“Pasta alla Norma” is a classic Italian recipe from the city of Catania on the island of Sicily. It is a vegetarian dish made with eggplant and often tossed with penne pasta.
It is served with ricotta salata, which is a varation of ricotta that has been pressed, salted and dried. Some like to shave or grate it into dishes, but I have always preferred it cubed. It looks beautiful for presentation, and it makes me look forward to each bite! If you can’t find ricotta salata at your local grocery store, you can subsitute smoked mozzarella.
Keep reading for the recipe…
The winner of our “Best Rice Recipe Ever” contest uses Arborio rice….can you guess what it is? That’s right, risotto!! This is no ordinary risotto, it’s Bacon Risotto.
This extraordinary dish comes to us from Lisa Speer, aka “pbcook.” Any recipe where you start by crisping bacon, is a winner in my book!
Keep reading for the recipe…
Last week, Better Recipes put out the call for the “Best Italian Recipe Ever” and once again, our readers did not disappoint! I traveled to Italy back in October and I fell in love with the cuisine all over again. Especially the rustic, family style dishes made with simple, beautiful ingredients. The winning recipe from our Italian contest showcases olives, lemons, tomatoes and basil.
Keep reading for the winning recipe!
Cooking on a budget means finding new and creative ways to transform leftovers. One of my favorite ways to use up extra vegetables, rice or herbs is to make stuffed peppers. This recipe has an Italian twist, but you can always give it your own spin to use up what you find in the fridge!
Keep reading for the recipe…
At any Italian restaurant, my eyes immediately gravitate to the gnocchi dishes on the menu. I just love these delectable little potato dumplings and the delicious sauces cradled in the grooves. This recipe is a bit of a twist on the Italian classic, using sweet potatoes and tossed with a seasonal sage and brown butter sauce.
Keep reading for the recipe…
It’s hard to believe that only a month ago I was whisked away to the island of Sicily, half a world away from my life in Los Angeles. I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly found Sicily to be overflowing with old-world charm, warmth, and a genuine feeling of family.
Keep reading for a trip back in time to old-world Sicilia…
Around the World, Dinner Tonight, Fresh and Healthy, Tasty Travel | Tags: Fish, Grilled Fish Recipes, Healthy Fish Recipes, Italian Dinner Recipes, Italian Recipes
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Panzanella is a traditional Italian dish from Florence that uses day old bread in a salad. Our latest recipe contest winner took this classic dish one step further and turned it into a a savory bread pudding casserole! It includes cubes of stale or toasted ciabatta bread, tomatoes, onions, basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, just like the salad, but she also adds Italian sausage to really make it a meal.
Keep reading to find out how this recipe for Panzanella and Sausage Casserole Bake won our latest contest!
Did you see the “How to Make Pumpkin Puree” article yesterday? Today, I am going to show you how to make two delicious dishes from your homemade fresh pumpkin puree. With one pumpkin, you can create an entire family meal! It is cost effective and delicious.
Yesterday I demonstrated How to Make Pumpkin Puree on DaytimeTV and tomorrow I will be talking about these recipes on the radio! Check out http://letsdineoutshow.com/ and you can listen in to a live stream from your computer. It will air Saturday 10/15 at 4 PM on 590 KTIE in San Bernardino, CA.
For dinner whip up this unique and easy Pumpkin Chorizo Pizza. If you are a fan of pepperoni pizza, give this version a try. You won’t believe the flavorful pumpkin sauce instead of the traditional tomato-based pizza sauce!
2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
12 ounce purchased pizza crust
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 cup fresh pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup cubed fontina cheese
1/4 pound thinly sliced Spanish chorizo
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
Additional olive oil and chopped sage for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil over crust; set aside. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, and pepper flakes to hot pan. Sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in pumpkin puree, smoked paprika, and salt.
Cook, stirring, until sauce is thickened and hot. Spread sauce evenly over pizza crust; scatter with cubed fontina. Arrange sliced chorizo evenly over top and sprinkle with chopped sage.
Place pizza on a cookie sheet or directly on oven rack, if preferred. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. If desired, drizzle a little olive oil over pizza and sprinkle with additional chopped sage.
Traditional Italian cannoli is given a seasonal twist in this recipe. Pumpkin puree is incorporated in the filling and pumpkin seeds garnish the ends.
8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup chopped pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided
2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
12 purchased cannoli shells (two 4-ounce boxes)
Additional powdered sugar for dusting
In a large mixing bowl, stir together mascarpone cheese, pumpkin puree, powdered sugar, ricotta, and pumpkin pie spice until blended.
Fold in 1/4 cup of the pumpkin seeds and the mini chocolate chips; set aside. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into pumpkin mixture.
Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours. Right before serving, pipe pumpkin filling into cannoli shells, going all the way to the ends. Sprinkle the ends with remaining 1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle shell with powdered sugar and serve.
Around the World, Better Recipes, Celebrations and Parties, Dinner Tonight, Fast and Fabulous, Holidays, On A Budget, Sweet Tooth, Tips and Tricks | Tags: Dessert Recipes, Easy Dessert Recipes, Easy Pizza Recipes, Halloween Party Recipes, Halloween Recipes, Halloween Treat Recipes, Italian Dessert Recipes, Italian Dinner Recipes, Italian Recipes
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It looks like we have a resident Italian cooking expert here at Better Recipes! Remember Lou and his outstanding Saltimboca Alla Romama from the “Italian” themed contest last time around? Well, he has done it again, this time with pizza! Lou says, “cook what you love for those you love.” Wonderful words to live by! Now, let’s check out his winning pizza.
The title means “White Pizza With Prosciutto and Arugula.”
1/2 cup Warm (105 – 110 Degrees F) Water
2 Tbsp Honey
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast (about 1 1/8 Teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups Bread Flour, plus additional for work surface
2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil
4 – 8 oz slices Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced into 1/4″ disks
1/4 lb Prosciutto Ham, about 8 thin slices
1 cup Arugula
8 Parmesan Shavings
1. In a 1 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. If the yeast doesn’t “proof” (get “foamy”) pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.
2. Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the “proofed” yeast mixture. Turn the mixer fitted with dough hooks to high (labeled knead on my mixer) and turn on. Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Construction and Baking
1. Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the bottom (not on a shelf, putting the stone in contact with the oven bottom will allow it to get hotter and provide the slight charring on the bottom of the pizza that is the signature of a good Italian pizza) of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. On a clean, flat, lightly floured work surface, place the ball of dough and, with fingertips and working from the center of the flattened ball out to the edge, press it into a disk of dough approximately 10 to 12 – inches round about 1/8 inch thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness [don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy]).
3. Distribute some cornmeal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough disk to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel. Evenly distribute the sliced (or shredded) mozzarella over the dough disk (leave about 1/2-inch rim of uncoated dough around the edge of the “pie” to form a crust). Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edges of the pizza and distribute additional cornmeal until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 – 12 minute in a 450°F oven.
4. Using the pizza peel remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Once the pie has cooled for a minute or two distribute the sliced prosciutto, arugula and Parmesan shavings over the top of the pie. Slice into 8 slices and serve!
Helpful Tips: If your oven heats unevenly, after about 5 minutes check the pizza and rotate to insure even cooking.
The winning recipe is one I’ve been making for years, I’ve been experimenting with pizzas since high school when I worked in a “pizza parlor” as a teenaged pizzaiuolo (Italian for pizza chef). This particular recipe was one I came up with about 30 years ago when “pizza pies” began to become “fufu-ized” and were moving from tomato sauce, cheese, and traditional toppings to more eclectic combinations of ingredients. Over the years I’ve been a United States Marine and had a career as a computer software engineer but my first love has always been cooking, Better Recipes has become a vehicle for me to share my recipes with other people who share that love. While I don’t enter recipe contests often, I do enter them when the themes match what I consider my specialties. I have won one other contest with my recipe for Saltimboca alla Romana. I don’t have any plans for the present prize money but if I were fortunate enough to win the grand prize I’d probably use it for another trip to Montalbano Jonica in the Basilicata region of Italy where my ancestors came from.
Congratulations Lou! We all look forward to enjoying more of your outstanding Italian dishes!
Around the World, Better Recipes, Celebrations and Parties, Dinner Tonight, Fast and Fabulous, Tasty Travel, Tips and Tricks | Tags: Easy Pizza Recipes, Italian Dinner Recipes, Italian Recipes
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I recently had the pleasure of joining a few of my fellow Los Angeles food bloggers on an Italian Tour of LA with the folks from Bertolli. For over 150 years, Bertolli has been dedicated to bringing the authentic flavors of Italy to the dinner table. Their passion for high quality ingredients shaped our tour as we explored everything from a morning cappuccino to handmade pasta and even the perfect wine pairing.
Head on over to our Facebook page for a gallery of photos from the day! An Italian Tour of Los Angeles
Cafe Bella Roma – This was our first stop of the day! The chef came to the US from Rome and made the perfect cornetti and cappuccino to kick off our tour.
Obika Mozzarella Bar – Authentic ingredients, such as the perfect Mozzarella di Bufala, are what make Italian meals shine. Check out my recipe below for a great way to highlight mozzarella in a dish.
Primi al Mercato – Pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine and it is fascinating to watch it being made by hand. The shapes, fillings and sauces offer endless meal possibilities!
Il Norcino Salumeria – Right across from “Primi” is the salumeria. I am constantly searching for the perfect proscuitto in LA and here I just may have found it! Served with a splash of Prosceco and it was a little slice of heaven. (I need to start savoring the authentic Italian lifestyle more often!)
Cafe Bellagio – Next we were in for a sweet Italian treat – gelato. It is the perfect snack on a warm afternoon or a great way to finish off an Italian meal.
Osteria Mamma – We finished off our tour in this cozy and friendly family-owned Italian restaurant. The dishes were simple and respected the traditions and flavors of the Veneto region. You know a meal is authentic when it’s made by Mamma!
After a day of exploring authentic Italian food and savoring the carefully selected ingredients, I was inspired to come up with a recipe of my own! Since our recipe contest theme this week is pizza, I wanted to offer an easy and unique twist on this classic favorite.
These are “Grilled Pesto Pizzettes” or mini-pizzas. All you need is frozen dinner roll dough, prepared pesto, fresh cherry tomatoes, bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), and, of course, Bertolli olive oil.
Frozen dinner roll dough
Prepared pesto sauce
Bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls)
Thaw dinner roll dough and stretch into pizzette crusts. Brush with olive oil and grill over medium heat for 30-45 seconds on each size. Top with pesto sauce, halved cherry tomatoes and halved bocconcini. Warm on grill or in oven to melt the mozzarella. Finish off with a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy!
This recipe is fast and fun with a few simple Italian ingredients. When you are short on time, Bertolli offers an array of fantastic Italian meals and sauces so you can experience a taste of Italy in your own home. From frozen meals, to olive oils and pasta sauces, and even a new line of frozen soups!
Other bloggers on the tour:
Andrea from Savvy Sassy Moms
Stacie Hunt – http://www.ustream.tv/Bertolli
Chrystal and Amir from The Duo Dishes
Romy from Romy Raves
Sharon from Cupcakes and Cutlery
Melanie and Adam Waldman from Travels with Two