If you’re a regular reader of the blogs posted here at Lehman’s, you might have seen my last two additions, Mexican and Korean dishes. I love both of those regions’ foods, and the recipes there are some of my absolute favorites.
This time, it’s a real crowd pleaser – Italian! When you think of Italian dishes, you probably think of delicious pastas with creamy sauces, crunchy bread with olive oils and garlic, a great selection of cheeses, and of course, the best pizza in the world. Maybe seafood, like shrimp, also comes to mind, or chicken crusted with Parmesan. Just about every ingredient associated with Italian food makes the mouths of most water. This blog post includes two pasta recipes (of course), and one recipe that might surprise you!
To add a fun flair to your dinner, add some classic opera music, or cover the table with a red and white checkered tablecloth and use some fresh flowers in an old bottle as a centerpiece.
After dinner, watch a classic Italian movie, like Roman Holiday. Perhaps the best-known and most classic movie set in Italy, Roman Holiday is Audrey Hepburn’s beloved comedy about a princess setting off to explore Rome, or a Room with a View. Based on the classic 1908 novel by E.M. Forster, A Room With a View opens with the adventures of a young Englishwoman, Lucy Honeychurch, as she explores Florence–complete with plenty of places that are recognizable to visitors today, driving home just how long travelers have been infatuated with Tuscany!.
So back to the recipes – the real star of the evening. Baked spaghetti is a staple dinner at my parents’ house, and I am so glad that it is. This meal is so delicious, filling, and takes a lot of ingredients that we usually have in the kitchen already. Everyone that tries it, loves it, and the recipe makes plenty for the whole family. A possible alteration to this recipe to make it vegetarian is to exclude the beef. Just cook the onions with salt and pepper and add them to your pasta sauce, without adding meat.
Baked Spaghetti (Recipe from Therecipecritic.com)
- 16 ounces Spaghetti Noodles 1 package
- 1 lb Ground Beef
- 1 medium Onion chopped
- 24 ounce Pasta Sauce Jar
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 2 large Eggs
- 1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 5 tablespoons Butter melted
- 2 cups Cottage Cheese
- 4 cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Basil chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the spaghetti noodles in boiling water according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and chopped onion over medium-high heat until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and remove from heat. Season with salt and stir in the pasta sauce; set aside.
Whisk the eggs, parmesan cheese, and melted butter together in a large bowl. Add the spaghetti to the mixture and toss to coat.
Grease a 13″x9″ baking dish with oil and place half of the spaghetti on the bottom. Layer 1 cup of the cottage cheese on top of the noodles and then place ½ of the meat sauce on top. Sprinkle 2 cups of mozzarella cheese on top and repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Cover with foil and place the dish in the oven to bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and cook an additional 20 to 25 minutes more.
The combination of pasta, lemon, and ricotta cheese is always a winner. So, lemon ricotta pasta is definitely a favorite of mine! This recipe is so tasty, and is also a little bit lighter. To make this already incredible dish even better, I also like to add shrimp, cooked in a skillet in butter, garlic, oregano, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Lemon Ricotta Pasta (Recipe from Delish.com)
- 1 lb. bucatini or spaghetti
- 1 c. ricotta
- 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 c. freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan
- Zest and juice from 1 lemon
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Freshly sliced basil, for serving
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain. Return pasta to pot.
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, oil, pecorino, lemon juice, and zest. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add ricotta mixture and 1/4 cup reserved pasta water to pasta and toss. Add more reserved pasta water if sauce is too thick.
Serve with basil, more pecorino, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Now, to stray from what might be the classic expectations of Italian food with something different – hot chocolate! This recipe will forever change the way you feel about hot cocoa from a packet, because this is so much better. Hot chocolate doesn’t just have to be a seasonal Christmastime drink. You can enjoy this decadent, chocolate-y treat anytime of the year.
Hot Chocolate (Recipe from AnItalianinmykitchen.com)
- 3.5 ounces Dark Chocolate (good quality) (chopped into small pieces)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa unsweetened
- 1 cup + 1 tablespoon milk (2% or whole milk/divided)
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
In a small bowl whisk until smooth, 1/4 cup milk and cornstarch set aside.
Sift the cocoa into a medium bowl then add the sugar and whisk together, set aside.
In a small/medium pot heat 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon milk until boiling reduce heat to low, start whisking and add the milk/cornstarch mixture then add the cocoa mixture slowly while continually whisking until smooth add the chopped chocolate and whisk for approximately 3 minutes. Serve immediately.
(To wish someone ‘Happy Eating’ in Italian, the most common phrase you will come across Buon appetito which actually literally translates to ‘good appetite’.)
Allison Ervin, granddaughter of company founder Jay Lehman, is passionate about the powerless – children, animals and anyone in need. A freshman at Kent State majoring in international business with a minor in non-profit management, she has served in Indonesia and Central America, teaching English in daycare centers and orphanages. A committed vegetarian, when not studying or cat-cuddling, Allison enjoys painting, listening to the latest music, and thrifting (shopping at thrift and vintage stores).