Restaurant quality Italian from the comforts of home
Published 7:39 pm Tuesday, February 1, 2011
As most of you know, I love Italian food.
Chicken Marsala, Lasagna, Fettuccine Alfredo, and so on. One of my favorite things about going to the better Italian restaurants is the bread, dipping oils and soup.
I usually can make a meal out of just that. Inspired by those great restaurants, I give you two fairly easy recipes you can whip up on any night of the week and enjoy that same experience at home. You can even make yourself a great little Italian salad to start it off.
Herb Focaccia Bread
all-purpose flour for dusting
1 loaf (1 lb) frozen bread dough, thawed
cornmeal, for dusting
2 tbs minced garlic (more or less according to taste)
2 tbs good extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Italian seasoning
fresh ground pepper and extra virgin olive oil for dipping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a clean flour dusted surface, roll dough into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. With a sharp knife, make random small cuts over the top of the bread.
Rub minced garlic evenly over the top, brush with oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning.
Let rise in a warm place just until dough begins to puff a little (about 20 minutes). Bake about 20 minutes or until golden.
After your soup is done, serve the bread to the side of the bowl with a small plate of olive oil with fresh ground pepper sprinkled over the top. The bread is divine, dipped in the olive oil. Add I do suggest you use the best extra virgin olive oil you can find. It does make a deference!
Chicken Minestrone Soup
3 large chicken breast cut into small cubes
1 quart good chicken broth
1 tsp chicken base
1 (16 oz.) package frozen garlic pasta with vegetables
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced Italian seasoned tomatoes
one-fourth cup tomato paste
shredded Parmesan cheese for serving
In a large pot, bring broth and chicken base to a boil and add chicken.
Boil for 8 minutes, then stir in pasta with vegetables. Add beans, tomatoes and tomato paste and stir and return to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Ladle up your soup and serve with cheese on top and Focaccia bread on the side. Make some fresh raspberry lemon-aid and you’ve got a great little Italian meal.
You can also make this soup without the chicken if you want something lighter, or as a side to a larger meal.
Until next time, have fun in the kitchen, experiment and indulge your cravings.
Laura Clements is a food writer for the Demopolis Times