Italian Recipes, Hints & Videos
Once upon a time, Italian food was only found in Italy. It wasn't until the large migration of Italians to the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that pasta, tomato sauce and olive oil became staples of the American cuisine. Thus was born Italian-American food; or Italian food. Since most of the immigrants came from Naples and Sicily, much of what we know as Italian Food comes from those traditions.
Once considered the cuisine of immigrants and the poor, Italian food has become a staple of many up-scale restaurants. In fact, many of the top rated fine dining guides such as Zagat, The Michelin Guide and Distinguished Restaurants of North America have a number of Italian-American restaurants listed. But possibly the best thing about Italian food is that it can be as easy to prepare as spaghetti with sauce and as complicated as Veal Piccata. So get in the spirit of this versatile cuisine and start cooking.
Italian Appetizer Recipes
Baked clams have become a standard in the Italian-American restaurant repertoire. So standard, in fact, that they have become something of a cliché and are usually represented by frozen, mass-produced little clods of garlic-flavored bread crumbs and rubber bands. Here is how the dish is properly done.
2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 C. (250 ml) bread crumbs (preferably homemade)
1/4 C. (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 C. (60 ml) finely chopped parsley
3 Tbs. (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
36 small clams such as cherrystones, shucked, 36 half shells reserved
2 Tbs. (30 ml) lemon juice
4-6 Tbs. (60-90 ml) butter, melted
Lemon wedges for garnish
Combine the garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to combine. Coarsely chop the clams and combine with the lemon juice in a separate bowl. Place the clam shells on a baking sheet, using a thin bed of rock salt to stabilize them if desired, and divide the chopped clams between them. Top with the bread crumb mixture and drizzle with the butter. Cook under a preheated broiler until the topping is golden brown and the clams are bubbling, about 2 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serves 4 to 6.
Italian Soup Recipes
This filling vegetarian soup is bursting with beans and other flavors from the garden.
1 C. celery, minced fine
1 C. onion, minced fine
1 C. carrot, minced fine
1/4 C. butter
1/2 C. garbanzo beans
1/2 C. kidney beans
1/2 C. whole dried peas
1/2 C. white pea beans
3/4 C. sliced carrots
3/4 C. coarsely chopped onion
3/4 C. sliced celery
3/4 C. chopped bell pepper
1/2 C. rice or barley
1 C. shell macaroni
2 tbsp. minced parsley
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
2 tsp. soy sauce
Pepper to taste
Slowly sauté finely minced onion, celery and carrot in butter until very brown. Add peas and beans and about 3 quarts of water. Cook slowly until beans are almost done; about 2 hours. Add the remaining vegetables, rice, spices and more water to cook another hour. Add the macaroni 30 minutes before serving and more water if needed. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Italian Entree Recipes
Spaghetti Ala Puttanesca
You can either serve the flavorful sauce over the bed of spaghetti or mix it in well.
1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 can (14 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes, including liquid
5-6 Oil Cured Black Olives, pitted and sliced in half
5-6 Sicilian Green Olives, pitted and sliced in half
5-6 Kalamata Olives (or Greek Black Olives), pitted and sliced in half
3-4 Pepperonccini, sliced
2 tsp. of capers
Crushed Red Pepper to taste-
Fresh (or dried) Oregano to taste-
Fresh (or dried) Basil to taste-
1 lb. spaghetti
Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
In a skillet, heat oil. Add garlic and anchovies, and cook over low heat until anchovies dissolve. Add olives, capers & Pepperonccini and sauté for a few more minutes. Add a splash of dry white wine. Chop tomatoes, add the tomatoes and spices to skillet, and cook for 5 minutes. Cook spaghetti according to package directions and drain. Mix in sauce or serve on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Italian Salad Recipes
Layered Antipasto Salad
Everything you could ever want in a salad is right here for you to make.
1 (12 oz.) jar whole mild banana peppers, drained
1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1 (6 oz.) can pitted ripe olives, drained
1 pt. Italian-style tomatoes, quartered
1 (8 oz.) bottle commercial zesty Italian salad dressing, divided
4 C. torn romaine lettuce
1 (3.5 oz.) pkg. sliced pepperoni
1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved 1 (12 oz.)
1 pkg. mozzarella cheese, cut into strips
1 C. sliced fresh mushrooms
Reserve 2 banana peppers. Slice remaining peppers in half, and remove stems. Layer cucumber, olives, tomatoes and peppers in a 3-qt.bowl; pour 1/4 C. dressing over layers. Top with lettuce, half of pepperoni, artichoke hearts, half of cheese strips, mushrooms, remaining pepperoni, and cheese strips. Pour remaining dressing over salad; chill. Garnish with remaining peppers.
Yield: 10 servings.
Italian Dessert Recipes
Wolfgang Puck’s finds it easy to understand why tiramisu is Italy’s most popular dessert — not just on Columbus Day, but year-round. When you’ve got one dish that combines the flavors of chocolate and espresso coffee with sugar, light spongy ladyfinger cookies, and tangy-creamy mascarpone cheese, how can you possibly go wrong? No wonder it gets its name, which is Italian slang for “pick-me-up.” My recipe is fairly long, as you can see. But each stage of it remains simple —even the cake making. Better still — you can make the cake up to two weeks ahead of time and the mascarpone filling as far in advance as four hours. That leaves just the final, simple assembly to be done no later than two hours before serving time, making this a surprisingly easy dessert for the grand impression it makes. My only other advice: Enjoy this with a cup of strong coffee, preferably espresso.
Melted butter, for brushing pan
6 eggs, separated
1/2 C. sugar
1 C. cake flour, sifted
6 egg yolks
1 C. sugar
1/4 C. Marsala
1/4 C. brandy
2 lb. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 C. hot freshly brewed espresso
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C. grated bittersweet chocolate
First, make the Ladyfinger Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12-by-16-inch rimmed baking sheet, line with parchment paper, and brush the paper with butter. In a mixing bowl, use a handheld electric mixer on medium speed to beat the yolks with half of the sugar until the mixture is light in color and forms a ribbon when the beaters are lifted. Set aside.
In another bowl, using clean beaters, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Beating continuously, slowly pour in the remaining sugar and continue beating until the whites form slightly drooping peaks when the beaters are lifted. Sift the flour again. With a rubber spatula, fold half of the flour into the yolk mixture. Fold in half of the whites. Then, fold in the remaining flour. Finally, fold in the remaining whites. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and, with a spatula, carefully spread to fill the tray. Bake until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. (This can be done up to 2 weeks ahead; if so, remove the cake from the baking sheet, wrap airtight in plastic wrap and foil, and store in the freezer.)
Next, make the Mascarpone Cream: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the yolks and sugar. Add the Marsala and brandy. Place over a pan of boiling water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water, and cook, stirring, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees on a cooking thermometer. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture resembles a thick paste, about 5 minutes. Remove and place the bowl inside a larger bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until the mixture cools to room temperature. Put the mascarpone in another bowl and, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until it forms soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold thoroughly into the yolk mixture. (This can be made up to four hours ahead, covered and refrigerated.)
Next, make the Espresso Syrup: In a heatproof bowl, stir together the espresso, brown and granulated sugars, lemon juice and vanilla, until the sugars dissolve completely. Set aside. To assemble: Cut the sheet of cake into two 8-by-10-inch portions. Divide the Mascarpone Cream into 3 equal portions and the Espresso Syrup into 2. Spread a portion of the Mascarpone Cream over the bottom of a deep 8-by-10-inch dessert dish. Top with 1 sheet of cake. Drizzle 1 portion of syrup evenly over the cake. When it has soaked in, repeat with another layer of Mascarpone Cream, another cake sheet, and more syrup. Top with the remaining Mascarpone Cream and sprinkle with grated chocolate. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To serve, cut into square or rectangular portions.
Yield: 8-12 servings
Italian Recipes Hints & Videos