Italian Night: from recipes to decor

Italian Night: from recipes to decor

Before summer comes and BBQ season is in full gear we are still holding on to our pasta parties and special Sunday night Italian dishes. Using fresh, local ingredients put together these fan favorite dishes, invite a few friends over and pop open your favorite bottles of wine. All of these recipes are fairly easy and quick to make. We always love to plan parties like this on an early Sunday evening so you can relax and prepare for the week ahead.

To keep things simple for yourself, prep for the cooking ahead of time in one big shopping spree. But don’t forget to peruse your pantry before making your shopping list as you may have some–or most– of the ingredients. It’s most fun to set up table family style on nights like these; open a bunch of bottles of wines and leave them corked on the table. Use big gorgeous serving bowls that can be passed around the table for seconds and even thirds. You can keep flower arrangements small and short so everyone can see one another and use white table linens to create a serene environment. Turn on your best Pandora station and enjoy the time with friends and family.

Start the night with a few passed hors d’oeuvres and serve a Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Mix one traditional starter, like a fresh tomato Bruschetta, with something a little more inventive like the Broccoli Rabe & Goat Cheese Crostini.

Broccoli Rabe & Goat Cheese Crostini


  • 1 ½ pounds broccoli rabe
  • 5 ounces goat cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil + more for brushing & drizzling
  • 12 baguette slices, each ½” thick


Preheat a broiler. Cut the broccoli rabe stems into 1/4-inch pieces and coarsely chop the leafy greens. In a frying pan over medium heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds. Add as much broccoli rabe as will fit into the pan. Increase the heat to high and add the remaining broccoli rabe as the first batch wilts. Cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. If the pan seems too dry, add a splash of water. Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil and season with salt. Place baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush the slices with olive oil. Broil until golden brown on both sides. Spread the goat cheese on the baguette slices and top with the broccoli rabe. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.



  • ½ baguette, sliced into 1 inch thick slices
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup tomatoes, diced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, sliced
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt


Toast bread until golden brown and drizzle with oil. In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, balsamic, salt and a drizzle of oil. Scoop a spoonful of tomato mix onto each slice of bread. Serve immediately.

For the table a hearty pasta dish plus a salad, and of course bread makes for a well rounded meal. Put out a few bottles of wines with more body, like Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. There are so many options when it comes to which pasta to serve; on warm weather nights go for something like the Lemony Shrimp & Sungold Tomato Pasta but on cooler cozy nights create a simple Italian staple like Spaghetti Alla Carbonara.

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara


  • 1 lb dry spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 oz pancetta, sliced into small strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino cheese
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving ½ cup of pasta water for sauce.

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for 3-5 minutes until it is crispy. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Toss spaghetti in the pan for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.

In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs, Parmesan and Pecorino until well-combined. Pour the egg and cheese mixture over hot pasta, whisking quickly until the egg thickens. Add some reserved pasta until it reaches your desired consistency.

Add fresh black pepper to taste and fold several spoonfuls of cheese into pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley and additional cheese.

Garlic Toast

  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 ½ tsps basil
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 loaf of fresh French bread, cut in half length wise


Preheat oven to 375°. In small bowl, stir together butter and herbs, until well mixed. Spread mixture on each half of French bread. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until bread is lightly toasted. Let cool for 5 minutes, cut and serve immediately.

Spinach Salad


  • 6 cups spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup dried sour cherries
  • 3 scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced yellow tomato
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place pine nuts in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until lightly toasted, approximately two minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.

Whisk together vinegar and olive oil; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Combine spinach, cherries, scallions and tomato in a large bowl and toss with dressings. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with pine nuts and feta cheese.


To wrap up the evening, give your guests a taste of something sweet. No one can pass up a creamy, mousse-y, tiramisu, And the best part is that it goes divinely with your last few drops of Cabernet Sauvignon.



  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups mascarpone
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 3 cups cooled espresso
  • ½ cup Kalhua
  • 20 ladyfingers
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate shavings


With a mixer, whip egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until thick.  Add the mascarpone and whip until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites, and ¼ cup sugar until somewhat firm, but fluffy.   Add them to the mascarpone mixture and stir in the Kahlua. Gently fold in the whipped cream.

One by one, dip the ladyfingers in the espresso and lay them flat into a 7” by 11” glass baking dish. Once the surface is completely covered, spread a layer of mascarpone cream on top, then dust with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Repeat another layer of cookies, mascarpone cream and cocoa powder, then garnish the top of the cake with shaved dark chocolate.

Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours prior to serving.

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