A food media personality and James Beard Award-winning restaurateur, Scott Conant is also a successful cookbook author with multiple bestselling titles to his name. His latest cookbook, Peace, Love, and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen, adds to that impressive collection while also imparting a deeply personal story.
“After cooking professionally for over 35 years, I wanted to create something that could inspire home cooks through the lens of a professional chef,” said Conant. “As you can imagine, I have a substantial repertoire of dishes that I cook for family and friends – we tested lots of different recipes and the greatest hits made the cut for Peace, Love, and Pasta.”
Many of the recipes in the cookbook feature the diverse cultural background of Conant’s family. While Conant is Italian American, his wife Mel is Turkish. The result is that Conant family meals are a vibrant collection of multicultural flavors, featuring dishes ranging from braised short rib risotto with caramelized onions to eggplant börek (savory Turkish pastry) and cevizli kömeç (walnut bread).
“The dishes in this book reflect all my years working in the kitchen; from my Italian-American childhood to my travels of cooking in Germany, Italy, and Turkey as well as what I make on the regular for my daughters at home,” said Conant.
It took years and much effort by Conant to fine-tune these recipes. While the Italian recipes can be traced to his heritage and years of professional cooking experience, he learned Turkish recipes from his wife’s family. Ultimately, the whole experience was an incredibly rewarding one according to Conant. “I always say make food that you love and cook from your heart. At the end of the day, I find most people appreciate all the effort and recognize the love you’re putting into it,” said Conant.
Maccheroni with Polpettine and Neapolitan Tomato Sauce
Essentially, this dish is spaghetti and meatballs (Italian style instead of Italian American.) Polpettine (“little meatballs”) are not common in America but Conant is an avid fan, especially “because you get the complete meatball flavor in each bite.” The tomato sauce used in this recipe is also richer, with a savory and hearty flavor profile. Finally, there’s the maccheroni, a pasta that resembles a thick spaghetti. The thickness of this pasta allows it to hold its own against the robust flavors of the sauce and meat. “I like to cut mine shorter than spaghetti as well, so each strand is about 4 to 6 inches long. All together, this is a no-nonsense, fully satisfying plate of pasta—or as I like to think of it, a real nonna dish,” said Conant.