The Missoni family has a knack for evoking a stylish life that feels timeless and deeply rooted in the Italian way of life. The brand may be most well known for its iconic colorful zig-zag patterns—which have been adorning everything from dresses to beach towels since the1970s—but we're willing to bet the brand and family will now be known for something else entirely: the art of cooking and entertaining effortlessly with panache.
This month, Francesco Maccapani Missoni, the son of designer Angela Missoni, releases The Missoni Family Cookbook on Assouline, a collection of his parents' and grandparents' favorite recipes. For the first time, the Missoni culinary traditions and well-guarded family recipes are available to everyone. If you ask us, they are the ideal recipes to make for a simple but delicious and elegant alfresco spring lunch: Think fresh salads, mouthwatering pasta, and simple desserts that are assembled in minutes. Want to entertain like an illustrious fashion family? Start with these deceptively simple (and delicious) recipes.
Asparagi alla Milanese
30 stalks asparagus
1 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
7 tbsp. unsalted butter
6–12 large eggs (6 for a starter or 12 for a main dish)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
If the asparagus stalks are thick, peel them lightly with a peeler to halfway down their length.
Bring a large lidded pot fitted with a steamer insert containing about 1 inch of water over medium-high heat to a boil. Add the asparagus and steam for 8–10 minutes, depending on their thickness, or until the stalks cook through but remain al dente. Remove from the heat.
Drain and individually plate the asparagus, counting 5 stalks per person. Generously cover the lower half of the asparagus with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.
In a small pan over medium heat, melt 5 tablespoons of the butter until very hot.
Pour it over the Parmigiano-Reggiano and asparagus, melting the cheese.
In a pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter. As soon as the butter starts bubbling, add the eggs in batches, taking care not to crowd them, and fry them. Repeat until all of the eggs have been fried. Remove from the heat.
Place the cooked eggs on top of the asparagus, season with sea salt and black pepper, and serve hot.
Note: This dish is the Milanese variation of asparagi alla parmigiana, which is prepared without the eggs.
2 fennel bulbs
2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments
2–3 pinches sea salt
1 generous handful Taggiasca olives, pitted
1 tsp. peperoncino flakes
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Wash the fennel and chop off and discard the leaves and top branches, keeping the bulbs. Cut the bulbs in half widthwise, then into strands lengthwise.
Place the orange segments in a bowl and squeeze the juice from the leftover orange membranes over them.
In a salad bowl, layer the fennel strips with the oranges, seasoning them throughout with sea salt. Sprinkle the olives around the dish. Top with the peperoncino—and beware of the heat! Toss well. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.
Ingredients for the gnocchi
17 1/2 oz. fresh spinach
3 lb. ricotta
3 large egg yolks
4 oz. type 00 flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
Ingredients for the sage-infused butter
1 stick unsalted butter
6 leaves fresh sage
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Directions for the gnocchi
Wash the spinach thoroughly.
Bring a large pot of water over high heat to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for about 2 minutes, or until tender; drain the spinach into a colander.
Using your hands, shape the spinach into a ball, pressing firmly to drain well. Place the spinach in a large cloth and twist it tightly over the sink, removing all excess water.
In a food processor fitted with the "S" blade, chop the spinach until it achieves a superfine consistency. Add the ricotta, the egg yolks, the 4 ounces of the flour, and the nutmeg; season with sea salt and white pepper. Pulse until well combined.
Dust some of the flour over a clean work surface, a baking sheet, and your hands. Shape the spinach-ricotta mixture into 1–1½-inch balls. Dust them with flour and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of salted water over medium-high heat to a boil. Add the gnocchi to the pot in batches to avoid overcrowding. Allow each batch to cook for 2–3 minutes, or until they float to the surface. Remove each batch from the pot using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain.
Directions for the sage-infused butter
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the sage leaves and fry for 2–3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
To serve, place 5–6 gnocchi in six shallow serving dishes (there will be plenty left for second helpings). Sprinkle the gnocchi with the Parmigiano-Reggiano and drizzle them with the hot sage-infused butter to melt the cheese. Serve hot.
And now, the best vegetarian cookbooks to upgrade your meat-free meals.