Home > Uncategorized > Italian Dinner Menu – Starters

Italian Dinner Menu – Starters

These are the recipes for the starters and salad we served at the Italian Dinner.  I posted the Tuscan White Bean Dip a few weeks ago.  Matt made most of the starters and the salad.  So glad I married someone who likes to cook!  He made the marinated olives and they were delicious!  The only complaint – we needed to serve them with a spoon so people could eat the juice with their bread.  Silly hosts, we only put out toothpicks!

 

Marinated Olives with Orange

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

16 ounces mixed olives (green, purple, black – any combination works)

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 shallots, minced

pinch of cinnamon

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons white vinegar

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoons fresh mint chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Dry roast the fennel and cumin seeds in a small, heavy-bottom pan on medium heat.  You want them to heat them until they start to pop, but be careful because they can burn quickly.  Shake or stir frequently.  Remove from heat and let the seeds cool.  Place the seeds in a large container with a lid.  Add the olives.

Mix the orange zest, lemon zest, shallots, cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, mint, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the olives and toasted seeds.  Mix, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 day before serving.

 

Crostini with Roasted Garlic

3 heads garlic, whole

2 tablespoons olive oil

pinch of Kosher salt

pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 loaf of Italian or French bread, in ½” slices (thinner if you prefer, I like ¼”)

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Remove the outer, papery layer of skin on the garlic heads.  However, leave the skins of the individual cloves intact. Use a sharp knife to cut off a ¼  to ¾-inch slice from the pointy end of each garlic head. Place the bulbs in a garlic roaster (if you have one, we do not), an over-proof container, or you can wrap them in foil.  Drizzle the garlic with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid or use foil.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until the garlic is soft.

Let the garlic cool, and then use your fingers to squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves.  Or you could use a tiny fork or a butter knife to remove the garlic.

Put the garlic in a bowl, mash with a fork.  Add a little more olive oil if it is too dry (you can use the oil from the garlic roasting if you want).  The mixture should be spreadable.

Toast the bread, the oven should still be hot from roasting the garlic.  Spread with the garlic. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Serve.

 

 

Caprese Crostini

For this recipe, there are no quantities.  You’re basically making little open faced tomato and cheese sandwiches.  Make as many or as few as you want.  I’m just listing the ingredients so you know what you need:

Italian or French bread, in ½” slices (thinner if you prefer, I like ¼”)

raw clove of garlic

tomatoes, either Roma, cherry, grape, or regular (whatever is in season and looks good)

fresh mozzarella

fresh basil, thinly sliced

olive oil

Balsamic vinegar (Balsamic Vinegar Reduction, sold in some groceries and gourmet markets or you can make your own)

Kosher salt

black pepper, freshly ground

Toast bread.  Rub the bread with a raw clove of garlic.  Drizzle the bread with olive oil. Top with a slice of mozzarella. Slice the tomatoes, and put a slice on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.    Sprinkle with the basil.  And drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Fennel and Orange Salad

This is the salad Matt made for the Italian Dinner.  It was the first time he’d made the salad so it was basically an experiment.  But it worked out well and was a big hit. I’m not a huge fennel fan but I really liked the salad.  He used one orange per person.  This is a versatile recipe and can be scaled up or down.  He used pomegranates, but if you don’t like them or if they aren’t in season, you could use dried cranberries.  For a totally different taste, you can mix it up and substitute sliced ripe olives for the pomegranates and add some red chili flakes for a touch of heat.


 

8 oranges (he used a combo of Valencia, navel, and blood oranges)

1 teaspoon orange zest

3 tablespoons orange juice

¼ cup olive oil

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

1 mild medium sized white onion, thinly sliced

½ cup pomegranate seeds

Wash and dry the oranges and then Zest some of the orange (no white pith) and reserve it for the dressing (about 1 teaspoon). 

Section the oranges.  To me, the easiest way is to slice off the top and bottom.  Set the orange flat on a cutting board, and then use a knife to carefully remove the peel along with all of the pith. I cut from top to bottom vertically, following the orange’s curve.  To remove all of the peel and pith, you will probably end up cutting some of the juicy flesh, but that’s ok.  It’s better to not have the pith.  While working over a bowl, take your knife and cut out each individual section of the orange.  You’ll be left with a bunch of pith, squeeze this to remove any juice. Another way to section an orange is to cut the orange in half and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp, kinda like you would do with a grapefruit.  Reserve at least 3 tablespoons of the juice for the dressing.  Drink the rest (if you want!).

Mix the olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, salt, and pepper.  Toss this with the orange sections, fennel, and onion.  Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve.

 

Note:  I’m having some font/style issues with WordPress today, sorry if there are inconsistencies.  Also, issues with spacing and proofreading. I’m frustrated and tired of tinkering with it, so I’m just gonna post “as is.” 

Advertisements
  1. February 3, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    These look good, I look forward to trying them:-)

  2. February 3, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks, Becky! Please let me know if you try them. Please pass along any suggestions, too. These recipes were somewhat experimental, so feedback is appreciated!

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: