A recent survey by CNN ranked Italian as the best cuisine in the world. Hardly surprising, since Italian recipes bring to our tables the perfect blend of fresh wholesome ingredients, simple home-style cooking, sheer variety and of course amazing taste. So if you are planning a dinner for your friends or family – a formal occasion or a casual get together, Italian is the way to go.
Things to Know
Before you start planning your Italian meal, there are a few things you need to remember.
The Magic is in the ingredients: Great cuisine depends largely on the freshness and quality of the ingredients. So take a little extra care with your groceries shopping.
Simplicity does the trick: It does not need a long list of ingredients to cook up a good Italian dish. Sometimes three or four will be enough.
Get your hands involved: Knead that dough, make that pasta, sprinkle that pepper with your fingers. Italian cooking is a deeply personal experience. Feel it. When you cook from the heart, your guests will feel it too.
Traditionally, there are three main courses to an Italian meal. The Antipasto or the Appetizer, the Primo or the first course and the Secondo or the second course. To make the meal more complex, add a cheese and a dessert. Maybe even a salad or an aperitif.If you are thinking of cooking an Italian meal, we have brought together three easy recipes that come together beautifully to dazzle your guests. And the best part – they are so easy to cook.
The Antipasto – Mozzarella in Corrozza
This seems so simple and then when you pop one into your mouth, it is full of delightful surprise. It looks like grilled cheese though the flavors are a little more like bread pudding. The bread is crisp and crunchy on the outside, and soft on inside. The melting mozzarella makes things more interesting.
2 oz Mozzarella Cheese
2 slices of soft fresh bread
1 large egg
2 tablespoons of Half and Half
Salt & Pepper
How to Cook
Make a sandwich of the bread and mozzarella. Add pepper to taste.
Take two dishes. On one add the flour, on the other whisk the eggs with two table spoons of half and half. Add salt and pepper to taste to the second dish.
Take the sandwiches and dust them with the flour. Dip both sides in the other dish.
Heat olive oil on a pan. Fry sandwiches on the pan for about ten minutes till they are golden brown and crispy. And you are all set to serve.
The Primo – Lemon Linguine with Shrimp Zucchini and Spinach
This is a great pasta dish. Amazingly sophisticated and elegant in taste but so easy to make. Just one thing to remember – pasta should always be cooked al dente. So follow cooking instructions as given in the packet but undercook by a minute or two. This makes the pasta much more flavorful and it goes better with the sauce.
A pound of pasta
2 shallots diced small
4 garlic cloves minced
2 zucchini cut into half inch slices
10 ounces of Spinach leaves
Salt & Pepper
A pound of shrimp (remember to remove tails and devein)
A cup of pasta water
How to Cook
Cook your pasta a minute or two less than the directions given in the package. Keep aside a cup of the water from the pasta for later use.
Saute shallots on a pan in medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Now add the zucchini and go on for two minutes. Add juice from the lemons and salt and pepper to taste.
Now add more olive oil. When the oil is heated add the shrimp and the spinach and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add the pasta to the pan and stir.
Add a bit of the starchy water to loosen the sauce.
Garnish with cheese.
The Secendo –Chicken Parmigiana
This classic Italian chicken dish can add class and unforgettable taste to every meal. And the best part is – you can make this exquisite restaurant style dish in a little over an hour. To get best results, make your own tomato sauce.
4 pieces of thinly pounded boneless chicken
2 cups of flour (add a pinch of salt and pepper)
4 large beaten eggs
1 pound mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 cups bread crumbs
Basil and parsley
1 finely chopped onion
Paste of 4 cloves of garlic and salt
A puree of 2 cans of plum tomatoes
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
Chopped chilli pepper
How to Cook
Before you start cooking preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour and then dip them into the beaten eggs. Dust them with bread crumbs.
Cook the chicken with olive oil on a pan till golden brown (2 minutes per side will do).
Put the chicken into a baking sheet. Top it with your special homemade tomato sauce, Mozzarella, a tablespoon of grated Parmesan and of course salt and pepper. Bake for about five to seven minutes till the chicken is cooked through and through. To garnish, add basil and parsley.
To make the tomato sauce, cook onion and garlic in a saucepan with oil till they go soft. Add tomato puree, crush tomatoes and tomato paste. Add a cup of water, bay leaf, parsley and one chopped pepper.
Bring to boil and add salt and water to taste. Reduce the heat and let the mixture cook for half an hour.
Enjoy the Best of Italy
If you love Italian food then hopefully some of these recipes will help bring some of the great flavors of Italy into your kitchen. It is always great to experiment with new and different dishes so check back as we plan to add more great tasting ideas in the near future.