Irresistible Italian Recipes For Spring

IN THE KITCHEN

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Capture the essence of Italy in your spring celebrations with these signature recipes created by Chef Michael Chiarello. Start with Chiarello‘s first rule of easy entertaining: save time and enhance flavor by beginning with great ingredients like pre-seasoned bread crumbs and high-quality canned tomatoes, such as Progresso crushed tomatoes. For more recipes, entertaining ideas and wine pairings, visit progressofoods.com.

Michael Chiarello is the tastemaker behind NapaStyle (www.napastyle. com), Chiarello Family Vineyards (www.chiarellovineyards.com), Consorzio Flavored Oils, and is the Emmy Award-winning host of "Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello" on the Food Network.

Over his 20-year career, Chiarello has drawn on his Southern Italian roots and Napa Valley way of life to pioneer culinary and lifestyle innovations that inspire friends and family to gather around the table to create meaningful traditions. Chiarello was founding and executive chef of Tra Vigne and seven other restaurants, and was twice named Chef of the Year, first by Food + Wine magazine and later by the Culinary Institute of America. His latest cookbook, "At Home with Michael Chiarello," follows his "Casual Cooking" -- which won the 2002 IACP Award -- in addition to "Napa Stories, The Tra Vigne Cookbook," and "Flavored Vinegars and Flavored Oils."

Chiarello is also the proprietor of a small family winery, Chiarello Family Vineyards, making highly-rated estate wines from the historic 94-year-old vineyards surrounding his home in the Napa Valley, Calif.

Macaroni and Cheese My Way

by Michael Chiarello for Progresso Foods

Makes 6 servings

18 uncooked jumbo pasta shells

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup uncooked chopped bacon or tasso ham

5 large shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon plus 1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1 cup dry white wine or nonalcoholic white wine

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup shredded fontina cheese (4 oz)

1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (2 oz)

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

18 medium to large shrimp (about 3/4 lb), peeled, deveined

2 cups lightly packed spinach leaves

1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher (coarse) salt

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Red pepper sauce to taste

1/2 cup Progresso Parmesan bread crumbs

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

Cook pasta shells as directed on package; drain well.

Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook, stirring occasionally, until just crisp. Stir in shallots and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shallots are translucent. Stir in flour; cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, to toast the flour. Stir in wine; continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until almost dry.

Stir in whipping cream. Heat to a simmer; cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat; stir in cheeses, shrimp and spinach. Gently stir until cheeses are melted, spinach is wilted and shrimp are beginning to turn pink. Stir in salt, white pepper and pepper sauce.

Set oven control to broil. In 2-quart casserole, place cooked pasta shells. Add shrimp mixture; gently fold into pasta. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and parsley. Broil with top about 5 inches from heat

2 to 3 minutes or until bread crumbs are toasted.

Full-bodied Chardonnay makes the perfect match for the rich flavors of this dish. A good bottle of Sangiovese, with cherry flavors and earthy undertones, can offer an unorthodox, but delectable, pairing as well.

Marinara Sauce

by Michael Chiarello for Progresso Foods

Makes 4 cups of sauce

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1, 28-ounce can Progresso crushed tomatoes with added puree

1 large fresh basil sprig with leaves removed

1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher (coarse) salt

Pinch baking soda or sugar, if desired

In 3-quart nonreactive saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until translucent. Stir in parsley and garlic; cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, basil stem and salt. Simmer uncovered 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened.

If sauce tastes too acidic, add pinch of baking soda and cook 5 minutes longer. If sauce needs touch of sweetness, add pinch of sugar and cook 5 minutes longer. Remove basil stem.

This marinara sauce makes the perfect base for Italian favorites like pastas, lasagna, chicken Parmesan and more, and it freezes well. So make your life easy -- double the recipe and put half in the freezer.

Pasta Puttanesca

by Michael Chiarello for Progresso Foods

Makes 4 servings

1-1/2 cups heated Marinara Sauce or other prepared marinara sauce

12 ounces uncooked penne or rigatoni pasta (about 4 cups)

1/4 cup clam juice (preferably unsalted)

2 teaspoons mashed chopped anchovies (about 2 fillets)

2 teaspoons capers, rinsed, chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italia (flat-leaf) parsley

1-1/2 teaspoons Progresso red wine vinegar

1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped hot chili peppers (oil-packed from Italy) or chili flakes

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup kalamata and picoline olives, pitted, quartered

1/2 cup undrained Progresso diced tomatoes (from 28-ounce can)

Make Marinara Sauce (see recipe above).

Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, beat 1-1/2 cups Marinara

Sauce and the clam juice with wire whisk until blended. Stir in remaining ingredients.

To serve, stir sauce mixture into drained pasta.

A rule of thumb for wine pairing: choose something you like. If you're a fan of white wine, the citrus flavors of Sauvignon Blanc make the perfect match for the Puttanesca's pungent olives and capers. For red wine devotees, Sangiovese delivers the perfect amount of acid to balance the dish's distinctive flavors.

From Family Features

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