Proud Italian Cook - Home Cooking, Italian American Style
I’m Marie, a wife, mother, mother-in-law, and gramma of two beautiful girls. My passion is food, clear and simple but especially Italian food, hence the name of my blog, Proud Italian Cook. I want you to feel right at home here so grab a cup of coffee, I’ll get the pastries, take a look around and enjoy your visit!
Cherry season is upon us and I can’t get enough, I’ve been buying bags of them weekly, mainly just for eating but cherries can be used both in sweet and savory dishes as well and cherries just scream summer to me!
Recently I made this delicious Dutch baby pancake filled with plump fresh cherries, the batter flavored with Amaretto and topped off with toasted almonds.
A Dutch baby pancake is excellent to serve for a special breakfast or even a dessert, and it’s quite simple to put together, it uses basic ingredients and the result is a showstopper presentation. I’m thinking this might be nice to serve for a casual breakfast on the 4th of July.
I have to admit I never owned a cherry pitter before, I thought it was too time consuming and messy to use.
Yes, it could get a little messy, but I found pitting them into a bowl with deep sides minimized the juice from squirting everywhere. It was a little trial and error before I figured that out, but once I did the process went really fast.
Pull the stem out, place the cherry in the little cup holder, plunge the handle down and out pops the pit it’s that easy, and by the way the cherries stay fairly intact.
Take a day, pit the cherries then refrigerate them so they’re ready to go, I even tossed them into a salad the other evening but for something on the sweet side you have to make this dutch baby!
The cherries get swirled around with melted butter spiked with Amaretto liqueur, the smell is intoxicating!
Then the prepared batter gets poured in all around the cherries and then into the oven the pan goes, as it cooks the pancake will puff up really high and then when taken out it settles down and leaves you with this bejeweled looking pancake.
Sprinkle with toasted almonds and powdered sugar.
You can drizzle syrup or honey on top, add whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream.
Either way it’s all amazing!
Follow Proud Italian Cook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.
Way back in 2007 when I started this blog I posted an Italian potato salad, fast forward almost twelve years later ( still can’t believe it’s been that long!) and I still continue to make it.
Italian potato salad is such a classic dish, it’s the perfect side so it’s great for parties, picnic’s and celebrations. There’s no mayo involved so no need to worry about anything spoiling as it sits out at your party.
The photo above is a crowd size amount that I made for a family cookout that I was having. Don’t get caught up on amounts and exact measurements when making this, it’s a simple process it’s all about visual balance and your taste preference as far as seasonings go.
I used those teeny red, white and blue potatoes, I like the different colors, but you can certainly use all red which is more a traditional Italian potato salad.
Since 2007 I’ve changed up my recipe a bit. I always use to boil my potatoes but now I roast them. Don’t get me wrong, boiling is fine but I much prefer the taste of a roasted potato, plus I don’t like the texture of a some what mushy potato, but again, that’s just my preference, but I would encourage you to try it this way by roasting the potatoes, plus I think the presentation looks much nicer.
1. The ingredients in my Italian potato salad are: Roasted potatoes, some sliced, some whole depending on how big they are, roasted at 425F until fork tender.
2. Steamed green beans, I prefer haricort verts, red onion rings, kalamata olives and sliced cherry tomatoes.
3. Place everything into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, granulated garlic and oregano, taste as you go to your liking.
4. The dressing is: 3 parts olive oil, 1 part red wine vinegar, 1 t. dijon, 1 garlic clove, 1 t.oregano, salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Whisk it up, drizzle and toss. Place the salad onto a nice platter.
Next is my Red, White and Blue potato salad, perfect for the 4th of July! Again I used those teeny colored potatoes and when you cut them in half the vibrant color really shows through.
1.These are roasted as well in a 425F oven, drizzled with olive oil along with chunks of sweet red bell pepper, finished when fork tender.
2. When they become fork tender, which doesn’t take long, toss them into a bowl and add chopped red onion or shallots, snipped chives, sliced scallions, fresh parsley, salt and pepper to taste with lots of grated strands of lemon
3.Whisk up fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil for your dressing and pour it all over and toss, as it sits it just gets better and better as all the flavors start to absorb.
Next up is this Grilled Sweet Potato Salad, If you never grilled sweet a potato you’re missing out. Cooking sweet potatoes this way gives them a crisp charred edge and a slight smokiness that contrasts well with the sweetness of the potatoes, it’s delicious and a nice change.
Preheat grill to medium. Peel sweet potatoes and slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place on a grill that has been sprayed with olive oil spray.
Also on the grill add some colored mini peppers and a couple of ears of corn because these will all be added to the salad along with the sweet potatoes. Remove when tender and slightly charred.
When everything cools down, shuck the corn, slice the mini peppers and toss them into a large bowl with some chopped parsley, green onion and arugula.
Arrange everything onto a pretty platter and drizzle with the dressing.
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette: 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 T. apple cider vinegar, 2 T. Dijon, 1 T. honey, 1 garlic clove, whisk all together. Feel free to double or triple the recipe.
All of these potato salads are a nice addition to your summer buffet table, they can sit out safely and they all taste delicious at room temperature, so enjoy!
Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.
If it’s one thing I look forward to in the warm summer months, it’s caprese salads! What’s not to love? Ripe juicy tomatoes of all different varieties and sizes, dreamy creamy cheese, fragrant garden basil and the best olive oil you can buy to finish it all off.
There’s so many variations of caprese salads this is just the tip of the iceberg, I could go on and on but this post would be extremely long!
Here’s a few of my favorites, some made for parties, get togethers, an appetizer, a lunch, even as an entree with good crusty bread is just enough on a hot summer day.
Mixing the colored green heirlooms with vine ripened red tomatoes makes for a pretty colorful looking platter, break open some burrata, add a drizzle of balsamic glaze, your best olive oil and whole leaves of basil.
I have this huge round platter and I always make this for parties, and you know what? None is ever leftover, everyone is crazy about caprese!
Use different colored heirlooms, not only for flavor but for a nice visual combination as well.
Stack your caprese salads for individual sides or appetizers, this one was also layered with freshly made basil pesto.
Roast some tomatoes, tear open a ball of creamy burrata and grab some bread, this is lunch for me!
Pass out these crostini to your guests and they will go bonkers, they’re crispy, creamy and dreamy topped with slow roasted tomatoes.
Fresh mozzarella or creamy burrata, it’s all good!
Sometimes I might add some avocado into the mix, why not!
Here it is in all it’s glory, just sweet and simple.
Fun to bring to a party, layers of bocconcini, sliced cherry tomatoes all in a row on top of a bed of spinach and arugula, dress it when you get to the party.
Can we talk about this for a minute? If you can find fresh, hand tied, homemade bocconcini like I can, don’t hesitate to buy a big container so you can make this caprese salad, one of my favorites! The flavors are out of this world!
Sometimes I’ll add in some olives, why not?
I’m in love with those pretty colored heirlooms.
No words needed…
Throw a caprese salad on top of nicely grilled eggplant, a wonderful appetizer to munch on.
Look close, there’s a caprese salad in that stack of vegetables, lunch anyone?
Switch up your tomatoes for citrus sometimes, it’s bright and unexpected and especially good in the winter months.
Have you ever had a mango caprese? This one is layered with avocado and mint instead of basil, topped off with chopped pistachios, quite delicious and unique!
And finally, peaches are now in season, so grill some up, add a little prosciutto and enjoy this as your next caprese salad, it’s a meal in itself.
I could go on and on but these are some of my favorites, enjoy the best of summer eating with simple and delicious caprese salads!
Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up in my kitchen.
This is the time of year that I really look forward to eating this special pasta dish, it’s made with fettuccine, roasted cherry tomatoes and burrata cheese, simple with few ingredients. Honestly there’s just nothing like it, the taste is so fresh and light with dreamy burrata melted throughout!
Once I start seeing these gorgeous cherry tomatoes on the vine in the markets I shop at, I’m hooked and I know exactly what I’m making with them.
I’ve been making this dish for years, I’m always switching up the type of pasta that I use, I even made it with zucchini noodles in the past, equally delicious!
This time I wanted to use fettuccine, I’ve also made it with short mostaccioli, rigatoni many times and a springy shaped pasta as well, it really doesn’t matter what shape you use just pick your favorite.
What does remain the same is how the tomatoes get roasted. Always on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with foil. The foil will insure that none of the juices get dried up or evaporated on the pan.
Sometimes I leave the tomatoes whole and sometimes I cut them in half, there’s always garlic added, usually shaved, lot’s of olive oil drizzled all over, salt, pepper and torn basil.
The tomatoes are roasted in a 400 degree oven until they start to blister and burst open. If the tomatoes are whole I just prick them in the middle of the roasting process so the juices can burst out and mingle with the olive oil, all those flavors together become your sauce for the pasta.
Like I said most of the time I add shaved garlic, but if I prepare in advance I also like using roasted garlic as well.
Just squeeze out a bunch of the roasted cloves and add it into the tomato mix while roasting, then before you toss in all those wonderful juices onto your cooked pasta, smash the cloves first so that the garlic flavor can release into the sauce even more, it’s extremely delicious!
When your pasta is cooked, place it into your serving vessel, scrape down every bit of the juice that accumulated in the pan, garlic and all and toss it all together.
To finish it off and bring this dish to the ultimate of flavor, break open one or two balls of burrata cheese and place it on top of the pasta.
Just a quick drizzle of olive oil all over and a nice grating of Pecorino or Parmigiana and of course extra torn basil all around, and you’ll have one heck of a meal!
Simple and delicious!
Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.
Many people are nervous about making risotto but I’m here to say don’t be! Making risotto is super easy, it just requires your constant attention and a little bit of time.
This scallop risotto is great for springtime entertaining, it’s filled with tender bay scallops, sweet peas, zucchini and the brightness of lemon, it’s elegant and easy to make.
When I make risotto I like to have all my ingredients set out, prepped and ready to go, it makes the flow of things go much faster.
The scallops are cooked on one side only then, they don’t take long at all, then folded into and finished off in the warm risotto, of course you can substitute any other seafood you like such as shrimp if scallops aren’t your thing.
Bay scallops are the ones used here, they’re smaller and easy to find. No need to use the larger more expensive sea scallops in this dish. The bay scallops are perfect for this risotto, they’re sweet, buttery and delicate and bite size and with the hint of lemon zest throughout it’s flavor perfection!
Fold the scallops gently into the cooked risotto reserving some for garnish on top.
If you haven’t made risotto yet I encourage you to do so, especially this scallop risotto with spring vegetables, I promise you’ll be in love with every decadent bite!
Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.
In case you’re wondering what a timbale is, think of it as a mold. Food can be cooked inside it or food can be placed inside it to form the shape of the mold, that’s what I did in this recipe with my ditalini shaped pasta timbale.
Cooked ditalini along with some of my favorite spring veggies like asparagus, zucchini and peas get folded into the mix together, then pressed into a bowl lined and coated with toasted breadcrumbs, after it cools down a bit it takes the shape of a dome.
It’s a fun way to serve up a pasta dish and it’s a nice presentation on your buffet table.
I posted a similar pasta timbale a few years ago using smaller pastina shaped pasta, see how it’s pressed tightly into the bowl? You’re going to want to do the same thing with this version using the ditalini shape.
Small pasta shapes work best for this recipe so you can be as creative as you like by picking your favorite shape. You can add in some marinara as I did in my previous post or not, add veggies like I did or even meat if you choose.
Cookout season is upon us with many outdoor picnics and BBQ’s coming up, this is the perfect side dish for you, no need to worry about it sitting out on the table because it’s delicious and safe at room temperature.
Easy to make with a fun presentation and it tastes really good!
You can very the amounts of the ingredients, change things up to your liking and be creative!
1 lb. ditalini pasta or other small pasta of your choice
2 zucchini, diced small
½ lb. chopped asparagus
a good sized handful of peas
6 or 8 cherry tomatoes quartered
¾ cup grated pecorino romano, ( or Parmigiano Reggiano) plus extra for breadcrumb mix and garnish
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 heaping tablespoon butter
1 cup good breadcrumbs
fresh basil and parsley
In a skillet drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, add 1 grated garlic clove and over medium heat, saute till golden then pour in the breadcrumbs stirring until lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. remove from heat, let it cool then add ¼ cup each of parsley and around 2 tablespoons of grated cheese, then drizzle 2 more tablespoons of oil, toss and mix.
Brush a round bowl with olive oil, mine was 9 inches.
Press breadcrumb mixture along the sides and bottom of the bowl evenly. Set aside. ( you might have some mix leftover)
In a large skillet on high heat add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and then toss in the zucchini until you see it crisp up a bit, then toss in the rest of the veggies, asparagus, peas and tomatoes along with the other grated garlic clove. Keep stirring and watching it only takes a few minutes, then set aside.
Boil your pasta according to package directions, don't overcook it then let it drain.
When drained, toss it into a different bowl and add the heaping tablespoon of butter and the ¾ cup of grated pecorino, stirring fast till it melts and gets "sticky".
Fold in all of the veggie mixture, some chopped parsley and basil, check taste for salt and pepper.
Spoon the finished pasta mixture into the breadcrumb lined bowl, evenly distribute it along the sides and bottom, pressing down lightly so it's nice and tightly packed in.
Let it rest for 15 minutes.
Un-mold it onto a nice platter and decorate with basil, parsley and a little more grated cheese.
Classic panzanella is made with bread and fresh ripe tomatoes and it’s a very popular dish to make in the summertime when tomatoes are at their peak. My springtime panzanella salad presented here, which is obviously a twist on the classic, highlights peak season asparagus and other spring produce that is available now.
This version features some cooked vegetables as well as raw, a dreamy vinaigrette made with a good quality olive oil and of course crispy chunks of toasted bread throughout.
This spring green version is crisp and light, it’s hearty enough to stand alone or pretty enough to be side by side next to the perfect main of your choice. So you might want to consider this for your next party , picnic or BBQ.
Grab a baguette, slice it up and toss with olive oil, a little salt and pepper and a touch of granulated garlic, place into a hot oven until nice and crispy, then break it into crispy chunks so you can scatter throughout the salad.
This springtime panzanella salad is filled with fresh asparagus that has been blanched and thrown into an ice bath then completely padded dry, ribbons of yellow squash made with a vegetable peeler, english cucumber slices, chunks of orange pepper, red onion, defrosted peas or fresh, radish slices, sliced cherry tomatoes, a handful of arugula topped with shaved parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil.
No need for exact measurements, depending on the size of your platter just fill it with the above mentioned ingredients placed evenly all around. You can easily add, remove or change up some of the ingredients and customize it to your own personal liking, even changing up the bread if you so desire.
Now let’s talk about the vinaigrette, I like to make it in a small mason jar by adding 1 part red wine vinegar to 3 parts of your best olive oil, add in 1 teaspoon of mayo (yes mayo) a pinch of oregano, salt and pepper then shake, shake, shake. That’s it! Just spoon it all over and serve immediately.
Serve this up to your family and friends with all the seasonal veggies that are available right now and enjoy every bite!
With Easter right around the corner no doubt you have your main course already planned out but there’s always room for more sides! The side dishes are always my best loved part of the meal and the more the merrier!
I’m posting a few of my favorite side dishes here today with a variety of different flavors that would go perfect with the mains of your choice.
This Antipasto Salad is all things good on a platter, it’s a definite crowd pleaser that was inspired by my friend Stacey years ago.
Roasted Asparagus with Peas, no recipe needed just roast your asparagus and use fresh or defrosted frozen peas, then drizzle with a dressing of lemon and olive oil with lots of lemon zest, perfect for spring!
Zesty and soft with a cake like texture these triple zested ricotta cookies will be your new favorite. What I love about ricotta cookies is that you can adapt them to any holiday or special occasion by changing up the frosting and sprinkles, but in general most ricotta cookies are lemon flavored.
This version has a little twist to it, they’re infused with the brightness of lemon, lime and orange zest inside and out, so they’re perfect to serve for your spring and summer parties as well as the Easter holiday which is right around the corner.
There’s nothing like the smell of freshly zested citrus, it screams springtime to me which is very welcoming after a long cold winter.
Ricotta cookies are surprisingly easy to make, not a lot of ingredients either which is a good thing, and everyone seems to gobble them up when they’re sitting out on a platter, they’re just irresistible!
With each bite you’ll taste a rich burst of citrus flavor because the zest is in the dough as well as the frosting which gets brushed on top.
Think wedding and baby showers, Mother’s Day, graduations, picnics, family gatherings and holidays, these ricotta cookies will fit right in for those special occasions.
I would say that these triple zested ricotta cookies are destined to become your new favorite cookie once you try them!
Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.
orange, lime and lemon zest about 2 tablespoons each
1 cup, ricotta (dry and drained of moisture. Instead of deli style look for a good brand that's packed in a container that you can buy in the refrigerated section because they're usually dryer in texture)
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
2 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup, powdered sugar
Mix the zest together.
Heat oven to 350F. and line a baking sheet with parchment.
In a large bowl add the ricotta, softened butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and egg, mix them together on low speed until incorporated.
In a smaller bowl add the flour and baking soda, use a whisk and incorporate by hand.
Now on low speed add the flour mixture to the ricotta mixture making sure all is incorporated.
Add in 1 tablespoon of the zest to the mixture and blend til it's throughout the dough.
Take a teaspoon size piece of dough and roll it into a ball like a meatball and place onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for ten minutes on lower rack then pull them out of the oven and take the back side of a flat spatula and gently press down on the tops, this is not necessary but my preference because it gives a nice surface for the frosting.
Then place them back into the oven on the upper rack for 3 more minutes, make sure bottoms are nicely golden.
Take them out and let them cool completely on a rack before frosting.
Mix the powdered sugar with lemon juice until you have the right consistency then take a pastry brush and brush each cookie one by one with the frosting, then sprinkle a pinch of the tripled zests that you mixed together on the tops of each cookie. Repeat until they're all frosted, one by one.
Let them set for a couple of hours so frosting can dry, store in an airtight container between waxed paper. You can also freeze them, this recipe makes around 30 cookies.
If you wind up having leftover corned beef from your St. Patricks Day dinner here’s a fun way to repurpose some of the extra you might have, make reuben wraps!
These delicious reuben wraps have all the flavors of a hearty reuben sandwich, corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing for dipping and cabbage leaves to wrap it all up in.
This is perfect to serve for lunch or light dinner, which is what I did.
All you need to do is get a pot of water boiling together then dip your cabbage leaves in there for just 30 seconds, remove with tongs and lay them on a kitchen towel to dry off. I bought a bag of sauerkraut and a bottle of Russian dressing, you could make your own dressing if you prefer.
Then it’s like layering a burrito, first the cabbage leaf, then the Swiss cheese, one or two slices, a few slices of the corned beef and then top it with a sprinkling of sauerkraut.
Then just roll it up burrito style, how easy is that!
Grab a wrap and then use the Russian dressing for dipping, so delish! Which reminds me, this recipe comes courtesy of delish, I saw this on one of their quick video’s and couldn’t wait to make it, these reuben wraps did not disappoint!
This may not be “traditional” but I promise you that you won’t miss out on a bit of flavor, and besides they’re fun to eat!
Follow prouditaliancook on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week!