'Rao's: Recipes from the Neighborhood'

Frank Pellegrino of New York's famous Rao's restaurant, joined Good Morning America to share the latest recipes from his new book, "Rao's: Recipes From The Neighborhood."

Check out his recipes for Frankie's Meatballs, Potatoes and Eggs and Spinach Pie and more. If you want to print these recipes, simply scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the "print this article" option. Then send the newly formatted page to your printer.

Frankie's Meatballs

Makes 14 to 18 (2 1/2 to 3-inch) meatballs.

This recipe is the same one my aunt Anna would use for the restaurant. She inherited the recipe from her mother, my grandmother Paolina. Everyone in my family makes the meatballs the same way. Instead of buying separate ground beef, veal, and pork, try using 2 pounds of meat loaf mix from the supermarket.

• 1 pound lean ground beef
• 1/2 pound ground veal
• 1/2 pound ground pork
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
• 1/2 to 1 small garlic clove, minced
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 cups plain bread crumbs
• 2 cups water
• 1 cup olive oil
• 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed

With your hands, combine the beef, veal, and pork in a large bowl. Add the eggs, cheese, parsley, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste and blend the ingredients together. Add the bread crumbs and blend into the meat mixture. Slowly add the water, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture is moist. Shape the meat mixture into 2 1/2 to 3-inch balls. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the whole garlic until lightly brown to flavor the oil, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard. Add the meatballs and fry in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. When the bottom half of the meatball is well browned and slightly crisp, about 5 to 6 minutes, turn it and cook the other side for 5 minutes more. Remove the meatballs from the heat and drain them on paper towels.

Potatoes and Eggs

Serves 4 to 6

When I was a little boy growing up in East Harlem, both my parents had to work, so I was often left in the care of my grandmothers. Once I was down in the street, they could never get me to go back upstairs to have lunch. However, grandmothers are never happy unless you eat. My grandmother Antoinette, a genius in her own right, would make me a potato and egg hero, a flask of caffe latte, sometimes with a touch of anisette, put it in a brown paper bag, tie the bag with a rope, and send it out the window, going down three stories. I would untie the bag and eat my lunch in the empty lot next to our building or on the front stoop. My grandmother was happy, and so was I. God bless you, Grandma.

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and diced
• 1 medium onion, diced
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 8 large eggs
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Heat the oil in large nonstick ovenproof or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Fry the potatoes until tender and golden brown. Add the onion and salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes and onions. Cook, shaking the pan and gently moving the mixture from side to side with a rubber spatula as some of the liquid from the top reaches the bottom of the pan. Cook until the bottom is set and beginning to brown and the top is still loose, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the eggs by sliding them onto a plate. Then invert and slide the eggs back into the pan, cooked side up. Cook until the eggs are set, 2 to 3 minutes more, shaking the pan often to prevent sticking. If you prefer, rather than inverting the eggs, you can place the skillet under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes until the top is set and lightly browned. Unmold onto a plate, cut into wedges, and serve.

Spinach Pie

Makes 2 large pies or 8 small pies

Every Friday night my father would eat at my grandmother's house with his brothers. Sometimes my grandmother would make a spinach or pizza pie for him to take home to us. There were times my mother and I never got any because my father ate the whole thing while driving.

• 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for the dough
• 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 6 bunches spinach, steamed, or 3 boxes frozen whole leaf spinach, defrosted, squeezed of any excess water
• Salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoon golden raisins, soaked in water to cover (optional)
• 2 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)
• 1 recipe Pizza Dough (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach, salt and pepper to taste, raisins and pine nuts, if desired, and toss until the spinach is thoroughly coated and flavorful. Transfer the spinach mixture to a colander and let drain.

To make 2 large pies, divide the pizza dough into two equal rounds. Roll out one round into a 14-inch circle. Spread 1 tablespoon of the oil over the dough and place half the spinach mixture onto half of the rolled out dough. Fold the dough over the mixture to form a half moon, and seal the edges with the tines of a fork. Repeat with the remaining ball of dough. To make 8 small pies, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, rolling them each into a 4- to 5-inch circle and dividing the spinach mixture equally among them. Fold and seal as directed above.

Transfer the pies to an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven, cut into slices, and serve.

Pizza Dough

Makes enough dough for two 16-inch pies, or one 12 x 18 inch Sicilian pie

In addition to pizzas, you can use this dough to make Calzone (page 48) and Spinach Pie (page 47).

• 4 cups all purpose unbleached flour, plus additional flour for kneading
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
• 1 package rapid rise yeast
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 2 tablespoons olive oil

Oil the inside of a large bowl and set aside. Combine the flour and salt in another large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup of the warm water, the yeast, and the sugar and let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes until the yeast blooms and bubbles appear. Gradually add the yeast mixture to the flour, mixing with your hands to combine. Gradually add the remaining water and finally the oil, mixing until the dough is soft and sticky. You may need a little more water to make the dough soft and elastic. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, working in more flour as needed. Or use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the oiled bowl. Turn it to coat with the oil, cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for about an hour, until it is one and a half times its original size. Punch down the dough and let it rest for about 1 hour. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it out with a rolling pin to the size and shape to fill your pizza pan. Let it rise in the pan approximately 20 minutes before adding toppings and cooking.

Ida's Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4

My mother, Ida, used to make her baked macaroni and cheese once a month. My brother and I would count down the days in anticipation. The two of us could eat the whole dish ourselves. This may not be strictly Italian cooking, but it's too good not to include.

• 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 cups milk
• 1 pound American cheese or Cheddar cheese, shredded
• 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked until just al dente, drained
• 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Melt 1 stick of butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the milk and cook until heated through. Add the cheese gradually, stirring constantly, until it is melted and the sauce is smooth. Place the macaroni in the prepared baking dish. Pour the cheese mixture over the macaroni and stir to coat the macaroni evenly.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and saute until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the crumbs over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top of the mixture is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Let the macaroni sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Josephine's Tuna Pasta Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Josephine is my wife. We were both born and raised in East Harlem and we both went to grade school at Our Lady Queen of Angels on 113th Street. It is also the church where we were married. Josephine is a stickler for fresh ingredients and shops every day for what she's going to cook that night. I might also add that when she is not cooking, she is cleaning. I have the cleanest house in America.

• 1 pound rotelle or elbow pasta, cooked and cooled
• 3 cans tuna fish, packed in olive oil, undrained
• 1 cup chopped red onion
• 2 tablespoon capers

• 1 1/2 cups pitted and chopped black olives • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• Juice of 1 lemon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Put the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl. Add the tuna with its oil, the onion, capers, olives, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon Juice, and salt and pepper and toss to combine. Serve.

Sausage and Peppers In the Oven

Serves 8

This is a fast and easy way to serve sausage and peppers when you're having a crowd over for dinner or a party. Leftovers make great sandwiches with crusty Home Baked Italian Bread (page 54).

• 8 sweet Italian sausages
• 8 hot Italian sausages
• 10 Italian frying peppers, cored, seeded, and halved
• 2 large onions, thinly sliced
• 6 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Place sausages in a roasting pan. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, and salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.

Roast the sausages for approximately I hour, turning occasionally, until they are nicely browned. Arrange on a platter and serve.

Eggplant Parmigiano

Serves 4 to 6

• 2 eggplants, peeled and sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick
• 6 large eggs
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus additional for layering
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh Italian parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon pepper
• Seasoned flour for dredging (page xxiv)
• 2 cups plain bread crumbs
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 2 cups Marinara Sauce (page 82)
• 1/2 to 1 pound mozzarella, diced

Spread the eggplant in 1 layer on paper towels. Sprinkle generously with salt. Place the eggplant in a colander and cover with a plate. Place a weight on the plate to weigh down the eggplant. Let sit for 30 minutes. Remove the weights and shake off any excess salt.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Combine the eggs, grated cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Set out a plate of flour and a plate of bread crumbs.

Lightly flour the eggplant, shaking off any excess. Dip the slices in the egg mixture, then the bread crumbs. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Fry the eggplant in batches, turning them when the edges are browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place the fried eggplant on a folded brown paper bag or on paper towels to drain.

Layer the ingredients in a 9 x 15 x 2 inch pan. Begin by spreading approximately 1/4 cup of the sauce in the bottom of the pan. Add an overlapping layer of eggplant, then more sauce, followed by I teaspoon of grated cheese, Then sprinkle with a handful or two of mozzarella. Add another layer of eggplant and continue layering, ending with a layer of sauce and a handful of mozzarella.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook for 15 to 30 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown and the sauce is bubbling. Serve.

For more information on Rao's, go to www.raos.com

Recipes excerpted from "Rao's: Recipes From The Neighborhood," by Frank Pellegrino, St. Martin's Press, copyright 2004.

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