Easy Italian Food
Italian food is one of the most popular types of cuisine in the US. Here are four great recipes to help you make the Italian staples we all love: garlic bread, marinara sauce, pasta bake and meatballs.
Pizza, spaghetti, meatballs, lasagna -- what's not to like? But getting that authentic flavor can be a challenge for many home cooks. Too much oregano and that marinara sauce bypasses Italy and ends up in the garbage. Try these recipes -- and these 6 tips -- to make meals your family will adore.
No big hoopla
Great Italian food doesn't rely on a lot of hoopla to make a big impression. Part of why Italian food is so loved is the simple genius of each dish -- that's why buying the best ingredients is so important.
Great Italian food starts with basic, high-quality ingredients. Fresh meats and imported cheese make for the best meal possible.
Fresh herbs are your friends
It might cost a little more to buy fresh basil instead of using dried, but the flavorful result is well worth the added cost.
Beware the canister cheese
Any cheese you buy on a shelf and not in your supermarket's deli or cheese shop does not deserve to share space with your wonderful Italian dishes.
Develop your green thumb
If you really want to get serious about cooking superb Italian food, there's no better way to go about it than to plant your own garden. Freshly-picked basil and tomatoes taste so good, you almost cry. Eggplant from the garden makes the world's best eggplant Parmesan.
Keep it simple, sister
The secret to superb Italian food is simplicity -- it's easy to make, and even easier to love. The following basic recipes are simple, fast, and maybe even better than your local Italian restaurant.
So, the next time you feel like eating Italian, don't go out -- stay in! With these recipes, you'll have your family shouting "Bravo!" by the end of the meal.
This garlic bread is sure to please everyone at the table.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil, mashing the garlic with a spoon to release flavor. Add the remaining ingredients; mix well. Spread the mixture on each half of the bread. Put the loaf back together, and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 7 minutes. Unwrap the garlic bread, and place each half, crust-side down, under the broiler. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbling. Let cool on a cutting board, slice, and enjoy. Makes 6 servings.
Note: Buying already-grated cheese and bottled minced garlic speed up the process and, in this case, don't sacrifice flavor.
Quick Marinara Sauce
An easy recipe to master. You can add different herbs and spices to personalize the flavor.
Variation: To make a spicy sauce that goes perfectly with Italian sausage, add 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
A perfect companion for garlic bread, this dish is a lot more interesting than plain spaghetti and meatballs.
Drain pasta, but do not rinse. Return pasta to the pot. Add about 1/4 cup of sauce to the pasta; mix well. Spoon some sauce into the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish. Add a layer of pasta, then more sauce. Sprinkle a layer of Parmesan and Mozzarella cheese, reserving 1 cup of Mozzarella for the top layer. Continue the layering process until all the ingredients are used. Sprinkle the second cup of Mozzarella cheese over the top of the casserole. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until top is melted and bubbling. Makes 4 servings.
Note: For a hearty change, add leftover chicken or crumbled sausage to the dish.
Basic, basic, basic. And so good. These are great plucked from the pan into your mouth. No pasta needed!
Make golf-ball-sized meatballs by rolling them in the palms of your hands. Arrange meatballs on a lightly-greased, rimmed baking sheet. You can crowd them if you want. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are browned and slightly crispy and centers are no longer pink. Makes about 3 dozen meatballs.
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