Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rustic Italian

It is only a few more days before Christmas, if your shopping list is still not done why not consider getting busy in the kitchen and giving some homemade goodies this holidays?

I am sharing with you some of the recipes I used for my recent Italian-themed dinner, which are also good for holiday food gift items. The Cheese Torta recipe, especially, can be put into several smaller containers to accomodate several friends.  Trust me, this is one gift that won't get bounced around, it is that good!  It is ideally served as a spread, but I have also used it as a topping for a pasta salad.  You simply cannot do wrong with this recipe.

Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Torta di Formaggio / Cheese Torta
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups cream cheese, room temperature (about 2 bars)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/3 cups drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

1/3 cup tomato paste

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Fresh basil sprigs

Toasted pine nuts

Baguette slices, toasted

  1. Finely chop garlic in processor. Add basil, 1/4 cup pine nuts, oil and lemon juice. Process until well blended. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Using on/off turns, process just until blended. Transfer pesto to medium bowl.
  2. Coarsely chop tomatoes in processor. Add tomato paste and process until mixture is almost smooth.
  3. Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups cream cheese and butter in large bowl until fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Spray 6-cup soufflé dish with nonstick spray. Line with plastic wrap, extending plastic over sides. Spread 3/4 cup cream cheese-butter mixture evenly over bottom of prepared dish. Top with half of tomato mixture, then 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture, then half of pesto mixture. Repeat layering with 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture, remaining tomato mixture, 1/2 cup cream cheese-butter mixture and remaining pesto. Top with remaining cream cheese-butter mixture. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
  5. To serve, invert torta onto platter. Peel off plastic. Garnish with basil sprigs and toasted pine nuts. Serve with baguette slices.
You can also click here for the printable recipe 

Spaghettini with Artcihokes And Capers
the artichoke and caper mixture waiting for the addition of the pasta
12 ounces spaghettini / angel hair pasta
3 ounces olive oil, extra virgin 
1 tsp garlic, fresh Chopped
14- 16 pcs shrimp
1 cup artichokes hearts, quartered 
1 cup roma tomatoes, diced 
1 cup black olives, chopped
4 tbsp capers
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup basil, fresh julienned
2 tbsp parmesan, shredded

1. Cook spaghettini/angel hair according to directions on package, 12 ounces should yield approximately 20 ounces of cooked pasta.
2. To a medium heated sauté pan, add olive oil, garlic, shrimp and artichokes. Let shrimp cook and let garlic turn a golden color to develop flavor.
3. Add tomatoes, black olives, capers, salt and pepper to sauté pan. Let ingredients thoroughly heat while mixing.
4. Remove from heat and add toss in fresh basil.
5. Place cooked angel hair in a mound on service plate and top with ingredients from sauté pan.
6. Garnish with parmesan and parsley, enjoy!

You can click here for the printable recipe.

Happy cooking! 

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