No-Fuss Italian Feast.
An appetizer, a salad and a main course from things you likely already have at home.
Yes, a perfect Bolognese from scratch takes hours. Yes, making fresh pasta at home is ... well ... a pain in the ass.
However, making a big Italian feast––either for friends and family or just yourself––might not even demand a trip to the grocery store, if you follow these easy recipes.
The Appetizer Course: Cacio Pepe Deviled Eggs
Courtesy of Chef Fredo Nogueira of Cure, in New Orleans
Deviled Eggs are deeply Southern, but they are not, in fact, a dish of the American South.If you study Deviled Egg history (and, who doesn’t want to do that?), you’ll discover that they were originally a staple of Ancient Rome.
Wealthy families often served a plate of deviled eggs at the beginning of meals.
“The components of Cacio Pepe just works so well in Deviled Eggs,” offers Chef Fredo Nogueira, who has developed somewhat of a cult following for this appetizer at Cure, a cocktail bar and restaurant in Uptown New Orleans.
“We use fresh cracked black pepper, which is one of my all-time favorite spices. Then it’s a little roasted garlic, Dijon mustard and Duke’s Mayonnaise. The Pecorino Romano we use high quality enough to stand alone on a cheese board.”
Top it with Giuliano Tartufi truffle powder for an extra umami oomph, and pair with a bright, vibrant glass of La Perla Negroni Bianco Oro over ice, with an orange twist.
Cacio Pepe Deviled Eggs
Yields 24 halves
- 1 dozen eggs
- ½ cup Duke’s Mayo
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
- 4 dashes of Tabasco
- Pecorino Cheese, grated for topping
- Black Pepper, freshly cracked for seasoning
Bring a medium-sized pot of water up to a boil. Using a slotted spoon, drop eggs in for exactly 11 minutes. Make sure the water remains at a gentile simmer and not a rapid boil. This insures that the eggs won’t turn green.
Plunge cooked eggs into an ice bath, to stop the cooking process.Once cooled, peel and slice eggs in half.
Separate the yolks from the whites and reserve both. Place the yolks, mayo, Dijon mustard and roasted garlic in a food processor and process until contents are fully incorporated. Once combined, transfer contents to pastry bag fitted with star tip. Fill the egg whites with egg mixture. Grate the pecorino over the eggs and finish with freshly cracked black pepper and a dash of Giuliano Tartufi truffle powder.
The Salad Course: An Updated Arugula
Perhaps you don’t stock pine nuts in your pantry, but you should. They come in giant bags, keep forever when sealed and work in a plethora of dishes––from tossed atop a simple salad to toasted, ground and used as a condiment for sandwiches. Or, in this case, they can be made into an elegant, updated salad dressing. If you don’t have arugula handy, this salad works with any type of lettuce that might be chilling in your fridge.
An Updated Arugula Salad
Yields 4 servings
- 4 cups of lettuce, chopped
- 2 ounces of parmesan, sliced into thin slivers
- 10 sprigs of mint, julienned (optional)
- 10 basil leaves, julienned (optional)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a skillet
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Method for Dressing:
In a food processor, pulse all ingredients except the olive oil. Then, slowly add olive oil, while continuing to pulse, until all is combined and creamy. If it’s too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time until you achieve desired consistency.
Plate lettuce, top with parmesan slivers and add herbs if using. Top with dressing and serve.
The Main Course: Gnocchi, in Simple Red Sauce
If you have a few russet potatoes that need to be used before they start to sprout, and you have a Sunday stretching before you without many obligations, making gnocchi is fun and a great activity for kids.
We adapted this recipe from Chef Billy Parisi and his online blog, that you’ll find here, with a simple, bright, fragrant sauce using 1 can of Bianco DiNapoli Whole Peeled Plum tomatoes and a dash of your favorite dried herbs.
Ingredients for Simple Red Sauce
- 1 can of Bianco DiNapoli Whole Peeled Plum tomatoes
- 1 tsp. ground, dried fennel
- 1 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. white vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
Method for Sauce
In a pot add tomatoes from can and pulse with an immersion blender until smooth. Add spices, sugar and vinegar and stir to combine. Cook down for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and then reset aside while making gnocchi.
Ingredients for Gnocchi:
- 5 russet potatoes, baked, then cooled, peeled and mashed
- 3 eggs, whisked
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Method for Gnocchi
Set a pot on the stove. Fill with water and a Tbsp. of salt. Bring to a low boil. While the water is coming to a boil, add the mashed potatoes, eggs, flour, and tsp. salt to a large bowl. Once you’ve combined it into a potato dough, transfer it to a flat counter surface that’s been dusted with flour.
Knead gently for 1 minute.
Take a handful of the dough and roll it beneath your palm to form a rope. It should be about a half an inch in diameter.
Using a knife dusted in flour, cut out your gnocchi. Each piece should be about ¾-inch long.
Press each piece gently with the back of a fork.
Drop the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat Tbsp. of butter in a skillet,
Once the gnocchi float to the surface of the boiling water, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer to your pan with the butter.
Saute for 3 minutes, or until just lightly browned.
Combine warmed red sauce and gnocchi in a bowl to serve. Garnish with parmesan and basil.