Divine Dinner Party

Throwing an Easy Italian Dinner Party

Move over, Carmela Soprano.

If you're thinking about throwing your first Italian dinner party, or are an experienced hostess (or host!) looking for an easy dinner recipe idea that everyone will love, you can't go wrong with Italian. After all, who doesn't drool over the rich sauces and fragrant meats of Italian cooking?

Pouring a glass of italian wine for a dinner party A great Italian dinner party doesn't always mean hours slaving in the kitchen (after all, your guests don't have to be small children to get excited about spaghetti and meatballs.). That's why Italian is a perfect choice when you're looking for an easy dinner idea for a party.

After all... nobody complains about Italian food, and it's not just because Tony Soprano will have them whacked.

Or visit Typical Italian Menu Ideas for more Italian recipes and menus!

Italian Dinner Recipes

If you're looking for some impressive but super easy Italian dinner recipes, you're in the right place. (But if you're looking for a more elegant Italian dinner party menu, check out my Elegant Italian Menu instead.) Here you'll find everything you need to put together the perfect easy Italian dinner party menu, from drinks to dessert.

So I guess I should stop writing about it and get started.

Drinks! The perfect way to start off dinner Italian style is with a classic Negroni (recipe at end), or a fiery gin Martini, or perhaps a cool glass of dry Martini vermouth on ice. After dinner, refresh yourself Italian style with a frosty shot of Limoncello. The Italians say it helps with digestion. Who knows if it's true, but… who cares? Sure is tasty.

Appetizers. I won't hear any arguments or disagreements about it: the easiest and most delicious of all Italian dinner recipes is Bruschetta (you'll see my fave recipe at the bottom of this page). The cool sweetness of tomatoes, the crisp freshness of basil, the bite of fresh garlic. There’s no more perfect combination of flavors and textures. Plus it's light (leaves room for a rich main dish), healthy, and fun to eat. What could be better? Combine it with a plate of insaccati (cured meats) such as prosciutto, and Italian cheeses.

Main dish. With the right main dish recipe, Italian dinner parties are a breeze. For the easiest preparation (and the greatest opportunity to spend time with your guests), you might want to pick a casserole style dish, such as Baked Ziti with Sausage (see recipe). Prepare, pop it in the oven, and enjoy your party. With a nice crisp salad and a loaf of crusty bread (dip it in a plate of extra virgin olive oil and fresh ground pepper), it makes for the perfect Italian dinner party menu.

Dessert. Tiramisu, of course... The star of your Italian dinner party. While ultra authentic Tiramisu is a bit more work-intensive, below you'll find a recipe for a simple Tiramisu that tastes wonderful. As a bonus, it contains no raw eggs, in case you have a raw-egg-squeamish guest or two (or are a little funny about raw eggs yourself-- I understand).

Wine. Serving plenty of Italian wine with dinner and don't know what kind of wine glasses you'll need? Simply watch this quick video to learn more than you ever wanted about wine glasses and how they affect a wine.

Or try this: Just because I love Italian food doesn't make me an expert! But Matt at Pasta Recipes Made Easy.com is! His lasagne recipes are a great choice for an Italian dinner party, and range from simple and "fool-proof" to deliciously complex.

Divine Dinner Party Italian Dinner Recipes

Negroni Cocktail

1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker, strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a curl of orange peel. (1 drink)

My Favorite Bruschetta Recipe

Italian Tomato Basil Bruschetta Appetizer

I've tried them all, and this is my favorite Bruschetta recipe. Seeding the tomatoes beforehand makes the bruschetta less watery and the flavors more concentrated. A delicious beginning to your Italian dinner party.

Serves 4

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1 1/2 lbs. ripe Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. red wine vinegar (balsamic is also nice)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan shavings
Toasted crusty bread

Instructions: Cut tomatoes in half, squeeze out seeds and excess juice.

Dice, place in bowl. Add onion, garlic, basil, vinegar, salt and pepper (to taste), and olive oil. Let sit at room temperature 1 hour.

Brush toasted bread lightly with olive oil. Spoon tomato mixture over bread, sprinkle with shaved Parmesan cheese. Devour.

Baked Ziti with Sausage

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Easy Italian Baked Ziti Recipe

1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lbs spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, crumbled
salt and pepper
1/4 c. dry red wine
1 (35 oz.) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
4 tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tbsp, dried)
1 c. ricotta cheese
3/4 to 1 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c. flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 lb. dry ziti pasta, cooked to al dente
1/2 to 1 pound mozzarella cheese, diced
olive oil

Instructions: Heat oven to 425 F. In large skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium. Saute onion in oil til soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sausage, sauté til sausage is browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain fat, return to heat.

Add red wine, allow to boil mostly away. Add tomatoes with juice, simmer about 10 minutes, til sauce is slightly thickened. Add oregano. Taste to correct seasonings.

In a bowl, combine ricotta, half the parmesan, and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Combine drained, cooked pasta with ricotta mixture. Add sausage and sauce. Mix. Add mozzarella.

Pour into large, shallow, greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan. Bake uncovered til bubby and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Serve. (Serves 4-6)

Awesome & Easy Eggless Tiramisu

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Easy Egg-free Italian TiramisuIngredients:
1 c. whipping cream, whipped til stiff peaks form
8 oz Marscapone cheese, softened
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp dark rum (añejo works wonderfully)
1 pkg (3 oz) ladyfingers (approx. 12)
1/2 c. cold espresso
2 tsp cocoa

Instructions. Beat cheese and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed til smooth. Beat in rum on low. Fold whipped cream into cheese mixture just til blended.

Split each ladyfinger horizontally in half. Arrange half in the bottom of an ungreased 8-inch square pan.

Drizzle with 1/4 cup of espresso. Spread with half of cheese mixture. Repeat. Sprinkle cocoa over.

Cover, refrigerate 4 hours, til firm. An Italian dinner party staple. (Serves 9)

Don't like tiramisu (that is possible, right?) or want to try a different kind of dessert? Try my Creamy Ricotta Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Espresso Sauce

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