Friday, April 19, 2013

52 Authentic Italian Recipes... What I am doing Now

Hello my friends... Just wanted to update you all about what I have been cooking over at my more current blog.  Posting daily and cooking some of the best food ever (for me).  I decided to get simple, rustic, flavorful and delicious and have devoted myself to cooking Italian since the first of the year.

Follow some of the links and come see what I have been up to...


A Kansas Home Cook tackles authentic Italian Recipes... I am starting my new blog series that eventually will be a guide to Italian Cooking (worth following). I will try to research the history, Italian name for the dish and most of all the authenticity (going to be hard not to monkey about with the recipes, but I at least promise to try).  Several times a month I will be adding to the page with something new...

So, Cin Cin (toast) and Buon Appetito (Enjoy your Meal) to you all and let's Cook authentic Italian!

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The Basics...

Herbed Tomato Sauce for Pasta, Pizza or Cooking
Slow Cooker, Crock pot Recipe
"Salsa di Pomodoro alle erbe"

This is my go-to recipe for Italian Red Gravy... Your basic tomato sauce.  Rich and thick and delicious.  It is also my 9 month a year sauce, made with canned tomatoes (freshest possible in January).  Very little hands on effort as the slow cooker does all the work!

 (Ragù del Festività)

It may look like a chili, but this is a thick MEAT HEAVY Sauce.  It's one of those chicken and egg things, you can't make an authentic Italian  lasagna without first making a Festival Ragu Sauce (so named because there is SO MUCH MEAT it is reserved for festival days)

Fresh Made Pasta - The Basics

It's much easier than you think and worth all the effort.  This is a basic recipe, perfect for linguine or to make artisan raviolis.  Or even to pair with that tomato sauce above!


A Soffrito is a vegetable mix, similar to a Cajun trinity or the French Mirepoix.  The big change for me was the addition of a carrot in place of a bell pepper.  Adds a delicious sweetness to soups, meat dishes and more.  Freezes easily for a convenient quick lunch flavoring ingredient.
A very useful vegetable combination

Chicken Stock

Made in a Crock Pot (constant temperature control... plus it's easy), you just can not get far in Italian cooking without a good supply of Chicken Stock.  SO, why not make your own.  It's easy, it is cost efficient and you use up pantry items that are close to being thrown out.  Make it with a store bought fully cooked, fully seasoned Rotisserie Chicken and you get all that meat FREE!


and the top 5 uses for your home grown hooch

It gets no better than this!  Very easy (I toss in the three tips that separate good from GREAT home made Limoncello.  It does take patience as it takes 30 days for the oils in the lemon zest to infuse with the vodka but it is SO worth the wait.  In the post I even toss in a couple recipes for Cheesecake, lemon bars and a few other ways I use mine.

The Antipasto course sets the tone for a relaxed Italian meal.  The meal starts with something to nibble on called antipasto which translates to "Before the Meal".  Different from the Primo course.  Smaller, light, nibble, grazing foods are best.  Ideally you can serve this course away from the table, on the patio or by a roaring fire!  Also an excellent time to be sure everyone is enjoying a little wine to set the tone.

Antipasto All'Italiana

These "party trays" are usually reserved for a  party.
Selections of various meats, cheeses, maybe a Bruschetta (toast with a topping).  They are ideal for a party since all of the work can be done before the guests arrive.
The advantage to trays like this, in addition to their ease (no cooking) is the tone that they set for the evening.  The trays allow guests to mix mingle chose what they like.  It gives the hosts a chance to make sure drinks are served and the evening starts relaxed.  The course can easily take 30 minutes or more allowing late arriving guests to make the party and meet any new friends they have not yet met.
Simple and a sure winner of a n Antipasto course!

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Making 101 with recipes for Dough, Sauce and all the Techniques for pizzeria restaurant quality pies at home!  This is the classic "original" Italian pie made to honor the Queen Consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy (and not the tequila drink).

(Uova e Pancetta Pizza)

Breakfast Pizza, fast and VERY EASY and maybe the prettiest presentation for a pizza ever!  Salty bacon and eggs cook on a classic cheese and tomato sauce pizza.  Makes a unique breakfast and also works as an antipasto  appetizer.

Bruschetta with Tomatoes
Bruschetta al Pomodoro

Start with Tuscan Garlic Toast and add a delicious Italian tomato salsa and you have a classic dish to start the celebration for an olive harvest.  Perfect example of Italian cooking, simple ingredients that SHINE!
Plus, Crostini and Fettunata are explained.

(L'aglio e il pomodoro Arrosto Bruschetta)

Oh My... This takes a little planning as the tomatoes and garlic need to roast slowly in an oven for 2-3 hours in order for the natural sugars in the tomatoes to sweeten to near candy taste.  Planning and time, but these are worth it.  Simple and DELICIOUS!  Easy to make and a crowd pleaser! 

Focacca as an Appetizer
Focaccia Tutti i Giorni

Here's a basic recipe that I turned into three very different tastes... Sea Salt and Herb - Savory caramelized Onion - and the show stopper Sweetened Blueberries.  Sets a nice tone for an Antipasto course, portable, easy to eat and gets the party talking!

A beautiful rustic bread, loaded with a light delicious Olive Oil and topped with Herbs, and a fresh seasonal tomato.  A beautiful appetizer  and easy to make!

Fennel and Orange Salad
Insalata di Finocchi e Aranci

The distinctive taste and aromas of sliced fennel bulbs highlight this unique citrus salad.  Sicilian in origin, with an exotic sweet flavor typical of local pick and eat cooking style.

Insalata di Finocchi e Aranci Rossa

Sound familiar, this is a seasonal dish that takes advantage of the winter availability of Blood Oranges.  Dramatic presentation makes this perfect for a dinner party.
The distinctive taste and aromas of sliced fennel bulbs highlight this unique citrus salad.  Sicilian in origin, with an exotic sweet flavor typical of local pick and eat cooking style.


The Italian version of an Olmelette...
Served Open faced, and made with eggs.  Other than that, not many rules.  Mostly the dish is used to make leftovers shine.  A filling breakfast, lunch or a wonderful starter, easily serves 8 as an Antipasto.
This is my delicious sausage and red onion Fritatta that I occasionally make as a weeknight no company dinner for two.

A Firtatta can be more than just a way to use up left overs.  In the classic Italian way, this is how to take the freshest best tasting ingredients (like a winter KUMATO TOMATO) and turning it into something simple BUT wonderful.  Easy technique and the tomato shines!

Caprese Salad
Insalata Caprese

Salad in the style of Capri... A very simple (three ingredients, 4 if you count sea salt), so FRESH and flavorful ingredients are a MUST.  But well worth the hunt as the reward is one of the classic salads of the world.   Ignore the Salami, I just added that for a bit of a heartier lunch.  the post has tips for finding and buying the best ingredients.

Mozzarella in a Coch (Italian Grilled Cheese)
(Mozzarella in Corrozza)
This is such a surprise... Seemingly a simple grilled cheese, but so much more.  Seemingly a grilled cheese made with French toast, but so much more.  More like a Bread pudding with a crispy crunchy outside, but the center is creamy almost custard like.  BEST EVER GRILLED CHEESE!!!

The First Course... Actually served second after the Antipasto.  This is the pasta or soup course.  Rice, Risotto or polenta are all considered terrific Primo Courses!

Beet Ricotta Ravioli with Basil Butter Sauce 
(Barbabietola Ravioli con Salsa di Burro Basilico)

Get romantic with easy to do heart shaped pasta filled with a sweet Ricotta Cheese and bright bold colorful beets.  The sauce is a gentle compliment with flecks of bright green adding to the look.  But the taste is the winner!

Brown Butter, Sage and Walnut Pasta Sauce 
(Burro, salvia e salsa noci)
over Spinach Ricotta Ravioli

I LOVE this sauce.  One of the oldest pasta sauces from Italy, the butter softened walnuts and the rich buttery herbal sauce, plus the salty nutty parmesan cheese makes this IDEAL to flavor any sauce, but especially this sweet cheese/spinach stuffed ravioli
Layered Mushroom, Marscarpone and Polenta Bake 
(Polenta Concia)
These are a wonderful little addition to any dinner.  Creamy sweet polenta topped with savory onions and mushrooms, seasoned with fresh thyme and added to the "sandwich" is a sweet Mascarpone cheese sauce.  Dramatic rustic presentation is sure to please!

Pasta Alla Carbonara Sauce

The third most popular sauce (after marinara and Alfredo), this is a bacon and egg noodle dish flavored with a sauce of bacon fat, cheese, herbs and mostly raw eggs!  It is a delicious combination not to be missed.  Easy one pot (well, two with the pasta) dish that comes together in minutes!

Linguine con Gamberi verdure e olio al limone

This became my wife's favorite pasta... The Lemon sauce compliments the pasta, flavors the shrimp, perfectly pairs with the zucchini and wilts the spinach to perfection!

(Fettuccine Cremosa Vodka)

Vodka is used to bring out the deeper richer tastes of the tomatoes used in this sauce.  A long simmer releases an extra layer of flavor  to create a bold flavor.  Reinvented in the 70's at high end Italian restaurants, this easy to make essentially 30 minute meal is FANTASTIC to make at home.

Fettucini Alfredo Con Limone

This is NOT the heavy thick cream sauce you may know from the Americanized version.  Cheesy and creamy coating with a zesty lemon addition.  Terrific sauce to use with fresh made pasta!

Black pepper Pasta with a Brown butter Walnut Sage Sauce

Once you go fresh made pasta you may never go back.  Now I am starting to make flavored pasta with the black pepper added right into the dough.  But the star is this incredible sauce.  Butter cooked with fresh sage.  Then Walnuts softened in the butter and big handful of Parmesan cheese makes this FANTASTIC!

(Spaghetti con ragù Toscano)

There is a simple cooking process that infuses the tastes of Italian sausage into a tomato sauce.  making a richer fuller taste.  Much more than just sauce and meat!  All made set and forget easy in a crock pot slow cooker.

Zuppa Toscana - Soup of Tuscany better than Olive Garden

Started out as a copy cat recipe of an Olive garden favorite, made thicker and heartier with the subtraction of some of the liquid )almost a stew now) and a few more changes. Made easier as a crock pot recipe. WORKS GREAT! now one of my favorites!

(Giallo e Rosso Pepe Zuppa)

This is a bright, beautiful soup. Light in taste with just a hint of the sweet Italian cream cheese (which also helps to thicken the broth for a very pleasing texture. And of course, LOVE the colors. Meatless Mondays do not need to be bland Mondays. This soup packed a lot of flavors.

Minestrone D'Inveno

There is no "authentic" recipe for Minestrone, the soup is what the word means, a mixed-up mess of ingredients, seasonal (winter is what is in the Italian cook's root cellar).  This is truly a peasant dish, a hearty bowl of soup, made from easily found (and often free or garden) ingredients' designed to fill you up at little to no expense

Sausage and Beans Minestrone
 "Salsicce e fagioli Minestrone"

This is  as hearty a soup as you can get.  TWO kinds of Sausages, two Beans, two Root Vegetables, EVEN more vegetables, Tomatoes, all in a Tomato based broth... Even Orzo Pasta  FANTASTIC FILLING HEARTY SOUP!
Zuppa di patate pancetta Contadina

The FLU has reared it's ugly head around our house.  But this LOADED up vegetable-potato soup with a big wallop of  Italian BACON helps in so many ways!

Salami Spelt Soup
Zuppa di FarroA MOST unexpected soup.  DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE SPELT. It is a grain, looks similar to barley BUT when slow cooked become sweet like a kernel of  sweet corn.  Combined with a SPICY Pepper Salami Soup, this becomes unexpected and FANTASTIC!!!

Italian Tomato Soup
Zuppa di Pomodoro

My ongoing collection of tomato soups grows with this amazing rich thick chunky pizza spiced wonderful pottage!  Made easy in a set and forget crock pot, with an extra texture from Sun Dried Tomatoes  the layers of flavors  from the Italian spices sets this apart!

Here's a FAST FOOD recipe... Even Better, A Fast Food DOLLAR MENU item.  It costs next to nothing to make but filled with flavors.  This is the Italian version of an Asia Egg Drop Soup with one special ingredient that adds nutty freshness to the soup!

Sweet Potato Risotto 
Patate dolci risotto

I add a few tips to making a PERFECT Risotto every time.  Just about any winter squash will work for this dish.  The colorful sweet potatoes make this a standout for a beautiful and tasty dish.

Risotto Primavera

Ah Springtime... When a young mans thoughts turn to flights of fancy... Like this fancy springtime risotto LOADED up with delicious vegetables (some of them are even fresh this time of year). The beautiful green colors just scream freshness and springtime! Zucchini, Green Beans, Peas and Asparagus... And LOTS of Parmesan Cheese

Eggs in Purgatory
Uova al purgatorio

This is soooooo easy, and cheap.  Especially if you make your own Herbed Tomato Sauce for Pasta, Pizza or Cooking!  You are simply poaching the eggs in a tomato sauce, adding great flavor to the simple egg!

The Second Course... Actually served third after the Antipasto and the Primo, the Main Course, the meat course usually.

Traditional Lasagna... DIY From Scratch
(Lasagne Tradizionali)

This is the basic, scratch version... layer upon layer of Home made fresh PASTA (Recipe included), A rich thick meaty RAGU Sauce (recipe included), a nutty creamy BECHAMEL Sauce (recipe Included), Loaded with Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheeses and FANTASTIC!  Newer Specialty or lesser ingredients are fine, but this is the ONE PEOPLE WILL RAVE ABOUT!!!

Chilean Sea Bass from the Miller's Wife 
(Spigola Alla Mugnaia)

A Deliciously delicate way to cook and then sauce your fish.  Braised in butter, white wine and lemon juice, seasoned with simple salt pepper and a few Sage leaves.  then the cooking liquid is thickened into a sauce that compliments the fish.  Cook to proper internal temperature and the fillets melt in your mouth!

Beef Strips with Garlic and Rosemary
Stracetti de Manzo con Aglio e Rosmarino

It just does not get much better than this recipe.  Olive Oil, garlic and Fresh herbs make this simple yet deeply rich flavors a specialty dish.  Italians do not serve beef often, but when they do they make the most of it.

Marinated Steak with Pizzaiola Sauce
(Bistecca marinata alla pizzaiola)

Beef, it's whats for dinner.  Start the marinade in the morning and this becomes a 30 minute meal.  The "sauce" is actually diced tomatoes simmered in their juices along with pizza seasonings until the juices have simmered out and the tomatoes are deeply seasoned.  Think a chunky BBQ sauce.  Plus simple (best way to cook a steak) instructions for cooking the steaks.

Italian Pot Roast
(Stracotto di Manzo)

Simple seasonings, a few fresh herbs and braised in wine and stock, resting on a bed of Soffritto (minced root vegetables), this is NOT your Yankee pot roast.  Simple with added flavors and you have a real winner of a heart warming meal!

Beef Braised in Red Wine 
(Manzo Brasato al Vino Rosso)

It's kind of the Italian version of boeuf bourguignon.  Beef stew meat cooked long and slow in a dutch oven or cast iron skillet. Long and slow, braised in red wine, adding a delicious tart tang along with a natural sweetness.  And the gravy comes pre-coating, simply delicious.

Stuffed Meatloaf
(Polpettona Ripiena)

BEST MEATLOAF EVER, natural sweetness from LOTS of carrots and other vegetables, spinach and cheese highlight the hidden center and BACON BACON BACON wrap to hold everything in place.  three layers of taste, traditional meatloaf, vegetables and cheese center and Cheesy Meatloaf on the bottom

Roast Pork in Milk 
(Arista in Latte)

A wonderful dish to make for a party, slow simmers in a milk bath for over an hour, giving plenty of time to work on side dishes and be a part of the fun.  BUT, the combination of fork tender pork, sweet hints from the milk and a fantastic mustard milk gravy make this a winning combination.
Pork Loin Stuffed with Herbs
Lombo di maiale ripienealle herbe aromatiche

It's a beautiful spectacular presentation, but also a delicious way to add an herb soaked oil/wine marinade to the center of the pork, making each bite wonderfully moist, tender, seasoned and DELICIOUS!!!

Sausages with Cranberry Beans 

(Salsicce con Fagioli Cranberry)

A One pot wonder that is more stew than soup.  The starchy water combines with dry white wine to make a fantastic gravy, along with mounds of sausage and plenty of BACON!  The unique taste of the Cranberry beans makes this a  winning cold weather dish!

Savory Bread Pudding 
(Budino di pane salato)... Pizza Strata

Breakfast food, or a delicious main course at night.  Layered with pizza toppings (sausage tomato sauce and mozzarella), the layered custard bottom and the crispy French toast top makes this a more complex version of a southern bread pudding... and DELICIOUS!

Chicken Cacciatore
(Pollo alla Cacciatore)

The legendary Chicken (Bone in, skin on) dish braised in wine and stock, flavofing the side dish of tomatoes and onions all in a single pot (Skillet).  VERY VERY EASY and among the tastiest chicken dishes around!

Chicken, Sausage and Peppers with Gravy
(Pollo, Salsicce e Peperoni con Sugo)

FAST (30 Minutes), EASY (One Pot Meal), PRETTY (look at the Green Peppers, Red Tomatoes, White Chicken), but most of all... TASTY! Chicken and Sausage, Onions and Peppers, all resting in a shallow pool of gravy, seasoned with Italian herbs ... TASTY INDEED, LICK THE PLATE TASTY!

The Contorni course usually is not a course at all, but is served along side the Secondo (meat course).  A Contorni is the vegetable or side dish.  Often in modern times, there can be more than one Contorni served during a meal (a potato dish AND a dish of peas).

Swiss Chard with Tomatoes , Pine Nuts and Olives 
(Bietole con Pomodori, Pinoli e Olive)

10 minute side dish.  Think Asian Stir Fry with fresh Italian ingredients.  So many layers of flavors here, highlighted by the colorful tomatoes and the beautiful colors of the Swiss Chard.  Great side dish or vegetarian main course.

Fennel Gratin
(Finocchi al gratin)

Incredibly rich cheesy, fantastic Earthy flavor of the roasted Fennel. Sweet and herbal with the nutmeg accented creamy cheese sauce. A bit crunchy and soft and delicious.  This Mediterranean classic, exotic ingredient dripping with Bechamel Sauce is INCREDIBLE!

Asparagus and Cheese Tart
(Asparagi e formaggio di pecora)
A fantastic side dish, The Onions are softened in butter and by the time they are sauteed and baked they have released their natural sweetness. The egg and cheese mixture has some Half and Half that combines and bakes into almost a custard.  And of course, Puff Pastry makes the whole thing easy and provides a perfect base for the tart,

Fennel and Potato Cake 
(Torta di patate e finocchi)

On so many levels, the crispy potatoes, the cheesy creamy eggs, the exotic Fennel and onions...
And so useful, breakfast leftovers, fantastic presentation fit for any dinner, a filling dish on it's own if you are going meatless. But it's that total taste that sends this to my MUST MAKE AGAIN SOON LIST!
Fried Rosemary Potatoes
Patate al rosmarino

It just does not get much easier than this...
A littl oil, a few poatatoes, crisp them up and season with fresh herbs.  A rustic but handy little dish.  It comes together quickly and the crispy edges, yet tender centers seasoned with the fresh herbs pairs so well with a secondi (meat course).

Potatoes in a Pouch
Patate al Forno in un Sacchetto

Sage is the seasoning and the potatoes are cooked in a tiny bit of oil PLUS bacon as the rendering bacon fat helps flavor the beautiful red potatoes.  A colorful and wonderful side dish filled with flavor.

Patate al Forno in un Sacchetto

These are the same potatoes as above.  I chose to make these for a dinner party with 8 dishes being served.  These are so wonderful and they have the advantage of no fuss, just bake, open the aluminum pouch and serve, freeing me up to work on the other dishes.

The dessert or sweet course.  Authentic Italian meals end differently than American meals.  After a multi course meal, the last course is usually something light that sits nicely on top of all that food.  Often seasonal fruit (or canned from the always prepared Italian Grandmother cooks) is served.  But of course for special occasions, an Italian dessert will always shine...

Layer Cake with  Pastry Cream
(Torta Margherita con Creama Pasticcera)
Light, surprisingly light, very little flour, mostly eggs make this a delightful dessert after a full meal.  The pastry cream is similar to the cream used in Boston Cream Pies.  Rustic look but full flavor taste!

Hazelnut Cake
(Torta di Nocciole)

A wonderful texturally almost shortbread cake that is wonderful to pair with a fruit (I like peaches).  There is as much crushed toasted hazelnuts in the cake as sugar making for a rich full taste.

Jordan Almonds Simple Biscotti 
(Confetti Biscotti Simplici)
It's not the legendary Biscotti you may know.  Instead it is loaded with the pulverized Almond meal and candy coating of Candied Jordan Almonds.  Buttery soft flavor added to the PACKED WITH ALMOND TASTE makes this a cookie to remember.  Perfect as a dessert with wine or with your morning coffee!

Well, that's it for now, but rest assured there will be more coming soon.

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