Recipes Categories

Entries in Italian (4)


Margherita Pizza

We had a pizza party last weekend—the kind of pizza party that had me making four doughs and everyone lending their artistry to topping them. Before the party Calvin and I spent about 10 minutes with the cheese specialist at Whole Foods discussing the different kinds of cheesses used for topping pizzas and we came home with three different kinds of mozzarella in addition to a myriad of other toppings, so we had plenty of materials from which to work. They were all good, but this one seemed to be the favorite across the board and I know we'll be making this one again soon.

Margherita pizza (my own take)
Ingredients (dough):
  ● 3-3/4 cups bread flour
  ● 1 pkg rapid-rise yeast
  ● 1/2 tsp salt
  ● 1-1/2 cups warm water (~100-120F)
  ● 1 tbsp honey
  ● 1 tbsp olive oil
  ● olive oil
  ● 2 lbs fresh mozzarella (1 inch sized balls, sliced)
  ● 2-3 tomatoes, sliced
  ● fresh basil leaves, torn
  ● prosciutto (optional—we used prosciutto wrapped in mozzarella)

Fresh mozzarella balls should be drained for several hours to eliminate extra moisture. I started mine draining six hours before we made our pizzas by pouring the whole balls into a colunder lined with a clean towel and placing it over a plate in the refrigerator.

Combine 3 cups of the flour, the yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add the warm water, honey, and olive oil, stirring until mixture begins to leave the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface knead for about 10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic, adding enough of the remaining flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn it to coat evenly. Cover with a damp towel and keep warm and free from drafts (I warm my oven just a tad ahead of time then set it in there with the oven off). Let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes or until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and knead, on a lightly floured surface, about ten times to release the air bubbles. Cut the dough in half and shape each piece into a ball. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes, then roll or pat each ball into a 12 inch round. Place rounds on pizza stones or other baking sheet. Use a brush to coat lightly and evenly with olive oil, then top with tomato slices, cheese slices, prosciutto (if using), and torn fresh basil leaves. Bake at 450 for 10-13 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is beginning to brown.


Homemade pappardelle

I have been wanting to try my hands at homemade noodles for some time now and, having stumbled across a recipe that promised me I didn't need a new KitchenAid attachment to do so, I decided now was the time. The process was incredibly easy, the end results were incredibly delicious. Though I'm sure we will rely on dried store bought noodles from time to time, I'm also sure I'll be doing this a lot more often.

Pappardelle is a wide ribbon Italian noodle. I made two different kinds—a standard white flour noodle and a spinach noodle. Of the two our favorite was actually the spinach noodle, and I have a it on my list to try a whole wheat noodle next time as well.

Homemade pappardelle

  ● 2 cups flour
  ● 2 large eggs
  ● 1/4 cup water
  ● 1-1/2 tsp olive oil

1. Put 1-1/2 cups of the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center of flour and add eggs, water, and olive oil. Stir until flour is moistened and leaves the side of the bowl.

2. See step two (and on) below,

Homemade spinach pappardelle

  ● 1/2 cup fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
  ● 1 large eggs
  ● 1-1/2 cups flour
  ● 3-4 tbsp water
  ● 1/2 tsp olive oil

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the spinach and egg; cover and blend until pureed. Put 1 coup of the flour into a large bowl; make a well in the center and add the spinach puree, 3 tablespoons of water, and the olive oil. Stir until well blended, adding additional water if it seems dry.

2. Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured surface and gather it into a ball. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic, adding as much of the remaining flour as need to keep it from sticking (be careful, though, too much flour will make for brittle noodles).

3. Shape the dough into two equal balls; wrap each ball in wax paper and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

4. Working with one ball at a time, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and flatten it into a round withthe palm of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/16-inch thick. If the dough is too elastic to roll out, recover and allow it to rest longer. Once rolled thin, cover loosely with a towel and allow to try for 30 minutes.

5. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut dough to desired width of noodle (pappardelle is usually about 3/4-inch wide). Separate noodles and allow to dry for another 30 minutes to 2 hours (I draped mine over my cooling racks. I also have a friend whose Italian mother does not dry additionally but just drops the noodles right in to cook, so I'll be trying that next time).

6. To cook noodles, bring salted water to a boil and add noodles for just 2-3 minutes—they cook fast, so don't overdo it!

And here they are, served with spicy Italian sausage sauteed in olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic with julienned red and yellow peppers, and vidalia onions and garnished with chopped fresh tomatoes and basil (from our garden!). This was superb!


Three cheese mostaccioli

This is one of the first dishes I ever really made, dating way back to my early years in college. It has remained a favorite part of our recipe rotation even to this day, and is often requested by friends and family when they visit, so it surprised me to realize that I had never put the recipe up on the blog. It's nothing really specia—just a glorified mac 'n cheese recipe that originally came from a microwave dinner cookbook, but has since been alterred almost beyond recognition, of course.

So here it is, one of our favorite comfort foods.

Three cheese mostaccioli (a.k.a. fancy mac n' cheese)

  ● 8 oz. mostaccioli, uncooked
  ● 2 tbsp butter
  ● 1/4 cup flour
  ● 1 tsp basil (dried)
  ● 1/4 tsp pepper
  ● 2 cup milk
  ● 1-1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
  ● 1 cup montery jack, shredded
  ● 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded, divided
  ● 1 medium tomato  , sliced

Prepare mostaccioli as directed. 

Meanwhile, In 2-quart baking dish, microwave butter until melted.  Stir in flour, basil, salt and pepper, then blend in milk.  Microwave at high for 6-10 minutes, whisking every 2 minutes.  When mixture is thick and bubbly, stir in 1 cup cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese until melted.  Stir in cooked mostaccioli, arrange tomato slices on top of pasta mixture, and sprinkle with remaining cheddar and parmesan cheeses.  Bake at 375 for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned around edges.



Crockpot Minestroni

I've made this one before, and the original recipe I found calls it Italian Vegetable Soup, but I like the sound of Crockpot Minestroni better, and I've played with both the method and the ingredients so I think I've earned the right to rename it. This meal is great on so many levels: it's vegetarian, it's quick, it's easy, and it makes great leftovers. Plus, it won't break the bank; I made it using bags of 365 label frozen organic veggies, cans of Eden organic beans (Eden is one of the few companies that does not use BPA in can linings, by the way), 365 label organic vegetable juice, and homemade organic vegetable stock (the 365 label organic stocks won't break the bank either). All together the meal cost about $20 and will provide at least two full meals for the three of us (we'll eat it for two dinners and there will be some left for lunches). I served it with homemade roasted garlic and rosemary Italian wheat bread.

Crockpot Minestroni

  ● 1  12- oz. package frozen cut green beans
  ● 1 12-oz. package frozen cauliflower (mine had carrots, too)
  ● 4-5  cups diced tomatoes
  ● 1  cup chopped onion
  ● 1+  cup chopped celery
  ● 1  cup regular barley
  ● 2  cloves garlic, minced
  ● basil, oregano, rosemary, and ground black pepper to taste
  ● 4  cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
  ● 2-1/2  cups reduced-sodium vegetable juice
  ● 4 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  ● Finely shredded Parmesean cheese (optional)

1. In your slow cooker or crockpot, place frozen green beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, onion, celery, barley, garlic, beans, and seasonings. Add vegetable broth and vegetable juice and stir to combine well. Add more vegetable juice as needed to bring liquid to desired level.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat for 6 to 8 hours. Top servings with Parmesean cheese.