Upon leaving their native Italy to become part of the 120th Anniversary Edition of "The Greatest Show on Earth," the Togni family brought along all that was necessary to perform with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus - a rare white rhinoceros, three rings of liberty horses and an entire herd of elephants - but that's not all!

Those things most essential for Italian life in America were hand-carried to the United States by the Togni family themselves: cases of olive oil and a plenitude of Italian meats, pasta, wine and cheese.For the Tognis, food is an item closely linked to performance, and in a land of fast-food restaurants and TV dinners, this close-knit family remains dedicated to preparing their own meals.

"After a long day of performing and practicing, I look forward to sharing good food and good conversation with my family," says Flavio Togni, head of the Togni family. "It give us time to enjoy one another and some of our favorite homemade Italian meals."

To see Flavio and his family perform, with their elephants, horses and white rhino, the circus will be in the Salt Palace Arena from Wednesday, Sept. 26, through Monday, Oct. 1, for 11 performances, including six evening shows and five matinees. Tickets at the Salt Palace box office and all Smith'sTix outlets.

To sample the kind of fare the Tognis enjoy around their dinner table aboard the circus train, try the following recipes:

Gypsy Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds chicken breast, boned and skinned

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

3 medium-sized carrots, sliced

1 large tomato, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon mustard

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup white wine or 1 cup chicken stock

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste Heat oil and brown chicken. Add the onions and saute with the chicken. Add carrots, tomato, garlic, red pepper, salt, bay leaves and cook for 10 minutes. Add wine or stock and cook another 2 minutes. You may add extra if needed. Remove the chicken and put the sauce in a blender with the sour cream and mustard. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Bistecca di Manzo

1 8 oz. sirloin steak

1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 large tomato Mix peppercorns, oregano, sage and rosemary together in a bowl. Dip the steak on each side and broil to taste. Serve steak on a bed of arugula and top with fresh chopped tomatoes.

Penne Arabbiata

1 1/2 lbs. penne noodles

1 large onion, chopped

8 oz. pancetta

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1 can (8 oz.) whole tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Parmesan cheese

Chopped basil for garnish Heat oil and saute onion, garlic and pancetta until brown. Add tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes. Cook penne al dente, drain and add sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and garnish with basil. Serves 6.

Primavera Lasagne

4 medium carrots

4 medium zucchini

4 medium squash

4 green peppers

1 medium head of broccoli

Lasagne sheets, cooked al dente

Parmesan cheese

Bechamel Sauce:

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 quart milk

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg


White pepper Melt butter in saucepan; add flour and cook. In separate pan, bring milk to a boil. Add the boiling milk to the flour mixture with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and stir. Cook bechamel for 5 minutes until very thick. Cool sauce for at least 2 hours.

Take a 13-by-9-inch pan and ladle bechamel on the bottom. Add a sheet of lasagne, vegetables, julienned, broccoli florets and bechamel. Make 4 layers. Bake for 45 minutes, sprinkle top generously with Parmesan cheese; brown. Serves 6-8.