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Legendary Chef Mary Ann Esposito Shares Recipes From Her Latest Cookbook

The Ciao Italia host's cod in "crazy water" and spinach and potato gnocchi in taleggio sauce should become regulars in your cooking repertoire.

Mary Ann Esposito is an icon of Italian kitchens. Her nationally broadcast PBS show, Ciao Italia with Mary Ann Esposito, in its 30th season, is the longest-running cooking show in American history. Her 14th cookbook, Ciao Italia: Plant, Harvest, Cook! (October, 2022) takes readers on a home gardening journey focused on growing their vegetables and cooking them Italian style. The book, a finalist for the 2022 INDIES Book of the Year Awards, features over 100 recipes. For a taste, Mary Ann has shared a few recipes exclusively for readers of Appetito. Thanks, Mary Ann!

Aqua Pazza (Crazy Water)

Aqua Pazza (Crazy Water)

Recipe by Mary Ann Esposito
0.0 from 0 votes
Cuisine: Italian


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 tablespoons 2 olive oil

  • 2 cloves 2 garlic, peeled and sliced

  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2 thinly sliced fennel

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon 1 fennel seeds

  • 1 tablespoon 1 capers in brine, well drained or capers in salt, well rinsed

  • 2 cups 2 cherry tomatoes cut in half or one 15 ounce can, diced

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 white wine

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 water

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 olives, cut in half

  • salt

  • pepper

  • 4 4 six-ounce pieces cod fillets

  • chopped parsley for sprinkling on top


  • Heat olive oil in a medium size saute pan.
  • Cook the garlic with the fennel until the fennel begins to soften and the garlic turns golden brown.
  • Stir in red flakes and fennel seeds.
  • Add tomatoes and cook until they begin to give off their juice.
  • Raise the heat, to high, add wine and allow most of it to evaporate.
  • Add the water, capers and olives.
  • Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add the fish on top of the sauce, cover and cook until fish is opaque, about 5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve in bowls with parsley.

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