Can’t wait to visit Italy? Do you miss the alchemy of Italian flavours? Well, Italian cuisine might be closer than you think! Even if you don’t know when you will be able to visit Italy again, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up on authentic Italian food.
For you, a true Italy lover, I asked a friend of mine, the star Italian chef, Alessio Sedran, to share some easy and delightful Italian recipes with ingredients you can easily find and make yourself at home.
Imagine a romantic dinner with your fiance, as if you were in an authentic Italian restaurant! That’s what this post is all about.
I worked with Alessio many times and I have always appreciated his extraordinary capacity to satisfy every refined palate with the simple yet smooth tastes of the Italian cuisine. All his food is “zero km” – it comes from Tuscany, from his own vegetable garden and it is sustainable and fresh. He cares about nature and values quality over quantity.
This is why I asked him to share some of his best recipes with you. You can use them to surprise your loved ones or to cook together with your fiance. A four-course dinner menu like the one described in this post could be an amazing idea for a marriage proposal as well.
If you follow Alessio’s recipes, your dinner will be memorable!
His first suggestion is to start with Crostino – one of the most popular Italian starters (or “antipasto” as they call it here). Its recipe comes from the Middle Ages, when Italian peasants ate their food on the bread instead of plates. Now it is an appetizer consisting of grilled or toasted bread and toppings, from cheeses, meats, and vegetables, to a brush of olive oil and herbs or a sauce. This one is with sausage and stracchino cheese:
Ingredients for 2 pax:
250 gr (0.55 lb) sausage
175 gr (0.39 lb) stracchino cheese
Add the sausage together with the stracchino cheese, salt and pepper.
Spread on slices of bread and bake at 190 degrees for 15/20 minutes
You still have some bread left from your Crostino? Then you can do a famous Tuscan recipe “Pappa al pomodoro” – is a thick Tuscan bread and tomato soup, Italians usually make when they have leftover bread. This soup can be served hot, room temperature, or chilled.
Ingredients for 2 pax:
400 gr (0.88 lb) Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
1 Yellow onions
1 Garlic Cloves
1 Celery stalk
A lot Basil
Extra virgin olive oil
250 ml vegetables broth
125 gr Dry bread
In a large pot, brown in extra virgin olive oil, chopped celery, carrots, onions, garlic and parsley, add tomatoes and salt.
Add some broth and cook for 45 minutes.
Add the dry bread previously cutted in pieces, cook for another 30 minutes and at the end add basil, extra virgin olive oil salt and black pepper.
(If you let it rest one night in the fridge, it will get even better)
You sure know the famous Italian dough dumplings made from potatoes, gnocchi, a famous first course! Here is the process to make them from scratch, like an Italian grandmother would. It is easier than you think!
Ingredients for 2 Pax:
Potatoes 250 gr (0.55 lb)
Flour (00) – 25 gr (0.88 oz)
Semolina flour 75/100 gr (2.6 – 3.5 oz)
1 yolk egg
Boil the potatoes in very salted water (100 gr or 3,5 oz of salt every liter of water) for an hour / hour and a half.
Once cooked, peel still very hot and mash the potatoes, wait a few minutes to become lukewarm, add an egg and salt q.b.
Combine the flour (00 White flour and semolina) and knead the dough quickly, soaking the flours to the potatoes.
Roll the gnocchi by using the semolina flour.
Store preferably on a natural wooden tray
Cook in boiling water for 2 minutes, drain and season with the favorite sauce
Wondering what sauce you should use for your gnocchi? Let’s move north, to the city of Genoa, a famous seaport where Christopher Columbus was born. Their typical recipe is pesto – a sauce that consists of crushed garlic, pine nuts, basil leaves, olive oil and some hard cheese. The ingredients are usually “crushed” in a marble mortar through a circular motion of a wooden pestle, “pesto” is the past for the Italian verb “pestare” – to crush.
Ingredients for 2 pax:
50 gr (1,8 oz) Basil leaves
1 cloves of garlic
45 gr (1.6 oz) of pine nuts
75 gr (2.6 oz) Grated Parmesan cheese
35 gr. (1.2 oz) Grated pecorino romano
75/125 ml (2.6 – 4.4 oz) of extra virgin olive oil
Combine all the ingredients in a mixer, blend until obtaining a good consistency
do not mix too much otherwise, the basil will oxidize and become a dark sauce.
Let it rest in the fridge for 2 hours.
Combine the pesto with the hot pasta using a container and mix everything together before serving.
IMPORTANT! DO NOT PUT THE PESTO SAUCE IN THE PAN ON THE FIRE, WITH TOO MUCH HOT THE OIL WILL SEPARATE FROM THE SAUCE.
Now let’s see what we are having for “secondo” – second course… an Italian style meatloaf called Polpettone. It is made with beef and pork here. Alessio proposes a light yet delicious tomato sauce to keep it moist.
Ingredients for 2 pax:
Beef 175 gr (0.38 lb)
Pork 175 gr (0.38 lb)
Boiled Potato 175 gr (0.38 lb)
Parmesan cheese 100 gr (3.5 oz)
N° 1/2 Lemon zest
N° 1 Chopped garlic clove
White Flour q.s.
Salt and pepper
250 g (8.8 oz) tomato sauce
n° 1 chopped onion
Rosemary and sage
Salt e pepper
Knead well together: beef, pork, potatoes, parsley, garlic, parmesan, egg, the lemon zest, work well and let it rest in the fridge for 1 hour.
Tomato sauce: brown the chopped onion and rosemary in olive oil, add the tomato, and cook for 20 minutes.
Take the dough of the meatloaf, give it the shape you prefer, pass it in the flour and brown it in a non-stick pan, once the meat is brown add the tomato sauce and cook slowly for at least an hour. If necessary add vegetables, broth, or water.
How could you make an Italian dinner without the most famous Italian dessert? Tiramisù is the right way to close the evening. Most Italians think it is an ancient recipe, and there are some mentions of similar desserts coming from the Middle Ages, but the Tiramisù as we know it, was invented in the 1970s in Treviso by Alba Campeol, who is considered to be the mother of the tiramisù nowadays. Enjoy this classical recipe from Alessio:
Ingredients for 8 pax:
500 gr mascarpone cheese (1,10 lb)
5 egg yolks
5 egg whites
110 g (4 oz) sugar
Cookies (Finger Biscuits)
300 ml (10 oz) of coffee
Add the egg yolks to the mascarpone and mix it with a spoon.
Whip the egg whites with the sugar (like an Italian meringa)
With a spatula for cake incorporate slowly the whipped egg whites into the mascarpone and yolks cream.
Wet the biscuits into the coffee and compose the layered dessert.
Sequence : biscuits -> mascarpone cream -> chocolate flakes -> biscuits -> mascarpone cream -> chocolate flakes -> biscuits – on top finish with the cacao powder
Let it rest in the fridge for a minimum 5 hours.
If you are wondering what would be the best wine pairing for this dinner, I suggest a red Italian wine from Tuscany, like Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino or Bolgheri Rosso to emphasize the genuine taste of these recipes.
Enjoy your Italian dinner and let me know in comments what is your favorite Italian food or how did your romantic dinner goes!