Blog Posts by Chow Ciao

  • The Ultimate Italian Side Dish

    Has your garden left you with more veggies than you can possibly eat? Fabio comes to the rescue with this flavorful cooked vegetable caponata, the ultimate Italian side dish, and shares some easy ways to imbue any veggies with even more flavor.


    • Caponata originated out of an abundance of veggies and a desire not to waste them.
    • Make veggies taste better by simply cutting them smaller: more surface area is meets the heat, sauces, and/or spices, resulting in more delicious caramelization and exposure to flavors.
    • Use vinegar and brown sugar to heighten flavors.
    • Dish comes together in less than 20 minutes.


    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 4-6 servings


    ¼ c light olive oil

    2 cups carrots, large diced

    2 cups onions, large diced

    2 cups celery, large diced

    3 sprigs thyme

    1 whole eggplant, cut into ½ - 1 inch squares

    salt and pepper to taste

    1 cup green olives, sliced

    1 cup pine nuts

    2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

    ½ cup brown sugar

    1 cup red wine vinegar

    10 mint

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  • Fried Rice Balls

    Leftovers worth loving don't always do well in the microwave. Fabio makes a classic Italian comfort food, his Arancini, a crispy-creamy, melt-in-your mouth delicacy that's a fun way to dress up leftover risotto.


    • Instead of trying to reheat leftovers in the microwave which ruins textures, think about your leftovers as an opportunity to create a new dish with its own elements, and add new textures.
    • Arancini is a great example of one Italian staple that's made by transforming another one. "Arancini "literally means "little oranges," a tribute to their size, thick skin, and golden hue.

    Arancini (Easy Fried Risotto)

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 6-12 pieces

    NOTE: Whether you're using leftover Pancetta Risotto or making a fresh batch just so you can make Arancini, be sure to mix in up to one cup of grated Parmesan and up to two cups of green peas before spreading it on a sheet pan to cool.


    1 batch Fabio's Pancetta Risotto, modified (see above) and refrigerated


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  • BBQ Baby Back Ribs

    Fireworks are in the air with Fabio's over the top baby-back ribs with his balsamic BBQ sauce. Learn the secrets to making fall off-the-bone ribs on the grill and celebrate with flavor.


    • Baby Back Ribs 101: To avoid drying out your pork ribs, use a dry rub first in the oven. Braising them in beer seals the deal. Wrap in foil and bake first till they are almost done, and finish on the grill to seal in the flavors.
    • Grilling tips: Generously brush your wet rub as you grill. Let it coat the ribs as much as possible. Since the ribs are baked through in the oven, you only need to grill 5 to 10 minutes at very high heat to caramelize a delicious crust.
    • Balsamic vinegar is a wonderful Italian ingredient that deeply flavors savory dishes, like Fabio's Italian Balsamic BBQ Sauce or Jacopo's refreshing Balsamic martini. The trick is to reduce it to a thick, flavorful base that makes anything a little more Italian.
    Baby Back Ribs with Balsamic BBQ Sauce

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yields: 6

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  • Perfect Pasta Salad

    When it's hot outside, pasta can bring cold comforts. Dial your noodles down to chill as Fabio gives away the secret tips and tricks to a perfectly textured, deeply Italian flavored pasta salad. Plus, his secrets to keep your pasta from being soggy!


    • Mayo 101: Mayonnaise is the perfect base for herbs and spices. Making your own mayo is an easy way to control fat content and infuse flavor, and it's way cheaper than buying it.
    • PASTA SHAPE MATTERS: elbow pasta is not ideal for cold salads, as it's not firm enough. Choose pasta only slightly bigger than your vegetable dice, with textures, such as fusilli, to help grab onto the dressing. Cool the pasta down with cold water right after boiling to help keep it al dente.
    • Cure for Boring: Balance both flavors and textures in order to create a pasta salad that is NEVER ignored at barbecues. If you texture your salad right, it won't sog out.
    Perfect Pasta Salad

    Cold Pasta Salad

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 8-12 servings


    For the mayo:


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  • Naked Ravioli

    Fabio whips up a unique dish from his childhood that marries spinach and creamy ricotta for a super simple, gorgeous naked ravioli served with brown butter sage sauce.


    • Spinach 101: Chef's secret: Remember The Ratio -- one pound of raw spinach cooks down to one cup.
    • Spinach can grow in almost any condition. Choose fresh if possible. Frozen spinach can be unreliable in quality and taste.
    • Naked Ravioli means ravioli without its pasta blanket. In fewer than 5 ingredients and 20 minutes you can whip up a super easy, quick recipe that's a sneaky way to get your kids (or anyone) to eat spinach.

    Naked Ravioli

    Naked Ravioli

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 24-28 ravioli


    2 lbs. chopped baby spinach, wilted (boiled for about a minute and drained thoroughly (about 4 lbs. raw)

    2 lbs. ricotta cheese

    1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

    2 tsp. salt

    2 tsp. pepper

    1 tsp. fresh ground nutmeg

    1 egg


    Preheat oven to 375°.

    Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl.

    With an ice cream scoop,

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  • Sausage and Peppers

    In tribute to the men in his life, Fabio makes a peasant meal fit for a king: spiced-up sausages, topped with his super simple marinara sauce.



    • Sausage 101: Fabio explains how to choose the best sausage for your needs, from the type of meat to casings. For Fabio, Pork is better because it has a higher fat content so the sausages stay crisp but juicy.
    • Natural casings add flavor and crunch, but any casing's job is to keep the meat in shape and serve as a "juice jail."
    • Cook low and slow to keep things juicy, with a fair amount of moisture.

    Sausage and Peppers

    Sausage and Peppers

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yield: 2-4 servings


    5 links Italian sausage

    1 large white onion, cut in half and sliced

    3-4 tbsp. light olive oil

    2 large green bell peppers, cut into strips

    2 sprigs of fresh oregano

    salt and pepper to taste

    2 cups Fabio's Marinara Sauce

    lemon zest

    Parmesan cheese

    1 c water


    Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan with a lid.

    Poke each sausage link with the

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  • Fabio's Super-Fast Baked Ziti

    Batch-cook an amazing comfort food for the whole family! Fabio's out-of-control comfort platter is an easy to make yet deeply flavored, multi-sauced baked ziti.


    • Pasta 101: Choose your dry pasta by shape based on what you're making. Use smaller pastas like ditalini for broths and soups, elbow pasta for mac and cheese, and penne rigati or fusilli with ridges to help hold your sauces. The bigger rigatoni is also good for holding sauce, since it's hollow and large. Ziti is the best pasta for baking because not only is it hollow and holds the sauce inside it, but it also doesn't have any ridges or groove to sog out your dish.
    • When baking pasta make sure it is al dente! The trick is to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce the oven. So boil it halfway and let it have some crunch to it before baking.
    • Ziti is comfort food made fast, but it helps to prepare. Having Fabio's béchamel and Bolognese (meat sauce) batch cooked and in your fridge makes preparing this ultimate comfort food a
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  • Baked Stuffed Tomatoes

    No need to wait for tomato season! Fabio shows chef's secrets on how to work with what you got and stuff any tomato into a perfect Italian masterpiece.


    • Working with What You've Got: Not every garden harvest is perfect, but that doesn't mean you can't eat your unripe or green tomatoes! Play to their strengths: firm texture and sour flavor are perfect for creamy cheeses, salty toppings and baking.
    • It's easier to prepare this (almost idiot proof) if all your stuffing ingredients are cooked beforehand, baking in the oven warms and blends them together.
    • Drain the tomato of water before stuffing it. Controlling the amount of moisture in the dish makes for a better texture.
    • Stuffing texture matters, you don't want a soggy result! To help give your stuffing dimension and flavor, keep the stuffing chunky. Drizzling the top with olive oil before baking will help ensure a delicious crispy crust.
    • Salty Meats 101: Marvelous Mortadella: get to know this delicious cured Italian sausage that
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  • Grilling 101: Rack of Lamb

    Summer has arrived, light up the grill! Fabio talks grilling common sense to maximize flavor from the fire and shows how to pick the perfect rub for your protein of choice. This Memorial Day he's firing up a decadent rack of lamb.


    • Grilling 101: It's a short leap from barbecue to bonfire so a good way to control the flames is to contain the grease. A dry rub for fatty meat is a perfect way to do this. If you can control and flavor of your smoke (with a rub or woodchips not oil), your final result will be a masterpiece.
    • Leave it alone! Once your meat is on the grill, let the grill do the work. Shifting and turning it around not only will likely make the meat grill unevenly but also present the strong possibility that your seasoning will fall off.
    • Try lamb! Instead of boring hamburgers and hot dogs this Memorial Day, how about lamb. When you season it right, it's perfect for the grill.
    • How to make the perfect rub: Wet rubs add moisture and flavor, but dry rubs just add flavor. Use
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  • Italian Stuffed Beef

    Searing and braising take center stage when Fabio explores the basics of beef before he takes on the Italian classic beef braciole, thin slices of seared beef rolled up with cheese and prosciutto, and braised in marinara sauce to mouth-watering perfection.

    • Beef 101: Everyone knows expensive cuts of steak are delicious, but what to do with cheaper cuts? Pounding cheaper meats not only tenderizes them, it literally stretches your dollar.
    • Adding cured meat and garlic to the meat deepens their flavors. Don't forget the olive oil!
    • Two techniques, searing and braising, join forces to make this Italian masterpiece. Searing is a quick application of heat to lock flavors and juices into meat, while braising simmers the meat in liquid to infuse it with flavor as it cooks.

    BraciolaBeef Braciole

    Recipe by Fabio Viviani

    Yields: 4 servings


    2 cups Fabio's Marinara

    4 3 oz. pieces of beef shoulder, cut thin

    8 slices prosciutto

    Extra virgin olive oil

    ¼-½ c

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