March 30, 2015 12:00 PM

Entertaining, Food, Travel and Home

For more celebrity recipes, visit people.com/greatideas

Italian Favorites!

Simple ingredients and robust flavors make these suppers supremely comforting

Spicy Pork Meatballs

THE OWNERS OF THE MEATBALL SHOP IN NEW YORK CITY SERVED THIS CROWD-PLEASING DISH AT THE 2015 SOUTH BEACH WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 slices white bread, pulsed into crumbs in food processor

4 jarred hot cherry peppers, finely chopped

¼ cup hot cherry pepper pickling liquid from the jar

1 large egg

2 lbs. ground pork

1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt

Chopped parsley for garnish

1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Drizzle olive oil into a 9×13-in. baking dish and use your hands to coat the entire surface. Set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs, pickling liquid and egg. Let sit for 5 minutes so the bread can absorb the liquid. Add the ground pork, salt and cherry peppers, then mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

3. Roll the mixture into about 20 round, golf-ball-size meatballs (about 1½ in.), packing the meat firmly. Place the balls in the prepared baking dish: Line them up snugly and evenly in vertical and horizontal rows to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.

4. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through. A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°.

5. Remove from oven and allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with your favorite tomato sauce over pasta or polenta.

Makes: 18 to 20 meatballs

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Cheesy Eggplant Lasagna

JOHN BONGIOVI SR. – FOUNDER OF BONGIOVI PASTA SAUCES AND, YES, JON BON JOVI’S DAD! – SHARES A BELOVED FAMILY RECIPE

8 large eggs, divided

2 (1-lb.) eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise ¼-in. thick

1 (15-oz.) container Italian-style bread crumbs

1 cup each vegetable oil and olive oil, divided

1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano, divided

Salt and black pepper

1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided

2 lbs. ricotta cheese

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

1 (10-oz.) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

2 (24-oz.) jars marinara sauce

1 (8-oz.) package shredded mozzarella

Fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Beat 5 eggs in a bowl. Dip sliced eggplant into eggs, then bread crumbs, to coat thoroughly.

2. In a large skillet on medium high, heat ½ cup vegetable oil and ½ cup olive oil. Add 3 to 4 egg-plant slices and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Repeat until half the slices have been cooked, then discard oil and wipe pan with paper towels. Heat remaining 1 cup oil and cook remaining eggplant in batches.

3. In a skillet, sauté the sliced mushrooms in 1 tbsp. olive oil until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, 1 tbsp. oregano, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper and ½ tbsp. thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes, then set aside to cool.

4. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix ricotta cheese, 3 eggs, ½ cup grated Parmesan, spinach, the mush- room mixture and remaining oregano and thyme.

5. Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in a 9×13-in. baking dish. Layer a third of the eggplant slices on top, overlapping the pieces slightly. Add half the ricotta mixture and then 1 cup marinara sauce on top. Repeat with another layer of eggplant, ricotta and sauce.

6. Top with final layer of eggplant and 2 cups marinara sauce. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and remaining ½ cup of Parmesan.

7. Cover with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray, and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

8. Remove pan from oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with basil leaves, cut into squares, and serve.

Serves: 6 to 8

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

It’s Tradition

‘This is a family staple on holidays and special occasions. I now have to make an extra tray so my boys can take home leftovers,’ says Bongiovi Sr.

A portion of Bongiovi Brand proceeds goes to the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.

Pasta Tip!

‘Instead of boiling a big pot of water, start the pasta in a small amount of cold water,’ says Brown. ‘When it comes to a boil, the pasta should be just about al dente.’

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower

THE CUTTHROAT KITCHEN HOST AND STAR OF THE ALTON BROWN LIVE! FOOD TOUR SERVES UP A HEARTY MEAL

1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size pieces

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 tsp. kosher salt, divided

1 can whole tomatoes, drained

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. red pepper flakes

½ lb. penne or rigatoni pasta

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup bread crumbs

2 tbsp. parsley, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400°. In a cast iron skillet, toss the cauliflower with oil and 1 tsp. salt, and roast in the oven for 20 minutes or until cauliflower softens and browns slightly.

2. Remove skillet from oven and place over medium heat. Stir in tomatoes, garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir, breaking up the tomatoes as they soften. Once most of the tomato liquid has cooked out, about 5 minutes, remove from heat.

3. To prepare the pasta, drop the uncooked penne into a large saucepan. Fill the pan with enough cold water to just cover the pasta by 1 in. Stir in remaining salt and place over high heat, stirring occasionally. When water comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and continue stirring every few minutes until the pasta feels done, about 6 minutes.

4. Transfer the cooked pasta to the skillet, reserving the pasta water. Stir the pasta into the cauliflower mixture, then add ¼ cup of the pasta water. Stir in Parmesan and cheddar cheeses, and top with the bread crumbs.

5. Return the skillet to the oven and cook another 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are golden brown. Remove and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves: 4 to 6

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

For Alton Brown’s upcoming tour dates and tickets, visit altonbrown.com

Alton Debunks 4 Food Myths

ALCOHOL ‘COOKS OUT’ OF FOODS

“Alcohol does have a boiling point below that of water and, yes, you can cook some of it out. But you can never cook it all away because alcohol bonds tightly to water.”

BUTTER MUST BE REFRIGERATED

“America is one of the only culinary cultures that stashes butter in the chill chest. Most butters do just as well if kept in a covered butter dish at room temperature.”

MICROWAVES DESTROY NUTRIENTS

“Most nutrients are more damaged by long cooking times or are washed away by cooking water, both of which can be avoided by careful microwaving.”

SEARING MEAT ‘SEALS IN JUICES’

“Nope. Any type of heat causes liquid to evaporate! But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sear meat, as the chemical reactions involved create a lot of unique flavors.”

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