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Need one more Italian dish please

Having my son's bday party next week...this is the family/adult one. I'm making Italian since I need to be able to prep a lot the night before.

Will have meatballs (in the crockpot) with some Italian bread so people can make subs if they wish.

Baked ziti


There will be other smaller items like marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, olives, etc. But I feel like I need one more hearty item. Any ideas? I thought about lasagna, but that's basically baked ziti in another form. And this item can be assembled day off, since I can do most everything else the night before.

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  1. How about pork? Like an Italian roast pork, simply sliced. They could also make sandwiches with that.

    1. Lentil and tomato stew with pancetta or fennel sausage.
      Or maybe fennel baked with cream, garlic and parmesan.

      1. Braciole- but, you've got beef in the meatballs (I assume), and so alternatively, I'd suggest Chicken Cacciatore. Particularly if you make it with some or all dark meat, it can be made earlier and will still be moist when held warm for a while.
        It's also an alternative protein to beef and pork.

        1 Reply
        1. re: monavano

          You rule monavano. Beat me to it. Recommend all thighs so there will be no discourse over who got stick with the nearly meatless drumstick.

        2. arancini?
          a big antipasti platter w/ various meats and cheeses?
          eggplant stuffed with ground pork?

          10 Replies
          1. re: Novelli

            Or just good ol' Eggplant Parmigiana. Especially if anyone leans toward vegetarian, make it with marinara.

            1. re: coll

              and it's a real easy thing to prepare, do that, then bake, done.
              my take on it is we're not crazy crazy for eggplant, but if I do half eggplant and half zucchini, it's grand

              1. re: iL Divo

                and it's a real easy thing to prepare.....

                I beg to differ....: 0)

                1. re: fourunder

                  Yeah it takes me about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to throw together a pan of eggplant parm, as long as I have the sauce already made. And pretty messy. Worth it though.

                  1. re: coll

                    My curse is that I know what most food cost is for any dish....eggplant is dirt cheap, but it the one dish I will over pay for for someone else to prepare for me precisely for the the reasons you have cited.. After all the slicing, drying, coating, breading and frying....factored in with the time and cost of Olive Oil used.....I just rather pay the 10-15 bucks and let someone else do it for me.

                    BTW...I tried the Waffle maker method....nice....but still more work than I need to do.

                    : 0 )

                    1. re: fourunder

                      I tried the waffle method and didn't like it. I do it all by hand, peel, slice, flour, egg mix then flour/breading, and finally fry one by one: No one else's tastes the same, that is my curse. Money for once is no object. Think it's time for a batch! (plus snitching some fresh fried eggplant right out of the oil is a reward of its own)

                      1. re: coll

                        i LOVE eggplant and love the parm. i never make it though because of the time and mess factor.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I know what you mean, I have to actually set the time aside.

                  2. re: fourunder

                    yea, it's real easy for me to prepare, may be a chore for others fourunder

                    1. re: iL Divo

                      Sounds to me like a labor of love....I envy your family.

            2. Nothing better than a good antipasto platter.

              1 Reply
                1. eggplant and chicken parm are too much like the ziti.

                  what about sausage and peppers? can be made a day ahead and just reheated. i always add a little vinegar to the peppers. gets devoured every time.

                  eta: or lemon and rosemary roasted chicken legs.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I'm going to second this, since it was my thought. People can use them to make hoagies if they want, or they''ll go well as a side to the ziti.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      This is a good idea. I thought the OP wanted another starch dish since he/she asked about lasagna. I'd go w/ a protein, too, if that's an option.

                    2. Try Lydis'a ricco alla pitocca, which is similar to risotto w/ chicken, only much easier. It comes together in half an hour and is delicious and hearty for winter. There's some prep and then you let it sit on the stove. I add different vegetables to it: spinach, peas, whatever. It's a change from the tomato sauce of the meatballs and ziti. I wouldn't add another tomato based dish.


                      1. If you want another main, why not something without tomatoes like a cheesy polenta? It would go great with the meatballs.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: escondido123

                          with the ziti, i wouldn't add another starch as a main.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            I was looking for something that was not tomato based. I see that danion recommended a lemon chicken. That sounds like a nice contrast.

                        2. How about a simple fricassee maybe with chicken thighs. They stay moist and will survive on a warming tray. It's pretty straighforward if you keep it simple and finish in oven.

                          1. maybe chicken in lemon wine sauce of sorts then?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: danionavenue

                              My Italian ex-mother-in-law used a serve a roast chicken with her much loved stuffed shells (which she confided in me were frozen Butoni brand!). All was delicious and meshed nicely. You could do roasted chicken pieces if that's easier. Pricier but also good would be shrimp scampi.

                            2. A Mixed Seafood Salad......served warm.




                              1. I would definately go with the sausage, peppers, & onions. Can be kept warm in a crock pot or electric skillet and everyone loves them. They make good sandwiches too.

                                Italian Pork Roast would be my second choice, simply because it's so easy. I cook mine in a roaster oven and once cooked just leave it on warm.

                                1. Love the sausage, onions, and peppers idea...why didn't I think of that!?!?! Easy to make and tastes yummy. Now gotta try and get some good sausages...usually hit up the north end in Boston, but not sure if I'm up for that this week.

                                  And I think instead of the "pizza roll" things, I'll make antipasto squares as an app.

                                  1. Like monavano said, Chicken Cacciatore is a traditional standby.
                                    Seafood like a nice codfish (either in sauce or maybe deep fried like fish n chips), stuffed calamari? How bout a huge bucket of mussels cooked in garlic butter wine sauce and served with hot bread.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sonny_Funzio

                                      as much as i love them both, neither mussels nor fried fish can be held and need to be cooked immediately prior to serving.