Baked Toast Sandwiches
Fagottini al Forno

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Baked Toast Sandwiches
Fagottini al Forno
cookbook: Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking
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serves: 4

This is an Italian version of a grilled cheese sandwich. The beauty of this recipe is that once you have made it you will find a hundred ways to reinvent it. Do not forget to be innovative with the bread as well: -whole--wheat, -mixed--grain, and muffins all work beautifully.


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 slices sturdy -whole--wheat bread
8 slices -low--moisture mozzarella
8 slices deli ham
¼ cup prepared tomato sauce
8 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons grated Grana Padano or -Parmigiano--


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a -9--by--13--inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Arrange four slices of the bread in the dish, not touching. Top each with one slice of cheese and two slices of the ham. Spread the tomato sauce over the ham, and top with the basil leaves, then the remaining slices of cheese. Spread the last four slices of bread with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and set on top of the sandwiches, butter side up. Sprinkle the bread with the grated cheese.

Bake until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking

In her beautifully illustrated new cookbook, Lidia Bastianich lays out a comprehensive curriculum of wise cooking tips--from the cutting board to the kitchen table. Channeling the instructive elements from the companion Public Television series, Lidia’s Kitchen, she teaches us that a good dose of common sense is the key ingredient to a stellar meal. As storyteller and chef, Lidia draws on anecdotes to educate and illustrate. Recalling lessons learned from her mother, Erminia, and her grandmother, Nonna Rosa, Lidia pays homage to the kitchen sages who inspired her. Whether it's Citrus Roasted Veal or Rustic Ricotta Tart, each recipe is a tangible feast. We learn to look at ingredients as both geographic and cultural indicators; in Campania, the region where mozzarella is king, we discover it is best eaten three hours after preparation. In Genova we are taught that while focaccia had its basil origins in the Ligurian culinary tradition, the herbs and flavorings will change from region to region--home chefs can experiment with rosemary, oregano, olives, or onions! When it's time for dessert, Lidia draws on the sacred customs of nuns in Italian monasteries and convents and reveals the secret to Rice Pudding with a Blessing. Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking is a collection of 150 delectable recipes told with common sense cooking wisdom that teaches us how create simple, seasonal, Italian dishes with grace, confidence, and love.

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