Creating an Italian dinner does not have to be hard - or even challenging. Italian
cooking is one of the easier style of cuisine to prepare. This is related to two
2. Serve main course #1.
This should be a pasta recipe. It can be anything from a lasagna to spaghetti. If you are crunched for time and do not like to boil the long lasagna noodles, try using the no boil noodles. These are not as long as regular lasagna noodles, but are smaller, good for an 8x8 baking dish. Simply layer the noodles alternating with a ricotta/mozzarella/Romano cheese mixture, tomato sauce, and any vegetables you want to include (such as zucchini, carrots and even eggplant) . Bake according to the instructions on the box.
If you decide to boil regular lasagna noodles, here is a tip to prevent them from sticking together after you drain them. Once you drain the boiled noodles, rinse with cold water and spread them out on a cookie sheet covered with cool water. The water will help keep the noodles from clumping together and in addition, this allows the noodles to cool quicker making them easier to handle.
3. Serve main course #2.
This course could be a fish or meat dish. Meat suggestions would be baked chicken breasts, beef cutlets, or even just a bowl of meatballs. Fish might be broiled, grilled or baked. If cooking indoors, make sure there is adequate ventilation to help keep the fish smell from lingering in the house. An easy way to make breaded chicken is to dip the chicken breast in flour, then beaten egg and then dip in a breadcrumb mixture seasoned with chopped parsley or basil. Drizzle with olive oil and bake covered with foil in an oiled baking dish at 375 degrees F. for 35 to 45 minutes until fully cooked. Remove the foil the last 10 minutes to allow the breadcrumbs to become slightly crispy. Never serve the chicken if there is still pink inside.
4. Serve Fruit and/or Dessert.
Typically Italians enjoy eating nice fresh fruit after their meals. This can range from fresh apples to fresh peaches. However, for many non-Italians or Italians which do not live in Italy, this is often replaced with a more stereotypical dessert. One of these desserts is Tiramisu. This is a desert which uses espresso, lady fingers and mascarpone cheese. There are different variations of this dessert, but any basic Italian cookbook should have one. Another dessert which is common is Italian ice cream, called gelato. Since there are not many stores which sell gelato, companies have started designing their own gelato makers, such as the Delonghi gm 6000. These are small machines which make this special Italian ice cream right in your own kitchen. Do not use a regular ice cream maker because gelato makers are designed to create a denser and creamier consistency specific to the Italians. Simply store the batches in the freezer, and then serve when you are ready.
Evening or Nighttime Meal
Generally Italians, like many Europeans, prefer their main meal during the middle of the day around 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon. Then later in the evening, or rather at night in many cases, they have a smaller meal - similar to our lunch. This meal can range from a very large green salad tossed generously with locally cultivated extra virgin olive oil to a large thin and crispy pizza. You too can imitate this tradition or you can simply flip it around by having the smaller meal at your regular lunch, and the larger meal later in the evening.
Italians will make their own pizzas by hand as the process is practically second nature. You too can create your own pizza dough by hand, or using modern appliances designed for dough such as Kitchen Aid or Cuisinart Prep food processors, or even bread machines. Find which method works for you and experiment with various toppings and cooking temperatures. Generally, the thinner the pizza, the higher the temperature can be for a shorter amount of time. If the pizza is thick you will run the risk of an undercooked inside and bottom if the oven temperature is too high.
Italian cooking should be fun and easy. If new to cooking Italian recipes, start with ones which you feel comfortable with. If you do not want to make your own sauces, find a brand that you like. You can even find a basic tomato jar sauce and then modify it to suit your own tastes. The options with cooking are endless and the most important thing to remember is fresh ingredients and simplicity.
This article was contributed by www.simpleItaliancooking.com.
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