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Saucy Italian Dishes

Twenty years ago when someone mentioned Italian food, the first things to come to mind were spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, or pizza. Today we enjoy a variety of interesting Italian dishes that have become popular in this country. Antipasto, which simply means “before the meal,” is a great way to begin a special meal. For a special treat, try making your own meatballs. They are delicious made with veal and so much better than any store-bought variety. The Zabaione is a delicate Italian custard for the perfect ending. Ciao!

ITALIAN MEATBALLS


1/4 pound fresh white breadcrumbs

1 cup milk

1 lb. ground veal (or mix 1/3 ground pork, Italian sausage, and ground beef)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 large eggs

2 Tablespoons fresh minced parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

Olive oil




Soak fresh white breadcrumbs in a bowl with milk for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out excess milk and combine the crumbs with meat, cheese, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mix thoroughly and form into small meatballs. Roll in dry breadcrumbs. Heat enough olive oil in a saute pan to cover the bottom. When oil is hot, add meatballs and cook over medium heat, turning meatballs until golden brown all over. Add additional oil as needed. Drain on paper towels and serve hot over your choice of pasta and/or sauce, or simply enjoy alone. Serves 4.

ANTIPASTO


Choose from the following:

Olives

Salami

Pastrami

Prosciutto

Ham

Marinated artichokes

Fresh or marinated mushrooms

Olives

Tomatoes

Muenster cheese

Provolone cheese

Swiss cheese

Fontina cheese




Garnish platter with fresh lettuce. Slice cheeses and meats very thin and roll up to arrange on a platter. If using fresh mushrooms and artichokes that are not marinated, drizzle on a little olive oil and sprinkle with basil. Be creative, and make as little or as much depending upon crowd.

ZABAIONE


6 egg yolks

6 Tablespoons sugar

1 scant Tablespoon water

1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus some to sprinkle on top




Fill the bottom of a double boiler half-way with water and bring to a simmer. In the top of the double boiler stir together egg yolks, sugar, and a scant Tablespoon of water. Continue stirring until mixture is smooth. Begin stirring more vigorously and stir in wine and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Use a whisk to beat the mixture until it is pale gold in color, light, and frothy. Remove from heat and pour into individual custard dishes. Sprinkle top with cinnamon. Chill slightly before serving. Serves 4.

BAKED PASTA


6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 lb. ground meat (beef and pork combined)

1/2 cup white wine or beef broth

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

2-1/2 cups good quality store-bought spaghetti

sauce such as Prego

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh

4 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup heavy cream

Olive oil

Dried breadcrumbs




Heat butter and oil over medium heat and add meat. Brown thoroughly, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Pour in wine or broth and continue cooking until it evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook pasta according to directions, taking care not to overcook. Drain and rinse pasta.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pasta in large mixing bowl and toss with spaghetti sauce, 1/2 the cheese, and basil.

In the top of a double boiler whisk together egg yolks, flour, remaining cheese, and cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place top over bottom of double boiler filled halfway with simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly (so eggs do not curdle), to reduce and thicken the sauce. Add egg mixture and meat to pasta and mix well. Oil the bottom of a large, deep, oven-proof dish and coat it with breadcrumbs. Arrange pasta mixture in the dish and top with a thin layer of breadcrumbs. Bake, uncovered, for one hour until browned and slightly crisp on top. Serve from the baking dish. Serves 6.

Coming Next Month: Dinner for Two

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