The majority of holiday celebrations around the world involve indulging in delicious feasts; however, the foods we eat and the traditions we practice vary. In Italy, elaborate dishes are the center of everyday meals and are emphasized at Christmas! If you’re looking to expand your horizons this holiday season, use the following tips to host an Italian-inspired, multi-course meal that embraces age-old Italian customs and creates priceless (and delicious!) memories with friends and family.
The Christmas Eve meal is traditionally meatless – instead, Italians enjoy a diverse variety of fish, also known as the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Don’t let this seven-course feast intimidate you. Fill your menu with familiar, easy-to-prep dishes that take some heat off of the host. Shrimp Toasts and seafood spreads containing crab, salmon or salted cod are crowd-pleasing starters that are perfect for preparing in advance. For the main courses, pasta and stews symbolize iconic Italian classics. Shrimp Alfredo, seafood linguine with clams or mussels, cioppino and Bouillabaisse are all dishes that showcase succulent seafood beautifully. Maple-Walnut Crusted Salmon and Classic Lobster Rolls are additional impressive dishes that make a big statement in your seafood lineup.
Don’t forget dessert! Both light and fluffy, panettone and pandoro are two Christmas cakes that your guests won’t want to miss. Panettone is studded with raisins or candied fruits, and pandoro is a moist, bright yellow cake (traditionally star-shaped) that’s dusted with powdered sugar. Serve these sweet treats with sauces like caramel, chocolate or maple syrup.
To follow ancient Italian tradition, keep the table set after everyone is finished eating; it’s believed that the Madonna (Mary) and baby Jesus will come to taste the food. The Christmas season in Italy begins December 8th and ends January 6th – providing many opportunities to practice and experience these time-honored traditions.
As the weather cools down and you begin to feel a chill in the air, a home-cooked Italian meal is the perfect way to warm up. When it comes to Italian we certainly aren’t picky, whether it be starting from scratch cooking sauce all day, or opening your favorite jar of sauce, we have all of your necessities. We love all types of Italian meals and we’re excited to spend time celebrating this delicious cuisine with you!
Looking for some ideas for Italian inspiration? Start by bringing home big Italian flavor with Contadina® Tomato products and new Contadina® Pizzettas! For 100 years, Contadina has produced tomatoes that hold the standard of Italy, using fresh vine-ripened tomatoes that are grown with care.
Fresh from the sun-kissed fields of Italy, Mutti tomatoes are Italy’s #1 brand for a reason. Many years ago, Mutti decided to focus all of their efforts on tomatoes, rather than having many different good products, they have now have one excellent product. With a true respect for the tomatoes and nature in their fields, Mutti has thrived in bringing the highest-quality tomatoes from their land to your kitchen table.
Casaro Cheesemakers are true artisans, handcrafting the highest quality Italian specialty cheeses since 1929. Enjoy Casaro’s 1lb Fresh Mozzarella produced locally in our hometown of Schenectady, NY. Casaro in Italian translates to “cheesemaker” and the name is fitting given the expert quality you can taste in every bite. From Casaro’s creamy Fresh mozzarella to their aged Parmesan and Romano, you’ll be cheesin’ for more.
Finally, when preparing your Italian feast you can’t forget the ABC’s of Pasta! Appearance, a good amber color shows quality, rather than reddish, grayish, or whitish hues. Bite, good pasta should cook “al dente,” meaning “to the tooth.” This means pasta should be firm when it’s ready to be eaten. Clarity, pasta made with the best quality durum wheat should not release much starch into the water. Check to make sure the cooking water is clear, rather than cloudy. And doesn’t break, pasta made with the highest quality durum wheat should not, break, stick, or clump during cooking. Now you know your ABC’s…of pasta!
Enjoy a delicious Italian meal during the cooler weather. There’s nothing like a good home-cooked meal to warm your spirits. For whichever meal you decide to try Price Chopper/Market 32 is your one stop shop for everything Italian. Come see us!
KEN’S SIMPLY VINAIGRETTE BALSAMIC SALAD DRESSINGSKen’s proudly introduces Simply Vinaigrette Balsamic Salad Dressings – five new exciting flavors:
Balsamic, Caesar, Italian, Olive Oil & Vinegar & GreekA lineup of their favorite dressing recipes crafted without artificial flavors, preservatives or sweeteners. Simply delicious – from their kitchen to yours. Bring the flavor of the Mediterranean to your kitchen with Simply Vinaigrette Salad Dressing from Ken’s Steak House. Mix tomatoes, Kalamata olives and feta cheese with your favorite greens and add Ken’s Simply Greek Vinaigrette dressing for a delicious Greek salad – or use as a marinade for Chicken or Pork for some extra flavor in your main dish! Made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy. Look for Ken’s Simply Vinaigrettes – in all five varieties – in the Salad Dressing aisle. Written by Ellie Wilson, MS, RDN Senior Nutritionist Great home cooks and chefs alike know that exceptional meals begin with exceptional ingredients, and we have a wonderful assortment of authentic Italian products featured this month. Powering up your pantry with these simple and savory items can help you make a quick meal into a delicious event. Quick is key with Bella Terra Rapido No Boil Pasta – combine that with Botticelli or Rao’s Pasta Sauces for a fast, fun and flavorful meal. You can also get everything you need to make your own pasta sauce (slow cooker power!) – Mutti, Cento and Botticelli tomato products can be mixed and matched in your family recipes. Deepen the flavor of those sauces with Urbani Truffle Sauces, Amore garlic paste, and Racconto Sundried Tomatoes or Pesto. Price Chopper Sicilian and Toscano olive oils bring the Mediterranean to your table with their regional flavor notes – great to use for cooking or salads. Bella Italia Regional Pasta and Sauces transport you virtually to the towns, villages and families that have perfected their flavors and focus into unique items. Fabulous Italian cheeses, so special they earn an internationally recognized seal of authenticity, can start or finish your meal. Grana Padano, Parmigiana and Gorgonzola can elevate your cheese display or recipes beautifully. Think Parmigiano is just for pasta? Check out the potato recipe below, which will complement almost any meal. Finish with a Perla pastry, or a Divino Gelato Novelty, both special endings for special meals. Delizioso! Parmigiano Reggiano Potato Wedges
- 3 large potatoes, washed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2.5 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- 5 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano PDO
- Black pepper