This month, my husband and I went on a trip to Italy…at least our stomachs did. I borrowed a number of cook books from our library, which if you aren’t sure you want a cookbook that is a great place to start. After reading through several books, mostly just the introductions and a handful of recipes I landed on the Williams Sonoma Essentials of Italian Cookbook. It breaks recipes down by region and even has sample menus to choose from. Originally I wanted to try my hand at pasta making but I also wanted to make something new. So I decided on four different recipes from the book
Starter: Field Greens Salad with Bacon, Walnuts and Balsamic Vinaigrette (I made some changes to the Vinaigrette Recipe and will share those with you soon!)
Side: Zucchini with Garlic and Basil
Main: Herb Roasted Pork Tender Loin
Side: Graniteed Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi
Dessert: Olive Oil Cake with Cherry Compote
This time instead of doing the entire meal in one day I spread it out over the course of the week. We ate on leftovers plus a new side or entirely left over meal. I waited until Monday to actually make the cake. I was feeling really anxious about making a cake from scratch.
The Pork Loin was flavorful and juicy, the zucchini maybe the way we cook it from now on. Lots of garlic and basil made the zucchini seemed new and not it’s same old self. The Gratineed Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi scared me to death. When I finally got brave enough to make it, I didn’t regret it. It was like eating the inside of a ravioli without the ravioli! My husband liked it better as a side and needed some red sauce on it. The next night we had it I cooked some broken lasagna noodles and red sauce for a deconstructed lasagna and he seemed to like it more then. Whereas I could have eaten the whole pan on it’s own. I may not have made pasta but i did make a kind of gnocchi and that was amazing!
The cake was nothing to be scared of. It wasn’t hard but I did pay attention to the instructions and think it turned out wonderful. I really liked it because it wasn’t sickening sweet. (i don’t like ridiculously sweet) And the compote was a nice addition of sweetness, and moisture to the cake!
So the take away from this month’s meal:
Salad: homemade vinaigrette is possible and good, walnuts instead of croutons on a salad, fresh graded parmesan makes a difference
Zucchini: Fresh garlic and basil are great with it
Pork Loin: Cutting slits in the loin and rubbing the spice mix all over leads to AMAZING flavor
Gnocchi: FUN new technique in my cooking repertoire!
Cake: My first homemade cake not from a box, perfect balance of sweet and perfect cakey texture! 🙂
What would you make for a complete Italian Meal?