7 Fantastic Italian Recipes

Chow on 11.09.12
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Photo: Courtesy of Lloyd Alter

As you read this, I will be swanning about Italy, much like my husband's grandmother Etta, who posed for this photo sitting in a gondola in 1958. The amazing thing to me is how empty the water is behind her. I have the feeling the canals of Venice aren't that wide open now. I've only been to Italy once, and that was fifteen years ago now. I went by myself on a food tour that highlighted people who still produce food in the traditional way. I have never eaten so much, or so well in my life.

This time the trip is to Venice, Florence and Rome with the focus on art and architecture and is to celebrate a special birthday for my husband, with our son Hugh coming along. Our daughter Emma just go a job after much looking (of course, she's in her 20's!) so she's forced to stay behind and dog sit. Just so you don't have to feel intense jealousy about my trip, I've given you seven recipes for Italian cuisine.

1. Pasta e Fagioli

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

If your kids like beans, this pasta e fagioli is a wonderful filling and healthy soup. So much of Italian food is rustic fare using simple ingredients and this is a perfect example of that. To me, with a bit of crusty bread, this is the perfect meal for a cold fall afternoon.

2. Pasta Puttanesca

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

You can't write about Italian food without including pasta. I can see from the photo that this is my homemade pasta, which is truly delicious and fun to make with the kids. The puttanesca sauce was made in the slow cooker. You can make it a little less spicy if you like.

3. Tuscan White Bean Soup

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

This Tuscan white bean soup is another healthy and warming soup. Unlike the pasta e fagioli where the beans remain whole, this gets a little whiz from an immersion blender to make a smooth soup. I made this last week in the aftermath of the storm, looking for a bit of comfort food.

4. Pumpkin Gnocchi

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Gnocchi is another great thing to make with the kids on a weekend afternoon, although they might end up a bit tougher than they would if you made them yourself. You can make a classic recipe or a version of it using pumpkin.

5. Bean and Kale Soup

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

I guess I'm really letting you know how I feel about beans including three bean soup recipes, but it highlights how different soups can be using variations on ingredients. This bean and kale soup has a bit of pancetta in it to add some saltiness to the mix.

6. Tricolour Salad

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

Italians sure love their bitter greens and this tricolour salad is a perfect example of that. This is more of an adult salad than one that will appeal to kids. If you used greens other than radicchio it would be more kid friendly.

7. Kale Ricotta Pasta Bake

Photo: Kelly Rossiter

As great as spaghetti with red sauce is, there is something wonderful and comforting about a big casserole dish filled with baked pasta. This kale and ricotta pasta bake was delicious, but apparently the post with the recipe has gone AWOL. However, I have a terrific recipe for a baked chicken and spinach pasta, for which I have no photo. So I've compromised, and given you a bit of both.

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