Back to basics with Marc Vetri

Marc Vetri discusses “Rustic Italian Food” tonight at the Free Library at 7:30 p.m. For more info, visit www.freelibrary.org.

Marc Vetri, the chef/owner of Vetri Ristorante, Osteria and Amis, wanted to keep things simple with his latest cookbook, “Rustic Italian Food.” “This is what I always wanted to do,” Vetri says. “But they wouldn’t let me. Nowadays, with the more casual cooking scene, the publisher was more open to the idea.”
Vetri compiled the book’s 120 recipes with home cooks in mind. From Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi to Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulders and Fig Bread, even beginner-level cooks can prepare and enjoy some of the award-winning chef’s favorite comfort food.

Why did you want to keep it simple?

As a home cook, it’s difficult to look at a restaurant cookbook and make any sense of the recipes. I wanted to give folks an easier understanding of what we do. I love to cook at home on the weekends, and the food I make is always a little bit simpler. That said, I think it’s actually harder to make simpler foods because you have nothing to hide behind. If the flavors aren’t right on, or if you don’t shop correctly, you’re going to notice. You have to be a better all-around cook to make more simple foods, and that’s what the book’s able to help people with.

Thanksgiving’s all about simplicity. What does the table look like at the Vetri house?

We always have meatballs, which is the classic South Philly Thanksgiving, but not much from the traditional menu. We try to make a new menu each year. We like to mix things up. We always do something new with the turkey.

What are you planning this year?

I’m making some homemade turkey sausage with a pizza and a smoked turkey stuffing. I always make way too much food, so there are lots of leftovers.

Do you recommend any dishes from “Rustic Italian Food” for people’s Thanksgiving menus?

There’s an awesome Turkey Milanese in there, which I made last year. Everybody likes fried foods — if you fry up anything, it’s amazing. They make for excellent sandwiches the next day. Thanksgiving’s a fun holiday for eating.


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