It’s been a while, in fact quite some time since I enjoyed an authentic Italian dinner. I really enjoy cooking for family and friends, but there’s something truly rewarding about cooking a nice meal for two. That’s why I’m looking forward to this week’s cooking class.

This week our tastebuds are travelling to Italy, and we’re going to dine on some of this country’s richest and most beloved recipes. It’ll be a feast for the senses, as well as our stomachs!

We’re starting off with an appetiser of Bruschetta; toasted chewy bread with a balsamic and oil infused mixture of tomato and basil. After that, it’s our entree of Caprese salad; ripe tomatoes with fresh mozzarella, basil, and of course olive oil and more balsamic.

For our main course, it’s all about the parmigiana! Or, if you grew up knowing this dish, you may have jokingly called it pyjamas! In this case, we’re cooking chicken parmigiana with a fresh marinara sauce.

To finish our evening together, it’s has to be that classic from all the best Italian movies, tiramisú. Espresso soaked sponge fingers with a mascarpone cream mousse, and a dusting of rich cocoa powder. It’s a dessert to die for!

So, let’s get down to it, what are you going to need for this class?

 

Street in Italy

Italian Dinner Ingredients

As with all of our classes and recipes at LPaG, we use fresh and when that’s not available, we go for authentic. If that means canned, tinned, or jar storage, so be it!

These products are fantastic, and add convenience as well as affordability to cooking. What are you going to need on top of your fresh ingredients? Just some tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil, oregano, parsley, espresso powder, sugar, cocoa powder, amaretto or other liqueur and sponge fingers.

Italian Dinner Equipment

When it comes to equipment, you’ll only need the basics as well. So here’s a handy list:

Now, on to the recipes, and here they are:

Bruschetta

A restaurant favourite for entrees and appetisers, the bruschetta has been an Italian staple since bread was invented. For a more hearty dish, add small pieces of mozzarella.
Course Appetizer, Bread, Entree, Snack, Starter
Cuisine European, Italian
Keyword balsamic, basil, entree, mozzarella, olive oil, onion, starter, tomato
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 2 Portions

Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Serving plate
  • Mixing bowl
  • Grill or toaster

Ingredients

  • 4 slices Italian bread; thick and chewy bread about the the size of your palms
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • basil leaves fresh - dried is ok
  • cup olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  • In a mixing bowl, carefully toss together the chopped tomatoes, onions, and basil leaves.
  • Pour in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and continue to toss. Set aside.
  • Toast the sliced bread until nice and golden.
  • Place the toasted bread on the serving plate, and equally distribute the tomato/onion mix over the toast. Pour the remaining liquid over the tomato mix.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

The bruschetta can also include small pieces of fresh mozzarella, and this makes for a delicious main rather than an entree.

Caprese Salad

A light and refreshing salad, this combination of fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese is summer on a plate!
Course Appetizer, Entree, Snack, Starter
Cuisine European, Italian
Keyword balsamic, basil, buffala, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella, salad, tomato, vinegar
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Serving plate

Ingredients

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 large Buffalo Mozzarella balls
  • Olive oil
  • Basil leaves
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Carefully cut the tomatoes into thick slices, approx. 5mm/ ¼in.
  • Arrange the tomatoes on a serving dish, and tear the mozzarella balls over the top, scattering and layering the cheese and tomato.
  • Tear and scatter the basil leaves over the cheese and tomato.
  • Drizzle both the olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the cheese/tomato/basil - as much or as little as you like.
  • Season with salt and pepper as you prefer.

Marinara Sauce

This essential tomato sauce is a must-have for most Italian dishes. Whether as part of your chicken or eggplant Parmigiana, or with meatballs, or even over plain pasta, it's perfect for any occasion!
Course Appetizer, Condiment, Entree, Lunch, Main Course, Sauce, Side Dish, Starter
Cuisine European, Italian
Keyword marinara, meatballs, tomato, tomato sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 Portions

Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Medium saucepan w/lid
  • Stirring spoon

Ingredients

  • 7 oz 400g/2cups tinned tomatoes chopped
  • 2 oz 40g/2tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • ½ large onion finely diced
  • ½ tsp oregano basil, and salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Warm the saucepan over a medium-high heat, and add the oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the onions, herbs, and garlic. Cook until softened.
  • Add the tomato paste, add the chopped tinned tomatoes, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
  • Cover with a lid, and allow to simmer for 25mins.
  • Use as required.

Chicken Parmigiana

An international favourite, this parmigiana recipe is ideal for chicken, but can also be used for thin beef or pork steaks, and even eggplant too!
Course Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine European, Italian
Keyword aubergine, beef, chicken, eggplant, European, Italian, marinara, parmigiana, pork, tomato
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2 portions

Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Chef's Knife
  • Crumbing set: 1 side plate for flour, 1 bowl for egg whites, 1 plate for breadcrumbs
  • Skillet (ovenproof)
  • Baking dish - if skillet isn't ovenproof

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken breasts of your preferred size
  • 3 oz/100g/1cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbsp Parsley dried
  • 4 tbsp Parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 ball mozzarella or 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 3 tbsp oil - for frying
  • Marinara sauce as per recipe

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 200˚C/400˚F
  • Pat dry, and then carefully cutting your chicken breast in half so that it creates a 'heart' shape. This helps with speeding up cooking time, and it looks fancy too!
  • With your breast prepared, first coat it in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Set aside, and repeat with the second breast.
  • Once coated, heat the oil in the skillet over medium-high heat, and only add the chicken when hot. Cook on one side for approx. 5 minutes, or until golden brown in colour.
  • Turn the chicken over, and cook on the other side until golden brown. You can place a lid over the pan whilst the chicken is cooking, this will not harm the crumbing, and will create steam to ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked through.
  • Whilst the chicken is cooking, carefully cut or tear your mozzarella cheese into thin slices.
  • Once both sides are golden brown, pour over enough marinara sauce to fully coat the chicken, and then top with the mozzarella slices.
  • Place the tomato and cheese topped chicken into the oven, and cook for 10-15mins, or until the cheese bubbles and goes golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven, and serve immediately with a fresh green salad.

Notes

For a vegetarian option, substitute the chicken with thick rings of eggplant/aubergine, and follow the same process.

Classic Tiramisú

One of Italy's most beloved desserts, it's a classic worthy of its reputation! Make it ahead of that special dinner to really wow your guests.
Course Dessert
Cuisine European, Italian
Keyword chocolate, cream, easy, eggs, espresso, liqueur, mascarpone, tiramisu
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 Portions

Equipment

  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 med mixing bowl
  • Electric whisk
  • 8in square or other deep sided baking dish
  • Spatula for scraping

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks large ones
  • ¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar
  • cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup/115grams/4oz mascarpone
  • ¾ cup good espresso or very strong coffee - made not powder!
  • 1 tablespoons Amaretto or other preferred liquer
  • 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • About 12 ladyfingers - half of a 7-ounce/200-gram packet
  • 1 to 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate to decoration

Instructions

  • Dissolve the espresso powder and liqueur in a bowl and set aside.
  • Place the egg yolks and half the sugar in a medium bowl, whisk together until pale and about three times the volume.
  • In a large bowl, whip the cream and other half of the sugar until it forms soft-medium peaks. Add the mascarpone and whip until it forms medium peaks.
  • Carefully fold in the sweetened egg yolks to the mascarpone-cream mixture.
  • Use a small sieve to dust an 8in square baking other deep sided dish with ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
  • Carefully and quickly dip a sponge finger into the reserved espresso liquid, and place into the dish. They soak up liquid quickly, so be careful! Repeat until all the surface area of the dish is covered.
  • Dollop ⅓ of the mascarpone mix over the soaked sponge fingers, and repeat the layering process.
  • Finish with a top layer of mascarpone mix - this can be spread on with a spoon, or piped on with a piping bag. Once covered, dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder, and grated chocolate flakes.
  • Cover with cling film and allow to chill for a minimum of 30mins, and preferably for up to 4 hours - this encourages the flavours to infuse, and for the biscuits to properly absorb the liquid.

Thanks for checking out this post on Italian Dinner for Two, and I do hope you join us at the LPaG community Cook-Along this Friday. If you do, please come back and post a comment, or share a photo with the tag: #LarderPantryandGarden. 

You can also follow LarderPantryandGarden on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and YouTube too!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.