Each region of Italy has a distinct cuisine and traditional dish incorporating the freshest ingredients and local products of that region. Here are the main components of a typical Italian menu, in the order they are served:
- l'antipasto, which literally means "before the meal," includes hot and cold appetizers such as crostini (small, thin slices of toasted bread with toppings such as pâté or cheese), bruschetta (bread dipped in olive oil, toasted, and covered with diced tomatoes and basil), and mozzarella in carrozza (fried mozzarella squares)
- Il primo, or "first course," usually consists of pasta, minestrone, risotto, or zuppa (soup)
- Il secondo, or "second course," is the main course-meat, poultry, game, or fish
- Il contorno, or "side dish," may consist of vegetables such as melanzane (eggplant), spinaci (spinach), or insalata mista (mixed salad)
- Il dolce, or "dessert," includes such favorite sweets as tiramisù, torta della nonna (custard shortbread pie), or zabaglione (custard of egg yolks with wine and brandy)
Ziti al Telefono
- courtesy of Mario Batali's Simple Italian Food
"The telephone in this recipe title refers to the strings of melted mozzarella, which looks like a telephone switchboard, that form over the pasta as you eat."
- 2 cups basic tomato sauce
- 2 medium tomatoes, cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 bunch basil, stems removed (¼ cup)
- 1 pound ziti
- 8 oz. Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into ¼ inch cubes
Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and add about 2 Tablespoons salt.
In a 12 to 14 inch sauté pan, combine the tomato sauce and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the basil leaves without stirring.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, until tender and just shy of al dente ("to the tooth" - still chewy and not overcooked). Drain well, then add to the pan with the tomatoes and basil. Add the mozzarella pieces and toss over medium heat, until the cheese is just melting. Pour into warm bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Italian Rice Balls
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated
- 3 tablespoons of finely minced fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup diced mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup diced prosciutto
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Peanut oil for deep frying
Bring 2-1/2 cups of water to boil in a saucepan and add rice, cook for 15 minutes, drain and transfer to bowl.
Beat one egg and add to the rice, along with Romano cheese, 2 T. of parsley, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill for 15 minutes.
In another bowl mix mozzarella, prosciutto and remaining tomato sauce.
Flour hands and divide rice into 8 portions and roll each into a ball about the size of a small orange.
Poke a hole in the ball with your finger and put about 1-1/2 T. of the mozzarella mixture into the hole.
Reshape and smooth the rice ball to close the hole.
Beat remaining egs in a shallow bowl and spread bread crumbs out on a plate.
Roll rice ball in egg, coating well, then in bread crumbs and coat evenly. Let sit for 45 minutes.
In a heavy pan or deep fryer, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry rice balls until golden. Drain on a paper towel and serve hot.
- 1 lb. hazelnut meats, coarsely chopped
- 1 lb. confectioner's sugar
- 1 oz. cocoa (2tbls.)
- 2 tsps. cinnamon
- 5-6 egg whites
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Cut baking pan liner paper or brown paper to fit 2 baking sheets and grease lightly.
Put hazelnuts, confectioner's sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
Add egg whites and mix well until mixture is well blended--about 5 minutes.
Wet hands with water and break off small pieces of mixture (about 1 tablespoon) and shape into round balls.
Place on baking sheets, 1 inch apart, and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Makes approx. 3 1/2 dozen.