Dinner is a special time of the day when everybody gets the chance to sit down, enjoy delicious dishes made with love and talk to family members about their day. A lovely dinner brings everyone in family together and strengthens the bond between each other, therefore, you will want your dinner is served with beautiful yummy dishes. But somehow, there are days that you ran out of idea or too tired to decide what to cook, so how about some Italian taste? We sure that you won’t regret it!
Appetizer: Caprese Salad
Ingredients (prep will take about 5 minutes)
- 2 cups of Balsamic Vinegar
- 3 whole ripe Tomatoes (sliced into thick slices)
- 12 ounces of Mozzarella Cheese (sliced into thick slices)
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt
- Fresh Black Pepper (grounded)
Cooking (cooking will take about 15 minutes)
Step 1 – make the dressing: Take out a small saucepan, add 2 cups of balsamic vinegar and bring the vinegar to a boil over medium low heat which will take about 8 to 10 minutes. The dressing sauce is ready when the balsamic reduces to a thicker glaze. Turn off the stove and transfer the sauce into a bowl, set aside for chilling.
Step 2 – arrange the salad: On a platter, arrange sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese slices in the interleaved order. Put basil leaves between the slices. Dress the tomatoes and cheese with olive oil, you should make sure each slice has little oil on it but not too much. Then drizzle the balsamic sauce onto the salad, make the dressing looks beautiful. For the remaining balsamic, you can store the sauce in container in the fridge for the next time.
Step 3 – serve the dish: Final touch is kosher salt sprinkle with grounded black pepper. You can serve the salad with crusty bread.
The appetizer should be prepared right before the dinner begins for freshness. The recipe is enough for 8 servings so you can adjust the amount of ingredients based on your family preference. The appetizer is super easy to make and not time –consuming at all.
Main Dish: Italian Beef Lasagna
Ingredients (prep will take about 30 minutes)
- 1 pound of Sweet Italian Sausage
- ¾ pound of lean ground Beef
- ½ cup of Onion (minced)
- 2 cloves of Garlic (crushed)
- 1 can (28 ounces) of Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 cans (6 ounces) of Tomato Paste
- 2 cans (6.5 ounces) of Canned Tomato Sauce
- ½ cup of Water
- 2 tablespoons of White Sugar
- 1 ½ teaspoon of Dried Basil Leaves
- ½ teaspoon of Fennel Seeds
- 1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon of Salt
- ¼ teaspoon of black pepper (grounded)
- 4 tablespoons of Fresh Parsley (chopped)
- 12 Lasagna Noodles
- 16 ounces of Ricotta Cheese
- 1 Egg
- ½ teaspoon of Salt
- ¾ pound of Mozzarella Cheese (sliced)
- ¾ cup of Parmesan Cheese (grated)
- Olive Oil
Cooking (cooking will take about 2 hours and 30 minutes)
Step 1 – prepare meat sauce: In a pot or large skillet, add 1 pound of sweet Italian sausage, ¾ pound of lean ground beef, ½ cup of minced onion and 2 cloves of crushed garlic and cook until the all the ingredients turn brown over medium heat. After that, add 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 2 cans of tomato paste, 2 cans of canned tomato sauce and ½ cup of water into the mixture. Stir until all the ingredients combined. Season the sauce with 2 tablespoons of white sugar, 1 ½ teaspoon of dried basil leaves, ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of grounded black pepper and 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley. Mix the sauce and put the lid on. Simmer the meat sauce for about 1 and a half of hours. Remember to occasionally stir the sauce so it is not burned in the bottom.
Step 2 – cook lasagna: You will need a large pot contained slightly salty water in it to cook the lasagna. Bring the water to a boil and add the lasagna into the pot for about 8 to 10 minutes. When the noodle is done, remove from the heat, rinse and drain the noodle under cold water.
Step 3 – make ricotta mixture: In a small bowl, combine 16 ounces of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix them well.
Step 4 – preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C)
Step 5 – arrange the lasagna: In a baking dish size 9×13 inch (or any large baking dish you have), spread 1 ½ cup of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish. Then put a noodle layer onto the meat sauce which will be about 6 noodles. Don’t make the noodle layer too thick as the flavor can go through. Then, spread a half of the ricotta mixture onto the noodle layer. Arrange mozzarella cheese slices on top and add another 1 ½ cup of meat sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of parmesan cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients run out. Make sure your final layer is mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Cover the baking dish with foil so that the foil does not touch the top layer. You can spray some cooking spray onto the foil to prevent sticking.
Put the dish into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes. Then take the dish out, remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes. Then take the lasagna out and let it chill for about 10 minutes before serving.
The dish looks like it will require a lot of time for preparing and cooking, however, you can do another tasks between the baking time to reduce the overall cooking time. For serving, you should manage to serve when the dish is still warm since the cheese will get tough for cooling down. The cooking process requires a lot of work but the result is worth every effort.
To finish Italian meal, we will go with a traditional Italian dessert which will melt in your mouth.
Dessert: Zabaglione with Strawberry
Ingredients (prep will take about 10 minutes)
- 8 large Egg Yolks
- ¾ cup of Dry Marsala
- ½ cup of Sugar
- 1 pint of Strawberry (sliced)
Cooking (cooking will take about 10 minutes)
Step 1 – make zabaglione: Add 8 egg yolks, ¾ cup of dry marsala and ½ cup of sugar into a large stainless-steel bowl. Then, place the bowl onto a large saucepan contained boiling water. You can use hand or best hand mixer with low speed to whisk all the ingredients until they are well combined and start to form a ribbon when you lift the mixture, which will take about 5 to 8 minutes. Try not to over-beat the mixture so they will not have smooth silk mixture. Don’t cook the zabaglione too long on the simmer water or the dish will become curdle.
Step 2 – serve: Place sliced strawberry into glasses. Top the glass with hot zabaglione. You can serve the dessert hot or cold depending on your preference.
The ingredients as well as making are simple and easy. You can quickly prepare the dessert before the dinner starts, put them in the fridge so when it is dessert time, you zabaglione is ready.
With 3 beautiful recipes above, you will have a lovely dinner with your family while enjoying delicious dishes.