Congratulations! You've survived the first month of school, and it's time for a break. It's Columbus Day weekend, and you want to host some friends or family members for dinner. What better way to celebrate than with an authentic Italian feast? Here are Ten of my favorite recipes from Italy (with variations on classic dishes), all guaranteed to wow your guests:
Risotto is a classic Italian dish that's been around since the Middle Ages. It's made using arborio rice, which comes from the Arborio region in Northern Italy, where it was first produced. The dish is easy to make, but it requires timing and patience so that you don't overcook your risotto or burn yourself with boiling broth. To make this version of risotto with vegetables and meat, you'll need the following:
- 1 onion (diced)
- 2 cups arborio rice (or another short-grain variety such as carnaroli)
- 8 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 Tbsp butter or olive oil
Pizza is a favorite of many people and can be made in many different ways. You can make your own dough or buy it from the store. If you buy pizza dough, there are many options to choose from, including refrigerated dough, frozen pizza crusts, and fresh refrigerated pizza dough. Pizza is easy to prepare at home with these instructions:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it's about 1/4 inch thick. Cover loosely with plastic wrap while preparing the toppings. Spread sauce over the crust; sprinkle cheese evenly over the sauce; add other toppings if desired (such as pepperoni slices). Bake for 10-15 minutes until the cheese has melted completely.
Pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine. The word derives from the Latin pastus, which means "food." Pasta can be made with wheat flour or semolina flour, which is more common in Italian cooking. It's also a great source of energy and protein, as well as fiber; each serving contains about 2 grams of fiber (about one-third of your daily requirement), making it an excellent choice for those who need to boost their intake because they don't get enough from other foods.
4. Italian Shakshuka
This dish is a staple of Israeli cuisine and has become popular in the Middle East. It's often served for breakfast or brunch, but it's also an excellent option for dinner. With its spicy tomato base, this dish can be enjoyed anytime!
5. Chicken Parmesan (Parmigiana)
You'll need the following:
- 2 cups flour
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups bread crumbs (I recommend using Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the fresh kind)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the flour into a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and water, then mix with a wooden spoon until just combined. Shape four patties approximately 4 inches in diameter and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown; remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly before topping with sauce, cheese, and toppings of choice!
6. Italian Meatballs
Italian meatballs are a delicious appetizer or main course. They can be served with many sauces and pasta, or you can use them to make sandwiches or wraps. Even though it's not an Italian dish, it's definitely a crowd-pleaser at any party!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1⁄4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)
- 1 egg white + 1 whole egg (or 2 yolks) beaten together (can substitute 3/4 cup of ground oats for the breadcrumbs)
In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients until well mixed. Shape into small balls and place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper; do not crowd meatballs too close together; bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes until browned on top and cooked through in the middle. Makes about 25-30 small meatballs.
7. Italian Gnocchi
If you're unfamiliar with gnocchi, it's a traditional Italian dish made from potatoes, flour, and egg. This recipe is a great way to try it out if you've never tasted this delicious dish. The beauty of this recipe lies in its versatility: it can be served as an appetizer or main course (or both!). But, of course, it all depends on how much time you have and how hungry your guests are!
Get creative with the toppings to make this dish even more fun for everyone at your party. Try different sauces like pesto or tomato sauce, or add fresh veggies like tomatoes and basil leaves. You could also garnish with fresh parsley if your kitchen garden is thriving now!
Bruschetta is a popular Italian appetizer that consists of toasted bread topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil. The mixture can be made in advance, but the bread should be cut and toasted before serving it. This is an excellent dish for a Columbus Day party because it's simple yet flavorful, and it can be served as an appetizer or side dish with dinner.
The traditional recipe calls for cutting your bread into cubes or slices, drizzling them with olive oil (you can also use butter), sprinkling on some salt, and baking them until they're lightly browned on both sides. Once they're done baking, simply top them with fresh chopped tomatoes (or canned diced tomatoes), minced garlic cloves, and salt/pepper if desired!
Biscotti is a classic Italian cookie you can dip into your coffee or tea. Typically, biscotti are made with flour, sugar, eggs, and butter. They're baked twice to give them a crunchier texture than most cookies.
After the first bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes until golden brown in color - let cool completely on a rack before cutting into slices 1/2 inch wide by 3 inches long (the thickness of each slice will vary depending on how wide you cut them). Next, Bake again at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until light golden brown in color; remove from oven and let cool completely on a rack before serving.
Arrange an Italian-Themed Tablescape
If you want an Italian-themed tablescape, start by using a red tablecloth. Then use a red napkin. Finally, set out the centerpiece of your choice: a wine glass filled with marinara sauce; an Italian flag; or an Italian flag folded into itself and placed on top of another tablecloth as if it were a runner.
Use Elegant Disposable Plastic Dinnerware
You may wonder, "How can I add a special touch to my Columbus Day party that's as elegant as it is disposable?"
The answer, of course, is elegant disposable plastic dinnerware. It combines the best parts of disposable plastic dinnerware with sophisticated design and expert craftsmanship.
These recipes are great for any Columbus Day celebration. You don't have to be Italian to enjoy them, but they will make your table look like it belongs in an Italian restaurant. If you want to set the mood even further, check out our disposable dinnerware section, where you can find everything from plates and cups to napkins and serving ware.