Buon Appetito How to make an Italian feast
We know it wasn’t your plan to be at home right now. You should be feasting on pasta and sipping local limoncello on the Italy. But 2020 had other plans. We didn’t want to let this time pass without letting you know we’re thinking about you. While we can’t explore the delights of Italian together at the moment, we’ve tried our best to bring a little taste of Italy to you instead.
Not many nationalities know how to serve up a feast quite like the Italians. So from our friends at Tirabusciò cookery school in Sorrento, to your friends and family at home; here’s the perfect menu for a great Italian feast just the way nonna makes in.
Stir your guests’ appetite with an aperitivo. Herby olives, a bowl of mixed nuts and a selection of cheeses served with a bubbly beverage like prosecco is a classic combination in Italy.
Primi: Four cheese ravioli in pesto-alfredo cream sauce
In Italy, pasta is considered the first course – called the primi on an Italian menu. And while we might be used to a mountain of creamy carbanara here in the UK, in Italy they’re a little more reserved with their pasta dishes (more room for the other courses!).
Bursting with cheesy, creamy, pesto-y goodness, this ravioli recipe is sure to delight your (and your guest’s!) tastebuds.
You will need…
- 270g all-purpose flour
- pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ tablespoons water
- 250g ricotta cheese
- 120g cream cheese, softened
- 65g shredded mozzarella cheese
- 65g provolone cheese, shredded
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried parsley
Pesto-Alfredo Cream Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 tablespoons basil pesto sauce
- 500ml double cream
- 30g grated Parmesan cheese
- 700ml marinara sauce
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- Mound the flour and salt together on a work surface and form a well in the middle.
- In a bowl, add a teaspoon of olive oil, 2 eggs, and water and beat together. Pour half the egg mixture into the well.
- Begin mixing the egg with the flour with one hand; use your other hand to keep the flour mound steady.
- Add the remaining egg mixture and knead to form dough.
- Knead the dough until smooth. This usually takes about 8 to 10 minutes; if the dough feels too sticky, add more four.
- Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
While the dough is resting, it’s time to get ahead on our filling
- Combine the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, provolone cheese, egg, and parsley and mix well. Set the filling aside.
- Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the crushed garlic and pesto sauce and cook for one minute.
- Pour in the double cream, raise the heat to high, and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the Parmesan cheese and stir until the cheese melts.
- Remove the pan from the heat and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, warm the marinara sauce over medium-low heat.
- Preheat an oven to 190 degrees C.
- Beat the egg with the tablespoon of water to make the egg wash.
- Roll out the pasta dough into paper-thin sheets no thicker than a 50p.
- Brush the egg wash over a sheet of pasta and drop the filling mixture on the dough by the teaspoon –space them out by about an inch each.
- Cover the filling with the top sheet of pasta, pressing out the air from around each portion of filling. Press firmly around the filling to seal.
- Cut into individual ravioli with a knife or pizza cutter. Push down on the edges to seal.
- Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the ravioli, and return to a boil.
- Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the ravioli float to the top and the filling is hot, 4 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
- Grease a baking sheet. Place the cooked ravioli on the sheet pan and bake in the preheated oven until brown, about 4 minutes.
- To serve the ravioli, divide them among four warmed serving bowls. Drizzle the marinara sauce over the ravioli and then top with the cream sauce.
Secondi: Crispy Neapolitan Pizza
When it comes to Italian feasting, there’s one main rule: no bread before pasta. That’s why our Neapolitan pizza is our second course. This recipe is for your classic margarita variety but feel free to add as many toppings you like.
You will need…
For the base
- 300g strong bread flour
- 1 tsp instant yeast (from a sachet or a tub)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
For the tomato sauce
- 100ml passata
- handful fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
For the topping
- 125g ball mozzarella, sliced
- handful grated or shaved parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)
- handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- handful of basil leaves (optional)
- To make the base, put the flour into a large bowl, then stir in the yeast and salt.
- Make a well, pour in 200ml warm water and the olive oil and bring together with a wooden spoon until you have a soft, fairly wet dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, knead for 5 mins until smooth.
- Cover with a tea towel and set aside.
Optional: you can leave the dough to rise if you like, but it’s not essential for a thin crust.
- To make the sauce, mix the passata, basil and crushed garlic together, then season to taste. Leave to stand at room temperature while you get on with shaping the base.
- Roll out the dough. If you’ve let the dough rise, give it a quick knead, then split into two balls.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough into large circles, about 25cm across, using a rolling pin. The dough needs to be very thin as it will rise in the oven.
- Lift the circles onto two floured baking sheets.
- Preheat the oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 8. Put another baking sheet or an upturned baking tray in the oven on the top shelf.
- Smooth sauce over with the back of a spoon. Scatter with cheese and tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil and season.
- Put one pizza, still on its baking sheet, on top of the preheated sheet or tray.
- Bake for 8-10 mins until crisp. Serve with a little more olive oil, and basil leaves if using. Repeat step for remaining pizza.
Dolce: Classic Italian Tiramisù
Tiramisù is the classic Italian desert, loved by Italians from the north to the sunny shores in the south so this espresso-soaked treat is a sure winner to round off your dinner party. And the best part is it’s so easy to make.
You will need…
- 6 large egg yolks egg yolks
- 150g white sugar
- 150ml milk
- 300g double cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 450g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 60ml strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons rum
- 2 packages finger biscuits
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended.
- Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour.
- In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.
- Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
- In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.
- Split the finger biscuits in half lengthwise and drizzle with coffee mixture.
- Arrange half of the soaked finger biscuits in the bottom of a 7x11 inch dish and spread half of the mascarpone mixture over finger biscuits, then half of whipped cream over that.
- Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover.
To finish your meal, offer your guests a coffee – or better yet, a shot of Sorrento limoncello for real Italiano flair!
If you haven’t already rebooked for 2021, our £49 Flexi Deposit means you’re free to amend your next holiday as many times as you’d like at no extra fee – giving you more security and control than ever. Why not browse our collection of Italy holidays or order a copy of our Europe brochure.
Article published on: 7th September, 2020
From the coffee-clad highlands of Colombia to getting up-close-and-personal with elephants in Thailand and the exploring the sprawling winelands of South Africa, Natalie is a wannabe-adventurer and finds it hard to pick favourites when it comes to travel destinations. She has a weakness for wildlife and good wine, so her escapades are usually in pursuit of one or the other.