Owning four busy Mozza restaurants in Southern California and two in Singapore, it’s surprisingly easy to forget how and why I started down the path that led me here so many years ago: because of the immense pleasure I get from cooking a meal and serving it to family and friends. For many years while running La Brea Bakery and the pastry kitchen at Campanile, my first restaurant, which I opened in 1989 with my then husband, I didn’t cook at all—other than foods such as pasta with butter, for my kids’ dinner. But that changed about fifteen years ago, when I started spending time in Italy. From the very first summer that I rented an apartment in a small medieval hill town on the Umbria-Tuscany border, where I now own a home, my being situated in Umbria and the bounty of the area turned out to be the perfect storm that blew me back into the kitchen.
With local ingredients including cherry tomatoes, red torpedo onions, and fragrant basil at the height of their season; regional specialties such as chickpeas, lentils, and sheep’s milk cheese; long summer days when it stays light until almost ten o’clock; and an endless cast of hungry friends who arrived weekly from Los Angeles and rented apartments and houses in the same town, I started cooking again—more than I ever had. And despite the fact that I had rented a house with a tiny kitchen stocked with aluminum pots and pans and one dull knife, I was reminded of how much I love preparing food for family and friends—old and new.
These are recipes that reflect the style I developed in cooking those meals. There are no intricately plated dishes here and nothing that needs to be served piping hot. I’m not saying these are thirty-minute meals, because they’re not. Home cooking is often slow cooking—but these dishes can be made in advance, and will hold up on a buffet table, so they’re perfect for entertaining.
Excerpted from MOZZA AT HOME by Nancy Silverton with Carolyn Carreño. Copyright © 2016 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
A roasted vegetable dish that's worthy of a special occasion.
A beet salad that will convince nonbelievers.
The perfect make-ahead, vegetarian dish for a dinner party.