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Sep 21, 2007 10:25 AM

Truly Italian dinner

I'm having 7 people over for dinner and I was wondering if anybody could share some great ideas and recipes for a *truly* and strictly italian menu and wine pairings?

I think I'm gonna prepare a menu based on your suggestions and post detailed photos of the making afterwards.

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  1. I would just suggest you check out Marcella Hazan's Classic Italian Cookbook-- she has many suggestions for first and second courses, and vegetable sides, which go well together--

    I don't think she discusses wine though--

    1 Reply
    1. re: DGresh

      That was my first thought, too. What a great cookbook it is.

      I also don't recall mention of wines, but I'm not a big fan of drinking wine with food, so I may have just skipped over it in disinterest.

    2. You might want to think about breaking down a "truly Italian" meal into a truly REGIONAL Italian meal, as there are many different regional cuisines in Italy. Or have a different region w/accompanying regional wines for each course.

      9 Replies
      1. re: charlesbois

        I would agree with the suggestion from charlesbois. Italian cuisine is so highly varied in flavours and history that accenting those differences would make for a spectacular dinner.

        1. re: xtal

          I'll third that - great suggestion and would help you narrow things down to the regional wines. Here's a recipe for Porchetta Sarda (Sardinia):

 - nice thing is you serve at room temp, so you can make it ahead - there are some photos of up it further up in that thread.

          You could have a primi of Spaghetti with Bottarga ... would be happy to give you my recipe.

          1. re: MMRuth

            I'm not the OP, but I'd love your bottarga recipe. My husband and I split our primi course when we travel in Italy, but I never could convince him to order pasta with bottarga. The first week we got home, I bought a jar of bottarga. Four months later, the jar is still sitting in the pantry with no plans to use it. Other than generally knowing I need to shave the block of bottarga over the pasta, I don't have a recipe.

            1. re: Indy 67

              Sure - I perused a number of recipes, including the Hazan one and the Rogers/Gray "Italian Country Cookbook" when we first bought bottarga and came up with this for two of us:

              About 1/2 lb spaghetti - sometimes more -
              3T olive oil
              1-2 chopped garlic cloves
              1 cup chopped Italian parsley
              1 crumbled dry hot chile pepper
              Juice of one lemon
              Sea salt and fresh pepper
              1.5 - 2 oz bottarga (I always use the gray mullet roe one that is vacuum packed - haven't tried the jar one.)

              While heating up the water for the pasta, heat olive oil in a small sauce pan (I may confess to sometimes adding a little more than the 3 T), add garlic, parsley and chile pepper for a few seconds. Grate the bottarga - I use a microplane. Drain the pasta and put in a serving bowl - add the olive oil/parsley etc. (I usually heat up quickly again just when the pasta is about to be ready) and toss. Add the bottarga and toss (I like to use tongs for tossing). Season with salt and pepper and then add lemon juice and toss. Sprinkle the remaining bottarga on top and serve immediately.

              I usually serve a small bowl with with hot chili pepper flakes so that we can each adjust it as we like. You'll probably want to play the amount of bottarga/lemon juice/garlic until you figure out your preferred combination.


              1. re: MMRuth

                Thanks. This recipe sounds lovely.

                The bottarga I've got is Callipo brand bottarga di tonno. I just took the jar -- about the size of a small baby food jar -- out of the box. This bottarga is loose powder. Clearly, I won't have to shave the cake of pressed bottarga which was what I was expecting.

                FWIW, the recipe on the box is much less interesting than your recipe. The sauce ingredients include butter, a couple tablespoons cream, and a bunch of finely minced parsley.

                1. re: Indy 67

                  I've heard of using cream - I think my husband said that when he had it at a restaurant in London, that it had cream and also that the Bottarga was a very fine powder. He loved the dish, but he loves cream sauces, which I don't. I've also noticed that as the bottarga I buy gets older, if I've not kept it wrapped up as well as I should, it does dry out a bit and is more powder-like when grated, which does have the advantage of being more dispersed through out the pasta, if that makes sense.

        2. re: charlesbois

          Thanks so far. Of course I could look up a cook book and find good suggestions in it, but I was hoping maybe to find a fantastic and unforgettable recipe, maybe a personal experience somebody had of the best northern italian food ever (that would maybe go far beyond meatballs or eggplant parmesan).

          1. re: Michael1976

            Are you particularly interested in Northern Italian as opposed to other parts of Italy? That Porchetta recipe is awfully nice ....

            1. re: Michael1976

              "Northern Italian" is pretty broad, too.

              Are you interested in Emilia-Romagnan? Friulian? Venetian? Ligurian? Fred Plotkin's cookbooks on Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Liguria are fantastic. "La Terra Fortunata" has an extensive section on wine, as well. I use Lynn Rossetto Kasapr's "The Splendid Table" for Emilia-Romagna (she includes wine suggestions with most dishes).

              For my personal favorite, I love the lasagna bolognese saveur published in Saveur a few years ago (note: it's pretty labor intensive and involves making spinach noodles from scratch, as well as bechamel and bolognese sauces).

              I also love Biba Caggiano's butternut squash gnocchi recipe
              I'll serve either pan fried with sage and brown butter, or with a duck ragu.

              Also great is Mario Batali's ricotta gnocchi with oxtail ragu (can't find it online but I can post an adapted version if you're interested).

          2. I tend to always make Rocco Dispirtos mamas Meatballs & marinara as part of a dinner party. They are wonderful, very moist and flavorful

            1. You could try this: I've only made the ravioli (I cut back on the butter), but I'm sure the rest is good too.

              1. For dessert, you cannot get much more authentic or simpler than panna cotta (literally "cooked cream"). I was Don of a women's residence at a college for English-speaking kids in Italy in the Abruzzo for some time and made this for "our" girls. They loved it so much I had to teach each graduating class how to cook it. There is an abundance of good recipes, just make sure you take the time to use a real vanilla bean and NOT rely on vanilla extract.