Traditional Italian Favourites

When it comes to authentic Italian food, there are two important things to remember: 1. high quality pasta and 2. all natural ingredients. Pasta in Italy tastes a thousand times better than anything you can find at home because Italians use extremely fine but very high quality flour. Italian tomato sauces are so flavorful because they are usually made from the scratchest of scratch – raw tomatoes chopped and crushed and simmered for hours with basil and some extra virgin olive oil. Restaurants often have the fresh ingredients delivered daily. Processed food is a most certainly a curse word.

Always buy pasta imported from Italy for the finest quality with the most authentic flavor. Making tomato sauce from raw tomatoes can take several hours, so to save time without sacrificing flavor, opt for boxed or canned whole tomatoes in sauce and crush them yourself to simmer with seasoning.

Menu: Saltimbocca with Spinach or Lasagna and Tiramisu

veal saltimbocca 2

Saltimbocca with cooked spinach

SHOPPING LIST

1 1/2 pounds veal scaloppine (thin cut), pounded to 1/4-inch thickness

1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

1 large bunch fresh sage (with large leaves)

4-5 tablespoons butter, divided

1 cup dry white wine

2 cloves of garlic

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (optional)

Shredded mozzarella (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 250°F (120°C). Baste veal with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and one crushed garlic clove. Wrap each in a slice of prosciutto and top with 1-2 sage leaves, torn in large pieces if you prefer more flavor.

2. Melt 3 tbsp. butter in large skillet on high heat and cook veal one cutlet at a time until brown (about 1 minute) on each side, being careful to keep sage leaves in place. Once each is finished, place on rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in the oven.

3. After cooking veal, add white wine and remaining garlic to the skillet, scrape up savory bits from the pan to keep in the sauce and cook until liquid is reduced by about 1/3. Stir in remaining butter. Place veal on a platter and pour sauce over it.

If you like richer sauce, then after step 2 you can add 2 tbsp. of butter to pan, melt and thoroughly mix in 2 tbsp. flour. Add wine and remaining garlic and scrape up savory bits from pan to keep in the sauce. Pour over veal, then sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and broil until cheese melts.

This dish is often served with cooked spinach: Melt 1 tbsp. of butter in pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and one bag of spinach. Squeeze in juice from half a fresh lemon and add a crushed garlic clove. Cook until spinach is just wilted, about 3-5 minutes.

lasagne al forno

Classic Lasagna

SHOPPING LIST

12 sheets of Italian no-boil lasagne

Extra virgin olive oil

Red Layers

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced

1.5 lbs of lean ground beef

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried parsley

2 boxes (preferable to cans) of whole tomatoes in sauce

1 tablespoon tomato puree

1 medium carrot, grated

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1.5 cups mozzarella, grated

White Layers

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 cups ricotta cheese

1/2 cup mozzarella, grated

1 egg

1/2 tablespoon parsley

OR

2 tablespoons butter (or soya butter)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups of milk

1 tablespoon green pesto

DIRECTIONS

1. Sautée onions over medium heat in olive oil until tender. Add garlic and ground beef and cook until just brown.

2. Crush tomatoes and add to meat. Stir in tomato puree, grated carrots, ground pepper, basil and parsley. Simmer for 20-30 minutes covered on low heat. Add salt only in the last 5 minutes, and only if you want it for taste.

3. While meat sauce simmers, prepare white layer. Cheese option: In a large bowl, combine ricotta, Parmesan, parsley, a half cup of the mozarella and the egg. Stir well and refrigerate until sauce is ready. Bechamel option: Melt butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Thoroughly mix in flour one tablespoon at a time. Add milk about a half cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat, place in a large bowl and add pesto.

4. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly coat a 13×9 inch rectangular baking dish or pan with olive oil. Layer the bottom with 1/4 of the red sauce. Place 4 lasagne sheets on top. Spread a 1/2 inch thick layer of white sauce. Spread 1/4 of red sauce. Place 4 lasagne sheets. Spread 1/2 inch thick layer of white sauce. Spread 1/4 of red sauce. Place last 4 lasagne sheets. Spread 1/2 thick white sauce. Last 1/4 of red sauce. Cover top with 1.5 cups of grated mozzarella and sprinkle with basil and parsley.

5. Bake the lasagna for about 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through, or until cheese on top is thoroughly melted and lightly crisped. After removing from oven, allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with fresh greens dressed in oil and vinegar.

tiramisu

Tiramisu

SHOPPING LIST

6 egg yolks

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 cup mascarpone cheese

1.5 cups heavy whipping cream

2 packages ladyfingers (about 3 oz each and 24 lady fingers total)

1/3 cup extra strong coffee

2 tablespoons rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup shaved dark chocolate

DIRECTIONS

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Add milk and boil gently for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and whip in mascarpone cheese. Refrigerate for 30 min-1 hr.

2. While chilling mascarpone mix, beat whipping cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.

3. Combine coffee and rum in a small bowl. Split ladyfingers in half and gently soak in coffee and rum.

4. Line bottom of 11x7in baking dish with half of soaked ladyfingers. Spread half of mascarpone mix, then half of whipped cream. Repeat, then sprinkle top with cocoa powder and shaved dark chocolate.

5. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours but preferably 6-8 before serving.

 

 

 

 

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