Tag Archives: Italian recipes for dinner

Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce in a bowl with crusty Italian bread next to it ready to sop up the sauce.

Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari and Stuffed Sardines for Your Italian Christmas Eve

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Try Stuffed Calamari, Fried Calamari or stuffed sardines for your Italian Christmas Eve this year! Recipes courtesy of Sicily and Sardinia.

Italian Christmas Eve means a feast of 7 fishes with Calamari, Stuffed or Fried and Stuffed Sardines 

It is an Italian tradition to serve fish for Christmas Eve, in observance of the Catholic holiday.  In some towns in Italy and in many Italian-American families, this tradition has turned into a feast that features fish and shellfish for antipasto, primo and secondo courses —  fish is served fried, stuffed, with pasta, stewed, and baked.  Some families serve seven different types of fish, although I’m not sure if anyone really knows where the number seven originated from.

Each year, I plan my “feast of the 7 fishes” with some tried and true dishes — my shrimp scampi,  for instance, is always a big hit for the primo course and easy to make.  Last year I had fun with the antipasto course, and cooked up Sicilian and Sardinian-style stuffed calamari and stuffed fresh sardines — which, by the way, do not smell or taste “fishy” at all if you buy them fresh.  They were both a hit with young and old alike, so I present them here for your family to try.  I’ve also included a simple method for fresh fried calamari, complete with an Instagram video, as a well-known and well-loved family starter to any Italian-American meal.

Buon appetito e Buon Natale!

—Kathryn Occhipinti


Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Stuffed Calamari Sardinian Style

Ingredients
(Makes about 12 stuffed  calamari (squid)

12 squid with about 3″ sacs

Stuffing:
Tentacles from 6 squid, finely chopped
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 anchovy fillets, boned and preserved in olive oil
1 Tb and 1 tsp breadcrumbs (or more as desired)
salt and pepper
olive oil

Sauce:
olive oil
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 can ( 8 oz.) Italian  chopped Italian tomatoes
1/4 cup dry white wine

Prepare the calamari:

Buy calamari already cut and cleaned.  Frozen calamari is fine.  (For whole calamari: rinse, cut tentacles from body and remove the hard beak along the outside and the hard spine on the inside of the body. Then continue as below.)

Rinse again, take out any hard spine left in body and cut off outer fins.

Separate the body and tentacles into two bowls.  Rinse again if needed.  Drain any excess water, and pat dry.

Make the stuffing and stuff the calamari:

Put all the stuffing ingredients into a bowl and mix lightly until all are blended.

Add a little olive oil if too dry or a little more breadcrumbs, as needed. The mixture should be soft and hold together when picked up with the hand.

Spoon the stuffing into the calamari bodies,  filling about 3/4 of each sac.  Close with a toothpick.

Squid bodies lined up, stuffed, and the open end closed with a toothpick
Stuffed calamari, closed with toothpicks.

 

Cook the calamari in tomato sauce: 

Use a large frying pan that can fit al the calamari.

Pour in enough olive oil to coat the pan and come slightly up the sides and heat to medium high.  Add the garlic cloves and cook until they are a golden brown and then remove.

Put in the stuffed squid and brown both sides.

Stuffed calamari frying in olive oil on the stove.
Stuffed calamari frying in olive oil on the stovetop.

Add chopped tomatoes and any juice from the can and the white wine.  Cook at slow boil to boil off the alcohol in the white wine, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Cook at a slow simmer until calamari are cooked through, an additional 30 – 45 minutes or more.  The cooking time with vary with the size of the calamari, so cut into the calamari to make sure it is cooked through and cook longer if needed.

Stuffed calamari cooking in tomato sauce in a frying pan on the stovetop
Stuffed calamari cooking with tomatoes on the stove top.

When the calamari have finished cooking,  remove the toothpicks and place each on a separate platter, covered with the sauce.

Serve very hot, with crusty Italian bread to mop up the sauce!

stuffed calamari in tomato sauce are in a serving platter on a festive Christmas tablecloth
Stuffed calamari in tomato sauce, cooked and ready to serve.

Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Fried Calamari 

Ingredients
Calamari (Squid), frozen or fresh
flour
olive oil
salt

Buy calamari already cut and cleaned.  Frozen calamari is fine.  (For whole calamari: rinse, cut tentacles from body and remove the hard beak along the outside and the hard spine on the inside of the body. Then continue as below.)

Rinse again, take out any hard spine left in body and cut off outer fins.

Separate the body and tentacles into two bowls.  Rinse again if needed.  Drain any excess water, but no need to pat dry.

Cut each calamari body into rings, dredge in flour and shake off excess flour. The flour alone will  cling to the damp calamari and make a very light, batter-type coating when fried in olive oil.

Heat oil about an inch deep in a large frying pan over medium heat. Do not let olive oil  get too hot or smoke. Test olive oil by dropping one  lightly floured calamari ring into the oil. The oil is hot enough when the calamari sizzles. Maintain olive oil at medium heat throughout the frying process, turning burner heat up or down as needed.

To fry the calamari, drop lightly floured calamari rings into the olive oil.  Fry in batches and do not crowd the pan.  Turn as needed to brown evenly.  Fry the calamari rings first, and then the tentacles.

When the calamari are a golden yellow color, remove the calamari from the oil with a slotted spoon.

Drain any excess oil from the fried calamari in a bowl lined with a paper towel, and then immediately transfer to the serving bowl and salt lightly.  Mix.

Bring your fried calamari right to the table and enjoy hot! .

 

View this post on Instagram

Italian Christmas Eve recipe: Easy Fried Calamari for your feast of the 7 fishes! Buy calamari already cut and cleaned. Rinse, take out any hard spine left in body and cut of fins. Cut body into circles, dredge in flour and shake odd excess flour. The flour alone will make a very light, batter-type coating when fried in olive oil. Heat oil over medium heat. It is hot enough when a piece drops in sizzles. Drain oil on paper towels, transfer to serving bowl and salt lightly. Then fry tentacles same way. Enjoy hot out of the frying pan. For more Italian fish dishes check out www.blog.learntravelitalian.com tomorrow Dec 15………………………….. #osnap #osnapmedia @niafitalianamerican @osia_su #italianchristmas #italianchristmaseve #italianchristmasfood #italianchristmasfoodtraditions #italianchristmasdinner #feastofthesevenfishes #sevenfishesfeast #sevenfishdinner #italianfishdinner #christmaseve2019 #christmaseve2019🎄 #christmaseve2019♥️ #christmaseve2019🎅🏻🌲🎉

A post shared by Kathryn Occhipinti (@conversationalitalian.french) on

 


 

Make it an Italian Christmas Eve:
Stuffed Sardines Sicilian Style 

Ingredients
(For about 10 fresh sardines)

About 10 fresh sardines
Stuffing:
1/2 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup seedless, white raisins,  coarsely chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
1/8 tsp sugar
3 salted anchovies,  boned and preserved in olive oil
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
pepper
Top with 2-3 bay leaves (fresh if possible), torn into pieces

Make the filling for the sardines:

Heat 1/2 cup olive oil over moderate heat in a large frying pan and then add the breadcrumbs. Stir, cooking until breadcrumbs are lightly browned.

Put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and allow to cool a bit.

Add the yellow raisins, pine nuts, and sugar.

Rinse the anchovies until most of the salt has been removed.  Pat dry. Chop into small pieces and then add to the filling in the bowl.

Add 2 -3 grinds of freshly ground pepper,  parsley and onion.

Mix all ingredients together with  a spoon.  Pick up with your hand and see if mixture will hold together.  Add a few drops of olive oil if needed and mix with your hands until mixture holds together enough to be pressed into the sardines.

Clean, stuff, and cook the sardines:

Process the fresh sardines as follows: Rinse well.  Cut off the heads.  Rinse again.  Slit open the belly of each sardine lengthwise and pull out the intestines and rinse again.  Pull out the backbone.  Rinse in salted water and wipe dry. Split open and lay flat.

Fresh Sardines are slit open, cleaned and shown lying flat before stuffing
Fresh sardines cleaned, split open and ready to stuff.

 

Stuffing bowl and the center sardine open with stuffing in it.
Sardine with stuffing prior to closing.

Place a little bit of the stuffing into each sardine, then close and place into a shallow cooking pan coated with a bit of olive oil.

 

Sardines are stuffed, folded over and have been placed into a pan, ready to cook
Stuffed sardines ready to cook.

 

 

 

 

Tear the bay leaves into several pieces and sprinkle them over the sardines .

 

 

 

Bake in the oven at 375°until sardines are cooked through and filling has browned, about 30 minutes.

When the sardines have finished cooking, sprinkle with freshly squeezed lemon juice and serve hot. Present them in their pan  with the juices or transfer to a separate plate.

Sardines in their pan, cooked and ready to serve
Stuffed sardines, cooked and ready to  serve.

— by Kathryn Occhipinti


 

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Chicken Broth: Make Egg Drop Soup or Make it with Pastina Stars

Sliced Italian pot roast

Italian Pot Roast in Barolo Wine for Sunday Dinner

Italian Pot Roast in  Barolo Wine for Sunday Dinner

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog Italian Pot Roast in Barolo Wine

The most moist and flavorful pot roast is Italian—and easy to make! Try it for a special Sunday dinner.

Try Italian Pot Roast in Barolo Wine for YOUR Sunday Dinner! 

“Do Italians really make pot roast?” I am happy to share not only that Italians do make pot roast, but also that Italian-style pot roast is the most moist and flavorful pot roast I’ve ever tasted!

When I lived in San Francisco, I discovered the wonderful way that Northern Italians from the Lombardy region have with pot roast. They braise their pot roast slowly, under low heat for many hours, with a full-bodied northern Italian red wine called Barolo wine. With this method, the meat becomes melt-in-your-mouth soft and delicious. If you can’t find the Barolo wine that is typical of Northern Italy, Barbera wine or any hearty Italian red wine will do.

I’ve been making Italian pot roast in red wine for many years now, usually as a special treat for Sunday dinners with my family. The nice thing about the Italian red wine method is that the meat is even more flavorful if reheated; with this in mind, the dish is traditionally prepared the day before serving. Cook the meat until it is almost done, then reheat and finish in about an hour’s time for your special dinner the next day. And don’t worry—there is virtually no way to overcook pot roast with this method!

For the Italian pot roast recipe below, you will need a 3 lb. top round or rump round cut of beef. Ask your butcher to tie your meat with butcher’s twine, so the roast will stay intact as it cooks. Or, if you’d like to try to tie the meat yourself, click on the link to a master chef’s video from Le Cordon Bleu.

The recipe below also calls for “larding” the meat. This is an old method, whereby salt pork is inserted into tough cuts of meat to yield more tenderness and flavor. Nowadays, salt pork can be hard to find. And although larding is not absolutely necessary, I find that when I use a minimally processed bacon fat—no smoke, salt, or other flavorings added—this little bit of added fat does seem to help keep the roast moist during the long braising time. I have provided below a simple method for larding meat with kitchen utensils found in most homes. If you are interested in a special larding gadget and watching the larding process in real time, click on this video: Tescoma Presto Larding Needle.

Of course, you may add a vegetable side dish (contorno) to your pot roast meal. Northern Italy is the home of polenta, which would make a wonderful accompaniment. Small boiled potatoes and cut carrots are also nice to frame your roast when you present it on a serving dish.

And don’t throw away the vegetables that have been braising with the roast—those onions, carrots, and celery may have an unappealing brownish color, but they will also have developed a wonderful sweetness. Serve as a garnish to top the pot roast slices when they are plated. Ladle the finished slices with the warm pot roast juices and enjoy!  Kathryn Occhipinti


Italian Pot Roast in Barolo Wine 

Italian pot roast
Italian pot roast with potatoes and carrots

 

Ingredients
            for the Pot Roast:           

1 (3 lb.) top round of beef,  tied with butcher’s twine
6 strips natural, uncured, unsalted bacon
1 or 2 large cloves of garlic,
with the second clove sliced lengthwise into several thin slices
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1 whole, dried clove
1 onion, chopped coarsely
3 carrots, sliced diagonally into thick slices
2 stalks of celery, sliced diagonally into thick slices
1 cup Barolo wine, Barbera wine, or any full-bodied Italian red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste

Ingredients
     for the Vegetable Garnish

1 lb. of small red or yellow potatoes
1 lb. of carrots, cut into serving pieces
Fresh parsley

 

Method

Prepare the meat and vegetables:

Prepare your top round or rump round meat by rinsing, patting dry, and then tying with butcher’s twine, if the butcher has not already done this for you.

Pot roast Italian style
Top round cut tied with butcher’s twine

Lard the meat by making holes lengthwise through the roast and then pushing a strip of fat from the bacon through each hole. One of my steel barbecue skewers cuts through the meat nicely and makes a hole about the right size. I use my fingers and, if necessary, my knife sharpener or the dowel of a wooden spoon to push the fat through. A special larding device, of course, does the job easily and quickly (see above for the link).

Rub the meat all over with the garlic. If you like, make additional small cuts with a paring knife and insert small slices of garlic into the meat.

Pot roast larded with garlic
The top round is turned on its end and larded. Small pieces of garlic have been inserted as well.

Cut up your vegetables, so all is ready to go before you start to cook.

Pot roast with vegetables
Top round tied, larded, and surrounded by chopped vegetables ready for the pot.

 

Cook your pot roast:

Heat the butter and oil together under low heat in a deep, heavy pan. Use an oven-proof pan or pot if you have one. (Or you can transfer to a pot suitable for the oven later.)

When the butter has melted, add the pot roast and brown the meat under medium heat, turning the meat with tongs so that each side browns nicely.

After the meat has browned completely, add the clove, onions, carrots, celery, and wine, with 1 cup of water.

If you are making this dish on the stovetop, cover and cook slowly under low to medium heat, so the liquid is kept at a simmer.

 -or-

If you have an oven-proof pan, I find it easier to transfer the pan to the oven and cook at 325°. If you do not have an oven-proof pan, you can move the pot roast from the pan into a pot, but be sure to scrape the bottom of the original pan with a wooden spoon so the liquid contains all of the good-tasting browned pieces from the bottom. Then pour the liquid over the pot roast.

The pot roast should cook gently for 3 hours. During that time, every 30 minutes or so, uncover briefly, turn the pot roast gently, and baste it in its juices.

After 3 hours, add the tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup of water. You may need to add additional water to the pot if some has evaporated and the juices become too thick.

Continue cooking and braising as above for another 2 hours.

The cooking process can be stopped at this time. The meat should be tender enough to flake easily when tested with a fork along one of the corners. If not, continue to cook for an additional hour or so.

When the meat is done cooking, it is traditional to leave the meat in the pot with the juices and cooking vegetables until the next day, then reheat an additional 30 minutes to an hour or so before serving. (Refrigerate the pot roast until ready to cook for this final hour.)

While the pot roast is reheating, prepare your favorite vegetable to go with the meal. Polenta, small potatoes, and boiled or glazed cut carrots look nice surrounding the pot roast, but any favorite vegetable is fine.

Serve your pot roast:

Sliced Italian pot roast
Italian pot roast sliced and ready to serve

When you are ready to serve, take the pot roast out of its cooking pan and place it in the center of a platter. Remove the twine and cut into slices—before or after presenting at the table.

Strain the pan juices, and reserve the vegetables to place around the pot roast. They will look brown but should still have some shape and will taste very sweet.

Drizzle some of the pan juices over the pot roast and reserve the rest to serve in a gravy boat.

Surround your pot roast with prepared vegetables of your choice for the final presentation. Serve and enjoy!

Kathryn Occhipinti

Best Kathy Twitter Pic edited for blog

Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the
Conversational Italian for Travelers
 series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
“Everything you need to know to enjoy your visit to Italy!”

Join my Conversational Italian! Facebook group and follow me on Twitter at StellaLucente@travelitalian1  and start to learn Italian today for FREE!
Conversational Italian! Facebook Group
Tweet @travelitalian1 for Stella Lucente Italian

YouTube videos to learn Italian are available from © Stella Lucente, LLC.
Learn Conversational Italian.

More information on and photographs of Italy can be found on Facebook Stella Lucente Italian and Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian.
Facebook Stella Lucente Italian

Pinterest Stella Lucente Italian

Visit learntravelitalian.com/download.html to purchase/download Conversational Italian for Travelers and find more interesting facts and helpful hints about getting around Italy! Learn how to buy train tickets online, how to make international and local telephone calls, and how to decipher Italian coffee names and restaurant menus, all while gaining the basic understanding of Italian that you will need to know to communicate easily and effectively while in Italy. —From the staff at Stella Lucente, LLC

Italian Pot Roast in Barolo Wine