May 7, 2012: Five-Course Italian Sunday Dinner
Published Monday, May 7, 2012 11:53AM EDT
Author Lisa Caponigri shares these easy recipes for a five-course Italian dinner in her cookbook, "Whatever Happened to Sunday Dinner?"
Course One: Prosciutto with Melon (Con Melone)
- 1 large ripe cantaloupe
- 12 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma or San Daniele
Cut the cantaloupe in half, cut off the rind, and remove the seeds. Slice each half into 6 wedges, for a total of 12 pieces. Gently wrap each cantaloupe wedge with a slice of prosciutto, starting at the tip of the melon slice. Arrange on a tray and serve.
Course Two: Lisa's Famous Meat-a-Balls (Polpetti alla Lisa)
Lisa's Classic Tomato Sauce
- 6 cloves garlic, cut in half, green sprouts removed if necessary
- 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 1 1⁄2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried Italian oregano
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 slices Italian bread
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 1 lb ground veal
- 1 lb coarse-ground sausage meat with fennel seeds
- 1 lb ground beef sirloin
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 3⁄4 cup grated Pecorino Romano
- 3⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano sea salt
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil for frying
For Tomato Sauce: In a large pot, heat the garlic in the olive oil over low heat for 3 minutes. Don't allow the garlic to brown. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer over very low heat for 2 to 4 hours.
For Lisa's Meatballs: In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk. In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, eggs, parsley, garlic, cheeses, oregano, and sea salt and pepper to taste.
Squeeze the excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the meat mixture, making sure everything is well combined.
With your hands, shape the mixture into meatballs 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diametre. Place the meatballs on a tray as you make them.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In batches, brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Add the meatballs to the simmering tomato sauce and cook for another 2 to 4 hours over very low heat.
Course Three: Nana's Baked Chicken (Pollo al Forno Della Nonna)
- 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus 6 Tbsp. for rubbing chickens
- 2 chickens, each cut into 8 serving pieces
- 1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
Pour 4 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large baking dish and tilt the dish to coat the bottom with the oil. Lightly rub the chicken pieces with the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil.
Put the flour, red pepper flakes, and salt and black pepper to taste in a sturdy brown paper bag. Place 2 or 3 pieces of chicken at a time in the bag and shake to coat the chicken fully with the seasoned flour. Tap off any excess. Arrange the dredged chicken pieces in the prepared baking dish in a single layer. Bake until fully cooked through, about one hour.
Course Four: Tri-color Salad (Insalata Tre Colori)
- 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed of stalks, bulk cult into 1⁄8-inch-thick slices
- 2 carrots, cut into thin rounds
- 1 large red or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into very thin stripes
- 1 small head Bibb lettuce, leaves torn into medium pieces
- 2 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
- Sea salt to taste
- 3 - 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Place the fennel, carrots, bell pepper, lettuce, and tomatoes in a large salad bowl. When ready to serve, season to taste with salt, add the olive oil and vinegar, and toss gently to coat the salad with the dressing.
Course Five: Espresso and Hazelnut Chocolate Cake (Torta al Cioccolato, Caffe e Nocciola)
- 3 1⁄2 cups shelled hazelnuts
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 per cent cacao)
- 2 1⁄2 sticks (20 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, plus a bit extra for greasing the pan
- 1⁄2 cup freshly brewed espresso or 1⁄4 cup espresso powder dissolved in 1⁄4 cup boiling water
- 6 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C).
Butter a 10-inch round springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast until brown. Let cool.
Rub off the skins (you can do this with a clean dish towel) and chop fine.
Break the chocolate into pieces. Place in the top of a double boiler (or in a glass or metal mixing bowl) and set over gently simmering water. Add the butter and coffee and melt, stirring a few times until smooth. Let cool. Stir in the hazelnuts.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture is pale and doubles in volume. Fold in the chocolate mixture.
In another large bowl using the mixer (be sure to wash and dry the beaters well), beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs on it, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then remove the side of the pan.