Chef Fabio Viviani: the interview (Q&A), his Dead Ricotta in the Garden (recipe), and Fabio’s Italian Kitchen Cookbook (Giveaway)

Dead Ricotta in the Garden | Very Culinary

by Amy on April 15, 2013 · 50 comments

So, apparently it’s not enough that Fabio Viviani is attractive, charming, and can cook like a badass. But he happens to be funny, too.

I had the pleasure of getting an advance copy of his upcoming cookbook, available April 23rd, and talking with him.

Fabio's Italian Kitchen

He was a pure delight! At the time we chatted, it was his first night home in over 40 days, but he was most gracious with his time. Here is just a little of our conversation (awesome accent not included – you have to imagine that for yourself.)

Q: Name a few items that are always in your refrigerator.
A: Well, let’s go take a look….I have a bunch of condiments, 4 logs of dried salami, 7-8 rotten apples, a gigantic chunk of Parmesan which barely allows the door to close, and olive oil.

(Who knew to put olive oil in the refrigerator!?)

Q: If friends or family popped in unexpectedly to your home, what would you make for them?
A: Tucine
Q: What is that?
A: Tucine? You’ve never heard of Tucine? Tucine Alfredo?
Q: Ooooh. Fettucine Alfredo?
A: Yes!

(*facepalm* And, btw, in case you didn’t catch that – if he was surprised with unexpected guests, he would whip up a batch of fresh pasta. A fresh batch of pasta. How badly do I want to be his friend? And stop by unannounced…all the time. Check out Fabio’s Perfect Fettucine Alfredo Sauce.)

Q: What is your go-to meal when you lack time or energy at the end of the day?
A: Jar of Nutella! Aaaah, what can I say, I’m Italian. I cook things in bulk that freeze well, like minestrone soup. So when I come home I can still eat healthy. 

Q: What was your first recipe creation you remember being really proud of?
A: I was 5 1/2 years old and I made an apple cake for The Pope.

(The full story is in his cookbook and it’s a riot.)

Q: If you could only use one herb in your cooking for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?
A: Hmmmm. I choose basil. The runner up is parsley. Hear me out…chopped up basil and parsley both taste great on fish, on pasta, in a salad. But only basil makes a great pesto.

(Well played Fabio. Well played.)

Q: I read in your book that you don’t believe buying expensive cuts of meat for meatballs is necessary. What ingredient do you feel is totally worth spending a lot of money on?
A: Parmesan, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.

(Agree. Agree. Agree.)

Q: Pie or cake?
A: Oh, you’re one of those people! I choose cake. A bad pie crust is bad, but a bad slice of cake is still great with a glass of milk.

(I was too captivated to disagree. I snapped out of it once we said goodbye.)

Okay. So, listen. Every time I think I couldn’t possibly love or find room for another cookbook, I’m proven wrong. I am absolutely in love with Fabio’s Italian Kitchen. IN LOVE. It’s gorgeous, I want to make everything in it, and it’s sprinkled with hilarious and touching stories from his childhood and adulthood. If his publisher said to me tomorrow, “Ya know, we decided we really need you to pay for that,” I would do it!

This gorgeous salad is one of many fantastic dishes included in his book. And I did not want to stop eating it! Simple, fresh, and so pretty on a plate.

Dead Ricotta in the Garden | Very Culinary

1 lucky U.S. reader has a chance to win a copy of Fabio’s Italian Kitchen.

There are three ways to enter: (1) leave a comment on the blog (2) go “like” us on Facebook or (3) Already a fan? Just leave a comment on The Wall. Want to increase your chances? You can leave a comment here and on Facebook.

THIS DRAWING IS NOW CLOSED. The lucky winner is Joan Delise!

Dead Ricotta in the Garden
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

• 1 pound good crumbly ricotta cheese
• 2 tablespoons Pecorino cheese, grated
• 2 tablespoons flour
• Salt and pepper
• 3 egg yolks
• 20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
• About 30 basil leaves, preferably small ones
• A handful of snap peas, cut into small pieces
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Red wine vinegar
• 4 tablespoons olive oil

Mix the ricotta with the Pecorino, the flour, a good pinch of salt, and the egg yolks. When it is all well mixed, season it to taste with pepper.

In another bowl, mix the tomatoes, the basil, and the snap peas. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and some more salt, mix, and place in the fridge. (Refrigerating the tomato mix provides a nice temperature contrast between the hot pancake and the cold vegetables when you assemble the dish.)

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Using an ice cream scoop, make balls of the ricotta mixture and place them in the hot oil. Use a plastic spatula to flatten each one a bit, so it looks like a lumpy disc.

Fry the ricotta cakes for a couple of minutes or until golden brown, then turn them over and fry them on the other side for one more minute.

Serve all the cakes at once, family style, with a good spoonful of the tomato-and-pea mixture and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top of each one.

This recipe is courtesy of FABIO’S ITALIAN KITCHEN by Fabio Viviani. Copyright © 2013, VF Legacy, LLC. Published by Hyperion in April 2013. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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Leave a Comment

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie Sullivan July 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Since finding Fabio he has become my “go to” guy. Whenever I want a recipe for an Italian dish, I first run to Fabio! His meatball recipe is a regular in my kitchen now! The first think I made was his lasagna with the home made noodles. Wonderful! And he takes the intimidation away. :-)


Amy @Very Culinary July 2, 2014 at 6:42 pm

And he’s a real sweet genuine guy, too!


Stefanie Cooper January 11, 2014 at 8:25 am

I love the interview with Fabio. You are so lucky to have been able to talk with him. Awesome questions too. Id love love love a free cookbook of his.



Louis April 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm

Thanks for the giveaway!


Meryl April 17, 2013 at 5:52 pm

I’d love to win this!


Kathy S. April 16, 2013 at 6:27 pm

The salad and ricotta cakes look amazing!


jeri April 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm

I’ve been on the fence over Fabio, but your interview made me a fan.


JM April 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

He is SO good on Chow Ciao (Yahoo) with the stories that accompany his food, can’t wait to get more in-depth with both the food and the funny stories! He’s changed the way I cook!


Jana April 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

*Swoon* Handsome and talented – you must have been on cloud nine…


Dani Vattuone April 16, 2013 at 9:46 am

Love this interview! I want the book!!


karen April 16, 2013 at 9:38 am

Looks so easy and delicious! Thanks for sharing.


Lauren at Keep It Sweet April 16, 2013 at 8:50 am

What a fun interview! Those cheese patties of sorts sound amazing!


Heather @ Sugar Dish Me April 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

I’m due for a new awesome cookbook. Gorgeous salad, great interview– what an awesome opportunity for you!


kristy @ the wicked noodle April 16, 2013 at 6:10 am

Tucine? Tucine? omg…I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!!


Melissa Brandley April 15, 2013 at 7:07 pm

I’m actually salivating right now! Over both…


Melissa Brandley April 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Absolutely salivating over this recipe right now!


Joanne April 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Man Fabio is so dreamy. And then he proclaimed his love for nutella. And then I swooned.

Also – this salad needs to happen in my life. FRIED RICOTTA. Enough said.


ashley - baker by nature April 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Wowzers, her’s such a dream!


Joanna April 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm

What a fun interview! And that salad… I’m drooling and I don’t even feel bad about it…


Joanna April 15, 2013 at 2:27 pm

What a fun interview! =) And that salad? I’m drooling. I don’t even feel bad about it…


Jean April 15, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Even w/o the accent, interview makes me hungry.


Audrey G April 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I’ve loved Fabio since Top Chef. Even just the snippets of this interview made me smile!


Stacy C. April 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Love Fabio and your blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Home Cook April 15, 2013 at 10:42 am

Already a fan on Facebook.


The Home Cook April 15, 2013 at 10:42 am

Ha! I love the fettuccine alfredo comment. ;)


abby April 15, 2013 at 10:34 am

great interview – i had no idea about this!!


abby April 15, 2013 at 10:34 am

i’m a fan on facebook


Aleta April 15, 2013 at 9:59 am

Fantastic interview – and jealous! Ah Fabio!!! Whew.


Jude April 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

Great interview!


Andrea April 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

Great interview. Great recipe. I will make for my mom for mother’s day–and MYSELF, of course! Count me in for the giveaway, please!


marcie smith April 15, 2013 at 9:01 am

<3 Fabio… how could you not!?! adorable AND cooks like a dream! and I just happen to have a container of ricotta in my refridge and was wondering WHAT to do with it…. Question answered! THX


Cher April 15, 2013 at 8:35 am

Ahh, Fabio…I’m speechless. I’m commenting…and commenting, and commenting! That salad looks amazing!! Wait, so does he. LOL


Stacie April 15, 2013 at 8:16 am

I LOVE fabio!!


Jen April 15, 2013 at 8:14 am

Those ricotta cakes look so yummy. I already know I’ll love the salad. Great post, Ame. I love how you summed up the interview with your commentary after each question. Too funny. Sounds like he was amazing to talk to, and I can totally “hear” the Italian accent when reading the interview.


Nichole Anne April 15, 2013 at 7:48 am

I can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you for the chance to win!!


Amanda April 15, 2013 at 7:26 am

Thanks for the great giveaway!


Ray Mullins April 15, 2013 at 6:45 am

Gratuitous comment to enter contest.

Also, homemade pasta. Yum. I haven’t had that in ages. Must break out Kitchen-Aid with pasta attachments.


Mom April 15, 2013 at 6:30 am

How exciting to have an interview with Fabio! This dish looks/sounds light but simply delicious. It’s hard to believe the few tablespoons of cheese and flour along with the egg yolks are enough to hold the pancake together. Where did you get crumbly ricotta? Can the homemade ricotta work? We LOVE Italian food, so can’t wait to take a look at his cookbook.


Amy April 15, 2013 at 7:00 am

Mom, sadly the homemade ricotta will not work here. It’s much too loose. I found crumbly ricotta in the deli section of my market.


libby rouse April 15, 2013 at 6:29 am

Love this recipe and Fabio’s cooking


P~ April 15, 2013 at 6:16 am

Delightful! How wonderful he is…I loved the interview and the commentary. You crack me up. P~


Stephanie-Oh April 15, 2013 at 6:10 am

Oh Italian food is not just spaghetti and meatballs! I would love to win this cookbook!


Doreen April 15, 2013 at 5:58 am

This would be fantastic to win! The recipe sounds great! Thanks.


MARGARET April 15, 2013 at 5:56 am

i need this book!!! i want to make this recipe right now!! thanks for posting!!


joan delise April 15, 2013 at 5:53 am

This cookbook and Fabio sound delicious! I would love to win a copy!


Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary April 15, 2013 at 5:53 am

I agree with MaryAnne…YUM! I saw him on Ellen. He is a cutie and he likes Nutella!!! Keeper! Oh and you know this already but I don’t like you on Facebook…I love you. Dawwwwwww!


Courtney-O April 15, 2013 at 5:49 am

I LOVE Fabio!


Patty Ball April 15, 2013 at 5:47 am

can’t wait to try this recipe – love the site


nicole killian April 15, 2013 at 5:46 am

Great interview :) Fabio’s reaponses made me smile just like when he was on Top Chef. Look forward to the book!


MaryAnne Williams April 15, 2013 at 5:39 am

Yum, both the recipe and the chef!


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