The Best Quick Italian Recipes
The Italian dinner consists of 5 courses and does not have to include a pasta dish. Here are a few recipe ideas that are easy to prepare, taste great and are part of a healthy diet.
Antipasto: A Little Nibble Before Dinner
An Italian dinner always starts with an antipasto or some other light appetizer.
Antipasto is a selection of cheeses, meats, breads and vegetables arranged on a platter. Here are a few ideas:
- Cubes or slices of mozzarella, parmesan, provolone or fontina cheese.
- Thin slices of ham, prosciutto, pepperoni,Genoasalami, cooked shrimp or anchovies.
- Sun-dried tomatoes, grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
- Marinated artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers.
- Black and green olives.
- Pears, melons, figs and grapes.
- Breads, breadsticks and crackers.
Stuffed Mushrooms are a change of pace if a hot appetizer is desired.
- Remove the stems from 30 large white mushrooms. Chop the stems.
- Sauté stems with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter and 1 chopped onion.
- Add 1/2 cup breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Mix well and remove from heat.
- Add 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
- Fill the mushroom caps with the mixture.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Il Primo: Appetizers as a First Course
The first course of an Italian dinner starts with a small serving of pasta, soup, rice or polenta.
Cannellini Bean Soup can also be served with bread and a salad to make a meal in itself.
- In a large pot, sauté 2 medium chopped onions and 3 tablespoons olive oil until translucent.
- Add 8 cloves crushed garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add 2 cans rinsed cannelloni beans and 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth. Cook until beans are tender.
- Add 1 bunch escarole. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup dry white wine and 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese. Cook 10 minutes.
Il Secondo: A Simple Second Course
The main course is usually a simply prepared small portion of chicken, meat or fish.
- Rub lamb chops with olive oil.
- Cut slits in the meat. Stuff with garlic cloves.
- Place lamb chops in a baking dish. Add dry white wine to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Cover the baking dish.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. The juices should run clear.
- Mix 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 cup cooked bulgur, ¼ cup grated Romano cheese, 1/2 cup chopped basil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 egg.
- Form into meatballs.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a fry pan.
- Brown meatballs in the fry pan.
- Place browned meatballs into a greased baking dish.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Serve with a marinara sauce.
- Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a fry pan.
- Place 12 large shrimp in the pan.
- Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
- Deglaze with 1/4 limoncello liqueur.
- Add the juice and zest from 1 lemon.
- Cook for 3 minutes. Turn the shrimp.
- Cook 3 minutes longer.
- Top with chopped parsley.
Il Contorno: The Side Dish
The main course is served with a simple vegetable dish as a side. Here are three easy vegetable dishes.
Fresh Tomato Salad requires no cooking and takes only minutes to put together.
- Slice 2 small tomatoes. Place in a bowl.
- Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon chopped oregano, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the olive oil mixture over the tomatoes. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Ratatouille is a Mediterranean dish that is loaded with vegetables, low in fat and high in nutritional value.
- Peel and cube an eggplant, a zucchini, a green or red bell pepper, an onion and 2 tomatoes (or 1 can stewed tomatoes).
- Layer the vegetables in a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. It’s easy to remember how to layer the vegetables for Ratatouille by remembering a simple mnemonic – EZPOT (Eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion and tomato).
- Chop fresh basil and thyme. Sprinkle over the vegetables.
- Pour 4 tablespoons of olive oil over the vegetable mixture.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until tender.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and grated Romano cheese
Roasted Red Potatoes are another easy to fix side dish.
- Wash and quarter 8 small red potatoes. Place in a mixing bowl.
- Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 cloves minced garlic.
- Remove the stems from 2 springs of rosemary. Add to the potato mixture.
- Toss the potato mixture. Layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until browned and tender.
Le Dolce: A Sweet to End the Meal
An Italian dinner ends with a small sweet dessert. This can be as simple as a biscotti and espresso. Here are a couple of quick desserts.
Chocolate Salami is also called Torta di Castagne. This dessert takes 10 minutes to prepare.
- Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 cup melted butter and 1 pound sweetened chestnut puree.
- Fold in 1/2 cup chopped almonds and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.
- Pour mixture onto a piece of waxed paper and roll into a log.
- Wrap the log tightly in wax paper.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Slice into 1/3 inch slices.
Italian Melon Fruit Salad makes a refreshing dessert. Use any combination of watermelons, cantaloupe, honeydew, papaya, casaba, Crenshaw or other melons.
- Place 4 cups of melon balls into a bowl.
- In a blender, make a dressing using 1 bunch fresh mint, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup simple syrup, and a splash of amaretto. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the melon balls and toss well.
To bring the perfect Italian meal to the perfect ending, serve an after dinner dessert liqueur. Offer your dinner guests a fond “Salute!” with a cordial glass filled with amaretto, grappa, limoncello or sambuca. These liqueurs are guaranteed to settle the stomach.