Starchefs Features Lidia Bastianich On Quickmeals™ <br>the Best Recipes For Fast And Healthy No-hassle Weeknight Cooking <br>
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New York (December 3, 2004) -, the ultimate online culinary magazine, is pleased to announce Lidia Bastianich, the celebrated chef, cookbook author and television personality, as the next featured chef for QuickMeals™ - fast and easy healthy recipes from the country's hottest chefs.

QuickMeals use a minimal number of ingredients and minimal preparation time. Every week, StarChefs features 5 QuickMeal recipes from a different celebrity chef with serving suggestions and wine pairings, plus a shopping list and the chef's ideal pantry.

Lidia Bastianich’s Menu for the Week:

Monday: Lamb Chops in a Skillet with Sauce
Tuesday: Herb Frittata
Wednesday: Crispy Baked Turkey Cutlets
Thursday: Ziti with Sausage, Onions and Fennel (recipe follows)
Friday: Red Brodetto of Skate

Over the last two decades, Lidia Bastianich has become the face of Italian-American cuisine as the star of the PBS TV series Lidia's Italian American Kitchen and Lidia's Italian Table. In addition to the cookbooks that accompany her television shows, she has authored La Cucina di Lidia and Lidia’s Family Table, which was just released this fall. She is the co-owner with her son Joseph of restaurants Felidia and Becco in New York and Lidia's in Kansas City and Pittsburgh.

A subscription to QuickMeals makes a great holiday gift for the food lovers in your life. Or, better yet, treat yourself this holiday. New seasonal recipes are provided each week by top chefs like Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, and Daniel Boulud. A QuickMeals gift subscription is only $54.99 for 12 months with unlimited access to chef recipes or $9.99 for a super-saver 3-month trial subscription. For more information or to subscribe to QuickMeals, go to

Next week’s featured QuickMeals chef is Rozanne Gold, the award-winning author famous for her “1-2-3” cookbook series.

Recipe for Ziti with Sausage, Onions, and Fennel
From Lidia’s Family Table by Lidia Bastianich (Knopf, 2004)
Adapted by StarChefs

1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 large fennel bulb with stem and fronds (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage (without fennel seeds), casing removed and broken into bits
2 medium onions cut in half-moon slices
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dried peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes)
½ cup tomato paste
Boiling water from the pasta-cooking pot
1 pound ziti
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in large pot with 1 Tablespoon kosher salt.

Trim the fennel bulb. Slice the bulb in half lengthwise, then slice each half in ¼-inch-thick lengthwise slices. Separate the slivers of fennel if they are attached at the bottom and cut the long slivers in half so you have 3 cups of 2-inch-long matchsticks of fennel. Chop and reserve 1/3 cup fronds for garnish.

Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and set it over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat and cook, stirring, breaking it up more with a wooden spoon, until it is sizzling and beginning to brown, about 1 ½ minutes. Push the sausage aside and drop the onion slices into the pan; sauté, stirring, until they are sizzling and wilting, another 2 minutes or so. Then stir them in with the meat. Again, clear a space and drop in the chopped fennel. Let it heat up and wilt for 1 minute or more, then stir it in with the sausage and onions.

Sprinkle on ¼ teaspoon of salt; drop the peperoncino in a hot spot and toast for ½ minute, then stir them in. Clear a good-sized hot spot in the center of the pan, add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring it in the spot for a good minute or more, until it is sizzling and caramelizing, then stir it into everything else.

Ladle 3 cups of boiling water from the pot into the skillet, stir well, and bring the liquid to a boil. Adjust the heat to maintain an active simmer all over the pan. Drop the ziti in the boiling water in the pasta pot and stir until it is brought back to a boil. Cook about 8 minutes, until the ziti are not quite al dente. Continue to simmer the sauce until the flavors have developed and the fennel is soft but not mushy, 6 minutes or more. The sauce should not get too thick; stir in another cup or two of boiling pasta water if it reduces rapidly. Adjust salt to taste.

As soon as the ziti are ready, lift them out of the pot with a large slotted spoon. Let the excess water drip off only for an instant, and drop the wet pasta into the simmering sauce. Toss pasta and sauce together; ladle in more water if the sauce seems too thick. Sprinkle the chopped fennel fronds over the pasta, and continue to cook and toss the ziti in the skillet for 2 minutes, or until they are perfectly al dente and coated with sauce. If the pasta appears dry, ladle in more hot pasta water; if it is too soupy, cook rapidly to thicken the sauce.

Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle the grated cheese over the ziti, and toss. Serve pasta in warm bowls.

Yield: 6 Servings

Meatless Option:
Substitute mushrooms or soy sausage for Italian pork sausage

Healthy Hints:
In addition to making a substitution for pork sausage, use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta

Kid Friendly:
Omit the peperoncino and limit the onions

Rounds out the Meal:
With a radicchio, endive and arugula salad with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano

Wine Pairing:
A softer Italian red such as the Librandi Ciro Rosso 2002 from Calabria™ is an award-winning online culinary magazine, serving the foodservice industry and food aficionados since 1995. It is both a backstage pass to the celebrity chef world for food and wine-savvy consumers and an essential information resource for aspiring professional chefs.™ features 25,000 published pages of original, chef-focused culinary content and generates monthly traffic of over 14.6 million hits a month. It has won Best of the Web awards from, among others, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Brill's Content, and Lycos. Its Board of Advisors is made up of 20 of the country’s most influential chefs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, Norman Van Aken, Todd English, Marcus Samuelsson and Bobby Flay. StarChefs JobFinder is the leading niche job board for the hospitality industry, featuring cutting edge, interactive classifieds technology.

StarChefs would like every food lover to know about QuickMeals. If you would like to excerpt or reference QuickMeals in your publication, please feel free.

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For further information about this QuickMeals release and inquiries about no-charge reproduction, contact 2911 Productions, Inc. at 703.549.0585 or


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