To hold a truly authentic Italian dinner party, it is la convivialità that is important. Follow these tips to inject a little Italian into your next cena.
Your meal should follow the classic structure of antipasti-primi-secondi-dolce. Italians are particular about favouring home grown and local produce. While this may be more difficult in Britain, replicate the Italian approach by sticking to seasonal ingredients, and experimenting with traditional recipes.
Antipasti should be simple and fuss-free. How about some preserved porcini mushrooms? Or a pesto bruschetta using aromatic home-grown basil?
You can’t go wrong with a humble pasta dish for the primi, served on a large sharing platter so that people can dig in and help themselves. Italian hosts often pair pasta with their mamma’s sauce recipe. How about serving up a comforting ravioli with butter & sage, a traditional Veronese recipe, using Giovanni Rana Simply Italian Butter & Sage sauce.
Your secondi should generally be served as a modest portion. Try a good old-fashioned British beef fillet wrapped in pancetta and seasoned with Italian herbs or perhaps some Welsh lamb chops with Italian olives and pine nuts, or even Cornish scallops marinated in garlic, lemon and parsley for a Venetian-style twist. Don’t forget the wine to match; while beef and lamb are complemented by rich reds such as the cherry-like Tuscan Chianti or the powerful Veronese Amarone, scallops pair beautifully with Gavi, a crisp and floral white hailing from Piedmont. Serve your main with a simple contorni, making use of seasonal veg such as sautéed cabbage, vibrant purple sprouting broccoli or this fried cauliflower recipe.
For the dolce, a simple glass of sweet dessert wine will do. Feeling adventurous? Get creative with seasonal fruit.
A tavola non s’invecchia: At the table, one does not grow old. In truth, the most ‘Italian’ element to your meal should be the raucous energy uplifting the room. To follow suite the Italian way, make every meal time an opportunity to celebrate food with loved ones. Just don’t forget the shot of grappa to finish off!