Not all of us have an Italian grandmother to make the kitchen smell nostalgically like garlic or the perfect Italian place to eat out, but fortunately, now you can make and share these classic Italian recipes in your own home. These recipes will become favorite Italian staples for your family and friends to enjoy for years to come!
SPINACH PESTO – 4 servings
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 2 sprigs basil
- 2 cups Parmesan/Parmigiana-Reggiano/Romano (shaved or grated)
- 1 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
- 1 TBSP crushed red pepper (for fans of the spicy)
Combine ingredients in food processor or high powered blender. Mix thoroughly until mixture becomes a paste.
*Pesto goes hand-in-hand with tomatoes (whether fresh or sundried), roasted red peppers, mozzarella and veggies like eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet peppers, portabella and baby bella mushrooms. Pesto is terrific on pastas and is equally yummy on bread. Try it combined with bruschetta.
Recipe adapted from All Recipes for Spinach Basil Pesto (allrecipes.com)
BRILLIANT BRUSCHETTA – 4 servings
- 4-5 diced tomatoes
- 1 diced onion (yellow, sweet or red)
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic (what Italian dish doesn’t have this must-have ingredient)?
- 1 cup basil
- 3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- ¾ cup Parmesan/Parmigiana-Reggiano/Romano
- Ground black pepper & salt (optional: to taste)
If you are fan of pico de galloand prefer fresh, raw veggies, simply mix your ingredients together in a bowl and serve up rather than cooking over the stove. Some of you, however, may prefer cooking the ingredients before serving. If so, drizzle your pan with olive oil and cook onions till translucent, then add garlic, tomatoes, and other ingredients. Add the basil last, then serve.
* Bruschetta is usually served on baguette rounds, thinly sliced bread (drizzle with olive oil then toast, grill or bake) or crackers. Cut the tip of the garlic clove and rub it on the bread before spooning the bruschetta on top. Bruschetta goes well with olives, roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes and mushrooms. Makes great hors d’oeuvres!
Recipe adapted from All Recipes for Balsamic Bruschetta: (allrecipes.com)
CAPRESE ITALIAN SALAD – 4 servings
- 3 tomatoes (any kind – heirloom, grape, cherry, etc.)
- 2 cups mozzarella
- 3 sprigs basil (rough chopped)
- 4 to 5 cloves minced garlic (raw or sautéed)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP honey (optional for those who love things sweet)
- Ground black pepper & salt (optional, to taste)
- 1 tsp ground mustard (optional)
- Bed of baby spinach or lettuce (optional)
You can either mix all of the ingredients together in a bowloryou can make a pretty plate by alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. Add salt, pepper and ground mustard (optional), then spoon minced garlic overtop. Sprinkle fresh basil atop and get ready to celebrate!
*Caprese is great by itself, served on a bed of spinach or lettuce, or over bread.
Recipe adapted from Tablespoon for Stacked Caprese Salad with Balsamic Vinegar:
EGGPLANT PARMESAN – 4 servings
- 1 eggplant (sliced, thin slices cook faster)
- 3 eggs (beaten)
- 1 ½ cup Italian or panko bread crumbs
- Spices (optional: garlic powder, basil, red pepper flakes)
- 1 cup Parmesan/Parmigiana-Reggiano/Romano (grated)
- 2 cups mozzarella (sliced)
- Handful basil (rough chopped or minced)
- 3 cups marinara sauce (tomato sauce)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (if frying)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO, if frying)
You can fry or bake your Eggplant Parmesan. To fry, dip eggplant slices in beaten eggs and roll in Italian bread crumbs, flour, grated cheese and spices (optional) mixture. Pour EVOO in the pan and set on medium-high heat. Place each slice of eggplant in the EVOO gently (so it doesn’t spatter) and cook about two minutes (until golden brown). Turn with a fork or spatula and cook the other side.
To bake, dip eggplant slices in beaten eggs, roll in Italian bread crumb mixture and place in a baking dish. Bake for about 15 minutes on one side, then flip and bake the other side for another 15 minutes.
Serve with marinara sauce as a dip or add marinara sauce overtop, followed by mozzarella and fresh basil as a garnish. Bake approximately 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Recipe adapted from All Recipes for Eggplant Parmesan II: (allrecipes.com)
What could be better? Ciao bella!