salt.

Serve in clear glasses or seafood cocktail servers.

Tomato Seed Vinaigrette

America - Farm to Table by Mario Batali

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 overripe large heirloom tomatoes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, thyme, mustard seeds, and red pepper flakes.

Halve the tomatoes crosswise and gently but firmly squeeze out the seeds and juices into the bowl with the vinegar mixture— be sure to get most if not all of them. (Reserve the tomato flesh for a sandwich.) Whisk together, then continue whisking while you drizzle in the oil to form a viscous emulsion.

Season with salt and pepper.

Recipes from AMERICA FARM TO TABLE by Mario Batali. Copyright © 2014 by Mario Batali. Used with permission by Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. 


This segment aired on October 20, 2014.


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