No one in my family is the least bit Italian, but it seems this has become a traditional birthday feast choice around here. I didn’t realize how much so until I started writing this out.
Italy, like India and many other countries with drastic climate differences and a very long history, has a wide variety of regional cuisines. I do not claim any useful knowledge of these specifics, especially not for menu planning.
I try to pick recipes I think balance well and over time we’ve seen what dishes aren’t worth the bother, at least for a really big meal. In the future perhaps I’ll begin researching regional differences and develop my menus towards authenticity.
I’ve posted all the Italian menus (or Italianish ones) I can remember here. You can see from browsing down some recipes repeat over and over, others were not as successful.
I think the most recent menu was just about perfect. I might have added the lentils with salt pork back in for filler, but everything was great without being too much work.We had 2 days to plan, shop, and prep so we aimed for simplicity. Five of the 7 things that needed to be made from scratch used 5 or so ingredients and 3 or fewer steps, sometimes with some make-ahead options.
- Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna – awesome, takes some extra work, but worth it every time!
- Roasted Rosemary Chicken – so simple, so good
- Parmesan Garbanzo Polenta Cakes – also simple, really easy with a make-ahead step
- Kale Salad with Feta & Pomegranate seeds in a Raspberry vinagrette – so good!!
- Peaches – we freeze these when they’re in season
- Italian Sodas – syrups + club soda
- Lemon Granita – like Italian Ice, easy to make with 10x the fresh lemon flavor
- Plum Kuchen – not at all Italian, but still great!
Brother #2, 2012:
- Insalata Caprese – simple ingredients, as pretty as you like
- Roasted Chicken with Juniper Berries – too fussy
- Garbanzo Polenta – good, tried again & improved
- Roasted Peppers – not worth the bother with tiny peppers
- Lentils with Salt Pork – so good, need to do again soon
- Broccoli – good to add some basic greens
- Lemon Granita – YUM! My favorite thing from this meal
- Espresso Granita – Making a large batch took a HUGE quantity of espresso. Good thing Boyo works at SB!
- Mocha Cheesecake – not Italian, just suited to the boy
Brother #1, 2011:
- Roasted Rosemary Chicken – a frequent favorite, better hot
- Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna – again, family favorite
- Spanakopita (Greek) – not Italian
- Salad – not Italian, just good
- Pies (American!) – not Italian
Houseguest Birthday, March 2011:
- Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna – how many times will this one appear?
- Spinach Gnocchi – so good, but a bit fussy
- Garlic Toast – keeping it simple
- Fruit – keeping it simple
- Strawberry Lemon Cake – not Italian, her choice
Brother #2, 2011:
- Roasted Rosemary Chicken – sensing a theme?
- Stuffed Baked Fish – don’t actually remember this
- Ravioli (purchased frozen)
- Mushroom Risotto – delicious, pretty fussy though
- Tomato Focaccia (purchased)
- Italian Sodas
PostChristmas/PreNew Years 2010
(a way to celebrate with friends who couldn’t see us at either official holiday):
- Roasted Chicken with Fennel & Bacon – another great roast Chicken recipe, if fennel is to be had
- Pumpkin Ravioli – not worth the bother for this recipe
- Mushroom Risotto – another fussy dish, though delicious
- Roasted Rosemary Potatoes – delicious & simple!
- Insalata Caprese – a simple dish easy to make look very pretty
- Amaretto Semifreddo – good stuff, a bit on the fussy side
- Panettone (purchased)
Brother #2, 2009:
- Stuffed Pork Loin – we don’t usually go for big hunks of meat, but this was good
- Roasted Red Pepper Lasagna – hey, again!
- Blue Corn Polenta Cakes with Mushrooms – not worth the bother
- Roasted Rosemary Potatoes – always worth the time, very simple
- Bruschetta and bread – yum!
- Pistachio Cake with White Chocolate frosting – a little on the dry side, but actually Italian, I think
- Roasted Chicken with Fennel & Bacon – so good!
- Red Pepper Lasagna – always delicious
- Roasted Rosemary Potatoes – YUM
- Apple Kuchen – not as good as the plum kuchen
One menu I did that I did not photograph also had stuffed spinach shells and a pumpkin frozen dessert I thought was fairly fabulous. I know I did the roasted rosemary potatoes too. And somewhere back there we did Italian for Christmas Eve. I don’t remember the menu and there are no photos, but I do remember the homemade cheese herb ravioli in sage butter was sublime!
2 Comments Add yours
haha! “Pies (American!)” made me laugh, and the big chunks of meat comment.
Haha… I wasn’t sure anyone would bother to read through all those but I’m glad you found it amusing. I suppose there are some Italian pies to be had somewhere, but they’ve probably got fancier titles and I doubt my brother would make them. He does make a mean butter crust though – we had some of it for our Christmas dinner and I had to remind myself to stop nibbling on it while rolling it out until I had the pie in the oven.