Massimo Bottura has become one of the most passionate voices on the topic of food waste and social inclusion in recent years. Following the success of Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef (2014), he released a second book, Bread is Gold: Extraordinary Meals with Ordinary Ingredients, which aims to provide tips for home cooks to transform would-be discarded ingredients into delicious meals.
In 2015, Bottura established Refettorio Ambrosiano, a community kitchen, to coincide with the Milan Expo. The dynamic Bottura asked leading Italian designers and artists to help him turn an abandoned theatre into an inviting space where guests could feed both their body and soul. He also invited over 60 of his chef friends to visit and cook at the Refettorio throughout the run of the Expo.
Bread is Gold documents the first six months at the Refettorio and includes contributions from these guest chefs – some of the best in the world – like Rene Redzepi, Alain Ducasse, Alex Atala, Daniel Humm, Ana Ros, Gaston Acurio, and Mario Batali.
Baked pasta alla parmigiana
5 medium eggplants, cut into medium cubes
½ cup plain flour
4¼ cups sunflower oil
600g rigatoni pasta or other short pasta
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
800g canned, peeled tomatoes, drained
½ tbsp sugar
freshly ground black pepper
150g mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
12 basil leaves
200g parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated
1. Preheat the oven to 160C.
2. Toss the eggplants in the flour. In a medium pot, heat the sunflower oil to 175C. Working in batches, add the eggplant and fry until crisp and golden brown, six minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium pot, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook until golden, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the pasta and toss to combine.
5. Transfer one fourth of the pasta mixture to a deep 20 x 26-centimetre baking dish and spread to cover. Top with one fourth of the mozzarella, one fourth of the eggplant, and 3 basil leaves. Repeat this layering three more times, omitting the basil leaves on the top layer. Sprinkle the top layer with the parmigiano.
6. Bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Bread is gold
For the bread crisps
100g stale bread, sliced 3mm thick and cut into six x 10 cm rounds
10g edible gold powder
For the bread and sugar cream
100g stale bread
100g light brown sugar
3 tbsp whipping cream
For the salted caramel ice-cream
150ml whipping cream
150g light brown sugar
1½ tsp salt
For the caramel croutons
100 g bread, cut into small pieces
4 tbsp light brown sugar
1. To make the bread crisps, preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bread on the baking sheet two centimetres apart. Bake until crispy and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Sprinkle with the gold powder.
2. To make the bread and sugar cream, in a medium pan, heat the bread and brown sugar over medium heat and cook until caramelised, about three minutes. Add half the milk and simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the remaining milk and the cream, bring to a boil, and cook for three minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. Transfer to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about three minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve two times. Cover and refrigerate. Once cold, whisk until stiff peaks form and transfer to a pastry (piping) bag.
4. To make the salted caramel ice-cream, in a small pot, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. In a medium pan, melt the brown sugar over the medium heat until completely melted, about three minutes. Add the warmed cream and salt, remove from the heat, and whisk. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean pan. Add the milk and 200 millilitres of water. Return to the heat and bring to 40C over medium heat, then simmer for two minutes until reaches 80C.
5. Remove from the heat and let cool. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Transfer to an ice-cream machine and process according to the manufacturer's instructions. (If you don't have an ice-cream machine, freeze the mixture until hard enough to scoop).
6. To make the caramel croutons, in a medium pan, heat the bread and brown sugar over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar caramelises and coats the bread, about five minutes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let cool. Store in an airtight container.
7. To serve, place a scoop of the salted caramel ice-cream on each plate and top with five caramel croutons, one tablespoon bread and sugar cream, five more caramel croutons, and one more tablespoon bread and sugar cream. Garnish with one bread crisp.
Recipes from Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura, $55, phaidon.com