Divine Dinner Party

Elegant Dinner Party
Cooking Recipes: Italian Foods

If you're looking to impress with an elegant Italian food menu, our cooking recipes for Italian foods will definitely do the trick--no spaghetti and meatballs for this dinner party, thank you! In fact, these recipes might be dangerous... the Cioppino recipe alone has been known to cause knock-down, drag-out fights over who gets that last bowl.

We all know that Italian food and wines are some of the best-tasting things on the planet. So proceed with caution, because sometimes cooking recipes for Italian foods this good can cause not-so-elegant displays of gluttony and greed. Makes a hostess feel great!

When you're done here, you might want to check out my other Typical Italian Menus!

Our Almost-TOO-Tasty
Italian Food and Wines Menu

First Course:

Insalata Caprese
Served with chilled Lambrusco or other sparkling wine.Italian Dinner Party Caprese Salad

Second Course:

Cioppino Stew
Served with a rich Italian red, such as a Valpolicella

Third Course:

Pollo con Salsa al Mascarpone e Marsala
Served with a chilled Chardonnay


Focaccia Versiliese


Ricotta Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Espresso Sauce
With coffee or espresso

Want to know which glasses to use for all that great Italian wine you'll serve with this? Check out our free video.

Elegant Italian Dinner Party Recipe Collection

Insalata Caprese (Cooking Recipes: Italian Foods -- First Course)

Of all the cooking recipes for Italian foods on this page, the Insalata Caprese is probably the most common. That's because it's so darned tasty! The creamy mildness of the fresh mozzarella is just wonderful with a bit of salt, tangy tomatoes, and fresh basil. Plus, it's super pretty, which makes it a very elegant addition to your Italian dinner party menu.

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4 large, ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
16 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup packed whole leaf fresh basil
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
fine sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)

Instructions: On a large platter, arrange tomato and mozzarella slices and basil leaves, alternating and overlapping each (see photo above). Drizzle salad with olive oil; Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, if desired. (Serves 4)

Focaccia Versiliese (Cooking Recipes: Italian Foods -- Accompaniment)

Italian Dinner Party Focaccia BreadSlices of focaccia are like finger food, Italian style. Eat with the main dish or as an appetizer. A bowl of extra virgin olive oil with fresh pepper ground on top makes a wonderful dip.

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2 tsp dried yeast
1 C. warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp rosemary, chopped
4 sage leaves, torn
3 1/2 oz. olives, pitted
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 C. corn flour
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. olive oil

Instructions: Stir yeast into a large mixing bowl with the water & let sit for 10 minutes. Stir in the 1 tbsp olive oil, rosemary, sage, olives & garlic. Using a wooden spoon, add the flours and salt. Stir until the dough is thick and smooth.

Knead by hand for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is firm and elastic. Set the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

Turn the dough onto an oiled 10 1/2" X 15 1/2" baking pan and stretch it to fit. (If it won't fit, let rest for 10 minutes and try again.) Cover with a towel and leave until it has half risen, about 30 minutes.

30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 400F. Just before baking, dimple the top of the dough with your fingertips and sprinkle with some extra salt and the 2 tsp of olive oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden. Slide off baking sheet onto a rack & let cool for a few minutes before eating warm or at room temperature. (Serves 4)

Cioppino (Cooking Recipes: Italian Foods -- Second Course)

Cioppino is a wonderful, flavorful seafood stew. Really, cooking recipes for Italian foods don't get any better --or more elegant-- than this. And while it looks like a lot of ingredients, this recipe is actually relatively simple. Try serving it as a first course, or even as a light main dish with some warm garlic bread or focaccia.

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2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. green peppers, choppedCioppino Seafood Italian Stew Recipe
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 (35oz) can tomatoes with basil (or 1 can tomatoes + tsp basil)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 c. dry red wine
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 c. chopped fresh parsley, divided
1 tsp each dried oregano and basil
1 tsp salt
fresh pepper, to taste
1 1/2 lbs sea bass, de boned, chunked
3 lobsters (1 ½ lb each), cleaned, meat chopped
1 lb cleaned, shelled shrimp
12 clams, scrubbed clean
24 mussels, scrubbed clean

Instructions: Saute the onions, green peppers, and garlic in olive oil in large soup pot until soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, lemon, half of the parsley, and remaining seasonings. Bring to boil and simmer uncovered 20 minutes.

Add the fish, lobster meat, and shrimp. Simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Add clams and mussels. Simmer another 10 minutes, or until the clams and mussels have opened. Serve in soup plates. Sprinkle remaining parsley on top. (Serves 6)

Pollo con Salsa al Mascarpone e Marsala (Third Course)

Italian Dinner Party Chicken Marsala Menu

A truly wonderful Italian dinner recipe by Giada De Laurentiis. Rich, creamy, potently flavorful, this is chicken at its tastiest.

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1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, each breast cut
crosswise into 3 pieces
salt & pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp butter, divided
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp fresh minced garlic
1 c. dry marsala wine
1 c. mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (preferably Italian)
12 oz dry fettuccine, cooked

Instructions: Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook til browned (but not fully cooked), about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Melt two tbsp butter into the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and saute until the juices evaporate, about 12 minutes.

Add the marsala wine. Simmer til reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Stir in the mascarpone and mustard. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into 1/3-inch-thick slices. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through and the sauce thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chopped parsley. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Toss the cooked fettuccine with three tbsp butter and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the fettuccine on serving plates. Spoon the chicken mixture over top. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Creamy Ricotta Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Espresso Sauce (Dessert)

Yep, Creamy Ricotta Cheesecake covered in a rich, dark espresso-chocolate sauce. 'Nuff said, right? After all, what more explanation could you need?

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Cheesecake Ricotta Cooking Recipes Italian FoodsIngredients:
1/2 c. butter, unsalted
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
15 oz. ricotta cheese, whole milk, liquid drained
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp good quality vanilla extract
2 c. sour cream

1/2 C. water (hot)
1/3 C. whipping cream
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (high quality), chopped
1/2 C. butter, softened or cut into pieces

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 9" springform pan. Sift together flour and cornstarch, set aside. Melt butter, set aside to cool.

In another bowl, mix cream cheese and ricotta, beat with mixer until smooth and creamy. Add sugar bit by bit over about one minute. Scrape bowl as necessary. Beat 30 seconds longer. Add eggs, one at a time, at 30 second intervals, while beating. Blend in flour, cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla. Add butter and sour cream. Mix well, approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Wrap springform pan in heavy duty aluminum foil. Pour batter into pan. Place springform on a larger pan (such as a roasting pan). Add hot water to roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until center still jiggles slightly. Remove from oven, remove foil, cool completely on rack, then refrigerate overnight. To remove springform, heat sides with propane torch (or other gas fire) and remove sides. Turn cake upside down, heat bottom with torch and remove bottom of springform. Place plate on bottom and flip right side up.

For Sauce: Combine water, cream, sugar, and espresso powder to a simmer in a med. saucepan. Stir often.

Reduce heat to low and add butter and chocolate, stirring constantly, until incorporated.

Serve hot. (Can be made ahead. Simply refrigerate, covered, up to ten days and reheat in microwave.)

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Hippity, Hoppity,
Easter's on its Way

The date for Easter falls on April 20th this year!

Take a look at Easter Dinner and Party Planning for recipes, edd dye tips, assembling Easter baskets, and more!

And plan to make this adorable...

It's so cute, it may be the best thing you do this Easter.


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