I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Italian food. Pasta and pizza are always a hit with the kids.
This list has something for everyone — from adults who like to munch and chat before the meal to kids who simply adore twirling noodles on their plate. Just choose which tickles your fancy and enjoy.
Munchies before the meal
Bruschetta with pesto, tomatoes and feta cheese: It’s just toasted bread, really, but with the right topping, the light crunch of the bread and the flavorful mixture on top can get addictive.
Caponata:I like caponata as a side dish for a meat main course but, if you serve bowls of this wonderful Sicilian vegetable dish with crusty bread, it makes a beautiful starter course.
I read that, in Italy, pasta is a starter course. But the rest of the world doesn’t really observe that rule, so, I’m putting pasta in this list as a separate section.
Fettuccine aglio e olio with mussels: It’s still the very basic and very easy to make pasta aglio e olio. Evidently, I added mussels. And to give the dish a deeper flavor, I cooked the fettuccine in mussel broth.
Alex’s Lasagne With Pesto and White Sauce: The noodles and basic white sauce are prepared the usual way. But, unlike most baked lasagne dishes that require cooking the meat in tomato sauce, the ground beef in Alex’s lasagne with pesto and white sauce is cooked with nothing but butter, herbs and spices. Cumin, oregano and thyme take center stage and the combination makes the meat so aromatic.
Lasagne roll-ups with chunky meat sauce: Except for the far prettier look, what has lasagna roll-ups got over the usual layered kind? If served for a crowd, the roll-ups are less messy. One rolled lasagna per person and there’s no need to cut through the layers of pasta, meat, sauce and cheese. The serving dish doesn’t look like a typhoon had gone through it after two persons have cut through and taken their portions.
Stracciatella alla romana: If you want something easy to make, this is it. Cooking stracciatella alla romana is very similar to making Chinese egg drop soup. The only marked difference is the addition of grated Parmesan cheese to the beaten eggs.
Minestrone (slow cooker recipe): A chunky vegetable soup with no fixed recipe, Italian minestrone is cooked with whatever vegetables are in season. It may contain meat, rice or pasta. This slow cooker minestrone recipe has meat (sliced sausages) and the vegetables are carrots, cabbage and zucchini.
Creamed Sausage, Potato and Cabbage Soup A la Zuppa Toscana: A sausage and vegetables soup to which cream is added. To draw out all the flavors from the sausage meat, it is first browned then simmered slowly with the vegetables. The cream is added toward the end.
Easy seafood paella: A recipe for people who do not have the time nor space for the constant stirring that traditional paella requires. Hint: a rice cooker is involved.
Chicken piccata: Italian fried chicken fillets braised in butter and lemon sauce. My chicken piccata uses chicken thigh fillets (I am not a fan of chicken breast which I find too fatless and dry) — skin on because the layer of fatty skin adds flavor and moisture to the meat, and added crisp to the crusty surface.
Strawberry panna cotta: It’s just gelatin, really. But cook gelatin in cream and it becomes nothing like those multi-colored snacks that you can find in groceries. And when you add chopped fruit… Well, the magic is complete.
Tiramisu in glasses: Into the bottom of wine glasses, mascarpone sweetened with sugar and made richer with eggs is dropped by tablespoonfuls and topped with lady fingers broken into pieces and soaked in espresso. Another layer of mascarpone goes on top of the biscuits and the tiramisu in wine glasses are garnished with grated chocolate. It’s divine.
Budino with salted caramel: Budino is Italian for pudding. But not the bread kind. It’s a custard — softer than leche flan, the consistency more like creme brulee and, in this recipe, budino is served with crushed chocolate cookies and gooey salted caramel sauce. So, soooo wickedly delicious.
Want more dishes with Mediterranean flavors? Click here.